Our Victory in Christ (Romans 8:26-30)

Our Victory in Christ (Romans 8:26-30)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH by Pastor Steve Rhodes on Sunday, June 6, 2021

Noble Doss dropped the ball. One ball. One pass. One mistake. In 1941, he let one fall. And it’s haunted him ever since. “I cost us a national championship,” he says.

The University of Texas football team was ranked number one in the nation. Hoping for an undefeated season and a berth in the Rose Bowl, they played conference rival Baylor University. With a 7-0 lead in the third quarter, the Longhorn quarterback launched a deep pass to a wide-open Doss.

“The only thing I had between me and the goal,” he recalls, “was twenty yards of grass.”

The throw was on target. Longhorn fans rose to their feet. The sure-handed Doss spotted the ball and reached out, but it slipped through.

Baylor rallied and tied the score with seconds to play. Texas lost their top ranking and, consequently, their chance at the Rose Bowl.

“I think about that play every day,” Doss admits.

Not that he lacks other memories. Happily married for more than six decades. A father. Grandfather. He served in the navy during World War II. He appeared on the cover of Life magazine with his Texas teammates. He intercepted seventeen passes during his collegiate career, a university record. He won two NFL titles with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Texas High School Hall of Fame and the Longhorn Hall of Honor include his name.

Most fans remember the plays Doss made and the passes he caught. Doss remembers the one he missed. Once, upon meeting a new Longhorn head coach, Doss told him about the bobbled ball. It had been fifty years since the game, but he wept as he spoke.[1]

Sometimes we get weighed down with our mistakes. Praise God we don’t have to do that with salvation. In Jesus our salvation is great, it is awesome! God does not drop balls. The Holy Spirit draws us to Him. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. We can focus on the optimistic awesome truth of God and not the mistakes we have made.

I decided to divide this message in two parts. This will be a two part message talking about our victory in Christ. First, today, we will talk about the Holy Spirit’s help in our prayer life, we will also talk about God’s good plan in our salvation.

My theme today is: Victory in Christ, the Holy Spirit’s help and God’s good plan. 

  • In verses 26-27 we see the Spirit’s help.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

  • In the previous verses the apostle Paul had been instructing on the Christian hope. Now, he builds on this.
    • We all have weaknesses, correct?
    • The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.
    • We are not alone.
    • For… Paul is explaining.
    • We do not know what to pray for, or we do not know how to pray, or maybe we cannot pray. BUT the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
    • Paul does not leave it at that. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
    • My youth pastor’s daughter died of leukemia. During and after that time he would meet a friend to pray. He would get on his knees to pray, but he could not pray. He would just weep. You know what, the Holy Spirit was interceding for him.
    • Remember that, the Holy Spirit is praying for you!
    • Wow, take that in a moment.

Verse 27 reads: And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

  • “And He” this is about the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit knows you. The Holy Spirit searches your heart and knows what is the mind of the Spirit. What does this mean?
    • To me, this means that the Holy Spirit knows us and the Holy Spirit knows God’s will and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us accordingly.
    • What is God’s will?
    • God’s will is for you and me to be saved and to know Him (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:8-9).
    • God’s will is for us to depend upon Him and grow in Him and walk with Him.
  • In verses 28-30 we see God’s good plan.

Verse 28 reads:And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

  • Remember this all must be read and studied in context.
    • The Holy Spirit is interceding for us according to the will of God.
    • And this verse is about how things work together.
    • For those who love God…
    • Do we love God?
    • Do I love God?
    • If we love God all things work together for good and according to His purposes. The good is about conformity to Christ. God has a salvation plan.

Verses 29-30 read: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

  • This is very straightforward.
    • So, God has a salvation plan.
    • Those God foreknew, God’s foreknowledge is His ability to see the future.
    • God is omnipresent that means that He is present everywhere including outside of time.
    • Those God looked to the future and saw they would be Christians, those He predestined.
    • What did God predestine them for? Did God simply predestine them to be saved and then live like the devil? NO!
    • He predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son, that is Christians are predestined to become like Jesus.
    • This happens in order that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brethren. What does that mean. It means that He is the head of the church. Jesus was not born, but in a metaphorical way, He has the rights and privileges of the firstborn. He is the head. MacArthur shares: [firstborn means] The preeminent one, the only one who is the rightful heir (cf. Ps 89:27; Col 1:15–18; Rev 1:5). Jesus Christ is the most notable one among those who have become “brethren” by being made like Him.[2]

