Take your Bibles this morning, turn to Romans 8, Romans 8, and what a great chapter this is. And we've been preaching Romans 6, 7 and 8 the last several times that I've been preaching, and we have some new preaching series around the corner, but I'm excited about these next few weeks. Would you please stand and make room for folks coming in, and open your Bibles. Turn to Romans 8 and verse number 26 is going to be our text this morning. And I want to ask you, and this is not a trick question. I'm going to lower the bar just a little bit, how many of you read Romans 8 at least four times last week? Let me see where you are. All right. After church you get congratulations from your pastor. All right?
Now I want to ask the rest of you one more time, how many of you will say all right, all right. If I had to do work at school and homework, then if pastor is giving me a little assignment I'm going to get with the program. And this week I'm going to read Romans 8 every day this week. In the morning I'll read Romans 8. How many of you say I'll do that? Raiser your hands here. All right. Good. And I know some of you say I don't make commitments. You've never bought a home. You've never bought a car. You have no credit cards. Oh you'll make commitments to Ford and GM and Montgomery Ward's but not to God's house. All right. All right.
Well all right, don't make a commitment. You say are you trying to make us feel bad? No, I'm trying to make you feel guilty and terrible, and all the rest of that. But I do want to encourage you. I hope the Holy Spirit reminds you and you'll remember, read Romans 8 because it's awesome. You're going to see that this morning, and it'll be a blessing because it'll help you really be in tune for the sermon next Sunday.
Here it is, here is our scripture reading this morning. Romans 8, beginning in verse 26. We're going to preach from three verses today. Ready, begin, follow me in verse 26. "Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 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. For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren".
Let us pray. Father, thank you for the wonderful day to worship you. Lord, outside these four walls there is lots of things going on and there is work and things tomorrow. But now Lord, in these next moments may we see you. May we hear from you, and may we be changed by your word. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. You may be seated.
Well we have been learning this year here at Lancaster Baptist Church what it is and what it means to be alive in Christ. And we have found that when you are alive in Christ you can experience new life every day. You can find that his mercies are new every morning. And this life began when the Holy Spirit of God took up residence in your life and mine at the day of our salvation, for we are born again by the spirit. And the Bible tells us that there are many spirits in this world and that Satan is fighting against us day by day, but in 1 John 4:4 the Bible says, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in this world."
And so we're thankful today for the indwelling spirit of God, the third person of the trinity who indwells every born again Christian. Now in our text this morning the Bible tells us something wonderful about the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the spirit helps us. The spirit helps us. Some of my southern preacher friends don't know how to say help. They don't know there is an L in the word. They say that God is going to hep ya. He's going to hep ya. So whether he is going to hep or help depends on where you're from, but I want you to know this morning that God's Holy Spirit is going to help us with our infirmities.
The Bible says that he helpeth, and the word means to take hold with another. Like a young boy who is turning a wrench, but he just can't seem to make the turn and the father comes and take and holds it with him and turns the wrench. God says when you come to certain times in your life where you just can't seem to have the victory I'm going to take hold of that challenge with you and I'm going to help you find the victory. The Holy Spirit helps us. And Jesus said in John 14, he said, "I'm going to give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever. Even the spirit of truth when the world cannot receive because it seeth him not nor knoweth him, but you know him for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you." The word comforter there is the paraclose, which means that he comes alongside of us again. And he helps with our infirmities, with our weaknesses.
Now God is aware of the weaknesses that we have, because of our humanness, because of the old nature, the flesh we have a susceptibility to sin. We have susceptibility to doubt, to discouragement, to depression. Even after salvation we need help and God says I am going to help you by the presence of my spirit. I wonder how many in this auditorium this morning would be willing to admit that though we're saved and though we have the Holy Spirit and the word of God, still we have infirmities and we need help with our weaknesses. Is anybody else in here willing to admit that we have weaknesses? I'm willing to admit that. I know in my life that I have infirmities, and that all of us have infirmities, and the Spirit of God has come to help us with our infirmities.
Now someone might say this morning, well pastor that's wonderful and I really believe it. How many of you would say, if I stop preaching right now we've already heard good news today? How many of you would agree with that? The Holy Spirit of God who lives in us wants to help us lay hold onto the troubles of life with us in our infirmities, but sometimes people come to church and preachers say stuff like that, and someone might be wondering to themselves, whoa how does he do that? What kind of infirmities can God help me with because I need help.
