Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

How God's Will Helps in Suffering (Romans 8:28-29)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able to remain standing, please do. And let's give our attention to Romans Chapter Eight, Verses Twenty Eight, twenty nine, Romans Eight, twenty eight. And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, for those whom he fore knew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers. He may be seated. Well, we come now, in Romans Chapter Eight, to the third of three major encouragements that Paul gives us, because he knows and his he tells us that we are going to have to endure suffering and we're going to have to endure it, we're going to have to be patient in it, courageous in it. In other places of scripture we even hear about having joy. Paul talks about having overwhelming joy, even in his trials and in his suffering. Back in Verse Eighteen, we read Paul says I, for I consider that the sufferings of this present time...

...are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be very be revealed. And right before said eighteen, we read in seventeen, that we are called to suffer with Christ in order that we may be glorified in him. Well, having put this full for us, that there is this period of time, this present age, in which we are called to endure sufferings with our Lord Jesus in order that we may be glorified with him, Paul has been giving us these encouragements on these places, these thoughts which we can go to, things which we can hide in our hearts for difficult times of trial, that encourage us and strengthen us in those trials. Well, this is the third of the three today. Will I'll spend a little more time on it next week as we cover verse thirty, but today just versus twenty eight and twenty nine, and here we read that God intends something in a way that we don't always recognize. He intends our sufferings for blessing, and that's ultimately what I want to convince you of this morning. It's that, if you're a Christian, your sufferings are actually blessings, that what seems to be one thing is actually another. That's what I want to convince you of, that your sufferings, if you're a Christian, are actually blessings, and I want to convince you of that, not just in your your heads, but even persuade it in your hearts, so that whatever trials you face, that you'll face them with boldness and with courage, knowing that this is for my good, this thing that I'm experiencing, this painful thing, is actually a blessing of God, that God will use it to bless me. Now, in...

...saying that your sufferings are actually blessings, and in desiring to convince you of that, I realize I am facing an uphill battle and and maybe even an impossible task to Su persuade you that your sufferings are really blessings. I realize that there are all kinds of things pointing both you and me in another direction. There are the aches and pains of your body, some are fresh, some are decades old. These are very powerful arguments that suffering is not good, that it is not a blessing, that it doesn't feel right. Then there are the painful of consequences that come from lacking things, the consequences of not having enough money, of not having enough education, not having enough privilege or time, things which you know, if you had, your life would be so much better, or at least significantly better, if I only had that other degree, if I only had x amount of more dollars, if I only had a better relationship with this friend or this boss or this spouse, then my suffering wouldn't be suffering anymore. These aren't blessings, these are painful. There are other arguments that we feel pointing us in the other direction. Social and succept pains and society. There are pains in the soul. There's grieving that won't go away. There's clouds of depression that block out the light. There are stubborn sins, deep rooted sins that you've gone out there with your weed whack or over and over and over again and you're just starting to realize these roots go deep and this is not going to be easy to...

...get rid of and you're trying and you're trying, but it's hurting and it's hurting and it's breaking you. It's hurting others. Maybe it's lust or anger pride with these sufferings. When we feel these, when we feel their intensity, when we feel their consequences, it's hard to say, well, all things work together for good, as it doesn't feel like it. It doesn't feel like it at all. It hurts, and it hurts bad and it's hard and we fight and we cry and we grow weary. These are powerful arguments against this thing. I want to convince you of that your sufferings aren't really blessings. In fact, in our less faithful moments, when the light of God seems to have ceased entirely from shining in our world, it may be easy to say not just that Paul is wrong in Romans eight hundred and twenty eight, but actually that the opposite is true, that our sufferings aren't really blessings. It's that our blessings are actually sufferings. But good things are ultimately vain and even evil. We feel this way when we think about death as an ultimate force and Leveler, when everything ends in death, a maxed out retirement fun feels like a cruel joke. When death tears apart the most lovely and intimate of lovers, or when death destroys a special child or a brilliant mind, even these best things, these blessings, these good things, begin to feel like a chasing after the wind. So believe me when I...

