“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” In this study of Romans 8:28, Phil Pringle delivered a message of hope to City Harvest Church
By Eleanor Tan and Beverly Ng
“All things work together for good no matter what is going on in your life,” Phil Pringle, leader of the C3 Global, declared over CHC as he introduced Romans 8:28, the subject of his two-part sermon on the weekend of 18 and 19 August.
Pringle founded C3 Church in 1980 and grew it into a movement with over 500 churches, the latest of which, he shared, are 27 new C3 churches in Pakistan.
He began his sermon on Saturday, explaining his personal encounter with this special verse. He recalled the time where his home church, C3 Church in Oxford Falls, Sydney, was trying to get a permit for building their church. They found themselves faced with mounting opposition from residents and the city council. Pringle shared that he was immensely discouraged at that time.
He was sitting in an international leaders’ conference, listening to a speaker preach about the power of speaking the word of God, when he saw a demon. Pringle realized that this demon was the reason his church was facing so much difficulty trying to get the permit.
At that moment, God told him to declare Romans 8:28.
“I said, ‘Lord, that is such a wimpy Scripture’,” Pringle said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “How can that have any effect on a demon like that? You need to give me something like ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ’. But God said, ‘this Scripture is powerful.’”
Pringle did as God instructed and found that the Word bound the demon. Shortly after, the church managed to acquire the building permit.
“The passage of Romans 8:28 is not simply a nice one to calm the mind, but it is made for warfare, to create faith in your heart, so that you can defeat the devil and build up your faith,” he stressed to the congregation.
How do we know that all things work together for good?
Roman 8:28 begins with “And we know”. Pringle asked, “How do we do that all things work together for good?
Firstly, good is the nature of God, therefore one can have complete faith that all things indeed, work together for good.
Pringle then gave the example of salt. Salt comprises two main components, sodium, and chloride. On their own, each of these components can be deadly, but when combined, they form salt, which is both edible and useful. Using this example, he explained that some things, on their own, are bad, but when two bad things are together, they can produce something good.
“No matter how many bad things happen to you, they will all come together for good, because God is the chemist of hope,” he said.
“Depression comes in the vacuum of hope. When people lose their vision, they lose hope. This is why God gives us dreams and visions so that we have something to aspire to.”
He warned that in the period before one achieves his or her dream, one inevitably would experience some pain. Pringle urged the congregation to hold on to the vision in spite of the pain, so as to fulfill the prophecy God has placed in their lives.
“Failure to hold on to the God-given vision placed in your life when you go through seasons of pain and betrayal will cause you to turn bitter,” warned Pringle. “Having the vision is important because it euthanizes the pain.” He added that it was the joy set before Jesus that gave Him the strength to endure the cross and crucifixion.
Secondly, believers know all things work together for good because they tell each other so.
“There is power in listening to the testimonies of God’s goodness,” explained Pringle.
In Psalm 78:2-11, the people became rebellious because they did not remember the goodness of God and all He had done for them. They did not remember because no one reminded them. He urged the congregation to speak faith through the sharing of testimonies with one another.
“There are so many forces telling us God is not good,” noted the pastor. “So we need to remind each other that God is good. When you hear faith, you lose rebellion and stubbornness.”
Referencing Hebrew 10:39, Pringle reminded the church that just as the verse said, they are not people who shrink from the fight; they are people who walk towards the battle with faith.
“If you go backward, you will shrink. The more you step forward the bigger you get. The church who steps forward only increases in size. Take the step of faith, you will find yourself enlarging!” he exhorted.
He then shared the story of Hagar and her young son, Ishmael, who were cast out into the wilderness by Abraham and Sarah. Hagar’s mind was blinded by depression, and she was resigned to the fate that she and her young son were both going to perish in the desert, once whatever meager provisions they had left ran out. However, what Hagar failed to see, was that her salvation–a well–was right in front of her. She would have spotted the well if her mind was more positive. However, God came through for her and opened her eyes up to the well in front of her.
