All Things Work Together


Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Temple Baptist Church, Detroit, Mich.

(Stenographically Reported)

DR. NORRIS: Going from St. Louis to Pittsburgh the other night there flashed into my mind a new interpretation of the most familiar Scripture perhaps in all the Word of God. This Scripture like the vision of Ezekiel, when he saw the waters, first, ankle deep then he measured again and it was knee deep, he measured another thousand fathoms and the waters were waist deep, and again they were unfathomable.

Sir Isaac Newton gave expression to the same thought and truth concerning the Word of God when he said:

“What little I know of the unsearchable riches of the Scriptures compared to what I do not know is like a little child standing in the shallow waters on the beach, compared to the immeasurable depth in mid-ocean.”

I wish this morning, especially in this hour, that might meditate together for a few minutes, and may God grant in His abounding mercy these words will so ring in our souls that we will never forget them:

“All things work together!”

The word “work” there is not static, it is energizing; it is active; it is dynamic; it is power concentrated, bringing everything in three worlds into captivity for one purpose.

There are fourteen divine reasons given in this immortal chapter of 39 verses as to why “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

The first of these reasons is found in the first verse of this chapter, these words: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Two words in that verse refer to the preceding seven chapters, “now” and “therefore”.

For the first seven chapters of the book of Romans, God is setting forth, declaring unto us, our redemption from sin through Jesus Christ.

“There is therefore now no judgment to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

The second reason why, “all things work together” is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. You find the words “Holy Spirit” used in the first 27 verses of this chapter 19 times. More than in any other Scripture in all the Bible. Therefore, not only is “all things” based on justification through faith in Christ, but it is also based on the power that comes from the work and operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, for He says “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”

What for? The great purpose is “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Nine things are suggested here as the work of the Spirit:

(1) The walk in the Spirit.

(2) The New Birth in the Spirit –”For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” – Passed from death unto life.

(3) The things of the Spirit.

(4) The indwelling of the Spirit. He dwells in us.

(5) The quickening of the Spirit, and I don’t think at all it refers here to the resurrection.

(6) The leadership of the Spirit, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, where we cry, Abba, Father.

(7) The witness of the Spirit, for we receive the Spirit, and “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” – not will be, but now – the born agains – the children – the sons of God.

(8) The firstfruits of the Spirit. We have now the earnest of the Spirit, as the spies brought back the grapes of Eshcol, and said, “For of such is all the land”, so the Spirit of God comes and gives us, love, joy, kindness, and confidence.

(9) The interceding of the Spirit, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities in strength of sickness – “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us” – for us! for us! “with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Now with that background:

(1) Justification through Christ.

(2) Operation of the Holy Spirit.

(3) Then it says, “And we know” – “And we know” – what can a man know?- What can he know for certain?In this world nothing is certain in the field of science, of philosophy, politics, finances, but he can know everything he ought to know concerning his soul’s destiny:

First of all he can know he is saved from sin, past, present and future, for the Apostle Paul says: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him not up to, but over into that day “against that day.”

Second, We need to know and have a philosophy of life, let storms come, disasters come, floods and flame come, all things come, for he says:

“We know that all these things work together.”

Third, He must know his destiny beyond the grave – “For”, says the Apostle Paul, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Job sums it all up in the 19th chapter and 25th verse, when in the depth of affliction, every star had gone out of his sky, his cattle were gone, his friends turned against him, his wife’s breath strange to him, his inner circle of friends condemning him, but out of the deepest depths of darkness of night and despair he rises to the heighth of Old Testament revelation and shouts these words: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”!

I want to call the roll after this – first, seeing what precedes and then what follows afterwards, then “And we know that all things work together” – all things are working! working! working together! God is driving the team,great powers harnessed together – for what? “for good to them that love God” – now then let’s see how many things, and see why it is true – It is because of His eternal purpose – “who are called according to his purpose” – according to his unchangeable purpose!

It will be a new day in our lives when we realize that running through the centuries of time, peace and war, confusion, upheavals, tragedies, disasters, that there is an unceasing purpose in it all. God is on His throne. He sees the end from the beginning – “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or even thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

We need to know that in these days.

Second reason is because of Divine foreknowledge.

First: Divine purpose.

Second: Divine foreknowledge.

I love to think we have a God that can see the end from the beginning. There is no darkness to Him.

Then I love to think of another thing, “Moreover whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

Therefore, the third reason why “all things work together for good” is His Divine image.

In Genesis 1:27, we read where “God created man in his own image” – in His own likeness, but man through sin marred that image, now, His image is restored and conformed unto his image through Christ.