...say I understand, because these are the thoughts that come into my own heart and my own mind like snakes in the garden. These are the pains and punishing experiences that we feel in our bodies and our souls and our relationships and all of our lives. These sufferings that Paul is talking about our real sufferings, and we all know it. And when times are at our worst and our hearts are weak, it feels impossible to even pretend that we actually believe that all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. And yet these are the words, are they not? These are the words from God, right here where they are, saying what they always say and being where they always have been, that he comes to us and he says this thing, and we know, we Christians know, that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. He even goes on to describe what that good is. He says, for those whom he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of his son. This is a quite an amazing thing. A some people forget that these words for no predestined are even in the Bible, but here they are, and their beautiful words, their wonderful words, because they're saying that God has a plan, that God, the goodness that God intends, the things that he's orchestrating together are not accidental. They're not just happening. It's not God just sort of stirring a bunch of letters around on a table hoping they'll turn into a book. No, God...

...has a plan, like an author, he writes things down, he has a will and he determines it and he knows it even before it happens. God is not reacting to things in time and in history. God is doing these things in time, in history, and this includes even our salvation. Some people like to interpret this word for know, for those whom he fore knew, he also predestined as to be saying, those whom he for knew that they would believe some day on the basis of their choice. He then chose them for this good purpose. Well, there's a number of problems with that. First of all, it doesn't say that. All that extra language that's there simply isn't in the text. Doesn't say anything about God and for knowing faith. It's a people that he knows. It says whom he knows. Also, God fore knows everything. People's faith. They're non faith all the rest. God is not talking about everyone here, is he? He's talking about a particular group of people, the people that love God, the people that are called according to his purpose. So what does he mean by these words for no, if they don't mean that God is looking down through the corridors of time and seeing something in the future and then reacting to it somehow in eternity? What does it mean? Well, this word is used in another sense. It's not the only way, the only thing it means, like the word run for refrigerator runs, a person runs. Their words can have different meanings. In this one too, one of the meanings that this word has is this kind of electing, selective love. You see it in Romans Eleven, versus five and six, for example, where he says...

...so too. At the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. This is a spoken in a context where God says that he knows his people from this is used over and over again in the scriptures. Where God has said to know and to choose is his people. In this way, there's a way in which knowing is used in this kind of intimate way, even between people. Read in the Old Testament that various husbands know their wives. And you know what happens when they know their wives babies are born? They don't. They don't come away with a book and a chart and a checklist. Hey, look at these things, I found out. No, they they have children, they have love. God knows us, he for knows us. It's this kind of way in which a husband, or let's say a man or a woman, choose each other to marry. Out of all of these people that they see, they set their minds on this person and they say that's the one I want, it's her, it's she's the one I love. That's what God means here and that's what he's doing here, which means this is consistent with the rest of excuse me, this is consistent with the rest of the things he's sang here. Notice that the actions all throughout this passage are God's actions. It is God who forenows, God who predestines. I'm God who calls in Verse Thirty, God who justifies God, who glorifies. Having thought about this word and these verbs, remember the basic point. What is God saying here? He's saying I'm working all things together for good, for this...

...people, these people whom I've loved, and I'm not going to just start that process and then drop it. I'm going to continue it to the very end, from the very beginnings of us, in of God's love for us, in his will, to our actual glorification on the last day when Jesus returns. God is working things together for good. Well, we read not only of his purpose but also the good that he desires. He says in Verse Twenty Nine that we are to be conformed to the image of his son. This is quite a remarkable thing, having fallen and Adam to now be brought in under Christ. You remember Jesus as he comes to us in the Gospels, don't you? You remember her Jesus and his meekness, His mercy, his power, His grace, he's Greatt wisdom. Everything that he does he does perfectly and wonderfully, and it's to his image that we are being conformed. Paul goes on to say it's not only for this, but it's an order that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brothers. So you see, it's not just God's good or God or are good that God is after, but it's his glory. God is working all things together for good in order that Jesus might be glorified, in order that he might receive this first the status as firstborn among many brothers. So here we have another thought. If God has purposed our salvation from the beginning and intends to keep it to the end, and it's on the basis of his own desire to glorify his son, do you think he's going to drop that ball? Do you think he's going to let your sufferings overtake you and not let Christ be glorified as...

