Study Through Romans: Lesson 24 :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 8:18-30 

The Labour Pains are All Around US 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

“24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

“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. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

I love being a part of the family of God. I have been blessed to have family in the Lord all over the world. I have dear friends who are missionaries in Ukraine, the Philippines, all over the US and in many other parts of the world. I have friends that are saved in Barbados where I grew up; and as much as I love my ‘human’ family, I love the spiritual family that I will spend eternity with.

We live in perilous times, and it is impossible to see what is going on around us and not feel a sense of eternity and the nearness of it.

We live in a time where we are beginning to see the cracks in the ‘modern church movement.’ Many churches are no longer driven by the Bible and what it says; they are driven by feelings and a sense that they want to change the world and right all the wrongs, and they are missing the point. This is the very essence of what the church of Laodicea was all about; they were powerful and rich and they did things that were not about Jesus. The things they did looked religious and they sounded like the things that religions are all about, but they were not doing Jesus’ work.

Today, we find many of the people out there do not have a clear understanding of the Gospel. Many Christians today do not understand that people need to be saved from Hell, not life. They need to be reborn in Jesus, not saved from the perceived oppression of the earth. They need to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus, not given better opportunities or more things. Sadly, a lot of the people in the modern churches need Jesus as well; they are not saved and have no understanding that they need to be saved.

Paul is about to tell us some things that will fly in the face of much of what we hear in the modern pulpits of many churches today. As we get closer and closer to the return of Jesus, there will be more and more suffering. What? Are you serious, Sean? What about the utopia that our governments are building? They are going to stop people from getting offended; they are going to stop all the suffering in the world; they are going to stop all the evil in the world; everybody will be equal; everyone will have money even if they don’t work; on and on we can go; our world governments are going to solve all the issues of life.

Unfortunately, those of us that know the Bible and take it literally understand that things are NOT going to get better. In fact, they are going to get worse and worse. Those of us that understand the truth, that take the Bible literally, that understand that God is Holy and right is right and sin is sin, will be hated and outlawed and, eventually, killed.

  1. The Suffering is to be expected, verse 18 

Paul talks as though we should not be surprised that there is suffering. Paul was writing in the first century, and he lived in a time when Christianity was under great persecution. Many of the emperors of Rome made Christianity illegal, many chased the Jews out of Rome, and for decades a lot of Christians were killed and murdered for their faith. Paul was not complaining about the suffering. He simply held the persecution in perspective. In light of eternity the current persecution was nothing. Here we are 2,000 years later and the suffering is beginning to ramp up again. Like it was in Paul’s day, the people hated the truth. People today hate the truth. Here is a truth that is not popular: all men are evil. All men are lost and are not intrinsically good. All men, left to themselves, will do evil.

As we assess Paul’s perspective, it would seem that we should expect to suffer. We should not be surprised that suffering comes and, in fact, should be expectant of it. Paul then tells us that if we take the right perspective on the suffering that we can actually get through any suffering that comes our way. This is the power of knowing the truth. This is the power of having the Holy Spirit living in us and the truth of the Bible driving our lives and ruling our emotions.

I don’t talk much about my life, but as many of you know, I grew up in Barbados. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian family and to be saved at the age of 14.

I moved to Canada after my father died in 1982. My heritage is mixed; my mom is black and mixed, my father is white, and all his siblings are mixed. I have an older brother who is mixed, his father (mine) white and his mom black. My stepdad is black, and I have all of my brothers and my sister either mixed or black. It was not until I moved to Canada that I ever had to worry about my skin color, though lighter than most from Barbados. But it is clear that I am not pure white.

The first year we went to church camp in the US in 1983, we were warned by our dear Pastor that some may say something to us. Our church here in Canada had many nations represented from all ethnicities. We were told that if someone said something to us in a derogatory way, then we should not respond, but to come and speak to our Pastor, and he would deal with things. When I surrendered to the ministry, there were certain seminaries that I could not attend; I eventually went to a seminary in Florida and was privileged to meet come of the most awesome teachers one could have. But there were many churches in the south that I could not attend; and for the years that I attended seminary, my parents, my step-dad who is black and my mom who is mixed could not come and visit with me.

Here is what I want to say: it would have been easy to give in and give up. But the Lord gave me the grace to get through some of the stuff. And truthfully, many of the men who led in this area are now gone, and us younger men who know the truth about race are the leaders. But we had to allow God to make the move; we had to allow God to change the minds and move the hearts. It took time, but we are far better off now. But I had to learn that these are just the hiccups of life.

