Romans 7 in my view is more or less the idea that we are not under the law and the struggle there would be that of someone attempting to keep the law by asserting our sinful human nature (flesh). Take a pencil and mark all the uses of “I” and you’ll see what I mean.
Romans 8 turns the page to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Mark the uses of the word Spirit to see the difference.
Now then Romans 8:26 – 30 seems to start with the idea that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” and then discusses three points.
- Prayer v. 26-27 – “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us…”
- Providence v. 28 – :… all things work together for good…”
- Predestination v. 29-30 “…those whom he foreknew he predestined…”
The connection to the Holy spirit and Prayer is clear in the text and intuitively. Prayer generally takes the shape of appealing to the Father in the name of the Son. the Spirit enables, and so some extend prays for us.
Providence in verse 28 is God’s care over all the parts of our lives so that for the believer they come to a good purpose. We generally think of this is a God the Father issue – Isn’t the Father the one who decrees and orders things? So then what role does the Spirit have in this? This is a new perspective for me on this question. I have a few thoughts
- The Spirit enables our response to hardship to be beneficial. hardship can just as easily lead to anger or bitterness. However, the internal work of the Spirit can be seen to work transformation in us, so we gain perseverance, empathy, hope and other virtues. (See Romans 5; James 1 and 2 Corinthians 1).
- The external ordering of things seems to be the Fatherly part. The internal transformation of us seems to be the Spirit’s part.
Election and Predestination again seem to be the work of the Father, who decrees all things. Yet can see a role of the Holy Spirit in this. I learned the difference between “eternal security” and “Perseverance of the saints” some time ago. I had tought of them as the same. However, the first idea seems to be that God says “what is saved will be saved.” The second has the idea that God acts in us to cause us to persevere. His care goes with his decree. Now some thoughts of the Holy Spirit in this.
- The Spirit walks us through foreknowledge, when we remember that to “know” in the Bible us usually a personal thing not just intellectual. The Spirit knows us deeply (V. 27).
- Predestination in the text is tied to “being conformed to the likeness of his Son”. This is a transformation, and are we not accustomed to see that the process of sanctification is spiritual?
- Predestination is also linked to Christ “being the firstborn among many brothers.” This is the new birth (our part of it). John 3 has Jesus telling Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit.
- Calling of course reminds us of the decree of the Father, but how is the call accomplished? Does not the Spirit of God draw, convince and convict us?
- Justification is a legal status, where the work of Christ is applied to the believer. How is that applied? I think of the classic theology text, “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray. Is it not the work of Christ to accomplish redemption. He said, “it is finished.” Yet is it not the work of the Spirit to attach that work to us?
- Glorification is the final transformation to perfection. Then the struggle of Romans 7 is forever gone, as are the struggles of Romans 8 (which meet with more success.) when we are transformed. I Corinthians 15 speaks of being raised to a Spiritual Body.
These are just rumination at this point. The main insight ist hat we can look at these words from the standpoint of the Father and his decrees, the Son and his finished work and the Spirit who lives in us and attaches Christs work to us.
As the Church Fathers (and probably some Mothers) said, “All the works of God are undivided.” This means that in creation and is redemption the Father, Son and Spirit work as one.
We’ve been talking about prayer this season. Here is a page on setting up a basic time for prayer.
Click link for a copy of the worksheet: quiet-time
There are a lot of parts to a prayer life. We can make it complicated, or we can keep it simple. Here is a simple place to start: HELP
HAVE a place and time
ENTER God’s presence.
- Take a moment to relax, take a breath.
- Open with a simple prayer like, “Lord, hear my prayer.”
LISTEN to the word of God
- Listen, don’t just read it with your eyes.
- Listen by reading slowly out loud, more than once.
- Follow a reading plan:
- Following the Lord’s Prayer – “A Model Prayer”
- Responding to today’s reading
- Keep a prayer list.
(Grace: it can be helpful to forgive yourself if you miss a day. It is worth considering an option like taking a walk, listening to gospel music, enjoying a hobby…)
In a sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) I have been using an idea derived from Martin Luther’s letter to his barber on how to pray. This is available as an article fro Inter Varsity Press in a booklet called “Martin Luther’s Quiet Time.”
Luther’s four fold strand of prayer in response to scripture is put into the acronym S*T*A*R
The following extract from a sermon explains….
