Let’s pray together.

Father, we thank You that Jesus is an eternal rock. He’s a rock that can’t be moved. And upon Him we place our feet when all other ground shifts, when the sky falls, when, Lord, life as we know it changes. Christ is a solid rock. So we thank You for the reality of knowing Jesus.

And we thank You that because Christ stands, we will stand.

We just bless Your name this evening. We thank You, Father. We thank You for one another, for the gift of community, the gift of brotherhood in Christ, that we have brothers and sisters to hold our arms with as we go. Lord, we pray that our tithe and our offering would be what You would have it to be, that we would give cheerfully, joyfully, knowing that all we have comes from You. And, Lord, You multiply our faithfulness, Lord. We love You and we pray that in Christ’s name. Amen. Amen.

Well, folks, it’s good to be with you after a month’s time. It’s funny, the small things you forget. I couldn’t even remember when I was supposed to come up. How many songs did we do on the front side? So all these little things that go out the side of your head. But it’s good to see you again and to be in the Word with you. January was good for us. It was good to be with the Lord. It was good to reflect. I know it was good for Jessica as well. It was good to spend time with our kids. But it’s good to be back. I’m sure you saw the email, but if you didn’t, I would love for you to be here Wednesday evening. I’d just like to share a little bit more about some things. Some things the Lord showed us and then just talk at large about Providence and where we are as a church and some things that I believe the Lord may be calling us to do in the near future and just give you a time as well maybe to give some feedback. So if you can be here Wednesday, I would love to just talk with you about who we are as a church and where we believe maybe the Lord is taking us. So we’d love to see you then. If you have your Bibles, it’s going to be in Romans 8. Romans chapter 8.

Romans chapter 8, verses 18 to 28.

And Paul says, 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 corruption and obtain the freedom. 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, we have the first fruits of the Spirit grown 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 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 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. And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I want to call this sermon the linchpin of love. The linchpin of love. I am in no way, mechanically inclined, and every time I think I am, I regret it. You know, all to save myself some money. Last year, I thought I will replace the brakes on my truck. And I did this, all to be going down the road a couple weeks later, and it doesn’t sound right when I hit the brakes. It sounds like it’s grinding. Well, it turns out I didn’t tighten down one of the pins, one of the bolts good enough, and the whole, the whole mechanism was hanging off backwards, and I was only using one brake to go down the road. Luckily, nothing was too broken. But as complex as things are, and you think you’ve done it, and you’ve got that part there, and I’ve placed that part, and that part, and that part, there’s some parts that just got to be in place, and the whole thing’s going to fall apart if you don’t have that thing in place. And you think about linchpin, and think about a simple carriage with an axle and two wheels, it’s got to have that pin. Or the wheels will come off, and it doesn’t matter how nice your carriage is, it’s going to fall apart. And I think this passage tells us the same thing. Everything that could be said about the Christian life, everything that matters, everything that’s valuable, there’s this one linchpin that holds it all together, and that linchpin is the love of God for us.

Paul has said previously in chapter 8, verse 16,

the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we’re children of God, and if children, we’re heirs, fellow heirs of Christ,

provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. So, good news, we’re called to be heirs with Christ, because of what Christ accomplished, we’re in him and in everything in the heavenly places that Christ enjoys, we will enjoy it as well. So, it’s a wonderful spiritual reality that you and I will be glorified, but Paul doesn’t pass over it, provided you suffer with Christ, you suffer like Christ.

And you go, that’s a lot of moving parts. How can I know this whole thing’s going to hold together? So, Paul gives us here three things that ensures us the linchpin’s going to hold it all together. The linchpin of God’s love’s going to hold it all together. The first one is this, it’s the promise of future glory. It’s the promise of future glory. Glory.

Again, he says, in, verse 18, I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed. For the creation it waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. So, suffering and hardship, those are varied for us as Christians. Obviously, for Paul, suffering meant what it meant for culture, and government to come against you. And we could have a good conversation about how that constantly becomes the case in the West. It’s certainly the case in the East. But suffering, hardships, as a Christian, it’s multifaceted. There’s so many ways we can suffer. And here’s what Paul is not doing. He’s not trivializing suffering. He’s not saying, here’s how you deal with your Christian suffering, just get over it. Now, with children, and many of you know this, the best thing you can do with their suffering is trivialize it. When your child has a boo-boo, a skinned knee, or a small scratch, the best thing to do is say, hey, it’s not that bad, you can get over it, right? Because you don’t want to raise an overly sensitive child and every little bump they get, they just fall apart on the floor. So you need to learn proportion in life. That’s really important.

