- Sermon Notes
Help is on the Way
One of the greatest desires Paul had was to visit Rome on one of his missionary journeys. He wanted to impart some spiritual gifts to them. Rome was the center of the empire and he knew that if the church could grow strong there it could influence the entire empire for the gospel.
Paul understood the power of the gospel; he was very familiar with its power to transform lives. He had been a missionary for the gospel for many years, had endured many hardships, and had been part of many revivals.
Speaking of missionaries, I was at a conference this week in Florida where we talked about the importance of taking the gospel to all the tribes, tongues, and people of the world. There was a humorous point, though, was when someone told us the four stages of missionary dining.
Paul wants to impart spiritual gifts because he knows that it’s the power of the Holy Spirit they need most.
When Paul came to Ephesus on his second missionary journey, he found some disciples there and he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said in response, “No, we haven’t even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Many today have certainly heard that there is a Holy Spirit, but have not experienced His power to transform their lives and bring the spiritual victory God desires. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no wind in the sails; we would be left to self-effort.
Many people find themselves in spiritual doldrums. In the days of sailing vessels, the doldrums were extremely dangerous. At the equator, the winds could disappear altogether and with no wind in the sails, ships could languish for weeks with disastrous consequences. They could try rowing, but such strenuous effort was futile. Without wind, there was no hope.
The same is true for us spiritually. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, the power that moves our lives to victory. The word ‘spirit’ in the Greek literally means ‘wind.’
John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Wind is powerful, it can destroy a city, it can snap trees like twigs, but by it you can generate power for an entire city and it can sail a large ship across the ocean.
Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
I. Our Father Helps His Children
- All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God, Paul said. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- If we are God’s children, then we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. This is a key to our faith. Paul builds that point to a crescendo where he says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We need this truth written on our heart so that it becomes the foundation of faith.
- Paul makes a comparison between the sufferings of the present time - the suffering that comes as a follower of Christ in a broken and evil world - but that our sufferings now are nothing when compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Then, over and over, Paul speaks of the groaning that goes together with suffering; it’s part of living in a broken and evil world.
- But this is also where our Father helps us.
John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is, the Spirit of truth… You know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
- In Romans 8, we receive some of the deepest, practical insights in how the Spirit helps us.
A. The world itself is groaning
- First of all, groaning is part of suffering. He begins with creation itself, it also groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
- In other words, the condition of the earth is connected to the condition of man. It was subjected to futility; brought under slavery to corruption. This goes all the way back to Adam.
- When God created man, He gave him authority over all the earth.
Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth…”
- When Adam sinned, everything under his authority was affected by that sin, and that included the earth itself…
Genesis 3:17-19, Then to Adam He said, “Cursed is the ground because of you… Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you… Until you return to the ground; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- Now there is certainly much beauty and grandeur and God’s glory is revealed in all of creation, but there are thorns and thistles and deserts and earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis as well.
- Jesus said that part of the signs of the times of the end of the age will be seen in the earth itself.
Matthew 24:7-8, “… and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
- Paul says that the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God in hope that it will be set free from corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
- In other words, creation itself is linked to the believer and as we have a future glory, so does the earth.
Isaiah 65:17, For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come to mind.
Revelation 21:1, 4, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away… and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
- Verse 23; having the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the redemption of our body.
Illus - In other words, we’re not just groaning because our bodies are getting old, although that’s definitely a sign of the times; that, and when your joints are more accurate at predicting the weather than a meteorologist.
- No, Paul is talking about groaning because this world is broken and evil and we’re looking for something better.
2 Corinthians 5:1-3, We know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.
- And because we have the first fruits of the Spirit, we’ve tasted something better. That’s why we have such confidence, such faith; such hope.
- If we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit now, imagine when we have the fullness of the Spirit.
C. The Spirit groans in our behalf
- In the same way, Paul says, the Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- In other words, when we’re groaning, we’re crying out to God, but we don’t know how to pray as we should, so the Holy Spirit takes up our burdens and groans for us, but when He groans, when He prays, He prays according to the will of God.
- Our groanings are often more like grumblings. Many people complain and become bitter against God.
Ruth 1:19-20, When they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred saying, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”
Our problem is that in this life we see as through a glass darkly, but he’s telling us clearly that though we live in a world that’s getting darker and more evil, we have the assurance of hope and with that we can persevere.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 15:19, If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
II. God Causes all Things to Work Together
- We now come to one of the most famous verses in the entire Bible. Probably more plaques and cards have been made from these words than any other than any other verse.
- If one verse could capture the hope we have in this world, it would be this verse.
- Notice, it doesn’t say that God causes all things. There is much suffering in this world because there is evil.
- Why does God allow evil? Many have thought that a God that is good should not allow evil to exist. There is such a place; it’s called heaven.
- When God made man in His image, He gave him a will that he might freely choose to follow Him or reject Him. Love must be freely given or it is not love. If someone chooses to reject God, then they don’t have God in their heart and what are they left with? The nature of man.
- But this verse tells us that in a world of suffering, we can know that God is our Father and that in His great love for us, He works all things together for good, for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
A. God’s will interfaces with human choice
- The promise of this verse is that God can take all things and work them together for good, according to His purpose.
- So the Spirit is interceding for us according to the will of God and God is answering by working all things together for good.
- The theme that covers it all is the greatness of God’s love found in verse 31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
- But faith works together with love. If we believe that God loves us and that He is for us, then we also believe that He is able to work all things together for good. Faith is required when the things we’re talking about are not good.
Illus - It’s difficult to understand when life take a hard turn; if finances fall apart, you hear bad news from the doctor, or if you lose someone near to you, or a relationship is in shambles.
- But the promise of this verse is that God loves you as your ‘Abba’ Father and that we love Him in return with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Illus - Our granddaughter, Aviah, will at times just to make up songs and sometimes the most beautiful and insightful words of faith flow out of her songs.
- Faith that truly trusts Him comes out of receiving God’s love and loving Him extravagantly.
1 Corinthians 2:9, Just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
- There are many theological debates about the finer points of verses 29 and 30, but it could be summarized this way – God knew you before you were even born and determined in advance that those who love God will become conformed to the image of His Son.
Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
- God works things together for the good of conforming us to the image of His Son; He is strengthening our faith and changing our character and drawing us closer to Him and bringing us to the maturity of Christ.
- It’s often the difficulties of life that have the greatest effect on our character and on our faith. We grow the most through trials and difficulties, if we would only trust Him through every trouble.
- Our steadfast hope is in knowing that there is an eternal weight of glory in our inheritance.
Ephesians 1:18, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance.
Romans 8:18-31 NASB