We are just over halfway through our study of Romans. As you may recall, this sermon series is titled “The Study of Salvation”. Paul has been writing and teaching specifically about the doctrine of salvation, which serves as the theme for this entire letter. Salvation in Jesus Christ is the fundamental doctrine of Christianity. The book of Romans contains the most thorough and systematic explanation of salvation found in the entire Bible.
Southern Baptists describe salvation as follows - “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Paul has spent the first half of this epistle to the Romans meticulously explaining the mechanics of the salvation process. He began by describing a person’s unrighteous condition before being saved. Then he moved on to the events that take place when a lost person accepts Jesus as their Savior. First they are justified (and reconciled to God) at the moment of their repentance, second they begin to be sanctified (starting with regeneration) for the remainder of their lives, and third they will be glorified at some point in the future when they receive new imperishable bodies.
Having reached the midpoint of his letter, and having just completed his comments on how the process works, Paul takes a few paragraphs to celebrate the wonders of salvation. As he does so, he introduces some words such as “the elect”, “foreknew”, “predestined”, and “called”. These are concepts that will elaborated on in the coming chapters. But for right now, we will limit our discussion to the content covered in the closing verses of this chapter.
I. THE INTERCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Romans 8:26-27)
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, which was attributed the Holy Spirit, will someday also raise our physical bodies from the dead. This same Spirit is working within us presently and helping us in our current state of “weakness”. We are weak because our salvation is not yet fully complete. As a result, the Holy Spirit serves as our divine Helper as we walk through this earthly life.
As carnal human beings, we are rarely in perfect alignment with the will of God. Our own selfish desires and lusts continually affect how we think and what we value. Our ways tend to take precedent over His. As such, we often pray amiss, asking for things that are inconsistent with God’s will or plan for our lives. Such prayers are misguided and ineffective.
One of the greatest functions of the Holy Spirit is His intercession on our behalf. The Spirit knows what the will of the Father is - for both are persons of the triune Godhead. As such, the Holy Spirit always prays for us in a manner consistent with the will of God. In addition, the Spirit’s prayers are not casual or matter-of-fact; rather they are deep groanings offered for us. Even when we as born-again believers don’t know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit constantly pleas on our behalf before God the Father.
II. THE PROVIDENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD (Romans 8:28-30)
I’ve heard pastors say, “Not everything that happens to a Christian is good, but everything works together for our good.” It is a wonderful sentiment, but how can such a statement be true? It seems that the foolish decisions we make or the difficult circumstances of life often have a negative effect that leads us further from God. In some cases, people never recover or turn back to God. So how can we say with certainty that “all things work together for good”?
The answer is found when we determine the people that this verse is referring to. The concept that “all things are working together for good” is limited to those who have been saved or “called according to His purpose”. Those who have placed their faith in Christ will be completely redeemed and spend eternity with the LORD in heaven. This is the destiny of all Christians, and thus regardless of the many bumps along the way, ultimately goodness awaits at the end of life’s journey. Each challenge brings us one moment closer to this glorious end.
This principle gives us great encouragement and hope for the future, but it can also have application in the present. We must learn to “look for the silver lining” in every dark cloud that overshadows our life. We should approach life from the perspective that in every difficult or harrowing experience there is some reason behind it or lesson that can be learned from it that will somehow benefit us. We must make the best of bad situations.
This passage introduces an interesting sequence of events beginning with God’s foreknowledge, followed by predestination, and ending with His call. Notice that these actually precede justification and glorification. This will be the topic of several upcoming sermons starting next week.
III. THE ALLEGIANCE OF GOD THROUGH CHRIST (Romans 8:31-34)
Having a capable ally on your side makes all the difference. As a boy, we used to “pick teams” before playing a game. Whenever I was a team captain, I always chose players that I thought were most likely to help us win. I wanted the best teammates I could get in order to guarantee my success. In like fashion, there is no greater companion in this life than God. Believers are reconciled with Him and are therefore able to overcome any challenges they might face.
If God was willing to give His own Son for us, we can be certain that He will freely give us all other good things as well. If God has justified us and dropped all charges against us, we can be certain that no one else can ever condemn us. Jesus Christ died for us, was raised from the dead, and is now seated at God’s right hand interceding (along with the Holy Spirit) on our behalf. He is for us… not against us. So whatever you are facing, remember that God is in your corner.
In verse 33 we find the phrase “God’s elect”. Like some of the concepts mentioned previously, Paul will dig into the doctrine of election more fully in the coming chapters. For the moment let’s simply rest in the fact that since God is for us, none can successfully stand against us.
IV. THE INSEPARABLE LOVE OF CHRIST (Romans 8:35-39)
When you were young did you ever suffer from “separation anxiety”? Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment. It is most common among children when their mothers are absent, or pets when their owners are gone. I must admit, even as an adult I begin to get a bit uneasy when I am separated from my family too long…
But this is a worry that we need not ever experience as a Christian. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point - there is absolutely nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. His love for us is unquenchable, unshakable, and unrelenting. Now matter how far we may wander from the LORD’s fold or despite the numerous missteps we might take along the way, as His children nothing will ever extinguish or diminish God’s all-encompassing love for us.
Salvation triumphs over sin and the grave. In Jesus Christ we have won the decisive victory over the Devil. The Holy Spirit who lives within us is continuously interceding on our behalf in accordance with God’s will. The Father is providentially directing our every step working all things together for our benefit. He is our ever-present and powerful God... an ally than none can withstand. The love of Christ envelopes us so strongly that nothing can separate us from it. Considering these amazing truths, what could be more wonderful than salvation? Brethren, I’ve racked my brain all week and I can’t think of anything that even comes close…