The fourth reason why “all things work together for good,” “moreover” – He is piling mountain peak upon mountain peak – not only did He foreknow, but – “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate;” therefore, the fourth reason is that before the beginning of time, before He laid the foundation of the everlasting hills, before the stars sang together or the sons of God shouted for joy, He saw and fixed our destiny in Christ Jesus.

The next reason, the fifth reason why “all things work together for good” – this marvelous statement them he also called” in the fullness of time we are called – God does the calling, we don’t call Him, for if we waited for salvation until we called on Him we never would be saved, but the Good Shepherd is calling the sheep; therefore, He says, “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will lee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

The next reason, the sixth reason why “all things work together” “And whom he called, them he also justified” – the word there means to stand before the Court of God – there is the voice that cries, “not guilty!” “not guilty!” “All our sins have been laid on Him – with His stripes we were healed” – “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities”.

The seventh reason why it is the Divine purpose that “all things work together for good” He goes farther than the limits of eternity – He goes out into the unknown eternity, man cannot conceive of it, and only God can express it, not only yonder in the beginning was foreknowledge, but coming on down through predestination, come on through the “all things”, coming on through justification, leaping out beyond where the stars and the sun shine, where there is no time – we have passed time – he says, Whom he justified, them he also glorified.” – That’s why “all things work together for good”.

The eighth reason – I am just calling the roll – The eighth reason – getting away from all present things, let’s get out yonder in God’s land today – Paul issues the Divine challenge, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” – He is not talking about angels now, he is talking about His redeemed children.

If God with His divine purpose,

If God who made man in His own image,

If God with foreknowledge,

If God who predestinated us,

If God who called,

If God who glorified,

If that God be for us who in time, in eternity, in earth, in heaven, in hell, who can be against us! (Voices Amen).

The ninth reason why “all things work together for good,” is the Divine gift, listen to it: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,” – for us – nowhere is the answer – “how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” The argument is from the best to the least. Here is what it means to say: “If God gave His Son, His only begotten Son, not an angel, not a cherubim, not a serapim, not one of the hosts of heaven, but He gave the heir of all things, if He gave the best, will He not give the rest?”

Another reason why “all things work together for good” – let me give you the verse and you see if you can find it: “Who is he that condemeth?” – look at that question he is asking, challenging three worlds – Who is he that condemeth ?” He answers the question “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

There are the three answers to the one question, “Why do all things work together for good?”

The Tenth. Divine death, the death of Christ – He was made sin for us.

Tell me what was left out when he pressed the cup to His lips?

Tell me what was left out when that crown of thorns was pressed on His brow?

Tell me what sin was left out when His hands and feet were pierced by the cruel spikes.

Tell me what sin was left out when the cruel spear was thrust in His side?

Tell me what sin was left out when He cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Tell me what sin was left out when Joseph and Nicodemus took down the body of Jesus, wrapped in linen clean and white?

All the sins of all the world of all time of every man, my friends, was paid for. He tasted death for every man.

The Eleventh reason, not only the divine death, but the divine resurrection. There is the infinite chasm between Christ and the Pagan world. He arose!

The Twelfth reason why He is our Divine Intercessor. Thank God we don’t have to go down at daylight and put our lips to a hole in the wall and tell some sinner like we are, who has no power to forgive sins, no righteousness,no merit – but we can whisper to our Great High Priest who says, “Son thy sins be forgiven thee.”

“He dies! The Friend of Sinners dies!
Lo, Salem’s daughters weep around!
A solemn darkness veils the skies!
A sudden trembling shakes the ground!

Come, saints and drop a tear or two,
For Him who groan’d beneath your load;
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of richer blood!

Here’s love and grief beyond degree;
The Lord of glory dies for men!
But, lo ! what sudden joys we see!
Jesus the dead revives again!

The rising God forsakes the tomb!
Up to His Father’s court he flies;
Cherubic legions guard him home,
And shout him welcome to the skies!

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how he spoil’d the hosts of hell,
And led the monster, death, in chains!

Say, ‘Live forever, wond’rous King,
‘Born to redeem, and strong to save!
Then ask the monster, ‘Where’s thy sting?
‘And where’s thy victory, boasting grave?'”

He calls the roll; listen, there are several things pretty bad things:

(1) “Shall tribulation?”
(2) “Or distress?”
(3) “Or persecution?”
(4) “Or famine?”
(5) “Or nakedness?”
(6) “Or peril?”
(7) “Or sword?”

These seven things, can they separate us from the love of God?

Then he gives this climax, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Then comes another reason why, and that is the Divine Conqueror. That is the thirteenth reason, and it is not an unlucky number, for it says, “Nay, in all these things we” – not Jesus Christ, “We'”! Who have the Spirit to intercede for us. “We”! who were in the mind of God before the beginning of time – “We”! who are predestinated; foreknown; called; justified; glorified! – God is for us!