Look again at verse 30: And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

  • Okay, the “predestined” are “called.” To be “predestined” means to “choose out beforehand.” This means that those God foreknew, that is those God knew would be saved, He predestined them, he chose them beforehand, that is in eternity past. Now, at a certain point God calls them (see Acts 16:14). This means the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we understand that we are sinners in need of a Savior, and we are saved. Sometimes this “call” does not happen all at once for us. Meaning, God may call you at one time, but it may take some time before you accept Him.
    • Those God calls will be saved and are justified. That means God declares us righteous.
    • Then, lastly, the justified are glorified. That means when we go to Heaven, we are literally sinless. 
    • Now, I stated that the predestined are those God foreknew. That is generally what I believe.
    • Predestination is a broad concept in that what is foreordained can be any number of occurrences such as the Romans and Jews killing Jesus (Acts 4:28), or the elect experiencing fullness of life (1 Corinthians 2:7ff.) (This is a quote from a sermon by Pastor Bobby Murphy). 
    • The elect is a reference to the corporate church.
    • Why do we need predestined for salvation?
    • Jesus says:
    • John 6:44: No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.[3]
    • John 6:65: And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”[4]
    • The Bible affirms God’s sovereignty, but also our freewill.
    • Salvation does start with God, but we do have freewill.
    • Salvation is God’s idea.
    • We were dead in our sins, but God wants a relationship with us, and if we are totally depraved, how do we receive Christ? We need the Holy Spirit to draw us to Him. So, that is predestination.
    • What I have stated here is that God predestined those He knows will be saved.
    • Remember that technically God does not look to the future to see who will be saved. Everything is eternally present. So, the term “foreknowledge” is anthropomorphic, meaning it is ascribing to God human attributes. Bottom line, God knows who would receive Him, in their own freewill, given the opportunity, and He makes sure they have the opportunity. The opportunity means that they receive the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Remember, no one can receive Jesus without the Holy Spirit’s conviction. We are dead in our sins. 
    • This is called “prevenient grace.” This means the grace of the Lord coming before-hand giving us the convicting power of the Holy Spirit so we can be saved.
    • I would not be opposed to the idea that the Lord gives everyone, at some time, or many times, the Holy Spirit’s conviction so they can be saved. However, the predestined, and elect, are only those whom God knows will be saved.  
    • Real quickly, there is a view called “Molinism,” or “Middle-Knowledge.” I am leaning towards this view. This would be the view that God knows any choice we would freely make, in any possible circumstance, in any possible world. God knows, in any possible world, if with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, with prevenient grace, we would freely receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. God then puts us in those situations. Then God providentially orchestrates us into events, but those are the events that God knows we would freely choose.
      • This is called “middle knowledge” because it is based on God’s “middle knowledge.” Williams Lane Craig shares:
        • In the first moment is God’s knowledge of all necessary truths, for example, the laws of logic.
        • To skip ahead, the third moment of God’s knowledge is his knowledge of the actual world which he has created [God’s free knowledge]. In between God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge, in the second moment of omniscience, omniscience stands God’s middle knowledge. In this moment God knows what every possible creature would do (not just could do) in any possible set of circumstances. For example, he knows whether Peter, if he were placed in certain circumstances, would deny Christ three times. By his natural knowledge God knew in the first moment all the possible things that Peter could do if placed in such circumstances. But now in this second moment he knows what Peter would in fact freely choose to do under such circumstances. This is not because Peter would be causally determined by the circumstances to act in this way. No, Peter is entirely free, and under the same circumstances he could choose to act in another way. But God knows which way Peter would freely choose. God’s knowledge of Peter in this respect is not simple foreknowledge. For maybe God will decide not to place Peter under such circumstances or even not to create him at all. Middle knowledge, like natural knowledge, thus is logically prior to the decision of the divine will to create a world.[5]
      • God knows the middle knowledge and God orchestrates it so that we are predestined and yet free because the predestination is based on our free choice which He knows because of His omniscience.
      • Foreknowledge says God knows what will happen. Middle knowledge means God knows what “could” happen. God knows the subjunctives. God knows what a person will do in their free will in any possible world and God orchestrates that. They do it of their free will but God predetermined it but based on their free will.
      • This means that no one is eternally damned to hell who would be saved given the opportunity.

Theologians use a phrase to talk about how Christ-followers are already redeemed but will not experience the fullness of redemption until they live with God in heaven. The phrase is, “The already and the not yet.” How does that work exactly?

A little girl in England, Josie Caven, was born profoundly deaf. Growing up, she often felt isolated because of her inability to hear, but that changed after receiving a cochlear implant during the Christmas season. At the age of 12, she heard clearly for the first time. The first sound she heard was the song “Jingle Bells” coming from the radio.

Was Josie’s hearing restored? Yes—completely. Was she hearing well immediately? Not exactly. Her mother said, “She is having to learn what each new sound is and what it means. She will ask, ‘Was that a door closing?’ and has realized for the first time that the light in her room hums when it is switched on. She even knows what her name sounds like now, because before she could not hear the soft ‘S’ sound in the middle of the word. Seeing her face light up as she hears everything around her is all I could have wished for this Christmas.”

Josie’s hearing was restored, but that restoration introduced her to the daily adventure of learning to distinguish each new sound in the hearing world. It’s the already, and the not yet.[6]

[1] Max Lucado, Fearless (Thomas Nelson, 2009), pp. 31-32

[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 8:29.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 6:44.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 6:65.

[5] Craig, William L.. The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom (pp. 128-130). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[6] Source: “Christmas Carols Music to the Ears of Deaf Girl,” Yorkshireposttoday.com

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