Worship was led by Gareth Evans of Port Talbot, who preached on Romans chapter 8 verses 18-27 – one of the most famous chapters in Scripture and one of the great theological chapters of the apostle Paul – from suffering to glory, from sin to holiness.
Earlier in the chapter we see the work of the Holy Spirit, now the apostle wants to deal with where the Christian is going. He says our troubles are just for a while, but there are great things to come. One of the great assurances of the gospel is we are not under condemnation (v.8) The end of the chapter gives us the assurance that sin has been conquered because of what Christ has done for us. There is nothing that can separate us from Him.
Why is there suffering from the day we are born until the day we die? From Eden we are under a curse. The giving of the Holy Spirit into our hearts is the first fruits of what is yet to come. Through the work of the Spirit we know nothing can separate us from the love of God. The suffering we have in this world is nothing compared to the future glory, our eternity. We must first suffer with Christ. Suffering is the condition in which we enter the final glory with Jesus Christ. The world is out of kilter due to sin, the whole of creation groans. We are here in the now, in the ready, in a state of suffering. But Paul says we are not to focus on the suffering because this is nothing compared to the glory that is to come, the glory we will be partakers of. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption. We are yet to see the full fulfilment of this adoption. When Christ comes back we will be redeemed, our bodies will be like the body of Christ. We have this encouragement from Paul. Don’t worry or be anxious about our suffering, there is soon coming a time when we will be glorified with Christ.
We must have Christian perseverance. We must be willing to grow, to fight the good fight against sin. We are the people of God so we have to fight against the old nature. We have the first fruits of the Spirit within us, calling us to holiness, to Sanctification. We must persevere through the suffering, God has given us all we need. We must constantly examine ourselves. We are not to be anxious about our suffering, it is a sign that there is something greater to come.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us. The groaning is a sense of longing for fulfilment of our salvation. The Spirit was sent to be our helper, the Spirit encourages us to walk with God. Though we live in a world that struggles with sin, we wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed – those who truly love Him with every fibre of their being. There is great liberation coming – but not all will be saved. There will come a day when it will be clear who are the sons of God, a day when God will judge.
Don’t be anxious. See our suffering from a different lens. Treat our suffering with godliness, calling for the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it, asking God what He is teaching us. We are to persevere through difficulties. The Spirit helps us in our Christian walk so we can be those who reflect the glory of God.