From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

January 15, 2012 – Romans 8:18-30

We got back into Romans last week with the first 17 verses of Romans 8. I noted that, the previous Sunday when I announced the resumption of the Romans series, there was actual GROANING! It was lighthearted and we laughed, but this last Sunday I wanted to comment on it (it got more chuckles). So last Sunday I commented that the groaning was a good thing. Because I understand that Romans is thick and heavy, especially if one is used “faith-lite”. It’s heavy lifting. And when you lift heavy weights, you groan. Nobody groans picking up cotton balls (unless your body is creaky like mine and you have to bend over to pick them up)! The groaning (in fun) was a recognition that hearing, really hearing, the Word of God is not entertainment, not background music. It’s work. So contra our culture, when folks come to hear my preaching I don’t want them to “sit back and relax”. I want them to roll up their mental sleeves and do some heavy lifting with me. We can relax when we’re watching some “unreality” show…

So, this coming week, Romans 8:18-30. Verse 17 ends with the idea that, if we are Christ’s, we share his sufferings. So now Paul turns to put those sufferings into a larger perspective, and to provide some assurance for fellow Christian sufferers. I see 3 (of course!) points:

  • Verses 18-22 our suffering is just a part of the suffering of all creation; we’re not alone in this – we’re part of the creation that has been subjected to futility and knows it isn’t meant for futility
  • Verses 23-27 the groaning of our suffering is itself a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us – folks who are walking in the flesh don’t have these desires and groanings. In fact, the Spirit helps us not by removing our groanings but by groaning Himself on our behalf (verse 26)
  • Verses 28-30 it all works for good (eventually) because God has predestined it all; and that predestining leads to glorification.

This is kind of a first blush take on the passage – if you have comments pro or con, I’d like to hear them!

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