...a result? Of course not. When God intends to glorify himself, he's not going to fail at that. If he wants to uplift his son to the highest of places, that he might be glorified as the firstborn among many brothers, he's not going to let your knee pain or your marriage that's having trouble or a problem at work thwart that plan. He is working all things together for these particular goods. That's what Paul says here. That's how we are to begin to frame in our minds and in our hearts are sufferings and our trials. And so we come to this point of decision. Are we going to believe what he says, what God says here, or not? That is the decision that each of us have to make, and the answer to this question, of course, will turn on faith. God does not tell us this. He does not tell us once you see for yourself that this is true, once you are able to connect the dots and say well, because I'm suffering, this thing, this good thing, will happen and therefore I can see us good. God doesn't say once you connect the dots, then you can relax, then you can have joy in your suffering. No, he says trust me even when you can't connect the dots. It's not your job to believe him only when you see it all working out. We are called to believe him even when it doesn't seem right to us. In this hymn that we saying right before the sermon, there were various verses that spoke about this. I'm like verse FRY at First Five. In this...

William Cowper him his purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour. The Bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. That's is gross. I hate this, we say, but there is this promise. Wait, hang on, God is doing something good, well pre and this is and this of course, requires faith. But perhaps that leap of faith won't be quite so difficult if you remember two things, two things in addition to what I've said already. The first is also spoken about in this hymn. It's in verse four. It's a command to our own hearts and to one another. It says judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for His grace. Behind a frowning providence hides a smiling face. And it's that first part I want you to focus on. Judge, not the Lord by Feeble Sense. If you want to have confidence in these promises that God is working all things together for good, you first have to remember your own inability. You need to be humbled, because as long as you think that you can connect all the dots, that you can get everything right, that you know the master plan, you're always going to be frustrated. You're always going to be saying to God, how come things aren't the way they should be. But be humbled, take a moment and reflect on your own powerlessness to make things happen or to even see the picture itself. Some of US struggle to trace the simple plot in a novel or to draw of the...

...face of someone that we know very well. What makes we think, and that makes us think that if we can't do these simple things like following an argument, a plot, a line, staying in the lines on the roads, if we can't trace these basic things, what makes us think that we can trace out God's providence in this world? What makes us think that we can look at all the but Jillions of variables and say, ah, I can see what's going on here? Of course we can't. We can barely manage to get our clothes on in the morning half the time. We cannot go out into the world with this kind of cocky attitude and say I got this, Lord, I can figure this out, I'll tell you what you need to do and how to evaluate things between what's right and what's not. We can't do this. We are like a little kids. There are these big floor puzzles that we have in our house. There twenty four pieces. Some of them are even smaller. The pieces certain you know, really big. Sometimes there are even twelve pieces or something like this. When I dump them out on the floor, I know immediately how they go together. This is not hard, but the little ones right they look at it. I can't do this. Help me. We're just like that. To God, this is not a big deal. The millions and millions of variables that are going on in your life, the interconnectedness of events, contingencies and secondary causes and all these this is not a big deal for God. He is the one who established things in this way. It's all fouling falling out according to his will. Just because you are struggling, just because you're looking at the puzzle and saying I don't even see what this is supposed to be, doesn't...

...mean that God doesn't. Let's not make God in our image, but instead see him for who he is, see him for the one who establish these these things, and trust him for that. Some people say, I believe it was John Flavel, said this, a puritan author who wrote a book about Providence. He said Providence is best read backwards, like Hebrew. Actually, I think he says you read providence like Hebrew. Backwards. In other words, you don't see the connections usually going forward. You see them in the rearview mirror. You say, AH, now I know why I had to take that job so that I can meet my wife. But you know, even then, even in those instances, even in the places where we can with relatively relative certainty, connect the dots, how much do we still not know? A man turns on the road and slightly crosses the line, and what happens? You have no idea. The the windows are tinted, you don't know who was in the car. You don't know got who got scared. You don't know what happened and what all the fallout was from that. We drive down the roads, we walk in our lives, constantly reacting and bumping into each other in a thousand ways, thousands upon thousands of ways. You simply do not know. So stop trying to know. You get it. Humble yourselves before the Lord. God has worked everything in a perfect way. Let us not. Let us, who has so little knowledge of even the most basic things and so little influence and power over the things that are then seek to evaluate God. We are unable. But, and here's...