One of the things we learn is to love like Jesus; love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12). In the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), love those that hate you and despitefully use you. Love your enemies. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand; if you love someone you will forgive them. There is a serious lack of love in the Lord’s churches today. These are the things we need to learn. Jesus loved His enemies, Stephen in Acts 7 prayed for his enemies, and on and on we can go. Paul tells us that the suffering of life is real and that it will come, but the proper perspective will help us to get through it all. Too many of the Lord’s people are earthly minded, and we do not see ourselves as temporary citizens of earth. in the OT we are called ‘resident aliens,’ and in the NT we called ‘sojourners’ by the Apostle Peter.

  1. The Creation is Waiting as well for Jesus, verse 20-22

The UN will not save the planet. Greta Thunberg will not save the planet. Al Gore will not save the planet. The creation is smart enough to know that Jesus is its salvation. The creation, like those of us that are saved, is waiting for the return of Jesus.

I have a dear friend who had a program on his computer or smartphone that tracks earthquakes, and he had to turn it off because there were so many earthquakes that the app just kept alarming. The birth pains signaling the Lord’s return are happening all around us. We have some places on earth with drought, others with too much rain. There are places where huge cracks have opened in the ground. On July 9th, 2019, a huge opening visible from space was caused by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Ridgecrest, California. In 2017 a huge crack opened over in Pinal County, Arizona; it is 2 miles long. They have had other huge cracks, one in Mexico from 2017 as well. In April a 50-foot-deep and 65-foot-wide crack opened up in Kenya, Africa, and is still there as far as I can tell. They say it was caused by torrential rains. This year so far, there have been over 6,100 earthquakes over 4.0 magnitude.

Jesus is coming back to save the planet and bring in the new Millennia. But it will not be a man or any manmade institution that saves the planet. The planet is waiting for Jesus. But a reading of the Revelation tells us that there is a lot more destruction coming to the earth before the utopia comes upon us. But it will come at the hand of Jesus and He alone. Look at Isaiah 11: 6-9: 

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;

Their young ones shall lie down together;

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,

And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.”

Jesus will solve all of the world’s problems and bring in peace, provide for all and rule in righteousness; and yet still, at the end of 1,000 years, Satan will be able to find men to rebel against Jesus. Why? Because, people need to be reborn, they need the rebirth of salvation, they need the life of the Holy Spirit in them. Without salvation all of man’s evil comes to the surface even when they see the goodness of God firsthand. All of us, all of creation is waiting for Jesus. Are you waiting for Jesus as well? Are you looking for your redemption from on high or are you seeking your salvation from an earthly source?

  1. We have a Prayer Partner in the Holy Spirit, verses 25-27 

In John 17 Jesus prayed for us that we would have unity like He and the Father. But in our daily lives, our everyday walk, the Holy Spirit is praying for us. He is wording our deepest desires and speaks for us when we cannot speak. He prays when we are too weak or too hurt to speak. He prays for us when life takes our words and kidnaps our emotions. You see, this is why Paul could endure the sufferings of life and sing in the persecutions of life; the Holy Spirit was his companion when it looked like he was alone.

And for you and me who are saved, He is our companion as well. We are never alone, never abandoned and never without someone on our side. The Holy Spirit has our backs, He has our minds and He comforts our broken hearts when we are hurt by those we love and that love us. He gives us the grace to forgive, to forget and love again. He helps us to know hope when it seems we have no hope, and He clears our vision to the truth when the lies are loud.

With this knowledge we can face all of the trials and tests of life and grow in the Lord, grow in grace, grow in love, grow in forgiveness and grow in patience, grow in faith and grow in peace. We stop looking for revenge and we stop asking ‘why me’? We begin to have compassion for people and seek to serve and help rather than chastise and condemn. We are more able to speak the truth and to say that God’s way is the only way; we can say it boldly in the Holy Spirit and lovingly, even if it is taken wrong.