Pringle said, “Sometimes God does something for us so that we can learn to do it for ourselves. We need to grow up from being dependent on God for everything, to learning how to do it for ourselves, so that we can become mature Christians,.”
He added, “When we abdicate responsibility, we lose our authority. We only have as much authority as the amount of responsibility we have.”
Pringle stressed that one’s mind is the battlefield for one’s soul, and ultimately, one’s destiny. That is why it is so important to have hope. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says that hope is the helmet of warfare that protects the mind.
“We need to learn how to see positively so that we can see how God is good. God is going to lift up the valleys and bring the mountains down,” said Pringle, as he brought his first message to a close.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE GOD AND LIVE OUT HIS PURPOSE
On Sunday, Pringle continued his sermon on Romans 8:28.
Reading from Psalm 78, Pringle reminded the congregation that every time they came to the house of God, they should remind each other of the power and goodness of God.
In 1 Peter 4:12, Peter told the church not to “think it strange concerning the fiery trial”. Pringle said that many Christians do not expect bad things to happen to them but the Bible says that Christians are called to suffer.
“The purpose of pain is to transform us into people who will fulfill the visions given to us,” the pastor explained.
“When you’re going through a trial, it’s God congratulating you, saying, ‘Congratulations! You can get through it!’”
The pastor told the church that when a person has been through difficult moments, he becomes a dangerous person. “You are telling life, “Throw your worst shot, it isn’t going to affect me. I don’t care because all things work for good anyway’. That is one of the most powerful Scriptures in the Bible.”
Going back to 1 Peter 4:1, Pringle noted that Peter told the church not to think that trials are strange, they just need to follow Jesus.
“Instead of looking at other people’s Instagram, look at Jesus,” he said cheerily.
“The way you are going to navigate through bad times is to arm yourself. And one of the ways to arm yourself is the knowledge that there will be tough times. It will help you not let the difficulties affect you to the level that Satan intended it to.”
Pringle then explained the second part of the verse: “for good to those who love God”.
To love God is to love the church, Pringle said, “If you don’t like Christians, heaven will be rough for you. Heaven’s going to be full of them.”
Pringle described how he loves the church, loves the Word and loves to pray. “If you’re like that, then all things work together for good for you.”
However, he acknowledged that it is hard to love God when circumstances are tough. He read a story from his book, Hope, a retelling of the story of Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel. She was barren and hopeless so she turned to God. God gave her a son.
“All things work together for good,” Pringle declared. “When it’s hard to love God, reach out to Him anyway.”
Finally, Pringle examined the words, “to those who are the called according to his purpose.”
Jesus said all are called but few are chosen (Matt 22:14), he noted.
Giving the example of an apple tree, he said, “To be chosen means to be ‘choose-able’. They are all called to be apples, but only those that are ready, that are ripe, will be picked.”
Pringle urged the church to commit themselves to get presentable and “choose-able” to God. “We’ve got to take that next step, as Paul says, to present ourselves acceptable to God, a worker who can do things for God.”
He encouraged the people to find a pathway to improve themselves and commit to it so that they can fulfill their purpose in God. The way to find that purpose is to start serving God, which is to serve others.
They need to keep asking themselves how they can help, grow and go the extra mile for the church always.
“When you have that attitude, you will move into a world of shaping and forming under the hand of God!” Pringle said. “What a waste when you spend life doing the things you’re not called to do.”
Pringle used his own experience as an example: he is not gifted in counseling church members, but he is anointed to train and develop leaders. To force himself to counsel members would be robbing another person who is more gifted in the area to shine and bless others, he explained. Hence he operates best in the anointing he is given.
In closing, the pastor encouraged the congregation to surrender themselves to God. “Mary didn’t say, ‘I surrender to you but I don’t do virgin births,” he said. “You need to have a ‘whatever’ in your surrender. ‘Whatever you say, Lord, I’ll do it.’ When you are in that call, all things work together for good, for you.”
Pringle concluded the service with an altar call for those receiving salvation for the first time. He also prayed for members of the church to love and serve God with total surrender.