But Paul is not saying that’s the case here. There’s too much in the Word of God. In fact, it says we need the Lord’s comfort and we need the Lord’s strength and peace because Christian suffering, it’s real and it is deep. And it’s worthy of your tears, often. It’s worthy of someone consoling you. Paul is saying in every way it’s valid. But here’s what he’s saying. The breadth, the intensity of your pain and agony for Christ in this world, in this life, is exponentially dwarfed by the glorious state of what your soul and body will be in the age to come. However hard Satan hits in this life, however much sin hits in this life, however much the world hits in this life, the blessedness of the life to come is going to hit that much harder. So Paul’s saying by comparison, yes, it’s bad. Your suffering is bad. But it’s really temporary. And if you sat the suffering of this life next to the eternal glory of the life to come, it would be the difference between a marble and the sun. That’s the difference. And Paul says if you could get that in view, it becomes incredibly tolerable. It becomes incredibly bearable knowing that the glory of God, within you, and the glory of God around you is going to make it all worth it. What you will be, where you will be, makes this worth it.

Paul, I think, has always said it most beautifully in 2 Corinthians. He says this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory, beyond comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient. We’re going to go away, but the things unseen

are eternal.

So here’s what Paul’s saying we can’t do, and this is what we want to do. I want to fixate on what’s hard in life. I want to fixate on it. It’s called tunnel vision. The church that I grew up in, in Kentucky, there was a gentleman who had tunnel vision. Nicest guy in the world, but he literally saw through pinholes, no periphery. I once saw him be saved from a car hitting him walking across the street once. So I see what I see, and I see nothing else. And what tunnel vision will do for you is it will kill an otherwise vibrant spirituality.

So yes, Paul said, use the eye of faith and see the suffering, but here’s what the eye of faith has. It has periphery. It can see the glory that will be revealed. Yes, it sees the fall of Adam. Yes, it sees the consequences of sin. Yes, it sees how hot and heavy Satan is to destroy me and how much the world is bent against me, but I can see what’s coming and that makes it all bearable.

Robert Mount says in his commentary, if we allow the difficulties, of life to absorb our attention, they will effectively blot out the glory that awaits us. Our focus needs to be on the things that are above. And I think that’s enough. But Paul uses kind of the literary device of personification to drive it further. He says in verse 20, creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it. And hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption 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. So inanimate objects, whether you’re talking about trees outside or a mountain or animals, they don’t have a level of consciousness that you and I have. But he’s showing he’s showing this by using personification. If you study the universe as it is, it becomes obvious it is not what it wants to be. It is not what it ought to be. So that Paul is saying there is in creation itself this desire, this bent to be what it was intended to be. Genesis chapter 3. We’re told why, aren’t we? We’re told that because of what Adam and Eve did, the ground became cursed. Yet also remember what happens in the creation account. Every time God makes something, fish, good. Star, good.

Mango, really good. Really good. So there’s an obviousness to the poor state of it. It’s called decay and it’s called death. It’s called death. It’s called drought. There’s no assurance the harvest is going to come in. It’s called natural disasters. It’s called disease that affects vegetation. It’s called predator and prey. And even what’s beautiful in this broken, fallen world still is not what it will be in its beauty and perfection in the life to come. It can’t because it’s subjected. It’s in bondage to corruption, the word says. C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis makes that point well in his first book in the Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew. The boy brings back this apple from Narnia to our world and when he brings it back to this world, it’s the most vibrant, deep color red he has ever seen. Against the backdrop of a fallen, broken world, this red apple was just so red. You haven’t seen red. You haven’t tasted an apple until you’ve had it in a perfected world. So Paul can say this created order there’s a longing in it to know the freedom of the glory of God. It has a longing for the children of God to be set free because it’s not until we’re set free, it can be set free. So much so, it’s groaning. It’s not using words, it’s groaning. Now I have said before, and I can say, I am not tough enough to be a woman. And all this talk of men being women is hogwash because no man can do what a woman can do. Four times, I have watched my wife go through the great pains of birthing children.

