Romans 8:26-28 (NKJV) 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.
(We are about to begin our last seminar here in Kenya. The trip has been productive in every way. This last meeting is in a church that lost their pastor after we went home last year. He was one of our dear friends here in Kenya, and one of the finest men I have ever known. It is hard to see God’s goodness in a situation like that, but it is at work even in times like that. The message today is meant to show us how to cooperate with it so we might be victorious even in such trial.
Pray for us that we will have a word of comfort and healing for this church, as well as the other leaders that may attend. Tuesday, October 8 we leave for home.)
We are looking closely at the goodness of God as a force in the world and in the individual lives of believers. We have seen in the life of Moses, that God equated his glory with his goodness. When the goodness of God is flowing in and through us, the glory of God will also manifest in our lives. His goodness will produce the miraculous.
We read in Hebrews 11:6 that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. God is by nature a rewarder and this is a manifestation of his goodness. Religion tends to focus on God as a punisher. It gives its practitioners rituals and sacrifices to keep God from punishing. Christianity is by nature relationship and not religion. Any relationship contains parameters. They are not designed to keep out punishment but to release reward. God wants to reward us. That is his goodness at work. Goodness is his nature.
Today I want to begin looking at one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Romans 8 is full of important things. In the end of the chapter, we read about Paul’s relationship with God and God’s goodness. I have already made this statement, but I want to make it again. Most people evaluate the goodness of God based on their life experience. This may not be a conscious thing, but it does happen, nonetheless.
What we need to do is begin to evaluate life based on the goodness of God. That is the faith view. In other words, we need to look at life understanding that God’s goodness is at work even when we cannot see what it is doing. We need to believe that God’s goodness is going to bring about results that will produce the highest good for us in the end. If we look at things that are happening and decide God’s goodness is not at work for us, we will stop believing and hinder what God wants to do in our lives.
Paul had things in the right order. Paul understood the goodness and grace of God in a way that no other writer in the bible did. Paul had been a persecutor of the church. He was there and approving of the death of Stephen. He arrested Christians, which may have led to many more deaths among the faithful. He made it his primary business to stop this “Christian heresy” thinking that he was serving God in the process.
When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus made it clear to him that he was not just persecuting the Christians. Jesus said to Paul, “Why are you persecuting me.” Jesus told Paul that his sin was directly against him. Then he forgave Paul’s sin. That is the goodness of God.
Through all of Paul’s writing, we see this understanding of the goodness of God at work. Paul understood grace because he understood he had been forgiven for a great deal. He knew that nothing but the goodness of God could do that.
As we look at Roman’s 8, we must see it in the light of God’s goodness. This verse has been interpreted in many ways. I believe it is a revelation of how the goodness of God works. In verses 26 and 27, Paul is speaking of the goodness of God at work in the ministry of the Holy Spirit for us. We do not always know how to pray. The Holy Spirit helps our weakness by praying for us. As he prays for us, the plan and purpose of God is put into effect on our behalf. All of this is the goodness of God.
Verse 28 is a statement of how the goodness of God works behind the scenes to bring about good things for us. Paul knows that all things are going to work together for good as long as he loves, and by extension trusts God, and walks in God’s purpose for his life.
Some would say that God causes the bad things that happen because they are what we need. I believe that it is more accurate to understand that the process described in verses 26 and 27 is releasing the goodness of god to take things that the devil means for evil and turn them for good.
When Paul was on the way to Rome as a prisoner, he, his guards and other prisoners were passengers on a ship. They set out from a safe harbor at a dangerous time of year. Paul told the Romans that God had informed him they should not sail but wait for the spring. It was not God’s will that they sail. If it were, God would not have told Paul to tell them to stay put. In the end, they ignored Paul’s advice.
The result of their disobedience was a terrible shipwreck. I believe that was the devil’s attempt to kill Paul before he could get to Rome. However, the devil did not account for the goodness of God. Paul continued to trust God. As Paul prayed in faith God assured him that although there would be a shipwreck and the cargo would be lost, there would be no loss of life. Paul’s faith in the goodness of God saved them all.
We see that God used Paul on the island where they landed, by bringing healing and salvation to the people there. It was not God’s will for Paul to be in the shipwreck. God tried to warn the ship through Paul. When they ignored the warning, God’s goodness not only saved the people on board, but it took a bad situation and used it to bring the Gospel to this island.
I believe that we need to have this same faith in the goodness of God. You may be facing some things that look very bad. They may be attacks of the devil or they may be the result of mistakes we have made. They may be things that we simply need to walk through to get to where God needs us to be. The answer is the same. Trust in the goodness of God.
All things will work out for our good, as we trust in his goodness. It may not work out the way you or I want it to. Nevertheless, in the end we will be able to look back and see that the goodness of God was preserving us and producing the blessing of God.
Life happens and we cannot judge whether the goodness of God is at work by all the bad things we see. If we do what Paul did and understand that no matter what may be happening, the goodness of God is at work to bring us to a good end, we will be able to deal with the temporary issues. If we determine that God’s goodness has deserted us because some bad thing is happening, we will allow the bad thing to overtake us.
Believe in the goodness of God. The final chapter has not been written until his goodness has had its way. We need to trust that in the end his goodness will see us through to victory!