Tuesday, June 24, 2014

THE HELPER (Romans Chapter 8)

Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse once wrote to a group of Christian leaders, asking them, “If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, and could not take any book with your except the Bible, and could only take with you one chapter of the Bible, what chapter would you choose?”  Of the 20 leaders, 5 chose Romans Chapter 8.

This chapter has been variously described as “the mountain peak” of Scripture” and “the chapter of chapters for the Christian believer.  A German author once said of it, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel."

The chapter begins with “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1) and ends with “no separation” (Cf. Romans 8:39).  In between the message is “no defeat.”  William R. Newell compared Romans chapter 8 to a “mighty river rushing down toward the ocean.  As the river nears the ocean, other streams and other tributaries join into it so that as it nears the mouth where it empties into the ocean, you find that it carries with it everything that has gone before it.”  In that sense it serves as a summation of all that has preceded it in this epistle.

Amongst its many glorious themes is its focus on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is mentioned no less than 19 different times in Romans chapter 8.  No other chapter in Scripture put more emphasis on the particulars of His ministry.

The Spirit is not a force or eminence, He is a person identified variously in this chapter to be: “the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2); “the Spirit” (Romans 8:4); “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9); “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” (Romans 8:11); “the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14); and “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15).

Jesus spoke of the Spirit as the paracletos (literally “one called alongside to help”; John 15:26), and the helping nature of His indwelling presence is demonstratively described in this chapter.  Every believer is indwelt by the Spirit—indeed, no one who lacks the Spirit belongs to Christ and no one who belongs to Christ lacks the Spirit (Cf. Romans 8:9).  It is the Spirit who grants freedom (Cf. Romans 8:2, 9); imparts life, peace (Cf. Romans 8:6), leadership (Cf. Romans 8:14), assurance (Cf. Romans 8:16), hope (Cf. Romans 8:23-24), and help (Cf. Romans 8:26).

In His ever-present indwelling ministry, He patiently, lovingly, and relentlessly works to conform us to the image of Christ (Cf. Romans 8:29).  No trial or trouble can work to deter Him from HIs purpose (Cf. Romans 8:18-29).  We may pray amiss (Cf. Romans 8:26), but the Spirit intercedes and works in us always “according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).  We are sometimes prone to wander, but the Spirit will never lead us off course!

On my recent trip to Alaska I was flown to the fishing camp by way of a float plane.  Eight of us boarded a decades-old Grumman Goose at the Dillingham, Alaska Airport.  The experienced pilot revved the engines and we headed down the runway at an increasing rate of speed.  A few minutes later we were airborne and ascended above the small town of Dillingham.  Bristol Bay and the Nushagak River passed underneath and then we arrived at our destination.  Having made such a descent countless times before, the pilot gently glided our plane down to the surface of the river and we landed.  I was totally dependent on the pilot throughout the journey.  All I did was get in the plane.  I lacked the skills and abilities to take off, navigate, fly, descend, land, etc.  I was led by the pilot to an unforeseen destination.  My job on board the plane was to trust the well-qualified pilot and allow him to lead me to where we were going. 

In the Helper, the Holy Spirit, the believer is led and indwelt by One who is well qualified to navigate and lead.  Apart from His instructing and empowering ministry we are lost and grounded.  But in Him we experience God’s very presence and manifold blessings.  It’s good to be led by a well-qualified pilot, it is ever better to be led by One who has led (and now leads) countless souls on a journey to the unimaginable heights in the riches of the glory of Christ!  “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

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