And so this morning I want to share with you three infirmities that we all have, three ways that God wants to help you. He wants to come alongside and strengthen you. The first way that God wants to help you is with effective prayer. He wants to show you how to pray. Now the Lord has given us the model prayer, and yet in this passage the Bible says the spirit helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought. Now on area where many Christians are weak is the area of prayer. It's not that we want to be weak. It's not that we plan to never pray. It's just that if many Christians in this room were honest today there is not the effectual prayer life that they think to themselves a Christian should have. And God says I want to help you with that, because if we're going to walk together we need to learn how to communicate. And in this area of your infirmity I want to help you along.
And God says in this passage, verse 26, "For we know not what we should pray." So the first way that the Holy Spirit helps us is to give us direction. He shows us how we ought to pray. Verse 26 says he will show us how we ought to pray. We don't always know how to pray according to the will of God. And in our heart circumstances and when we're bearing a heavy burden sometimes we don't even know what to say. And so God says I’m going to give you direction. Sometimes our prayers are focused on ourselves and on our desires, but God says I want to help you. I want to teach you how to pray and how you ought to pray directionally.
But not only does God say he'll give us direction, but God also says that he is going to make intercession for us. That is to say he is going to help communicate our prayers to the throne of grace. In verse 26 the Bible says, "For the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered". Here we see that he intercedes personally with groanings or inexpressible feelings that cannot be articulated perhaps by us. Now there are those in the charismatic Pentecostal realm who would try to say that this particular verse is speaking about some form of unknown tongues, or ecstatic utterance, or irrational gibberish.
But I would help you to know that while there were no languages spoken and interpreted when the manifestation of the Holy Spirit came in ______ two, that this verse is not speaking about glossolalia. It is not speaking about a known tongue, it is speaking about communication between the Godhead. It is speaking about God's Holy Spirit bringing my heart to heaven's throne, and what a wonderful truth this is. That God, who knows my heart receives by the spirit my request at the throne of grace, and what an amazing truth. In fact the Bible says in verse 27, "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit." In this phrase we read that God the Father and the Lord Jesus himself, they search our hearts and verse 27 says, "They know the mind of the spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:11, "For what man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man within him. Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the spirit of God." So God searches our hearts. How many of you believe that God knows your heart? The Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7, "Man looketh on the hour, but God looketh at the heart." So when we come to the Lord in prayer God searches our heart. He knows our heart. The spirit intercedes to bring our heart to the throne of grace, and what a privilege to think about that Hebrews 10:19 says, "We can come boldly to the throne of grace because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ."
And so what I'm telling you this morning is that there is a God who loves us so much that in all three persons of the Godhead are involved with our prayer. God knows the heart, the Spirit interceding and making intercession. Jesus Christ mediating and bringing our prayers to the throne of grace. And what a privilege it is to pray, and we thank God that the spirit brings our prayers to the throne of grace. And God says, I want to teach you how to pray. That’s why it's wise when we're praying and maybe overwhelmed and don't even know what to say, to say Spirit of God guide my prayers. Help me to pray according to your mind. God, I don't even know my own heart. Sometimes we try to make decisions and we think we know what we're doing, but Paul the Apostle even said I can't even know my own heart. I can't judge that my decisions are right apart from the direction of the Lord.
Maybe you've been to places in your life and you're so overwhelmed you don't even know how to express your prayers. I remember when we received that call that our son Larry had cancer, and we praised God that he has been healed from this cancer, but I remember when that call came and it's a feeling that literally you're frozen and the going through the testing's and the surgeries and the chemo's, you don't even sometimes know how to pray, but I'm so thankful that there is a God in heaven who knew my heart and I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit took those of moments of fear and despair and despondency and brought those prayers to the throne of grace. And though I did not even know how to pray as I ought, there is a God in heaven who knows the heart and he knows the spirit of a broken man, and he brings those cares to the very throne of grace.
God says I want to help you today. I want to help you with some infirmities and one of the infirmities that a lot of Christians seem to have is just really how to pray. And I want you to know that God, when you humble yourself and when you just begin speaking to him, he hears. He answers. He intercedes on your behalf. What a wonderful God we have. He says I want to help you to have more effective prayer.
The second way that God says he helps us is by giving us a more eternal perspective on life. To give to us an eternal perspective. Now this morning we're in Romans 8, one of the great pinnacles of scripture, and verse 28, one of the greatest verses of all time and a verse that has revolutionized and helped many Christians. And if it doesn't greatly, greatly help you today I promise you underline it, you're going to need it in your life in the days to come. Notice this in verse 28, it says, "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".
