logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

“Get with the Program! God’s Shaping, Supporting, & Shining Through Us”

July 16, 2017 Romans 8:26-30


When summer holidays come, people are often ready to tumble into vacation time because they’re exhausted from the stress and pressures and strain of everyday life. Maybe you feel like you’re running on “empty”, your internal engine is just getting by on fumes. But did you know God gives those who know Him an internal power source?

      AJ Gordon was one of the founders of Gordon Conwell Divinity School. Once he was out walking and looked across a field at a house. Beside the house was what appeared to be a man pumping furiously at an old-fashioned hand pump. As Gordon watched, the man continued to pump at a tremendous rate; he seemed absolutely tireless, pumping on and on, up and down, without ever slowing in the slightest, much less stopping.

      Because it was so remarkable, Gordon began to walk toward the sight. As he got closer, he could see it wasn’t a man at the pump at all, but a wooden figure painted to look like a man. The arm that was pumping so rapidly was hinged at the elbow and the hand was wired to the pump handle. The water was pouring forth, but not because the figure was pumping it; you see, it was an artesian well, and the water was coming up out of the ground of its own accord and pumping the man!

      When you see someone who’s at work for God and producing results, recognize that it’s the Holy Spirit working through the person, not their own efforts that are giving results. All the person in Christ has to do – and all you have to do – is keep your hand on the handle!

      Today as we continue on in the latter half of Romans 8, we hear the Apostle Paul describing the secret inner power source available to Christians; and the eventual goal toward which the Holy Spirit in us is working.


The first couple of verses, 26-27, state “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”. The term in the original language here means “to lend a hand together with”: isn’t that a beautiful word picture? God coming alongside to lend a hand together with you, as Jesus described the Holy Spirit as Paraclete, one who comes alongside to help. But this is just one of many instances of how the Holy Spirit helps us strewn throughout Romans chapter 8. Let’s back up and review the dozen or so ways the Holy Spirit helps us as described in this chapter.

      We are SPRUNG FROM SIN’S GRIP. 8:2 “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” The Spirit’s power (‘law’ here can mean control or governance) frees the believer from the ‘law’ or control of sin and death. The terminology of ‘controlling’ is more clear in 8:9 “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...”

      Consider the law of gravity and the law of aerodynamics. The law of gravity acts to keep a plane from flying: when it’s not moving, it keeps it firmly on the runway. But when the power of the jet engines starts hurtling the plane ahead, gradually the law of aerodynamics takes over and frees the plane from the pull of gravitational force. The law or power of God’s Spirit frees us from getting drawn into sin.

      The Holy Spirit give us STANDING, spiritually speaking. The Holy Spirit causes us to be born again, through faith; confessing our sin and receiving Christ, the merits of His substitutionary death become applied to us, and we are viewed judicially as forgiven by a Holy God, our record is washed clean. 8:4 “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” We now through grace experience right standing before God: the law’s righteous requirements are ‘fully met’ in us.

      The Holy Spirit adjusts our sight, gives us proper SCOPE, so we see correctly. Our focus is different, what we set our mind on. 8:5 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Our minds are no longer set on fleshly desires, but on what the Spirit wants; our thoughts are adjusted, re-directed in spiritually healthy ways. A different SCOPE, we’re looking for different things.

      The Spirit gives us a totally different SUPPLY, we’re born again, we have God’s own life-force right inside us. 8:6 “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life...” LIFE! Set that alongside 8:11 and 13... “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you...For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live...” A different SUPPLY.

      The Holy Spirit also gives us SERENITY. Galatians 5:22f says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, (third one) PEACE... Now look again at Romans 8:6 “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace...” Peace with God, having been forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus poured out in our stead at the cross; and peace with other people, as our natures are changed to become more loving, tolerant, gracious, kind, and forgiving, not snapping at others to always try to get our own way. SERENITY.

      The Holy Spirit gives us SONSHIP. In today’s disjointed world, where families are too often broken and split up, where children become alienated and distanced from their parents, Christians can always have the experience of being able to call on their Heavenly Father. Faith makes us His sons and daughters! 8:14-16 “...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Note particularly the term “Abba”, like “Papa” or “Daddy” in the original language: this is not some stiff formality, but a close endearing intimacy. Like a little boy or girl who comes running up to jump into their father’s arms. SONSHIP.

      The Holy Spirit gives inner STRENGTH, like that wooden man pumping due to the force of the artesian well. 8:26A “...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Paul experienced this in 2Cor.12:9, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The Holy Spirit is the agent by which we experience God’s power coming into us personally and helping us cope with life’s troubles. The Spirit gives us STRENGTH.

      Also, the Holy Spirit serves as our SPOKESMAN. This works two ways, both helping us pray to God, and facilitating God’s understanding of where we’re coming from. 8:26 continues, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” That’s the Holy Spirit speaking on our behalf, even when we can’t find the words. But see also V27 for the second half of the conversation: “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” So here it’s as if the Holy Spirit is speaking on our behalf, making our needs communicable to the Father, and also making God’s will more accessible and apparent to us in our praying.

      So, the Spirit helps us in very many ways! To review: we are SPRUNG from sin’s grip; we’re given STANDING before the Almighty; we receive new SCOPE, our mind-set; SUPPLY of new life; SERENITY, God’s peace; the blessing of SONSHIP; STRENGTH for our weakness; and a SPOKESMAN to assist in our praying, interpreting God’s will to our limited human understanding.


The last 3 verses in our passage, 28-30, are just 3 short verses but have massive implication! They really address how God supervises our entire existence, our life’s trajectory, for our good and His glory. His shepherding of our life’s course, His directing our destiny.