  1. Perspective, verse 28-30 

In the book of Genesis, we find an amazing story of Joseph; he is sold into slavery by his brothers and is wrongly accused of sexual misconduct and is put into prison. He eventually, by the hand of God, comes to be the Pharaoh of Egypt and is used by God to save his family from starvation. As Jacob comes to the end of his life, Joseph’s brothers are afraid that once Dad is dead, then Joseph will get back at them for their evil deeds. But over the course of the 13 years from the time he was sold into slavery to the time he became ruler, Joseph had learned a great lesson from the Lord, and it is recorded for us in Genesis 50:20: 

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. ”

No matter what man does to us, God is in charge; and He can take even evil actions and turn them for good. God can do this. We need to have this perspective, that God is in control. We are His children, He has bought us and ransomed us from the enemy, and He is allowed to let us go through anything He determines is necessary for His glory and our edification. Once we have the right perspective, then we are less likely to be angered by the ‘hand we are dealt.’ We realize that God is simply doing what a loving Father does to grow us into the image of Jesus. All that happens to us is for the good of those that love God and are called for His purpose.

If you have a desire to be like Jesus, if you have a desire to grow and become more like Jesus, then God will work in you and through the circumstances around you to change you. You are surrendered, and understand that you are not your own; you are bought with a price, and God is in control.

In this life we will have trials and troubles; in this life we will have times of suffering; and in this life we will have tests and trials that are sent by God to purge us and grow us into the image of Jesus. Remember, you are not alone; as a child of God, the Holy Spirit is praying for you; as a child of God, He is working all things for good, even the things that hurt; and as a child of God we know our home is not here and we stop looking to man and manmade solutions for our hurts. Instead, we depend on the Lord and His awesome, eternal power.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

Mississionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca

 

Study Through Romans: Lesson 23 :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 8:9-17 

The Family of God 

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

On Facebook this week, one of my dear friends reminded me that if it’s not done by, for and through the Holy Spirit living in us, then all that we are doing is no good. It certainly looks good but, in truth, it is not. Of course, we can take a look at John’s letter in Revelation to the church at Laodicea. This church was busy, rich and did many things that looked religious. But, in truth, they did them in their own power and for their own glory. Jesus, we are told, was actually on the outside of this local church begging to get into the door, yet they went on without Him day in and day out. They were doing acts of religion, but not the acts of one in a deep and loving relationship with the Saviour.

Let me paint another picture. I am married to this amazing woman; she is of British descent; both of her parents and her were born in England. I, on the other hand, was born in Barbados, a little island on the Caribbean. Our upbringing could not have been more different. Her father is a millwright, a man who can fix anything. My father, though handy, was an accountant, really, and spent most of his adult life building a large furniture company in Barbados. My in-laws attend church, my mother-in-law is saved, and we are not sure about Dad. Both of my parents are open confessors of Jesus; they served in various capacities and ministries in our local church in Barbados. Marny and I met when we were older, I in my mid-40s, and was younger. She had to learn about a man who was more intellectual than one to fix things.

But, over the years, I have learned to fix things and now try to enjoy working with my hands. I love hot foods, Marny not so much, so I don’t cook with a lot of hot spices. As a husband, and like many husbands, I can religiously bring home flowers for my wife; but as one in an intimate relationship, I know she likes a certain type of flower, so I get those. I know she likes tea, but I know how to make her tea the way she likes it. Trust me, each person drinks tea differently. Maybe your wife loves coffee, but because of the relationship, you know how she likes her coffee. These are simple things, but I hope that they illustrate some of the intimacy that one has with a wife. The Bible tells us that the local church is the Bride of Jesus. There is to be an intimacy there that is bigger than religion.

  1. The Holy Spirit Lives in Us, verses 9-11 

This may sound like we are going over some old stuff. But it is important to be reminded of things that are important. If you are a child of God, if you are saved and have placed your faith in Jesus as Saviour, the Holy Spirit lives in you. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”

In the OT, the Lord entered the Tabernacle and then the Temple once they were built and cleansed. Once a year, the High Priest would go into the Holiest Place in the Temple to carry the blood offering before the Lord for the sins of the whole nation of Israel. If one were to take a cursive read through the OT, you would see that the people, even men like Abraham and others, did not see God for years; they lived on promises that were made to them from God, but they did not interact with Him often. But in the NT, we have this wonderful blessing that Jesus did for us on the cross. He opened the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to live in us and for us to have a moment-by-moment relationship with God our Father. Between the written Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have a level of intimacy that OT saints did not know.

The Holy Spirit in us wants to and tries to help us to live more like Jesus. He constantly reminds of truth and of the way that Jesus wants us to take. He shows us and reveals to us the importance of the intimacy that we have as a child of God. One of the most important things to learn is that each relationship is unique. Yes, there is a ‘baseline’ of things that are expected; we are to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, body and soul. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we are to live so that we can glorify God. But how that works is as individuals, as we each are. In John 21:20-22, Jesus and Peter have an interaction following Jesus calling Peter back to the ministry. Peter returns, and at the end of the talk, he asks Jesus about John, and Jesus replies this way,

“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.'”