Now this is a passage that not only speaks to the security of the believer, to the everlasting mercy of God, but it also tells us that God will take the daily trials and difficulties of life and that in his sovereign plan he will make all things good. And this is why many Christians facing great tragedy have an inner fortitude that comes from the Spirit of God to stand in those days and to trust God through those trials. Now this eternal perspective, this perspective that we have from God's word and from God's spirit is something the world cannot know, but because of this perspective we can avoid the drugs of the world and the psychotherapy of the world, and sometimes just the utter despair of the world.
When we come to the word of God there is a perspective that is gained and I want you to see it. First of all, we can have confidence in trials. We as believers can have confidence in times of trials. That the sufferings and struggles of life which we are undergoing are not absurdities that do not connect, that have no meaning, that have no purpose, but that the absurdities, the trials, the sicknesses, the difficulties of this life have a purpose with our God. And there is a certainty. I want you to notice the certainty in verse 28. It says, "And we know". Would you say those words with me please. And we know. One more time. And –
Congregation: We –
Know. All right. God says there is a certainty to this. We can perceive it. We can perceive it. We can have confidence. 1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you as though some strange thing has happened to you." God says, look at, you don't have to get freaked out when trials come. You can know that I'm still at work. You can know that I have a purpose in this trial. And sometimes trials do come, and sometimes pain does come to the Christian. Even as the surgeon at times will bring pain to our body, in order to bring healing to our body God will allow pain into our life in order to build our lives spiritually. We can know that whatever is going on, that God is still working in that moment. There is the certainty of it.
Notice also the extent of this confidence. The Bible says, and we know that all things. Would you say that with me this morning? And we know that all things. One more time. And we know that –
Congregation: All things.
All things. Here is the extent. God says I got you covered. I've got everything covered. Now here in California you might buy home insurance, but you may need to get a rider if you're going to have a motorcycle, or a go cart, or a trailer. And you may need to get another rider or additional insurance for earthquakes. And sometimes folks in other regions need them for hurricanes, for example. But God says I've got everything covered. I've got every trial that can come your way covered. God, who causes our lives to have purpose has given promise to us. God says I'm telling you, everything that comes your way, even your enemies I'm going to use them as my tools. All of this is going to be for his purpose. And what a privilege to know that God is working in all things. That the extent of his sovereignty covers everything.
WA Criswa was a great pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Years ago he told the story of a man in Nigeria that he had met. This man lived in a leper colony in Nigeria. He stood up in a church service and he said I want to thank God for my leprosy. He said when I was well and when I was strong, I was a heathen and I did not know God. When I became a leper I was cast out from my society, but the Christian missionaries picked me up and they brought me here to this place, and they taught me about Jesus Christ and by faith I have been saved. He said had I remained well, I would still be a heathen. Now that I am a leper I have found the Lord. I would rather be a leper and have Christ than to be strong and well and be a heathen.
You see, here was a man who understood Romans 8:28. And we know that all things, we can have confidence to the fullest extent that our God makes no mistakes. And in fact, Paul even said we can glory in our tribulations because a mature believer understands that disappointments can be the tool of God. And doubt can be the tool of God. And defeat can be the tool of God. And even divorce can be the tool of God, because all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose. And I know that many of these things are not things you would have chosen. And the sickness is not the path that you would have desired. And you didn't want your marriage to break up. And trials come into our life, but I am here to tell you this morning my friend, that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose, and he maketh no mistake. And you can put your trust and confidence in almighty God this morning. All things work together for good.
We see the certainty of it. We see the extent of it. I want you to see also the synergy of it. I want you to notice in verse 28 it says, "And we know that all things work together." What a wonderful word. The Greek word here is synerjeto, or we have the English word synergy, working together. And you know the various illustrations of synergy and I'm sure you've studied in the past how that two horses can pull four times as much as one horse and so forth. Synergy, working together.
In the world a combination of chemicals for example can create something good. They can take two or three chemicals in a lab and perhaps create some medicine. You can take something like salt, which is comprised really of two poisons. Salt is comprised of sodium and chloride and put it together and make something good of it, unless you eat too much salt. Then it becomes poison again, but that's another sermon. Synergy, taking two things and putting it together. And the Bible says in Psalm 25:10, "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." God says the pathways of life you'll find my mercy on those pathways of life.
