We are assured also in our Form of Baptism, that our Father will, “avert all evil from us, or turn it to our profit.” Notice, very naively, as if the foregoing were not really meant seriously, the statement concludes with: or turn it to our profit. The sense of this is that evil will clearly come and is not averted from us, but is changed into its opposite.
Apparently, the same word evil is used here in a dual sense. The first time it is an absolute. What is truly evil, also in its eternal result, will never happen to God’s child. What the world calls evil, and what the flesh feels as evil, is clearly not evil in the light of eternity. Paul’s thorn hurt was but good, for the grace of God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness (2Corinthians 12:7-10). Persecution, distress, hunger, the sword are good for the Lord’s people because instead of separating them from the love of Christ, they bind those who suffer closer together to this love.
Therefore, the Father does not avert the relative evil from his covenantal child. It must happen and does happen. But the Father performs a still greater miracle than he would have done by averting it completely, he makes what is relative evil into absolute and eternal good.
Evil comes! Even someone like Jacob complained as a weary pessimist before Pharaoh’s throne, “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47:9). But on his deathbed, he saw evil in a different light and embraced his pilgrim’s staff that had been a witness to his wandering and weeping. Now he saw evil turned into good. He saw it as good.
Joseph’s groaning in the pit and grieving in prison was evil. But when he received his murderers in his palace and paid attention to the divine outcome, he said, “Ye thought evil against me: but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20)…
Would the Father, who receives you into baptism as a covenantal child and heir, be less wise than an earthly father, who because he has deeper and broader insight than his child, imposes on that child what he, crying, seeks to get rid of as evil? Therefore, observe the serious and deliberate emphasis of Paul’s astonishing words, “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” (Romans 8:28).
Understand this correctly: not many, not most, but all things. Indeed, confess it, with trembling soul: sin also. The Father will not only turn to profit the evil that occurs because of sin but will also turn to our profit the evil we have committed by our own sin, because, oh miracle above all miracles, having forgiven the evil and removed it by the blood of Christ, he will transpose it into a finely tuned song of boundless gratitude, rising up from the heart of the redeemed, to a sublime Hallelujah. They know and see now what it means, “Through thee, thee ‘alone,’ for thine eternal good pleasure!
That he will do this, you ought not, you may not doubt, because the Father has witnessed and sealed it in baptism.
By B. Wielenga
(James R Hamilton, June 2018)