Lesson 28

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we donít know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which canít be uttered. 8:27 He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spiritís mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God. 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 8:30 Whom he foreordained, them he also called. Whom he called, them he also justified. Whom he justified, them he also glorified.

 Today's Lesson 

After Paul had spoken of suffering in the previous passage he wanted to remind his readers that God has given us resources to rely on in the times that we suffer. The greatest gift that God gives to His children is the presence of the Spirit of God in their lives. The Spirit is the down payment on the inheritance that God gives us. The Spirit is also called the first fruits of our inheritance.


Paul writes that the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We don't even know how we ought to pray or for what we should pray. But such should not trouble us because the Spirit was given to help us in just this way. The Spirit knows our hearts and intercedes with God on our behalf. The Spirit of God looks out for us and brings the things that we need into our lives so that we might mature and develop.


The work of the Spirit is so complete that Paul can confidently state that "all things work together for good for those who love God..." The Spirit is sovereign over the life of the believer. God brings people and events into our lives that will cause us to grow in grace. God uses each ingredient to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. God uses our sufferings and our joys. He uses the people that love us and the people that despise us.


This verse has brought great comfort to many Christians. My wife has this verse in our kitchen to remind us that God is looking out for us. But it is important to note that Paul does not say that all things work together to make us feel good. Nor does he say that all things will work together in a way that we would choose. What God promises is to use all the things that happen to us to bring "good" into our lives. God is the Great Creator. God can use the elements of the worst tragedy and create from them the greatest blessing. We need to have faith that whatever our circumstances God is at work in our lives.


Paul writes that this active presence of God is working in the lives of all those who are "called according to his purpose." Then Paul explains how God calls those who are His children. "For whom he foreknew, he also predestined Ö Whom he foreordained, them he also called. Whom he called, them he also justified. Whom he justified, them he also glorified." I know that these words disturb many people. I have been in many discussions where ideas of predestination and free will were tossed about. I know that there are whole Christian groups that divide over such issues.


For the life of me I've never really understood the controversy. Paul seems to say that we can trust God with our souls because God has everything already planned out. God is in control. I can trust that God will work all things out for my good because God has a script that He's working off of and things are going as scheduled. That's always been a comfort for me to know that.


For my part I have to live by faith in what God has revealed to me so far. I can leave all of the foreknowledge and predestination part to Him. That's just as well since I'll never really understand it anyway. God holds me accountable for what I do and say and think and that seems right to me. I hold other people accountable in the same way. Yet there's a sense in which God does not hold me accountable. Because Christ was willing to bear my sin on the cross, God really held Him accountable for my sin. Christ was willing to bear the punishment for my sin that I rightly deserved.


God has a plan. Will you trust God to see His plan through? Will you trust God even though you may suffer and even though there will be times when you have no idea what God is doing? Will you trust God in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death cannot part you?


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