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Thursday, October 12, 2017

“Martin Luther: The Freedom of a Christian”

Romans 8:26-30

This is one of the most reassuring passages in all of scripture. Paul begins by saying that the Holy Spirit helps us with our weakness. Two things are already affirmed here. The first is that we are weak, weak in faith, weak in commitment, weak in the face of temptation. However, as Jesus promised we are not alone in these struggles. The Holy Spirit is our helper, our advocate as we noted earlier (John 14:16).  Paul then states that we do not even know how to pray as we ought.  If we are honest we have to admit that our prayers are not what they ought to be. There is the simple fact that most of our prayers center on ourselves, our needs, our wants. There is nothing wrong with this but if we focus on ourselves more than on God then we are not praying “as we ought.” However even here the Spirit intercedes for us. We are not dependent on our own efforts.

Many people regard verse 28 in this passage as their favorite in all of the Bible. If we really believe that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” then there is nothing we should fear.  Paul of course never says that all things are good. They obviously aren’t. Nor can we ever say that God is the author of sin. Yet God rules and overrules often in spite of the sinful choices we make and the powers of evil that we are warned about (Eph. 6:12). There is the famous example of Joseph in the Old Testament who, speaking to the brothers that had sold him into slavery, says, “You meant it unto me for evil but God meant it unto me for good” (Gen. 50:20). The brothers had really done evil.  They could not evade that verdict. Yet God was able to bring good even out their evil intentions.

Paul concludes this section with a ringing statement of predestination. This is not meant for speculation. It is rather meant for assurance. If we believe in Christ we are predestined. Predestination assures us that we are always in God’s hand.  And nothing can ever take us out of that hand (John 10:27-29).

Faithful and loving God I praise you for the promise that all things work together for good for those who believe in you.  Grant me this confidence and assurance as I face the turmoils and trials of life.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.