Jerry C. Brewer
When my brother died in 2014, an aunt pontificated, “That’s God’s plan for us.” Having heard such tripe for longer than I can remember and, frankly, incensed at such Biblical ignorance from one who had delusions of wisdom, I replied, “No, that’s the devil’s plan for us. God does not kill people.”
Her inane statement is typical of people across every hue of the religious spectrum today. The Calvinistic determinism that spiritual merchants have chanted for centuries is now generally accepted by most religions and their adherents. The lie that, “Everything happens for our good,” or “That’s God’s plan,” or that, “God took our baby,” etc. ad nauseum, is the accepted conventional wisdom in the religious world today. And it’s all false! God does not micromanage the world, nor does He cause people to sorrow.
When Satan persuaded Eve to disobey God in Eden and she persuaded Adam to do the same, sin entered the world bringing every illness, heartache, misery, death and suffering known to man (Gen. 3:1-24). There is not a single thing we suffer in this life that cannot be laid directly at the feet of Satan. Yet ignorant religionists are swift to blame God when catastrophe occurs in any family. They view God as a “Heavenly Puppeteer” who manipulates the strings on His human puppets in every action man takes. That is Calvinism gone to seed and absolutely denies the free will of man.
“God Has A Plan For Your Life”
When a man convinces himself that he is not responsible for his own actions, it becomes easy to assign all occurrences in his life to some mysterious, mystical “plan” of God. He doesn’t have any idea what “God’s plan” for his life is, but he just knows what happens to him is “God’s plan.” If he loses a leg in war, he just knows that is “God’s plan” for his life, or that, “It was meant to be”. If he loses a loved one to death, he says, “God took him. That is God’s plan”. There is even a short piece often used in funeral memorials, and which I have seen on at least one gravestone, which says, in part, “God broke our hearts to prove that he only takes the best.” God does not break men’s hearts by “taking” our loved ones. If any blame is to be assigned for broken hearts at the loss of a loved one, it belongs solely to Satan who brought sin into the world by tempting Eve.
When my parents buried half of their children, was that because “God had a plan for their lives”? Did their infant son, Carl Edward, die in 1945 of kidney failure because God planned it? Did their 21 year old son, Phil, who was born with a heart defect, die during open heart surgery in 1971 because God planned it? Was his heart defect planned? Did my brother, Kenneth, contract Creutzfeld Jakob Disease and die in 2014 because God planned it? To say God plans each of our deaths views Him as a sadistic fiend who takes great delight in killing people. That is blasphemous to the nth degree and not a syllable of that sort of stupidity can be found within the pages of Holy Writ.
Yes, God does have a plan for our lives, but not a plan for each person, in which He micromanages each life, then kills him. His plan for all of mankind is clearly stated by Solomon: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
“Everything Happens For A Reason” Or “For Our Good”
This is another statement meaning, “God has His reason for this happening to me.” In concert with this, they often cite Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is, perhaps, one of the most misused passages in all of the Bible. I have heard it quoted countless times when tragedy has occurs—whether it’s the loss of one’s house in a fire, an auto accident, or the death of a loved one, and that application is absolutely false!
The person who quotes this verse omits the last part, and ignores its context. He simply says, “All things work together for good to them that love God” and omits, “…who are the called according to his purpose.” The idea conveyed by perverting this verse is that, “Everything that happens to you, is for your good.” Really? Think about it.
In 1973, six persons were killed in a head on collision in the Texas town where we lived. Four were local teenagers in one car, and in the other car was an elderly couple passing through town on their way from Amarillo to Fort Worth. Was that for their good? Was that for the good of their families? When Moslems flew planes into the World Trade Center, was that for their good? Was that for the good of the families who lost thousands of loved ones in that tragedy?
Those who misuse Romans 8:28 completely ignore Paul’s meaning in this verse. The key to understanding it is the phrase, “all things”, which is the plan of salvation. Look at the phrases, “all things”, “the deep things of God”, “the things of God”, “the things that are freely given to us of God”, and “which things also we speak” in First Corinthians 2: 10-13. Those are “the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” which Paul quoted in verse 9, from Isaiah 64:4—the scheme of redemption which was hidden in ages past, but is now revealed.
Romans 8:28 does not mean “everything that happens to us is for our good”. The thesis of the book of Romans is that the gospel is God’s power to save all of mankind (Rom. 1:16-17). In the development of that thesis, Paul discusses our inability to eradicate the guilt of sin from our own lives—that it takes the blood of Jesus Christ. In that connection, he discusses the inward battle we wage with sin and how it can be overcome (Rom. 7, 8).
The summation of his point is stated in past tense in Romans 8:28-30 where he explains what “all things” are and uses the past tense. Past tense is used because when God purposes a thing, it is as though that thing were already done. God spoke in past tense when He told Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor” (Josh. 7:2). He said “I have given” a full week before Jericho fell. In Romans 8, Paul is speaking of the scheme of redemption which was purposed in Christ (Eph. 3:11) and the entire scope of God’s plan is encapsulated in Romans 8:28-30. “All things” in this passage refers to the scheme of redemption. The “all things” that work together for good are only to, “them that love God”—those who seek to do His will (Matt. 5:6). They are the “called according to his purpose” (Eph. 3:11) and they are called out of the world by the gospel (1 Thess. 2:13-14). Here is the order of God’s plan to save men:
He foreknew a people and predestined them to be conformed to the image of Christ (v. 29; cf Eph. 1:4-5)
The predestined ones were “called” to salvation by the gospel (v. 30; cf 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
Those “called” ones were “justified”—saved (v. 30; cf Rom. 1:16-17).
The “justified” were “glorified” (v. 30; cf Rom. 8:18).
Romans 8:28-30 encapsulates the entire scheme of redemption, from God’s purpose before the world began, to the final glorification of His saints in heaven. God does not kill little babies, burn down houses, create wars, murder people, steal honest people’s goods, cause drunkards to abuse their wives, or create any other misery for the world. To say that the ills of the world, caused by man’s sin, are the works of God demonstrates ignorance of God and His word and is tantamount to blasphemy. God’s plan is to save men, not kill them.