Romans 8:15 – 39
“Life on the wings of a promise”
The story is told of a plane on a long trip. At one point the pilot announces that one engine is in trouble. “Don’t worry,” the pilot announces, “the plan has three engines and we can easily fly on one if we need to, but we will be a half hour late.” It wasn’t much longer before the pilot made a second announcement, “We are experiencing problems with another engine and we will be about two hours late.” At this point, one passenger turned to another and said, “I hope we don’t lose the third engine or we’ll be up here all day!”
Some of us have been flying on one engine and its been in trouble for a long time. Paul has just taken us through a very difficult concept; sin in the believer and the necessity for sanctification. Before going on, he pauses to encourage us. [Source: Unknown]
I. The hard times we face now do not compare to what is promised.
A. Why do we face hard times now?
1. [v 20] All creation is held back by the Curse.
a. The Curse is a result of sin.
b. Around us and inside us we have “impurity, deformity, and infirmity” [Matthew Henry]
2. Individuals, by nature, are separated from God.
a. The Bible says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
b. Sin is the root of EVERY problem, misery, and pain.
3. Others may hurt us.
a. We are abused by sin.
b. As instruments of sin, we abuse others.
4. There is systemic evil that drives nations, corporations, and denominations.
a. e.g. The greed for riches.
b. e.g. Pride which drives us for prestige.
c. e.g. Unwillingness to humble ourselves before God.
B. The believer has patience and confidence in hope.
1. The believer longs for full deliverance from sin, suffering, death, and decay. [v 21]
a. At the moment everything is effected.
b. At the moment we are in process. [v 22]
1.) Wesley, “Our salvation is now only in hope. We do not yet possess this full salvation.”
2.) The Bible expresses salvation in three tenses: “we have been saved,” “we are being saved,” “we will be saved.” There is a “already but not yet” quality about salvation.
3.) The ideal track is to move us from sin to salvation and into sanctification and service.
2. The believer joyfully expects to gain the promise in Jesus. [v 23]
a. [v 25] The promise of full rights of adopted children.
b. [v 25] The promise of new bodies that are incorruptible.
c. FACT: This world will not continue in depravity, misery, and meaninglessness.
II. We are not alone in our weakness. [v 25]
A. The Holy Spirit helps us. [v 26]
1. We do not know how/what to pray. [v 26]
a. It doesn’t matter!
Matthew Henry: “The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.”
Paul asked to be healed. Instead he got something else.
b. The Holy Spirit knows us and our condition. [v 27]
c. The Holy Spirit knows God’s mind and will. [v 27]
The Holy Spirit directs our prayers. BTW, not all prayers use words...
2. We do have a promise. [v 28]
a. God’s intention is for us to be in harmony with His will. [v 27]
b. Thus, God works in the circumstances of our lives. [v 28]
c. God has purpose for us! [v 28]
Rick Warren: nothing will revive/renew a person or church more than finding a purpose.
B. God the Father is helping us. [v 28]
1. He decided to shape our lives to be like Jesus. [v 29]
a. “Predestined” means God decided in advance.
b. The pattern is Jesus.
2. The idea is to RESTORE what was lost to the Curse.
a. It puts God on our side, again. [v 31]
b. In fact, God did everything for us. [v 32]
c. When God justifies, all accusations are answered. [v 34]
III. Have you noticed we still struggle?
A. God does not promise to remove us from the struggle.
1. The promise is for us to be “more than conquerors.”
a. A conqueror is some who wins the war and is celebrated.
b. A conqueror may lose many battles on the way to winning complete victory in the war.
2. The struggle is good for us.
a. It is part of the shaping process.
b. It draws us deeper into dependence on God.
c. It draws us deeper into relationship with God.
B. God does promise that NOTHING (person, circumstance, or problem) will ever separate us from His love. [vv 35, 38 – 39]
1. No human generated instance can separate us from God’s love. [v 35]
a. What about social or legal threats? [Paul spent many years in jail.]
b. What about government oppression? [Nero’s persecution.]
c. What about war and poverty? [70 A.D. Fall of Jerusalem.]
2. No spiritual related instance. [v 38]
a. What about death? [“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21]
b. What about uncertainty? [“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” Titus 1:12]
c. What about direct demonic attack? [“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9]
3. No natural generated instance.
The Message put it this way: “Nothing fazes us because Jesus loves us... because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
IV. How does one get these things?
A. “You don’t know what you don’t know” if you are without Jesus.
1. Heaven is a free gift, it can not be earned or deserved.
2. As humans we all fall short and are unable, by our own actions and efforts, to reach heaven.
3. God follows His own rules but He also takes the initiative to wake us up so we don’t have to suffer.
4. Jesus, being eternal and Almighty God, paid with His blood to cover all our wrong, all our mistakes, all our short-falls, so we can reach heaven.
5. You have to trust what Jesus did on the cross and at the empty tomb. That means you give up any and all hope of reaching heaven yourself. Instead, you reach for Jesus and let Him take you to heaven.
[based on James Kennedy’s “Evangelism Explosion.”]
B. Use the pain for gain.
1. If you are sick, you go to doctor (or some medical person who knows what they are doing).
a. When you are hurting, go to God! [“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:17]
b. Like a child going to dad. [v 14] (BTW, I used to run to Mom for comfort, to Dad for solutions.)
2. Keep it in perspective.
a. There is NO comparison. [v 18]
Matthew Henry: “The suffering of the saints strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time. . .”
b. If you are a believer (true religion of the heart), God IS on your side. [v 32].