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The Steady Hand of a Caring God - Romans 8:28-30

Taught on | Topic: God's care | Keywords: care, certainty, eternity, good, know, perspective, purpose, suffering, trials

The world to many people seems to be a random place where anything can happen. But a believer can (and should) step firmly onto the soil of life. Why? Not just because God exists, but also because God cares! There is not a single atom nor molecule out of place in God’s universe; His hands and heart are steadily controlling your every breath. Let’s examine some of the richest truths about the quality of care from a loving God.

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10/13/2019
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The Steady Hand of a Caring God
Romans 8:28-30
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The world to many people seems to be a random place where anything can happen. But a believer can (and should) step firmly onto the soil of life. Why? Not just because God exists, but also because God cares! There is not a single atom nor molecule out of place in God’s universe; His hands and heart are steadily controlling your every breath. Let’s examine some of the richest truths about the quality of care from a loving God.
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Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans

Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans

When the wrath of God meets the righteousness of God, where does that leave us? The apostle Paul says that we are marked by sin at birth but marked righteous at salvation. In this series through Romans, Skip Heitzig explains the essentials of Christian doctrine that can transform your thoughts, words, and actions. Move from sinner to saint, and from saved to Spirit-filled as you inscribe the essence of the gospel onto your heart and soul.

Outline

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  1. The Certainty of God’s Care

  2. The Comprehensiveness of God’s Care

  3. The Cohesiveness of God’s Care

  4. The Culmination of God’s Care

  5. The Condition of God’s Care

  6. The Continuation of God’s Care

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: October 13, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Steady Hand of a Caring God"
Text: Romans 8:28-30

Path

The world to many people seems to be a random place where anything can happen. But a believer can (and should) step firmly onto the soil of life. Why? Not just because God exists, but also because God cares! There is not a single atom nor molecule out of place in God's universe; His hands and heart are steadily controlling your every breath. Let's examine some of the richest truths about the quality of care from a loving God.
  1. The Certainty of God's Care
  2. The Comprehensiveness of God's Care
  3. The Cohesiveness of God's Care
  4. The Culmination of God's Care
  5. The Condition of God's Care
  6. The Continuation of God's Care
Points

The Certainty of God's Care
  • The word know gives verse 28 a ring of certainty. In Kenneth Wuest's translation, this verse reads "And we know with an absoluteknowledge…"
  • Much of the Christian life is tension between what we know and what we don't know.There are a lot of things we don't know, but other things we do know without a doubt, especially God's ongoing care for us (see 1 Peter 5:7).
  • Never abandon what you know for what you don't know.Our salvation is certain (see John 3:16, John 10:28-29, Romans 5:1, Romans 8:31-39, and 1 John 5:13).
The Comprehensiveness of God's Care
  • Paul did not say that "all things are good in and of themselves" or "God will keep bad things from happening to us." Nothing is beyond the overarching scope of God's hand.
  • In Romans 8:17, Paul said, "If we suffer with Him," and in verse 23, he continued, "We groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
  • Also, note that it's not "all things just happen to work out on their own." God is the mover. In the NASB, verse 28 reads, "We know that God causes all things to work together." God continually works things out—it's ongoing.
The Cohesiveness of God's Care
  • God makes all things "work together" (v. 28). God is working all the people, elements, situations, and issues in our lives together to produce the best results.
  • God brings a divine synergy that brings healing out of hardship.The Bible shows two ways to look at hardship: Jacob, who faced family dysfunction, the apparent loss of a beloved son, and famine, looked at his troubles and said, "All these things are against me" (Genesis 42:36). Paul, who endured slander, imprisonment, and beatings, said, "All things work together for good."The difference was in their view of God's hand in their lives; hardship must be interpreted from an eternal perspective.
The Culmination of God's Care
  • God is working all things together for good. God is not working things together for our comfort, ease, prosperity, or health; He is working them together for a supreme good.Sometimes, God calms the storm around His children, but He often calms His children in the storm.
  • God never wastes pain. That's why James told us, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2). When trials come, we often question God. James reminded us that trials test our faith, so that we "may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (1:4).
  • Though God seldom gives us the specific reasons for our trials, we can know that He is working them together for our good and the good of others too.
The Condition of God's Care
  • The promise of verse 28 is for "those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." It's only for believers in Christ. If you love God and have received Christ as Lord and Savior, you know that He pre-destined you to be His child, and as His child, the wonders of this promise are yours.
  • The Bible shows us this over and over, especially in three famous examples:
    • Joseph's life (see Genesis 50:20); the Jews' exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:11); the cross (see Acts 2:23).
The Continuation of God's Care
  • In Romans 8:29-30, we see the big picture of God's plan for His children.There are five links in these verses: God foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and glorified us.
  • We see the pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle and wonder what God is doing; God sees the whole picture and asks that we trust His sovereign hand in working it all out.
  • Romans 8:28-30 is why we can grasp what Job meant when he said of God, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15).
Practice

Connect Up: Pastor Skip used the functionality of a steel bar to illustrate how God uses hardship to increase the value and durability of our faith. Think of a time when God used hardship to draw you closer to Him. How difficult was it for you to look past your trial to seek God? How can that experience and knowledge help you tread carefully when it comes to the pain of others?

Connect In: As Christians, we can sometimes be judgmental of hardships in the lives of fellow believers. We can be put off, or even angered by, the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ. How does Romans 8:28-30 remind us of the importance of God's grace at work in all our lives? God is in the process of justifying all of us as we move toward the time when He will glorify us. Read Galatians 6:1-5. What does God want us to do when a fellow Christian has stumbled?

Connect Out: The promise of Romans 8:28 is for believers, not unbelievers. How could you use the idea of God's sovereignty in all things to encourage an unbeliever that God can use their hard times for good purposes? Consider what God used in your life to bring you to faith in Christ.

Detailed Notes

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"The Steady Hand of a Caring God"
Romans 8:28-30
  1. Introduction
    1. Life can feel haphazard and random
      1. It feels like life doesn't make sense and you don't know why certain things are happening
      2. Why would a loving God allow this to happen?
    2. Romans 8:28 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible
      1. It's brought comfort to millions of believers for centuries
      2. In this verse is a Grand Canyon of Scripture that covers absolutely everything in life
    3. The theme of Romans is the gospel—the righteousness of God
      1. The first few chapters, however, plummet downward; Paul first revealed the wrath of God before revealing the grace of God
        1. In the first three chapters, Paul consigned the world as unrighteous and under God's judgment
        2. In chapters 4 and 5, Paul showed us that faith is the solution
      2. But in chapters 6-8, we find that there is no condemnation—we're children of God
  2. The Certainty of God's Care
    1. Paul used definitive language
      1. It wasn't a guess, but knowledge
      2. According to Kenneth Wuest, a Greek scholar, the phrase "and we know" (v. 28) should be translated "and we know with absolute knowledge"
    2. There are a lot of things in life that we don't know; as Paul said, "We do not know what we should pray for" (v. 26)
      1. We also don't know why certain things happen to us
      2. Habakkuk 1:2
      3. James 4:14
    3. But there are other things that we do know
      1. There are certain things you can hold on to, even when there are other things you don't understand
      2. We don't need to hope so or think so—our salvation is certain
  3. The Comprehensiveness of God's Care
    1. As Paul said, "We know that all things work together for good" (v. 28)
      1. There isn't another statement that brings more assurance, joy, or confidence to believers than this one
      2. Paul did not say that all things are good in and of themselves, or that God will keep us from bad things
        1. It does not say some things work together for good to those who love God, although that might be easier to believe
        2. It also does not say all good things work together for good
      3. Paul used the word panta in Greek, which literally means "all things"
        1. There are no qualifications or limitations
        2. Nothing is beyond the overruling, overriding scope of God's providential care
    2. What's included in "all things" in this context?
      1. Suffering in the present world (see v. 17)
      2. The groaning that comes because of it (see v. 23)
    3. The idea is not that all things just happen to work out for good on their own
      1. Behind all things is a God who is the prime mover, who is causing all those things
      2. This is an ongoing activity that is orchestrated by God; it's not a statement of fate, but of faith—God is providentially overruling in all things for His plan
      3. It doesn't matter what's going on in your path, what obstacles are on your path; He will direct your path (see Proverbs 3:5-6)
        1. Psychologists have identified a counterpart of post-traumatic stress: post-traumatic growth
        2. This is a positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity, which is due to a shift in thinking about and relating to the world in response to a traumatic event
        3. For most of us, adversity is healthy; it changes the way we think, and we grow as a result
  4. The Cohesiveness of God's Care
    1. In the Greek, "work together" is just one word—synergeo
      1. This is where we get the word synergy—the working together of various elements to produce a result greater than the sum
      2. Nothing is random; God superintends the mixture of all things
    2. There are certain things in life that are, in and of themselves, evil
      1. But when God puts those things in the crucible of omnipotence and mixes it just right, He can give it back to us and it's become helpful
      2. Jacob and Paul both suffered
        1. Jacob responded by saying, "All these things are against me" (Genesis 42:36)
        2. Paul responded with a completely different viewpoint: "All things work together for good" (v. 28)
        3. The difference between the two is perspective
    3. This scripture must be seen from an eternal perspective, not a temporal perspective
      1. There's a law of physics which explains that energy is never lost, but is transformed from one state to another
      2. It's the same in the human experience; nothing is ever lost entirely—God uses it to accomplish His purpose
  5. The Culmination of God's Care
    1. Paul did not say that all things work together for our comfort, because they don't always work out that way
      1. Certain experiences are very uncomfortable
      2. However, God is always working toward a supreme good as God defines good
    2. The Christian is not naïve about suffering, pain, heartache, and tragedy
      1. "God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves" —Joni Eareckson Tada
      2. Matthew 5:45
      3. Job 1:21
    3. Sometimes God calms the storm for us, but usually He calms us in the storm
      1. God never wastes our pain; He always causes it to work out for our ultimate good—the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son
      2. James said that we should "count it all joy" when we suffer (see James 1:2-4)
      3. We should be excited to go through a trial because God has something up His sleeve
  6. The Condition of God's Care
    1. Things don't work together for good to anyone and everyone, but to those who love God
      1. This is given to those who love God—believers
      2. The fact that we love the Lord is proof that we are "called according to His purpose" (v. 28)
    2. The principle of this passage can be seen throughout the Old Testament
      1. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and suffered for years as a result, but he had an eternal perspective (see Genesis 50:20)
      2. The Jews were in captivity in Babylon, and Jeremiah wrote about God's heart for them (see Jeremiah 29:11)
      3. The ultimate example of Romans 8:28 is the cross of Jesus Christ (see John 3:16)
        1. Acts 2:23
        2. Something that was so bad became something so good for those who believe that faith in Him is enough to get us from earth to heaven
    3. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of the cross—He experienced it, and He knows how something so bad can become something so good for those who trust in Him
  7. The Continuation of God's Care
    1. This is the scope of God's care
      1. This is where we move from eternity past to eternity future—from predestination and election all the way to glorification
      2. There are five golden links of God's sovereign care:
        1. He foreknew
        2. He predestined
        3. He called
        4. He justified
        5. He glorified
    2. All but one of these conditions are past tense
      1. He knew us in advance; He predestined us in Christ before the foundation of the world; He called us and justified us at the time of our salvation
      2. We haven't been glorified yet, but God writes about it in the past tense because He's sure that it will happen
        1. Your glorification is as certain to God as Him choosing you before the foundation of the world
        2. That is the continuation of God's care—it doesn't stop when you face trials; it's going to happen, and He'll continue to display His care forever
  8. Conclusion
    1. Right now, you might be holding a dark piece of the puzzle of life
      1. Why would God allow this to happen?
      2. Don't forget that God sees the whole puzzle
    2. Are you okay with knowing that He knows?
      1. You don't know, and you won't be able to figure it out
      2. He has the big picture in mind, and that's where we have to leave everything we go through
Figures referenced: Jerry Bridges, Jim Elliot, George Mueller, William R. Newell, John Stott, Joni Eareckson Tada, R.A. Torrey, Kenneth Wuest

Cross references: Genesis 42:36; 50:20; Job 1:21; Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 29:11; Habakkuk 1:2; Matthew 5:45; John 3:16; Acts 2:23; Romans 8:26; James 1:2-4; 4:14

Greek words: panta, synergeo

Topic: God's care

Keywords: care, certainty, eternity, good, know, perspective, purpose, suffering, trials

Transcript

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The Steady Hand of a Caring God - Romans 8:28-30 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Good morning. Anybody here go to the Balloon Fiesta this morning first? Any hands up? One did. Is that it? Any more? Oh, a couple of you guys did. Good. Enjoyable? Yeah, you know, where we are here, at Osuna Campus, when you come down Osuna for the first service, the balloons today were right around this area.

And as they were going up, I couldn't help but think and look forward to what Paul wrote about in Thessalonians, "the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, voice of the archangel the dead in Christ will rise first. Those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air." I'm looking forward to that ride, even if I don't get a balloon ride before heaven.

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans Chapter 8 verse 28. We have been in the book of Romans for 17 weeks. And we are now in Romans Chapter 8. And we are looking at one of the most famous verses ever, "and we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and to those who are called according to his purpose."

Let's have a word of prayer together. Father, we are all experiencing different things in our lives. Know exactly what those things are. We may be sitting next to someone who is in deep distress or he or she are flying high because something great happened to them.

But Father, we pray that whatever things we are dealing with, we would walk away today with confidence that we serve a caring God and our lives are in Your steady hands. We pray, Lord, that our faith would increase and, that because of that, our lives would be on firm ground. In Jesus' name, amen.

Life sometimes feels haphazard. It feels random. It feels like it doesn't make sense, you don't know why you're going through what you're going through. You don't know why a loving God would allow you to go through what you're going through. You just don't get it.

There was a man who lived in a flood zone and a flood came. He was down in Louisiana. As the waters were rising and there was a mandatory evacuation, he decided to stay put. So he climbed up on top of his house on his roof. The waters were getting higher up to his ankles. And a neighbor came by in a little rowboat and said, I'd love to give you a lift out of here. And the man smiled and said oh, no, I trust in the Lord. I'll be fine.

So he stayed. And the waters rose a little bit higher and a little bit higher up to his waist. And a man in a motorboat came by and said, I'd love to give you a lift out of here. And the guy goes oh, no, God is faithful. I'm trusting Him. He's going to provide.

So he went off. And the waters kept rising higher and higher up to his chin. He's now on his tiptoes. A helicopter came in, swooped down. The pilot let a rope down and announced, grab a hold of the rope. I'll save you. And the man looked up and said, nope, don't need any help. God's got this covered.

So he was treading water now for a couple of hours. When he finally died and he was in heaven, he complained to God. And he goes, Lord, I don't get it. I had such trust in You. What went wrong? I don't understand. And God said, yeah, I don't understand either. I sent you two boats and a helicopter. Aren't you glad that God never says yeah, I don't understand, that God never says, oops, God never declares, uh-oh? That's not part of his vocabulary.

Romans Chapter 8 Verse 28-- and we're going to look at 28, 29, and 30, but principally 28-- is one of the most famous verses of scripture ever penned. Most of you know it by heart. It has brought comfort to millions of believers for centuries.

This one verse will help you go to sleep at night when nothing else will. Oftentimes, I've just repeated that to myself in dark moments. In fact, it always makes the list of the most popular Bible verses. I looked at a list recently, this week, of the top 10 most famous Bible verses to Americans. Romans 8:28 was number four. It always makes that list.

However, preaching on a famous verse of the Bible can be a little intimidating, simply because everybody knows it. They've already internalized it, they've memorized it. You know its meaning. You've applied it to your lives.

But I found that it can be very rewarding especially if you treat it like it's a precious jewel. And we're going to look at Romans 8:28. And we're going to just turn it around slowly, letting it catch the light, so to speak, of God's glory on each facet of truth, word for word.

It is an important verse because not all things are good. And to say all things are good would be a fallacy. It is wrong to say, for example, the death of a child-- that's not good. Cancer is not good. Suicide is not good. War is not good. Terrorism is not good. Rape is not good. Sex trafficking-- all of those things are not good. But and yet the verse says, "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 have before us, in Verse 28, a Grand Canyon of scripture with incredible, breathtaking views that covers absolutely everything in life. RA Torrey called Romans 8:28 "a soft pillow for a tired heart." Isn't that a great description? A soft pillow for a tired heart-- how many times have we rested our souls on the promise in this verse?

Someone once said, "if the whole of scripture were a feast for the soul, then Romans Chapter 8 is the main dish." And I would add to that and say Romans 8:28 is the entree, it's the main feast.

Now, let's kind of go back and get our bearings. The theme of Romans, we have seen is the gospel, the righteousness of God, and the meaning of the gospel. The first few chapters however, plummet us downward. It reveals the wrath of God before it reveals the grace of God.