      I remember growing up on our dairy farm in Hibbert Township how each year we would herd a dozen or so heifers up the road from the home farm to my parents’ second farm a mile and a quarter away. Dad had erected a little shelter there on some grassy acres that a stream ran through, with a watering trough, feed trough, and back-scratcher apparatus that also applied insect repellent. So every spring we’d herd that year’s batch of heifers off to their summer camping grounds, and each fall we’d bring the back to home base for the winter. This involved quite a number of bodies: you always had to have a couple of people to herd them up the road, and a couple more to run ahead and stand in the next farm’s gateway driveway so the frisky critters didn’t dodge down the wrong driveway. When another vehicle came along the road, you had to protect the cattle by making sure they were off the main part of the road. You had to navigate around culverts and ditches. There were some challenging moments, but each year we somehow managed to get all the beasts to their destination, and didn’t finally lose any along the way.

      Now back to Romans 8:28-30. God is doing some SOVEREIGN HERDING in our lives: He has a destination to which He’s directing us; AND He doesn’t lose any of those who are truly His people along the way, down the wrong driveways or in oncoming traffic, as it were. Verse 28 deals more with God’s PROTECTING, while 29-30 deal with God’s PRESERVING those who are His.

      First, v28, God’s PROTECTING: 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Who’s this verse concerned with? Not everybody, but only “those who love Him”, those who are effectively “called” – who receive Christ and believe in His name, thus being given new birth and the right or power to become God’s children (Jn 1:12). What’s the range of events affected? “In ALL things” – that’s massive in scope! Everything that happens – nothing squeaks by unnoticed by the Lord. Even floods, earthquakes, epidemics, tornadoes, diseases, cancers, accidents – not a thing is outside the range of God’s superintending sovereign power. The worst possible event of all time, the crucifixion of God’s holy perfect innocent supernaturally-enabled Son – even that worst, most unjust, most inhumane and barabarically cruel event of all time is included within the sovereign umbrella of God’s redemptive purpose. What’s the promise? That God can and does work for the GOOD of those who love Him, in ‘all’ things. God’s herding you and guarding you from the oncoming traffic, He won’t let you get crashed into or run off the road: He can turn the worst thing that could happen to you into something that ultimately brings you GOOD. For example, in the case of us humans crucifying the divine God-man Jesus, God has made it the means of bringing forgiveness to so many millions of believers throughout history.

      Verses 29-30 turn more to the area of God’s PRESERVING, and unpack “His purpose” referred to at the end of v28. God is sovereignly herding us toward the farm up the road: that farm is His eternal Kingdom where His people will enjoy fellowship with Him forever, as ‘kin’ to Jesus. God is sovereign and free and it is not for us to question why some are chosen and some are not, just as He exercised freedom in choosing Jacob but not his brother Esau: Romans 9:11 “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad— in order that God’s purpose in election might stand...” God’s choosing or electing doesn’t hinge upon our own inherent goodness or badness, because as fallen sinners to start with we’re deserving only of hell. 2Timothy 1:9 “[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life— not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time...”

      ‘Before the beginning of time’ it pleased God to KNOW you, to make you acquainted with Himself, with a goal in mind. 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God foreknew you with a purpose: the field up the road of blissful fellowship, green pastures and quiet waters in the divine presence. Ephesians 1:4f “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...” God predestines for a purpose – “to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ”; or as Rom 8:29 puts it, “Predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” There was so much love circling within the Trinity, God the Father loved Jesus the Son so much He wanted to multiply the blessing, extending it to creatures like you and me. Now in this life He’s conforming us to Jesus’ likeness, shaping us, sculpting us, quasi-cloning us so there will be true harmony and sympathetic vibrations in heaven for eternity.

      These verses list various stages in the process. Note the little word “also” joining the terms like links in an unbreakable chain. “For those God (1) foreknew He also (2) predestined...And those He predestined, He also (3) called; those He called, He also (4) justified; those He justified, He also (5) glorified.” It’s like there are 5 gateways along the road, yet God doesn’t lose a single heifer down the neighbours’ driveway: He has complete power and influence to herd the group to its final destination safely and successfully – without infringing unjustly in any way upon our own freedom and responsibility.

      So, for those who are in Christ, God knows us in advance; predestines, determines beforehand our end-goal; calls, so we hear His voice and respond like sheep running to their own shepherd; justifies, puts us right with Himself through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, legally “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned; and glorifies, beautifies, transforms, shares the glory and radiance and purity of Jesus with those who have been shaped to be like Him.


There are lots of questions about all this we don’t get answered in the Bible or in this life. But we trust God will make plain whatever we need to know in eternity. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, 1Cor 2:7 “[God’s secret wisdom (is)] a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” What we DO know of God that He has revealed of Himself in His word, His lovingkindness and faithfulness and truth and grace in His dealings with Israel and the church, in His incarnation of Jesus Christ, gives us confidence for all the mysteries we CAN’T figure out in this life.

      A museum guide took his tour group to a darkened room, shone a light on a mass of string, colour, and apparent chaos and asked the group, “What do you think this is?” They replied, “I don’t know,” as many other groups had inevitably replied in the past. The guide then said, “Stand over there and watch.” As the group moved over to the other side of the room, he turned on a spotlight. Instantly it became apparent that the mass of jumbled coloured string seen just a moment earlier was in fact an enormous tapestry – from the back side! The real work had to be seen from a different perspective to understand what the artist had intended to create.

      Thus, with God and His mysterious ways. We often look at them and ask “Why?” or “How?” not because there’s no purpose in what God is doing, but because WE are on the wrong side of eternity to be able to see what’s what... To be able to have the perspective that would enable us to see the order and pattern and absolute beauty of God’s handiwork. How He, the master artist, is bringing everything into final harmony and symmetry and alignment with His saving purpose – herding us capably toward His goal. Let’s pray.