Romans Chapter 8
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. This week I’m looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans and we’re on the part called chapter 8, keeping in mind that Paul’s writing was originally a letter w/out the chapter and verse divisions that we use today. Romans Chapter 8 is a particularly important chapter which addresses many aspect of Christian doctrine. Paul has earlier shown us what it means to be called a "child of God" and he’s laid down the distinguishing characteristic between a Christian and non-Christian. That characteristic was found here:
Romans 8:13-14 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Now, he’s going to turn his attention to a different matter and that is the matter of hope. Here’s what Paul has to say today:
Romans 8:18-22 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Note first that Paul acknowledges that there is suffering in this present world when he says "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." So, while readily acknowledging suffering and troubles and trials, he immediately turns his eye from that to hope when he says that these sufferings "are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." This revealed glory is Paul’s hope and he was, indeed, a man well aquatinted with suffering.
It’s interesting, though, that it is not just us who suffer but the entire creation. Paul says "…the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." He says "…the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." That’s an interesting thought because it points out that many of our environmental woes, from pollution to alleged global warming to drought to invader plant species are due to the effects of sin. But, as with the revealing of glory in us, there will be redemption of the earth itself. We can get a glimpse of this in Revelation:
Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Revelation 22:1-3 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
The last place we saw the tree of life was in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden. Here is that passage:
Genesis 2:8-9 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. (9) And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Then man sinned and we have this passage:
Genesis 3:22-23 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (23) therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
The restoration of the tree of life is a strong suggestion that the glory of Eden will be restored when the curse is lifted. Until that time, though, the earth groans under the curse as we see in our Romans passage and also in:
Genesis 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. (18) Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. (19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."
As the creation groans, so do we groan. Paul says:
Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Here again is the hope of the Christian- that we will be resurrected in a glorified body, free from the sin and curses of this world. Paul says we are "eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
From here, we have a great discussion on hope:
Romans 8:24-25 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
People frequently ask things like "Why doesn’t God just show Himself? Why does He hide Himself?" In fact, the philosopher Bertrand Russell is frequently quoted as saying just this. However, as Paul points out, "hope that is seen is not hope." I’d like to ask this question- how would we learn things like "hope" if we’re not called to exercise those things? I suppose a person could reply "Well, exactly! The only reason we know hope is because it’s a solution to our problems. If we didn’t have problems, we’d have no need for hope. That would be a far better situation." That recalls another famous quote, this one fromAlfred Lord Tennyson, who said "’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Tennyson seems to think that it is better to have both sides of an experience than to never have that experience at all. This is what grows us as humans. More importantly, fulfillment of hope glorifies God. I have heard this saying "prayers sound different from the bottom of a pit". When we are at our lowest point and have only way to look, that is when hope seems most desirable. And so, God often lets us dig ourselves into a pit from which all seems hopeless, or at least totally out of our control, and then, He offers a solution.
Sometimes that solution doesn’t occur in this lifetime, though. Many of us, myself included, suffer from infirmities from which there is no cure in this world. I have a severe hearing loss and w/out hearing aids, I’m deaf. Sure, hearing aids allow me to function, but they’re not the same as real hearing. Nevertheless, I have great hope that all will be restored at some point. And do you think that I’ll appreciate having glorified hearing later on? You betchya I will! Paul touches on this very subject, too.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (9) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And so, when we come to the point where God’s grace is sufficient for us and when we can have hope that our groans will be relieved, we have come to a place that would be impossible to reach is all were easy and instantly revealed. We can reach of point of great trust in the hope that God offers through Jesus Christ. As Paul says "we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."
While we wait, though, we will be supported.
Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) 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.
According to this passage, not only does the Holy Spirit help with our weaknesses but He actually intercedes in our prayers. We don’t pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit intercedes and actually takes our prayers and translates them into a proper prayer. That’s what the passage means when it says "…He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." That also is a great comfort. It means that when I pray, the only thing required is a heart for God. My actual words are not important because "He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is…" Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 6:7-9 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (8) "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (9) In this manner, therefore, pray: …
And then He gives us the "model prayer". Many times when I personally pray, I don’t utter a word- I simply ask God to search my heart.
Now, our last verse today is a very well-known one.
Romans 8:28 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.
How often, though, I have seen this verse quoted only in part, like this "..we know that all things work together for good…" Even if you go a little further and quote "…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…" you’re missing half the quote. The full quote includes the last part "…to those who are the called according to His purpose." Never lose sight of that last part. The passage might better be abbreviated like this: "All things work together for good…according to His purpose." That’s the part that we as humans have so much trouble with- all things work according to God’s purpose, not ours.
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