The Triune God for us. We, that cost the life of the Son of God on the cross! We for whose sake He was brought again from the dead! We, for whom it is said, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

“We,” who cannot be separated from the love of Christ – “We are more than conquerors” it would have been enough if he had said, “We are conquerors” – but “more than conquerors” – Paul knew the meaning of the word “conqueror” – had he not seen a Pompey, a Caesar, a Scipio – had he not seen these conquerors riding in their victorious chariots up the Appian Way with kings and queens chained to their chariot wheels? Had he not seen long lines of captives brought from far off battle fields? Had he not seen the wealth of conquered empires brought and unloaded in the forum? He says “I will tell you something greater than any conqueror with kings and queens dragging at his chariot wheels, and that is the humblest saint in the army of Jesus Christ is more than a conqueror through Him that loved us!”

Now the last, the fourteenth reason why “all things work together” – There is nothing left out – name them and see if you can think of anything else – “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,” – Why does he say? “neither death nor life”? The natural way would be to say “life” first – He goes to the grave first – “neither death” – with all its terrors – “neither life” with all its problems – “neither angels” with all their mystery – “neither principalities” with their unknown sphere, “neither powers” with all their rule, “neither things present,” with all their disturbances, “nor things to come” – What else? Paul says, “I will add three more to these “seven.” What else? “Nor height” – What else? “nor depth” – What else? Fearful that there might be something else beyond death, beyond life, beyond the angels, beyond principalities, beyond the powers, beyond things to come, beyond the dizzy heights, beyond the boundless depths; therefore, he adds to these, “nor any other creature.”That is what it means when it says, “All things work together for good.”

Therefore, the fourteenth reason is the Divine power – “nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Let me summarize, call the roll why all things work together for good to them that love God.

(1) The divine salvation in Christ Jesus.
(2) The divine sanctification through the Holy Spirit.
(3) The divine foreknowledge.
(4) The divine image.
(5) The divine predestination.
(6) The divine calling.
(7) The divine justification.
(8) The divine glorification
(9) The divine partnership.
(10) The divine death.
(11) The divine resurrection.
(12) The divine intercession.
(13) The divine conquerer.
(14) The divine power.

Talk about eternal victory! – Oh, ye fearful saints, take down your harps from the willow trees and sing a new song – look into the bottomless abyss of hell and shout, for your Lord lives! He is coming again! – “All things work together for good” – Then what soldiers we should be!

Come with me to East Texas this morning – I have been all over that country; there are people there I have known all my life – I know those red hills, I know those tall pines, I have seen the oil derricks – out there where nearly 500 children, without a second’s warning were hurled into eternity and thousands of people are in sorrow, the state is bowed in grief, a nation is bowed. The greatest source of wealth is oil, and man’s greatest source of wealth has turned on him and become his most destructive enemy. One hundred and seventy-five funerals were conducted in one day – all the undertakers for a hundred miles around came to render aid – What shall we answer? Tonight heartbroken, grief stricken fathers and mothers sit alone; they take out the pictures; they see the little pair of shoes; the little coat that he wore and left behind What shall be their answer? Thanks be unto God for the morning of the resurrection!

Therefore, I would say to them, and I know some of them in person – “Go out to the new made grave where them angled form of your child lies – the child they could not see because it was beyond recognition – sit down there till the sun sinks in the West, then with trembling hands plant a fresh flower, kiss it with lips of love as you kneel beside the little grave, and rise in the starlight and shout and sing, “AII things work together for good”

  • What courage it should give us! Does it stir your soul like it does mine?

I got so wide awake the other night, and couldn’t go back to sleep – I reached up, turned on the light, looked at my watch, Bro. Williams, and it was two o’clock in the morning. I could hear those steel wheels clicking off the miles. I switched off the light and looked out at the stars, the same stars that old Abraham looked up to, the same stars David sang about – how wonderful! Let wars come, let revolutions come, let all hell be enraged and fiery darts be hurled, and I shouted, “All things work together for good!”

Ralph told me a story the other night – one of the finest athletes in the Hockey Game was a boy by the name of Larry Aurie – his team won the championship, in fact, his team now holds the world’s championship. During the stress and strain of a fast game played against the New York Rangers, this little fellow, their star and captain, was thrown heavily to the ice and carried off the scene of action by his teammates – at that time they did not realize the seriousness of the accident, but when they were informed that his leg was broken, they gathered around, their hearts crushed What did they say?

“Aurie, you have made a good soldier,” and they put their arms around him, wept, and said, “We will win it or die, for Larry.”

I come this morning and say, not for any athletic game, but for the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who had a broken heart, wore the crown of thorns, died on the cruel tree, gave up all for our sakes, let us win the crown!