...the second thing, God is amazingly able in every way in which we have described our weaknesses. God is strong, God is capable. There's a whole book in the Bible devoted this, by the way. It's the book of Job. Job Comes under this intense amount of suffering and his friends come to him and say, no problem, job, we can connect the dots. You sinned, your God is God is unpunishing you, obviously because you sinned. And job says that doesn't make sense. And job goes the Lord and there's all this dialog back and forth, and you know what the Lord says? Shot Up, stop talking. And eventually that's what job does. After enough dialog back and forth, he says, I put my hand over my mouth, I don't want to say anything anymore. And God humbles him by reminding him of all of these details of which God is in control over, from the birth of wild animals way out in the forest where no one sees, to the planetary movements in the sky, to the waves and the ocean, to the birth and growth in the womb, many, many things. God says, I am in control, and he is. He not only says it, but he demonstrates it. They're great examples of this in scripture. Some of the most famous are the Joseph. It's brothers try to kill him, they throw him in a pit, they sell him to say, slave traitors, and he ends up number two in Egypt, saving all of God's people and all many who aren't God's people from famine and devastation. And...

Joseph says to his brothers, what you meant for Evil, God has made good. This wasn't just Joseph's story. This is all our stories. Or you can think of Paul sitting in prison. I once had a pastor tell me he talked about the inefficiency of God. This is he used that term from a kind of human perspective. Does it make any sense? He says to me. He said to me, to take this man, this great persecutor of the Church, endow him with such a great salvation, all kinds of gifts and revelation, to empower him and call him to be a preacher to all the gentiles, and then to put him in jail for a couple years, again in again and again. What kind of plan is that? Why? What benefit could there possibly be from having such a powerful, brilliant, spirit equipped person in prison? Why wouldn't God have him out on the streets planting churches, doing good works for the Lord. And yet we see Paul rejoicing and we see letters that we have in our bibles written by Paul from jail and he tells us that in these prisons people were converted and came to know the Lord Jesus. But even when we don't know the plans, even when we can't say I'm going to be number two in Egypt at the end, we still trust the Lord because the end is ultimately not the things here on earth, or Ethel's death would just wipe all that out. The end is the glorification of the son of God and us in him. That's the end. That's why we can look death in the face and we say go ahead, take my riches, take my family, take anything you want, because I have everything I could ever need in Jesus, all the good...

...that I could ever need, beyond my wildest dreams, vast amounts of riches and beauty and wealth, eternal life itself has been given to me in Christ and death won't stop that. It doesn't stop that and we know that because of Jesus's own death. Remember back in verse Seventeen provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. That's what happened with Jesus. He didn't die and stay dead. He rose again from the dead, victoriously, gloriously ascended into heaven and promises to come again to bring to an end all of these sufferings, to turn them ultimately finally into a good so these are the things that I'm calling you to remember. Your inability, God's ability and the promises of God that he has made to you, that he has secured for you. In Jesus, God's will will be done, all things will work together for good, for those who call are called according to his purpose. So will you trust him? Yes, the answer is yes, we will trust him. We do trust him. We love him with all of our hearts. He's saved us from great wrath and Sin and death. He's brought us into eternal life. Of course we love him, of course will trust him. If you don't love him, if you don't trust him, then there is not an ounce of comfort in this verse. In fact, it's just the opposite. Those who refuse to love God,...

...those who refuse to trust him, those who stake their flag on their own plans, their own wills, their own abilities, will not find that all things work together for their good. You'll find that, in rejecting the grace and mercy offered to sinners in Christ, that all things will not work together for your good but for your destruction, that the great blessings that you have will end in death, not just in this life but in the life to come. If you do not love the Lord, if you do not trust the Lord, then I plead with you turn from these sins here, the word of God as it is spoken to us here, the goodness of his promises, the consolations of them, the sweetness of His grace, and turned to him who offers peace to you and good to you, while there is still time, and for those who have turned to him, those who do love to him, let us commit ourselves to trust in him and in his word, that the God who predestined and called us and die for us will not neglect us in this life, that, like gold, he puts us into the fire so that we may be purified. So let's put aside misery, put aside discontent and instead face our trials with patience and joy because of the hope that is set before us, the hope that is grounded in Christ, secured in him. Let us commit ourselves to walking by faith, and not just in general, but in the specific things that you hate, the things that you fear, the things right now that you wish God would simply take away, or the things that you lack and you wish he would give...

...you. What are those things? Think about it. Walk by faith in those things. Trust the Lord, for those things call out to him, not just the he would remove it or give it to you, for we're always going to have trials. Call out to him, not just because he not that he will tell you how it's all going to work out, but because he's already told you how it's all going to work out. He's already connected the dots for us. So let's see the puzzle that he has made for us and to trust in his plan. Let us pray,.

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