All Things for Good

Discussion Guide for Romans 8:28

Thomas Watson was a 17th Century Puritan pastor and a contemporary of John Owen. He pastored for 15 years until King Charles’ Act of Uniformity ejected all Puritan pastors from their pulpits.

Even after being driven from the official Church of England, Thomas Watson continued to preach against the law to anyone who would listen.

Divine Cordials

One of Thomas Watson’s best-known works was published under the title A Divine Cordial. Today it is still in print under the title All Things for Good. The newer title reflects that this book is a long exposition of Romans 8:28.

I was blown away listening to an audible version of this book as I reflected on the scripture.

Watson’s book consists of 9 chapters divided into 3 sections. Each deals with one of the 3 clauses of Romans 8:28. I can think of no better example of Biblical explanation for a pastor who is interested in rightly dividing the truth of God’s Word.

  1. And we know that all things work together for good
  2. To them that love God
  3. To them who are called according to his purpose

Thomas Watson has a gift in his mastery of the English language. I hope that you are as blessed as I am by some of the quotes from his book.

  • There are two things which I have always looked upon as difficult. The one is to make the wicked sad; the other is to make the godly joyful.
  • That martyr woman said “I cannot dispute for Christ, but I can burn for Christ.”
  • God is more willing to pardon than to punish. Mercy does more multiply in Him than sin in us. Mercy is His nature.
  • Though the Lord might try godly parents a while by need- yet not their seed too; the seed of the godly shall be provided for.
  • The mercies of God make a sinner proud but a saint humble.
  • As the stones in an arch help to strengthen one another, one Christian by imparting his experience heats and quickens another.
  • When a Christian is weak and can hardly pray for himself, Jesus Christ is praying for him.
  • The wheels of a clock seem to be opposing each other, but they work together to accomplish the purpose of the clock.
  • Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs God extracts our salvation.
  • Afflictions loosen our roots in this world.
  • A sick bed teaches more than a sermon.
  • Sin is the mother, affliction is the daughter. The daughter helps to destroy the mother. Sin is the tree that breeds the worm. The worm then helps destroy the tree.
  • God’s rod has honey at the end of it.
  • Every print of the rod is a badge of honor.
  • When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to him and make peace with him.
  • The worst that God does to his children is to whip them to heaven.
  • God’s rod is a pencil that draws Christ’s image more lively upon us.
  • The devil baits his hook with religion.
  • Temptation works for good as it tries what is in the heart.
  • Peter’s fall broke the neck of his pride.
  • Even losing to temptation works for good because the elect mends his fence so that the beast of temptation cannot come over it the same way again.
  • Crying sins cause crying prayers.
  • The sins of others make us more in love with grace.
  • The child of God knows sin is a bosom traitor, so he keeps a watchful eye on himself.
  • Unholy opinions are for want of holy affections.
  • When Satan lays anything to a saint’s charge, he is able to retort and say “It is true, Satan, I am guilty of these sins; but I have judged myself already for them; and having condemned myself in the lower court of conscience, God will acquit me in the upper court of heaven.”
  • God puts us in seeming hell so that we don’t experience real hell.
  • God’s chastening is not to destroy, but to reform.
  • The same wind that blows one ship to heaven blows another ship upon a rock.
  • God enriches by impoverishing; he causes the augmentation of grace by the diminution of an estate.
  • God is a sea of goodness without bottom and banks.
  • Love animates a Christian. It fires his heart with zeal and steels him with courage.
  • If we are lovers of God we love what God loves.
  • We must be called of God before we can love God.
  • The outward call curbs a sinner, the inward call changes him.
  • The heart is the devil’s forge where the sparks of lust fly.
  • God so calls as he allures.
  • You may resist the minister’s call, but you cannot resist the Spirit’s call.
  • When God calls a man, he does not repent of it.

You can also download the entire book free as a PDF document.

Discussion Questions

  • What is your favorite quote from A Divine Cordial?
  • Why does this quote speak to you?
  • How can bad things be used for our good?
  • Describe one bad thing in your life that God has used for your good.
  • How does a person know if he/she loves God? (Romans 8:28)
  • How can a person know if he is called according to God’s purpose?
  • Name one way that you have seen yourself become conformed to the image of Jesus? (Romans 8:29)
  • Do you think God ever calls somebody and it makes no difference in his/her life?

Related Message: God’s Will


Pray as a group for the one person you have been sharing our faith with. Also pray for the churches forming with new believers in places that were formerly under the control of ISIS. There are news reports of people converting to Christianity, but it is extremely dangerous to be a Christian in these regions.


Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

Jonathan Pugh

Associate Pastor: Life Groups & Church Partnership
Jonathan Pugh

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