I love what John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in his poem, The Eternal Goodness. He said yes, in the maddening maze of things and tossed by storm and flood, to one fixed trust my spirit clings. I know that God is good. Do you know that God is good this morning?
Do you know that he is good all the time this morning? You could have confidence in trials. Secondly you could have comfort in trials, for the Bible says, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. Now here is the quantifier, that we love God. He says all things will work together for your good. Jacob in the Old Testament struggled to see that at times, and when Jacob sent his sons to Joseph seeking food and it was requested that Benjamin would be brought, and oh Jacob worried about that in Genesis 42:36. He even said all these things are against me. Jacob had come to a place in life, he said I've lost Joseph. Now I'm going to lose Benjamin. Everything is going bad.
By the way, how many of you have ever had maybe a time in your life where it seemed like everything was going bad? Have you ever been there? Maybe you're there today. But do you remember what Joseph said? Look in your notes there at Genesis 50:20. When they came to Joseph in Genesis 50 he said to his brother, who had sold him into slavery, he said, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good to bring to pass as it is this day to save much people." I’m simply saying sin is never good, betrayal never feels good. But there is a God in heaven who can change every situation into a good situation.
Bethany Hamilton was saved on the Island of Kauai when she was five years old. Her mother was a Godly woman. Her mother taught her that she should always seek to glorify God with her life. Moms and dads more than earning a trophy or being the prettiest ballerina or the strongest football player, your heart's desire for your children should always first and foremost be that their lives would bring glory to God, whether that be in victory or defeat. That their lives would bring glory to God. The chief end of man is to glorify God. And so she taught her daughter this. Little did she know that when Bethany was a teenager playing and surfing out in the ocean in Kauai, that a 14 foot shark was going to attack her. That shark took her arm, and I believe we have a picture of this young lady now without her arm and devastating time for her life, and yet she and her mother had prayed, God be glorified with Bethany's life. God be glorified.
A few years later when she won her first national championship as a one armed surfer, Bethany stood up on the podium to receive her trophy and she said I am glad that God has counted me faithful to suffer and to testify for him. She had learned Romans 8:28, that God had a purpose. Psalm 119:92 says, "Unless thy law had been my delights I should have then perished in mine afflictions." And so what we see this morning God says I want to help you, because all you have is a temporal paradigm. I want to give you the eternal perspective that I'm working all of this for a reason. Somebody is watching you. Somebody is going to see Jesus in you. There is a reason for this, and God said I want to help you with your infirmities. I want to help you with your weakness with respect to prayer. I want to help you with the weakness that you have when the trials come into your life.
There is a third way the Holy Spirit helps us, and notice this as we close. Not only does he help us with effective prayer, not only does he help us with perspective eternally, but he says I want to help you to have an established purpose for your life, because some people, they vacillate, they wonder. They wonder, prone to wonder, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the one I love. But God says something very unique as we close. Look at verse 28, it says "Who are the called according to his purpose, for whom he did fore know he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Now notice the purpose of God is for the called. That is to say the saved. God has a purpose for your life. The word called is simply another word for saved, and of the called the Bible says in verse 29 that God foreknew his called. How many of you are thankful that we serve a God who knows and understands all things? He even knew that you were going to be saved. This word, foreknew is a wonderful word and it's a simple word. Proginosko, it means simply to know before. We serve a God who knows before we get saved that we're going to get saved. And the Bible says that whom he foreknew he also predestinated. That is to say that God knowing you would be saved, had a predetermined will for your life. That is was his desire that your life, it was predetermined that your life should bring honor and glory to him. And the word predestined here in verse 29 speaks specifically about being predestinated to be conformed to his image.
Now throughout the centuries there have been those who have had great imbalance as they've studied and tried to understand the sovereignty of God, the free will of men. Some have become quite fatalistic to think that God has literally willed some even to hell. One illustration of that that was so amazing, I read this summer of the great missionary, William Kerry in 1787 standing before some pastors in only England and desiring to be a missionary to India. And as he gave his testimony one of the pastors said, young man sit down. When God decides to save the heathen he will do it without your help.
Now herein lies the great problem. If God intended to do it without our help, if no man ever had to call unto the Lord to be saved, then why did Jesus say as the father have sent me, so send I you? Then why did Jesus say go ye therefore and teach all nations? If man has no choice in the matter, then why did Jesus say, oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I have wept for you, but you would not receive me. You see, the fact of the matter is, that God has foreknowledge or he would not be God. But that his predestination speaks about his desire for you to be more like Jesus Christ. It speaks about the work that he wants to do in you in order that you might be to the praise of his glory.