Who cares what I do with John? YOU follow me. I will do with John what I please; he is mine. I have heard countless testimonies over the almost 40 years that I have been saved, and none are the same. From how they got saved, to when God called them to the ministry or to the mission field or put a person in their life, each is unique, because we are not in a religion; we are in a relationship with Jesus.

If you had told me that I would marry Marny, I would laugh at you. But I can tell you that God had this amazing woman for me that makes and continues to help me be a better man than I could ever have been without her. By the leadership and the help of the Holy Spirit, we have become one; and by His grace, He has helped me to be a dad, a father, a husband, a better brother, a better pastor and preacher. Our meeting was not a fairytale; it was a moving of the Holy Spirit. We continue to depend on the Holy Spirit to help, heal and hold us. Stop trying to be someone else; God already has them. If He did not want you, He would not have created you.

  1. The Religion of Relationships, verse 12-14 

Hey Sean, did you get hit over the head? You just spent an entire section telling us that we are not in a religion but in a relationship with Jesus. Yes, we are. But every relationship has religious actions attached to it. The idea of religion means doing some things repeatedly, religiously. Most people eat breakfast religiously, most people take showers religiously, brush their teeth religiously, and on we can go; you get the picture.

Christianity has its religious activities as well. In Hebrews 10:25, we are told that we should assemble together often; this is a religious activity. We are commanded to give regularly to the work of the ministry; we are to observe the Lord’s Supper religiously; we are to love each other religiously, forgive each other religiously, and on and on. Any relationship will have its religiosity. A good pastor must be a religious student of the scriptures and a religious servant of those entrusted to his care as an under-shepherd. A good husband must religiously put his needs second to those of his wife and be prepared to serve her and his children, religiously. Good friends will talk often, talk religiously. We attend work religiously, grocery shop religiously, and on and on. Life is a series of religious activities. The Christian walk is no different. We pray religiously, worship (not just in church) religiously, confess our sins religiously, and on we can go.

If your relationship does not have a series of religious activities, then you may need to check if you actually have a relationship. For instance, if your girlfriend stops talking to you and no longer takes your calls religiously, you may not have a girlfriend. The same can be said for Christianity; if your Christianity does not have a series of religious actions involved with it, then maybe you should check your Christianity.

  1. The Intimacy of Relationships, verse 15-17 

The term ‘Abba Father’ is an intimate term. As I was working on this lesson, I was watching a movie with my little daughter Saturn. She had been asking me to watch it with her, and we came to a compromise; I would watch and work at the same time. She sat next to me, and we enjoyed the time.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve became one flesh. They were naked and not ashamed. There was and is a level of intimacy between a man and wife, not the sexual part, but the idea of knowing someone so well that we know the idiosyncrasies of their lives. We, in the same way, have to allow others in and allow our flaws to be seen. God, of course, has no flaws that He would ever have to be ashamed. But in the intimacy that comes as we enter and then grow into the family of God, we allow God into every aspect of our lives, every crevice of our brains. He retools our dreams, refocuses our desires and redirects our lives.

You and I will never be perfect on this side of eternity. But our relationship with the Lord can be perfect in Jesus. Our relationship can be covered in the mercy, grace and love of Jesus, and we can have a level of intimacy with Jesus that lets Him see us as we are. Now, He sees us as we are anyway, but we often pretend he does not. God knows you as you are, and He loves you. He loves me as I am, and he knows me. He knows there are some things that I will struggle with until I get a new body; He knows that I want to serve Him in spite of my failures. I get up every day and give Him the day; I begin every day thankful for Him. I want today to be lived for His glory so that others can get to know my Abba, my Father, my God.

Oh, that all had an Abba like mine, they would have an awesome life! More importantly, they will have a fabulous death. Then they too can be joint heirs with Jesus. What does that mean? We are joint heirs with Jesus. Some may think of riches and power, and truthfully that may happen. But what I hold onto is the promise of John 14: 1-3, 

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Jesus wants to be with me, with us, and we should want to be with Him. This is the promise of being a joint heir; soon I will get to see Him in His glory face to face. I will get to live with Him and serve and please Him forever. Where will you spend your forever, and with whom will you spend your forever?

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

Mississionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca