THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
In Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 of Paul’s Letter to the Romans he deals with the Sovereignty of God and how that relates to Salvation of the Jews and the Gentiles (us). And Paul relates to how God relates to us, especially through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When I am tempted to think that God is cruel to leave us in our suffering, I remember that He, too, moans with “groanings too deep for words.” When I see a mother sobbing over the dead body of her child, I know the Holy Spirit suffers her anguish too. When I see a man kiss the cold cheek of his bride and give her body to the care of a mortician, I know the Holy Spirit feels his desperate ache. He is the Spirit of the Creator, who made these bodies to reflect His glory, not suffer disease, disaster, death, and decay. He loves us even more than we love ourselves, and therefore He groans with us.
As the difficulty continue, we should realize He can see issues that are hidden to us and He can account for infinite variables that we cannot, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9) (NIV) So, we should pointedly decide it’s best to leave the “how” in His hands. And as the difficulty drags on, we began to accept that our desired outcome might not be the right resolution, so we surrender that to the Lord as well. This particular burden can eventually bring us to the end of our own strength, and we are left in a listless heap, too exhausted for prayer. Our suffering has overwhelmed our capacity for speech, so all we can express to God is pleading moans… emotions too intense for words.
If anyone doubts the Lord’s faithfulness, Paul cites the fact that He has already sacrificed His Son to redeem us with the price paid, it makes no sense for Him to refuse to take delivery on what He has purchased, us. And having completely committed His greatest object of love, why would He then hold back what He values far less than His Son?
Paul answers this in Romans also. Paul’s answer highlights four great Christian doctrines:
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)
That’s the doctrine of substitution. The Son of God paid the debt of sin on our behalf.
After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:22 (NIV)
That’s the doctrine of resurrection. The Son of God was raised to new life and, by our identification with Him, we too have new life.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrew 12:2
That’s the doctrine of accession. The Son of God has received title to the entire universe and now rules as its king and ultimate judge.
For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Advocate. Hebrew 9:24 (NLT)
That’s the doctrine of intercession. The Son of God is our advocate, our representative in heaven, faithfully looking out for our welfare.
So, we have the Father, who sacrificed His one and only Son to free us from bondage to sin. We have the Son, who paid the price to set us free and now holds title to everything. And we have the Holy Spirit, who lives within us to share our suffering and to be the spiritual driving force we cannot. With the triune God working for us on all sides, what possible chance does any form of evil stand? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” Romans 8:35-36 (NIV)
In another place, Paul offers a prayer for us that may cover part of what we have seen here.
Paul says to the Ephesians, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV)
Bostwick UMC 8/1/21