And so we see that this purpose is for the called, but it is for our conformity. Now notice this in verse 29, "For whom he did foreknow also he did predestinate" – notice now – "to be conformed to the image of his son." Would you say that phrase with me? To be conformed to the image of his son. One more time. To be conformed –
Congregation: To the image of his son.
So God says I have a plan for your life and his plan is that we would be conformed to the image of his son. Now then, our conformity, God says I want you to become more and more like Jesus. I want you to see Christ forming in you. I want this to be the purpose of your life, that you would be more and more like Jesus. The Bible says ultimately in 1 John 3:2, "Beloved now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." So we're conforming to his likeness on this earth and we will be in his likeness when we see him in heaven, and this is the will of God for our life. He says I want you to conform in this life. You will be conformed in eternal life and all of this is for the glory of God.
Now notice in verse 29 it says, "That he might be the firstborn among many brethren." This speaks of the glory of God. It speaks of the preeminence of Jesus Christ, that he should have preeminence in all things. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light affliction which is bur for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Now listen to me, God says here is my purpose for your life, that you would be conformed to the image of Christ. Someone says but wait a minute, there is such a bad direction in our culture, and there is laws coming that are against our faith and our family.
And I ask you this morning, could God use those laws to help you be more like Jesus Christ, even if they're uncomfortable? Could God use the trial right now that you're experience to help you be more like Jesus Christ? Could God use the trial to help you get closer to him in prayer? You see, all things work together for good. God says, I foreknew you and I predestinated you to be conformed to the image of my son. And sometimes when everything is going great, we're like God I'll see you on Sunday. I got it under control, but then the trial comes and we realize God, I need you every moment of every single day.
And God says now, now I can help you. Now I can chip away at you. Now I can take away some of that Paul Chappell so that people can see Jesus there. Now I can take away some of that Frank and some of that Joe and some of that John, because I don't want the world to see you. I want the world to see Jesus in you. I want you to be conforming to the image of Jesus Christ.
You see the Holy Spirit can help you with that. The Holy Spirit can take you and take away an angry cursing man and bring about a beautiful testimony that would bring glory to Jesus. The Holy Spirit says I want to help you. I know you have some weaknesses. I want to help you learn how to have effective prayer. I want to help you when the trials come to have an eternal perspective. I want you to understand that there is an established purpose for your life.
Yesterday I visited one of our church families and I went to their home, Bill and Pam Stewart. Bill has had an amazingly difficult six months. His wife, wonderful lady. Pam is just a blessing to my heart. She has battled MS for years. Very difficult for her to even get to church. She gets here so faithfully. Has to use some assistance usually. Bill has been her rock, big man, strapping man. But then surgeries and the pain, and then gangrene, and the loss of a leg. And now her rock has lost his leg on the left side. Now they're both having to use walkers. Now they're both on a tremendous amount of medicine.
It's not really what you plan for your life when you kind of hit maybe around age 60 or so. And I sat there and was just kind of amazed listening to some of the medical data. But then I was even more amazed for one solid hour to hear that couple praise and thank the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh pastor, we saw the sovereign hand of God with our medical insurance and with this doctor having this knowledge. And God was so good, and oh Brother Loftron has been a blessing, and the church has been a blessing. And oh this one and that one, and God's been so good to help meet our needs every way. And oh, God's given us such wonderful fellowship together. And we've been able to talk and we've been able to pray, and we've been able to grow in the Lord.
And what I saw yesterday as I sat in the home of the Steward family, I saw Jesus. I saw a family glowing in the grace of Jesus, gaining an eternal perspective, learning how to pray effectively and believing that God still has a purpose for their lives. Bill said to me, pastor, I don't know why I still have breath. I came very close to losing my life, but I know that God has a purpose for my life still. And my friend, God has a purpose for all of our lives. And sometimes we've had far fewer trials than Bill Stewart, but we'll complain far, far greater. Why? Because we're not letting the Holy Spirit help us.
He says I know you're weak. Would you let me help you today? Would you let me teach you and guide you along the way? I'd sure like to, the Holy Spirit says. And yet we must extend to him our hand and we must extend to him our prayer and say Lord, walk with me this week. Let me have new life today and tomorrow, as I walk with you.
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