I have also shared and modeled a way of praying through the Lord’s Prayer. This comes from Martin Luther’s teaching on prayer. He said that we can take a part of scripture, such as the 10 Commandments or the Lord’s Prayer and turn it into a pray by these easy steps. First to State the teaching, “Lord you have taught us that we can come to your as our Father.” Then we can thank him, “Lord we thank you for the privilege of prayer that we can come to you and you will welcome us and delight in us as a parent delights in a child.” Then we can Admit our wrongs, “Lord we act as orphans in the world. We act as if we are on our own and do not look to you for guidance or for help in times of trouble.” Then we can Request. “Lord, please let our lives be a reflection of your love and personal care for us.”
This STAR outline can help us in our prayer. We can use it whenever we respond to Scripture. I have modeled it in each sermon of this series so far, and will do it again today.
- State the teaching
- Thank God for it.
- Admit our failings
- Request God to act on it.
I have over the years enjoyed British pastor/theologians. Among those who find a place in my library are John Stott, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer. It can’t be the accent, because there are paper books. It has to do with a commitment to scholarship for the church. They avoid the error of scholarship for scholarship’s sake – the Bible was not sent to us for analysis only. It avoids the error of simple mindedness – as one of these authors titled a book, “Your Mind Matters.”
Here are two quotes on the value of the Lord’s Prayer as a model for praying.
“So the Lord’s Prayer should be put to service to direct and spur on our praying constantly. To pray in terms of it is the sure way to keep our prayers within God’s will; to pray through it, expanding the clauses as you go along, is the sure way to prime the pump when prayer dries up and you find yourself stuck. We never get beyond this prayer; not only is it the Lord’s first lesson in praying, it is all the other lessons too. Lord, teach us to pray.”
– J. I. Packer, “Praying the Lord’s Prayer”, Crossway, 2007, p. 17,18
“The Lord’s Prayer covers everything; and all we do is to take these principles and employ and expand them and base our every petition upon them. That is the way in which it is to be approached.“
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, IVP 1959-1960, p. II. 49
We have heard this passage in church, and we KNOW we should pray for our leaders, but HOW should we do it.
I have adapted this from a flier put out by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: (Prayer Guide)
Praying for our Leaders
Fill in the names for where you live. Each day pick one or two to pray for…
President Barak Obama
Schools and Teachers:
Social Service Agencies:
Leaders of Other Nations:
The front page of the Newspaper
You can pray using words and thoughts from Scripture…
- “Help ______ accept wise counsel.” Prov. 11:14
- “Teach ______ to trust in you.” Psalm 21:7
- “Protect ______ from the influence of the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- Give ________ wisdom, foresight and understanding in making decisions. I Chronicles 22:12
- “Protect _______ from harm and bless his/her family. Psalm 21:11
- Give ________ courage to do the right thing even when urged to do the wrong thing.” Prov 2:11-15
- Give _______ a tender heart of compassion to those she/he leads and serves. Col 3:12
- “Bless ______ with strength, endurance and stamina.” I Chronicles 16:11
- “Help all those, including ___________________, who help those in need.”
“I urge…. that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” I Timothy 2:1-3
There was a shooting in my neighborhood last week. A young man is dead. Blame and accusation lay close by. Lots of citizens have worked hard to speak truthfully while maintaining peace. All the same, I can feel sides taking shape. Who shall we blame? There is a state-run investigation and we all will have to wait for the full evidence of what happened to become public record.
I was thinking of an entirely different situation in the scriptures. But when Nehemiah heard of the broken down walls of Jerusalem, although he lived safely in the far distance, he was captured by the need to pray and lament the condition of his people, the people of Abraham. After some days of lamenting, he prayed. I have only highlighted words to show who Nehemiah blamed.
“O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants,confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord,let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:5-11
The thing I notice is the reciprocity of these verses.
- Do not Judge or you will be judged
- with the judgments you use
- with the measures you use
- Do not remove the speck in your neighbors eye
- without first dealing with your own
- Do not give treasure to beasts
- Ask, Seek and Knock and you will receive, find and enter
- if we the unjust love our children
- how much more will God love us
- Do to others what you would have them do to you
- this applies to everything
- this fulfills the law and the prophets (see 5:17)
Judging in the sense of condemning is prohibited (maybe because that implies we are on safe ground)
But judging ourselves first, allows us to help others (we are on the same ground)
Some who are in error are correctable (speck/log in eye).
Some who are in error are not (dogs/pigs).
When we love, we imperfectly show what God can do better than we can.
The Golden Rule is reciprocal – do what you want done to you.
So the thing you can’t do is hear this and hope that others get their act together. (the ones you judge, the ones with specks, the dogs and the pigs and the parents with screaming kids in the grocery store)