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Romans

8:18-27

 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

 

 

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. ''For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV)

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing But the Promise

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor

7 October 2013

Christ changes our view of everything. It is easy to see God's hand in what we think to be a great blessing, such as a better paying job, a new home, or the birth of a child. The challenge comes to our faith when the trouble of this world falls upon us, such as when we lose our job, we must move to a home that is less opulent, or when our child dies. How can we see or know God's gracious care for us when such things have happened to us? We can't. But that kind of seeing has never been the basis for our relationship with Christ our Savior. Seeing is never believing. Knowing has never been faith (Rm 8:24; Heb 11:1). Faith always trusts what cannot be seen, and especially when it is not being seen. It trusts a substance that is not susceptible to our senses. In fact, the substance in which faith trusts is the divine promise of salvation in Christ the Son of God. There could be nothing more substantial. He saves us from our sins in both the good times and the bad. Even in the darkest and most hopeless moments His promise to save is good. In the darkest moments in our lives He is the light, not we ourselves. The Psalmist exuded that hope and confidence: "In your light do we see light" (Ps 36:9). Christ shows us that suffering, trouble, and sorrow are not incompatible with the mercy of God.

 

Being cast down into the darkness is not a hopeless situation for us Christians. For when we cannot see our way clear, when we have nowhere to turn for rescue, when disaster seems our only alternative, when death stalks, and despair prowls about in our lives, only then do we find how solid the promise of God in Christ is. For just when the promise is unseen is it really the promise. We are even able to say that God tests our faith through the trouble He permits to come into our lives. In His hidden and inscrutable ways, He may even employ His enemies to bring that testing to us (Job 1). He does not abandon us in the midst of that testing, no matter how much it feels like He has. God is not constrained by our feeling about Him, but by His rock solid promise to us poor sinners.

 

God tests us not to determine if we will be faithful to Him, because He knows the answer to that question. He tests us so that we learn faith and confidence in Him. He is the hidden God who rescues under signs of weakness and humility. He Himself has worked that way in Christ, who though God of God also died a humiliating death with no sign of God's promise apart from the Word of God to Him, "You are my Son, today have I begotten You" (Ps 2:7). There is nothing about His earthly life and death that would prove this promise either to Christ or to us. He had nothing upon which to depend but the promise of God. Should we expect more for we who are sons by adoption? What would be more than what God worked for His Son? Just when we are brought down into the Sheol of despair are we truly able to trust the promise of God. Our trust is in nothing but the promise itself.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Nearly all people are tempted by despair, and the godlier they are, the more frequently they are attacked with this weapon of Satan. What else should you do in this situation than say: 'I know that I am baptized and that God, for the sake of His Son, has promised me grace. This promise will not lie, even if I should be cast into utter darkness. Therefore what Satan suggests to me is not God's will; but God is testing me in this manner, that it may become manifest what is hidden in my heart. It is not that God does not know this, but that I do not know it. He Himself wants to make use of this occasion to crush the head of the serpent in me (Gn 3:15). For the heart of man is unsearchable; and the mind of the flesh, is enmity against God' (Rm 8:7). Nor does man perceive this except through the word of the law, through which the head of the serpent is killed, in order that we may be made alive, as Scripture says (1Sa 2:6): 'The Lord brings down to Sheol and raises up.'"

Martin Luther,
Lectures on Genesis, 22.1-2
 
Prayer

Lord God, heavenly Father, You have revealed Yourself in the promises of Your divine Word. As you send me trouble, send also your life-giving Spirit to me that I might trust Your promises and in the midst of my darkness see Your light. Amen.

 

For all pastors, who are suffering in the darkness, that they might have confidence in the divine promise

 

For Marvin Kluttz, who is gravely ill, that the Lord would be with him giving him confidence of Christ through the light of the Word

 

For the family of Andrew Clay, that his parents, Emily and Dan, and his older brother Tanner would be encouraged by the power of baptism as they mourn his death and that those who love them can witness to God's mercy in the midst of suffering
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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