8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.
ALL THINGS - This means everything
that happens to us.
Some people want to limit that to suffering or to pain. Verse 18 talks
about suffering. But it's not limited in this context. Let’s just define it a
First of all, good things work for our good. We
all know that, but what about the other times?
works for our good
teaches us to hate sin.
teaches us to see the evil that is in us.
Suffering also tends
to drive out sin
draws us closer to God, Jas 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
good because it confirms our sonship. Hebrews 12:7 says, "All the sons of God he
scourges as any loving father would do to discipline and to perfect.
Suffering is good also because it makes us
long for heaven
works for our good.
· Because it sends us to our knees to pray. It
drives us to God. It destroys our spiritual pride. It shows us where we're weak
and vulnerable. Part of Peter's usefulness was that he lost the struggle so
many times God could use him in his weakness.
· It enables
us to help others in the same struggle
causes us to lean on the strength of Christ. It causes us to learn the word of
God so that we can defend ourselves. Struggling makes us desire heaven
bad, but it works for our good because God overrules its power and its effect
· Sins teach us humility, they teach us
brokenness, self-distrust, they drive us to God, they make us long for heaven
just like our sufferings do, they let God display his wonderful grace and they
cause us therefore, to praise him.
What are we saying, good things like God's nature and God's promises,
and the word of God and prayer, and angels and other saints, that all works for
our good. And bad things like suffering and temptation and sin work for our
good by teaching us to hate sin, to see our fallenness, to be broken before
God, to desire him, to desire to conform to Christ, they cause us to pray, to
be humbled, to be thankful, to praise God, to long for heaven, all of those
When you say God causes all
things to work together for good, please don't limit that to this life. That
would be to misunderstand this. The good here is ultimate glory. That's where
the passage takes you.
Joseph – “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving
of many lives” (Gen. 50:19–20).
David – God stopped him
from becoming another Saul
Job - at the end of the
story, when God restored his wealth and gave him a new family. God was
developing Job’s character and confounding the supposed wisdom of Satan, who
had said that God’s people serve him only because he makes them prosperous.
Peter - Peter was restored,
he would be stronger for his fall and able to strengthen his brethren.
1Pe 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if
need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of
your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is
tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of
Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him,
yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith--the
salvation of your souls.
TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
Paul identifies us as those that love God. Nothing is more revealing
of being a Christian than that you love God. The people who love God are the
people who enjoy the promise that God is causing everything to work together
for their eternal good.
THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (26-27)
1. Helps in our weakness as we pray (26a)
He says, "The Holy Spirit helps us
in our infirmity." Singular, it is our longing for release from this
earth. He helps us in that. He explains,
"For we know not what we should pray for as is necessary, But the Spirit
himself makes intercession for us, with unuttered groanings." And I think
that means that the Holy Spirit down within us in ways that are not the ways of
articulate speech prays for us in the present environment, and struggles. We
have two divine intercessors. We have one in heaven, who is at the right hand
of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for
us. Paul will refer to this in verse 34, and we also have the Holy Spirit
within us, and he too prays that we might be released from the present troubles
and trials, and he does it with groanings that are unuttered.
I do not know of any subject that has caused more perplexity for more
Christians than the subject of prayer, unless perhaps it is the matter of
knowing God’s will. And, of course, the two are related. They are related in
this text as well as in other places, for the verses we are now studying speak
of the Holy Spirit’s help in prayer, concluding that “he who searches our
hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints
in accordance with God’s will” (v. 27).
who want to pray in accordance with God’s will find themselves asking: What
should I pray for? How should I pray? Can I pray with confidence, “claiming”
things by faith? Or do I have to make my prayers tentative, adding always, “If
it be your will”?
if I pray wrongly? Can prayer do harm? Does prayer get God to change his mind?
Can it change God’s plans? If not, does it even matter if I pray?
I do not know
any subject that has caused more perplexity and been more of a continuing
problem for more believers than this one. But we have help in this area, the
help of the Holy Spirit, which is great indeed. It is what Romans 8:26 and 27
the Same Way”
begin with the phrase “in the same way.” So we first need to ask what this
refers to. It is a connecting phrase, of course, and most of the commentators
link it to what immediately precedes. That is, they link it to the Christian’s
hope. The idea seems to be that we endure sufferings in this life but that we
are able to handle them in two ways: first, by hope, that is, by a sure and
patient looking forward to the final redemption of our bodies; and second, by
the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
That is a
valid connection, of course. But I think that D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is right
when he links the apostle’s teaching about prayer in verses 26–27 to his
teaching about prayer in verses 15–17. The earlier passage taught that the Holy
Spirit enables us to pray, assuring us that we truly are God’s children and
encouraging us to cry out “Abba,
Father.” That teaching was followed by an extensive digression dealing with the
sufferings endured in this life before we come into God’s presence. But then,
having dealt with sufferings, Paul returns once more to the Spirit’s work in
enabling us to pray, adding that the Spirit also “helps us in our weakness” (v.
words, Paul returns to the subject of assurance, which is the chapter’s main
theme. The point of these two verses is that the Holy Spirit’s help in prayer
is another way we can know that we are God’s children and that nothing will
ever separate us from his love.
that when Paul writes the word weakness he adds the word our, thereby putting
himself in an identical position. In other words, the weakness that makes
prayer difficult is not something that only new, baby, or immature Christians
have. It is part of our common human condition. Even the greatest saints have
had this difficulty.
idea of the Holy Spirit coming alongside a Christian to help is the same in
both cases. But the special meaning in the word used here in Romans is to help
by bearing the Christian’s burden. It pictures our ignorance of what to pray
for as a heavy load. We are struggling along under it, as it were. But the Holy
Spirit comes alongside and helps us shoulder the load. He identifies with us in
our weakness, as Jesus did by his incarnation, and he labors with us.
second word Paul uses is intercession, saying that “the Spirit himself
intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” An intercessor is a person
who pleads one’s case. So the meaning is that the way the Holy Spirit comes
alongside us to help and shoulder our burden is by pleading our case with God
when we do not know how to do it. We do not know what to pray for, but the Holy
Spirit does. So he prays for us, and God “who searches our hearts knows the
mind of the Spirit” and answers his very correct and powerful prayers wisely.
But none of this is meant to
suggest that we have nothing to do in prayer or have no responsibility to pray.
We do have responsibility in prayer, which is made quite clear by the word
helps. The apostle says that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” He does not
eliminate our need to pray regularly and fervently.
Romans 8:26 and 27 imply or explicitly
teach so many lessons about prayer that a number of them can be listed as a
summary of what we have been learning.
1. We are supposed to pray. Regardless of
the problems we may have with prayer—and we are reminded that the saints have
all had problems with prayer at times—we are nevertheless supposed to pray. In
fact, the Word of God commands us to pray. Indeed, we are told to “pray
continually” (1 Thess. 4:17). Anything God tells us to do is for our good, and
we are poorer if we fail to do it. Prayer is one of the great spiritual disciplines.
not expect prayer to be easy. Why should it be? Nothing else in the Christian
life is easy. Why should prayer be any different? We should not expect simple
or quick-fix solutions. Our contemporary American culture has conditioned us to
want easy cure-alls. In the area of our sanctification we expect immediate
victories either by a formula or spiritual experience. But God does not work
that way. We are called to a struggle, and our perseverance in that struggle is
itself a victory, even if the results are not visible or spectacular. And the
Holy Spirit will help us bear our burden.
not have to feel good about it, though you will in most cases. You do not even
have to see results. What is important is that you keep on, and keep on keeping
on. One bit of verse puts it like this:
not here to play, to dream, to drift;
hard work to do and loads to lift.
the struggle; face it; ’tis God’s gift.
Realize what you are doing when you pray. We are addressing ourselves to the great
sovereign God of the universe and are presenting our adoration, confessions,
thanksgivings and supplications to him. He is hearing these prayers and
responding to them consistently, perfectly, and wisely out of his own
get God to change his mind? Of course not! No reasonable person would want
that—because if God’s way is perfect, as it is, to get him to change it would
be to get him to become imperfect. If that ever happened, the universe would
fall into disorder! Any thinking person wants God always to run things
according to his own perfect will, not ours.
is a parallel question: Does prayer change things? The answer to that is
Yes—because God who ordains the ends also ordains the means, and he has made prayer
a means to those ends. He has promised us that prayer is effective. Because God
has ordained that it should be this way. Jesus has told us, “Ask and it will be
given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the
door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7–8). James wrote, “… You do not have, because
you do not ask God” (James 4:2), adding, “The prayer of a righteous man is
powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). Remember, too, that when we are talking
about change the chief thing that happens in prayer is that prayer changes us.
encouraged by these verses. It is true that “we do not know what we ought to
pray for.” But the Holy Spirit does, and the Holy Spirit has been given to us
by God to assist precisely in this area, as well as in other ways. With his
help we will make progress.
commentator has compared learning to pray to a man learning to play the violin.
At first he is not very good. But he gets the schedule of the classical music
broadcasts in his area, buys the violin parts to the music that he knows will
be played, and then tunes in the radio each afternoon and plays along as best
he can. His mistakes do not change what is coming in over the radio in the
slightest. The concertos continue to roll on in perfect harmony and tempo. But
the struggling violinist changes. He gets better week by week and year by year,
and the time eventually comes when he can play along with the orchestra
broadcasts pretty well.
is like that. There are plenty of mistaken notes, and groans, too. But there is
also progress and joy and encouragement, since God is continuing to conduct the
perfect heavenly symphony, and the Holy Spirit is continuing to prepare us for
the day when we will be able to take our place in the divine orchestra. In the
meantime we can know that the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, like a wise and
faithful teacher, is by our side.