Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
Thesis: The Father's response to the Spirit's intercession is effectual.
Introduction: It seems to be pretty obvious on the surface of the text before us that Paul wishes to give the Romans a "boost of confidence" in the face of both undeniable and inescapable sufferings. At the beginning he approached this desire by declaring the incomparable glory that comes out of the "seed" of the sufferings, and in the text before us now he approaches this desire by declaring that we have a potent "Co-laborer" in the details of the "dailies". The two major theses are related: the incomparable glory is not unrelated to the responses we give to the sufferings and neither is the aid of the "Co-laborer" unrelated to those responses. The glory is the end result of those responses and the help of the "Co-laborer" is the means to those responses.
This evening we are going to pursue Paul's role of encourager in regard to his doctrine of the impact that is made by our "Helper". We have seen that the primary action of our "Helper" is intercession, which we have defined as "prayer for us to the God above us regarding the problems in us". The main question that this primary action raises is this: What is the impact of this intercession?
The text before us suggests a partial answer. The straightforward implication of 8:27 is that the Father responds to the intercession of the Spirit according to the nature of that which has caused the Spirit to "groan". But, what is the nature of that response?
January 29, 2008
- I. The Pervasive Assumption.
- A. Throughout the context Paul assumes the reality of the first work of our "Helper".
- 1. He has claimed that one of the foremost activities of the Spirit of God is the circumcision of the heart which results in a fundamental commitment to being given glory by God (2:29).
- a. That it is a fundamental commitment must be the case.
- b. That it is a fundamental commitment does not mean that it is inevitably triumphant over the other fundamental commitments by which men operate.
- 2. He has also claimed that one of the aspects of this activity of the Spirit is to "spill into our hearts" the agape of God (5:5).
- a. One of the impacts of this "spilling" is to convince us of the agape of the Father in our regard.
- b. Another of the impacts of this "spilling" is to convince others by us of that agape in their regard.
- B. The pervasive assumption, therefore, is this: his readers have, somewhere in the deepest regions of their hearts, a desire to receive praise from God and an understanding that what they desire is tied to whether they act by faith through their days.
- II. The Significance of the Assumption.
- A. None of the present focus upon our Helper towards God's ends will make any difference to anyone in whom there exists an uncircumcised heart.
- B. Most of the present focus upon our Helper towards God's ends will be ineffectual for those in whom the flame of the desire has been smothered so that it is essentially no more than a live coal buried in ashes.
- C. All of the present focus upon our Helper towards God's ends will be effectual for those who have deliberately made it their goal to keep the ashes pushed back, to fan the coals of His love, and to pile on the fuel [Note Paul's exhortations to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6].
- III. The Actual Impact of Both the Assumption and the Provision.
- A. The provision consists of the Spirit's "intercession" by means of soundless groaning.
- 1. The point of this "intercession" is that certain realities are distressful to the Spirit.
- 2. There are only two kinds of things that distress the Spirit.
- a. One is the internal issue of the dying of the flame.
- b. The other is the external issue of wrongness of what is going on.
- 3. This means that the Spirit is going to be "groaning" when He sees either the abuse of the believer by others, or the abuse of others by the believer.
- a. The abuse of believers by others is automatic to the situation, but it is not to be handled fatalistically: the Spirit intercedes so that the situation will change.
- b. The abuse of others by the believer is automatic to the permission of the ash-buildup by the believer.
- 4. This, consequently, means that the Father's response to the Spirit's soundless groanings will be specifically designed to address the cause of the groaning.
- B. The provision is the foundation, but so is the condition of the heart.
- 1. Paul injects the issue of the condition of the heart by using a profoundly human, anthropomorphic, expression: "He that searches the hearts".
- a. This is an anthropomorphism because omniscience does not need to "search" in order to know.
- b. This anthropomorphism is used because of its ability to produce a better response in human beings than simple statement.
- 1) It is one thing to say that God knows everything.
- 2) It is another, more moving, thing to say that God is in the habit of running a searching scan over our hearts to investigate what is going on in there.
- 2. This injection is deliberately designed to provide a "jolt" for believers so that they may be more motivated to deliberately examine the condition of the flame of desire for God to be able to praise them.
- C. The mind of God is the overall bottom line.
- 1. The heart-searching is done with a standard of comparison on hand: the ways God thinks, both Spirit and Father.
- 2. Because the Spirit is absolutely in tune with the Father, He only groans about things that are contrary to the agape of the Father, and the Father, Who is absolutely in tune with the Spirit, responds with actions that are designed to address the groaning.