And it’s never lost the imagery there. And this is how Paul’s trying to use it. You don’t. I don’t care of a mother halfway through and go, you know what? I still have the receipts to Baby Oz or Us and Amazon. Let’s just take it all back. Let’s turn the nursery back into an office. I don’t want to do this. It’s just too hard. It’s just gotten to a point I just want to undo it all. That’s not what it is. It’s horrific pain. It’s really hard. But why does a woman push through literally? Because she knows there’s a glory on the other side of it. There’s a new life on the other side of it. So she’s grown. I mean, imagine a woman in labor going out.

Yeah, that was hard. There’s not words for the pain. The pain’s real, but right on the other side of it. And you’re on the edge of it in the midst of those groans. There’s life. There’s life.

If creation is doing it, we who will be made in the very image of Christ perfected in all parts, we should be doing it. Longing and groaning and enduring the pain. Because you and I will be in all things lovely. You will be in all things beautiful. You will be in all things holy. You will be in all things immortal. You will have never-ending joy. You will have perfect peace. You will have no sorrows. Period. Period. That’s something worth groaning for and enduring the pain of this life.

I drive downtown, you know, a couple times a week to go to the pregnancy center. And for all that Huntsville is and its success and wealth, there’s a great number of homeless people in downtown Huntsville. And I pass them all the time. And I just get tired of passing homeless people, to be honest. And that’s their problem. They surely did something that got themselves into that kind of mess or whatever you have to tell yourself to keep going. And this past Thursday night, it was late and it was 8.30 and I looked over and I’m passing Big Spring Park and here’s this old man in a wheelchair. His legs are so swollen red. I’m swollen. He can’t use them. He’s stuck in gravel. He can’t move. It’s cold outside. I’m like, all right, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. So I go over there. And I’m like, man, can I help you? Can I just help give you a ride? And I wish I could say it went well. It did not go well. He was just one minute crying, the next minute screaming, the next minute cussing, the next minute apologizing to the Lord. He was saying crazy things. And I took him somewhere and I had to bring him back and it was wild. And just the whole time, it was just like this reminder, like, Lord, this is not what it’s supposed to look like. And I just said to the Lord in my heart, like as I was trying to wheel him around, like, Lord, can you come back? This is not what people are supposed to be like. This is not what a leg is supposed to look like.

Yet what we shall be is what the Lord is and was when he walked out of the grave. When he walked out of the tomb, that’s what we all shall be. And how glorious will that be? Who could describe how glorious it would be?

Calvin says in his commentary, if creatures have continued for so many ages and they’re groaning, how inexcusable will our softness and sloth be if we faint during the short course of the shadowy life?

And as you and I possess the spirit now, we can but taste what’s coming. And just the taste of it in the spirit is enough. It’s enough. You know when you pass like a really fancy steak restaurant and you can smell it? Man, that’s enough. That’s enough to go, I’m going to eat that. Like, let’s eat there tonight. I can smell that. And in the spirit, we have like this sniffer and we can smell heaven. And it’s enough to go, that’s enough. Tender this. It’s enough. And think, having a spiritual sniffer is a thing, but it is a thing, though. Paul says, live with eagerness for it because it’s worth it. I want to say to you, I want to say to myself, let suffering and difficulty not muddle your vision of heaven, but be a clarifier for it. That’s what it’s supposed to be. Let your difficulty in this life be a clarifier for it. The presence of difficulty and suffering is not a proof of it. It’s not a proof that God is not at work in your life. It’s proof He is. It’s a pull for your faith to keep looking out the periphery.

Let it help you fix your gaze on Jesus. And you’ve heard that old thing, well, such and such is no earthly good. He’s so heavenly minded, He’s no earthly good. And I think that the Bible actually says the opposite. You’re only as earthly good as you are heavenly minded. I’ve got to keep my mind fixed on the heavenly places. God loves you so much. He promises very soon to reveal glory.

Here’s the second thing. God loves you so much. He prays for you.

Verse 26. 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 growing faith. The morning’s 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. Paul has effectively built his whole argument up to this point. I think he’s working out a little bit more in some application of all this. But what Paul’s done in Romans, which is kind of his magnum opus, if you will, is he’s explained the Gospel. He’s explained the nature of salvation. And in a nutshell, here’s what Paul has said up till now. Nobody’s righteous. Nobody can fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. Just because you’re a Jew trying to obey the law doesn’t mean you’re really a Jew. Just because you’re circumcised doesn’t mean you’re really circumcised. Abraham believed first. Then circumcision came. Abraham believed first. Then the law came. So Paul has said, step into this. This glorious new reality of grace. Step outside of the old man. Step outside of living this world where God’s keeping tabs on you. And sometimes you do it well and sometimes you don’t. And you’re hoping your good outweighs your bad. The whole thing’s been removed by grace. It’s just grace. And the Spirit’s working in you by grace. So you do good works and you are holy and you think right thoughts. That’s this glorious Gospel and depending on the Spirit. But this verse proves that it’s even deeper and greater than this. And this hit me really hard this month as I was reading in Romans. It’s not like I just need the Spirit of God so that I think holy and live holy. If I don’t even have the Spirit of God, I can’t even pray right. I can’t even utter up the things I need. I am so spiritually dull if all I had to do is ask God for the things I need to be kept along the way, I wouldn’t even be able to ask for them.

This word here that’s used, it would be used to refer to like a nurse helping a child along, holding them by the hand. You and I are nothing if the Spirit doesn’t even to the point of the prayers you lift up guide your thoughts. And surely if you’ve ever tried to pray, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You just can’t find it. I can’t even. There’s that family member. There’s that sin struggle. You’re trying to say something pretty to let God know how awesome He is. And you’re just like, man, my vocabulary is really bad. And like you keep praying for this and you don’t know what to pray for this thing anymore and it still seems to be awful. And you’re like, I need a dictionary.

But this is no cause for fretting. It’s not for fretting. It’s a cause to rejoice. Because God does not say go get a dictionary. We’re told that in our weakness we can rejoice because the Spirit works to communicate what ought to be said to the Father. And what ought to be said to the Father can’t even be said in human words that we have.

The Spirit of God intercedes with groans that we couldn’t even express. So this is no cause to cease praying with words only it sets us free in a glorious way to keep praying. Because whatever I do pray, I’m only praying that good thing because the Spirit led me to do that. But it’s inadequate and the Spirit’s going to go, let me help you out. And He communicates the rest and everything that I need to the Father.

Your promise, and I think really this is maybe the most important and powerful verse on prayer in the Bible. Your promise success in prayer if you would just do it. Think about it. Think about that. You’re driving to work. You’re half awake. And you’re like, Lord, today, and your heart’s there, but your words aren’t there. I just need you. I don’t know what I’m going to deal with today. I just want to be light today. Help my wife, help my kids. Lord, help that person that needs this. That was such a successful prayer.

You’re in a hard season. You’re just babbling. You got the tears rolling down. And you’re like, this is the worst prayer I’ve ever prayed. It’s the best prayer you’ve ever prayed.

Prayer is a certain victory when you have the right heart behind it. Your prayers are made worthy because the Spirit is at work. And why is it so wonderful that it’s the Spirit? Why is it so wonderful that it’s the Spirit doing this? Well, because two realities. One, the Father knows the fullness of the Spirit. And the Spirit knows the fullness of the Father. So whatever the Father desires for us to pray, guess exactly what the Spirit’s going to utter up to the Father on our behalf. Exactly what’s in accordance with His will.

The only failure in prayer is the failure to begin. The only failure is the failure of the absentee. Friends, the one who never begins is the one who fails in prayer. Think about the alternative as silly as it is. You get to heaven, you place faith in Jesus, you thought you grew, and God’s like, eh, look, one too many times you just didn’t ask for the right thing because I couldn’t keep your faith alive. Remember that one time you asked for wisdom? What you actually needed was wisdom and strength and you didn’t say strength. And I didn’t give it to you. You didn’t have enough strength. So, and you’re like, yeah, but I was just so exhausted in that season of life. I’m sorry. And He’s like, well, you’ve got a long time to think about it sitting in hell. Like, sorry. Like, bye. Is the gospel either good news through and through or partially?

Friends, the Spirit of God groans for you so that the Father would give you exactly what you need. Let me say it like this. Free grace assures that all you need the Father supplies because the Spirit’s working it out in you and interceding for you. The Father hears and supplies what you need in the Spirit. It’s going to be applied and worked out in your life and you will receive it because the Spirit asks for it for your life. John Bunyan has said, in prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. This isn’t a call to not grow in prayer or grow in kind of melding your prayer life with the Word of God and praying for things according to the will of God. It’s just a realization. However spiritual you become in this life, you’re never, you’re never going to have the spiritual acumen you need that the Spirit of God Himself has for your Christian success. You’re just not. So that’s freeing. That’s freeing. That’s freeing. Start talking. And God’s like, that’s not good on a human level but don’t worry. Don’t worry. I love you and the Spirit is saying what needs to be said. That’s how much God loves you. So friends, do you pray poorly? Pray on poorly. God loves you so much He’s hearing all that needs to be heard from you in the Spirit.

Last thing. God loves you so much He’s working all things together. God loves you so much He’s working all things together.

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good. For those who are called according to His purpose. I think that’s a verse that it feels nice. It’s one that perhaps you would see in Joanna Gaines-esque flair on a kitchen wall you know, wherever we tend to write Bible verses these days on a coffee cup and it’s nice in some seasons of life. You know, like those seasons when like you just pop up out of bed and you go right to the table and boy, those little spiritual nuggets just jump out of the Bible and you’re like, oh Lord, I’m so full of all this stuff and your journals for all these things you’re learning and you just got all the right Christian relationships around you and money’s not an issue and health’s not an issue and your marriage is pretty good but but this verse says it’s got a wider breadth than that that God’s purposes are good not just in the obvious means the easy means oh, what a good sermon I grew today not just there God’s working in all things which means God’s working in the dark the dark side of life I wish I didn’t have to experience that side of life spirituality feels stale

unexplainable spiritual exhaustion feels you’re making little progress in the way

health of a loved one is strained

relationships strained like culture is imploding around you marriage is hard parenting’s hard it’s just not a good time life is just not a good time a lot of times

rest in knowing this, friends you don’t have to be a Greek scholar to know what the word all means

God says He’s taking everything to keep you He’s taking the great things the good He’s taking the bad He’s purposed the good He’s purposed the bad to conform you to the image of Christ and He loves you so much He’s gonna make you eat the hard stuff as much as He makes you eat the good stuff there isn’t one happening on earth there’s not one molecule in the universe that isn’t being used by God for His purpose to display His glory and the perfection of His people in His Son Jesus so answer the question why do you still love Him? why haven’t you just given up and drowned yourself in sin and pleasure? why hasn’t the tragedies and difficulties of life severed your tie with Jesus as it has for a lot of people?

it says it so plainly here in 28 it says because you’ve been called out the Father’s called you out according to His good purposes say that synonymously God’s just given you His free grace God’s just shown you God’s just told you He really loves you and once you know how much God loves you and how much you don’t deserve that love it makes bearing everything possible because you believe something to be true about the character of God despite what God allows to happen in your life you can believe this the linchpin of God’s love is holding it all together why will you wake up tomorrow and still love God even though it’s difficult? why will you wake up 20 years from now and still love God though it’s difficult? because He first loved you and He has told you He is working in all things to bring you to a glorious perfect end in Jesus it’s way beyond what you can grasp in this moment it’s way beyond what we deserve

it’s probably the best trick of the devil if He could just get you to believe not even that God hates you it’s just God doesn’t love you that much if He can just get you to believe that you’re not perfectly loved in any way everything is happening because it’s just full of God’s love why did that good thing happen? because it’s full of God’s love for you why did that bad thing happen? because it’s full of God’s love for you oh friends then the linchpin in your heart is pulled

but our God is both loving and sovereign

our God loves us perfectly and He’s in control of all things and if I believe that about God then all things that come to pass cannot pull my linchpin they can’t

God loves you with an everlasting love God loves you with a perfect love God loves you so much He sent His Son Jesus to bleed and die for you and in that Son there is the promise for you of future glory there isn’t that Son intercessory prayer that will not fail there is for you in that Son a promise that all things are working together to bring us safe and home full of joy full of glory in Christ for God’s glory He loves you so feel it in your bones feel it in your bones

let’s pray together

Father if we’ve learned anything from this text it’s that our best words can’t describe spiritual realities our best words can’t say how wonderful you are still Lord we give you thank you for your perfect love thank you for your grace thank you for your abiding keeping power and your love thank you that in the deepest darkest depths of this life your purposes are good all your ways are good and you’re keeping us and you’re drawing us in closer and closer to yourself Lord help us to know that love

help us to share that love help us to preach that love

that in all things your Son may be magnified and Father you would receive all glory and we pray it in Christ’s name Amen

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Romans 8:18-28