So in chapters 1, 2, and 3, Paul consigns the entire world as being unrighteous under God's judgment, religious and non-religious, Jew and Gentile. Then chapters 4 and 5 gives us the fix. The. fix is faith. That if we simply believe like Abraham-- he was the prime example, he believed in God. It was accounted to him for righteousness therefore a person who believes is justified. That's the theme of those two chapters.

Then chapters 6, 7, and 8, there is no condemnation. We're adopted children of God by faith. We are free from the law. The law doesn't make things better. It makes things worse.

And now we're at the very pinnacle. We're like at the top of the mountain and we're looking over this panorama of the comprehensive view of the care of God, how much God cares. I've called this message the steady hand of a caring God. And we're going to probe this verse, all three of them, but primarily Verse 28. And I want you to notice with me six facets of God's care, six facets of God's care. Number one, the certainty of God's care-- look at the phrase, the first part of it, it says, "and we know." Stop there-- "and we know."

There is a ring of definiteness in Paul's language. He's not scratching his head going, well, I think, I hope, maybe. He goes, "and we know." Kenneth Weist, the Greek scholar who translated the New Testament in one of his versions also was a contributor to the NASB, said this should be translated this way-- "and we know with absolute knowledge." We know it with absolute knowledge. 32 times in Paul's epistles he uses this phrase, "and we know," Five times alone in the book of Romans.

And we know-- that's the certainty of God's care. Now, there's a lot of things in life we don't know. The Bible says that. For instance, in Verse 26 of Romans 8, Paul says we don't always know how to pray as we ought.

Also, we don't know why certain things happen to us. Remember in the Old Testament, one of the prophets named Habakkuk who wondered why God would allow the things to happen to his own countrymen. And he said, "how long, O Lord? " How long, why will you be silent over this? Why is this happening?

Also, James Chapter 4 says, "for we do not know the things that will happen tomorrow." The patriarch Isaac declared, "I do not know the day of my death." Jesus said, "you do not know the day or the hour of your Lord's coming." So there's a lot of things the Bible says we don't know.

But there are certain things we do know or we should know. And one of them-- and it should never be a question in our minds-- is that God loves us, God cares for us. 1 Peter Chapter 5:7, "cast all your care upon Him because He cares for you."

And so Paul begins this verse speaking about God's care, "and we know." Listen, dear believer, never abandon what you do know because of what you don't know. There are certain things you don't know. You can't figure it out. You can't see why.

But then there are other things you do know. During those times, gravitate and hold on to the things you absolutely know, even when there's other things you don't. You can be a no-so believer rather than a so-so believer. You can be a shouting Christian rather than a doubting Christian. You should be an exclamation point and not a question mark with your head bent over.

We don't need hope so, think so, maybe so, perhaps so salvation. We need a know so salvation. This is certain. You can lay your head on the pillow of the certainty that God cares for you. That's the first facet.

Now we take this gem of Romans 8:28 and we twist it a little bit. After the certainty of God's care, we have the comprehensiveness of God's care. Because notice what he says, "and we know that all things work together for good." I cannot think of a statement that brings more assurance, more joy, more confidence to the Christian than this.

Now, be careful. He does not say we know that all things are good in and of themselves. Because that would be an absurd statement in view of natural disasters that happen, human tragedies that occur. Nor does the text say that God will keep us from bad things.

I know that that is a teaching in the faith-teaching community, that God loves you and he won't let anything bad happen to you, and that if you're a Christian you'll always have health and prosperity, and he'll heal you from every disease. If that were so, you would have people converting to Christ for all the wrong motivations, all the wrong reasons. And the Bible never promises that.

Notice again, it does not say some things work together for good to those who love God. It'd be easier, perhaps, to believe it if it did. It doesn't say that nor does it say most things work together for good. Nor does it say all good things work together for good. Nor does it say all prayed about things work together for good.

It says all things. The Greek word [GREEK], all things. And guess what it means? It means all things-- "all things" literally actually means all things. That is, there are no qualifications. There are no limitations. There's no confinement. The point he is making is nothing is beyond the overruling, overriding scope of God's providential care.

I love how George Mueller put it. George Mueller, I've told you about him before. He ran several orphanages in Bristol, England all by faith, didn't have always financial-- the wherewithal to run these things. But he was a man of great faith.

Of Romans 8:28, he said in 1,000 trials it is not 500 of them that work for the believer's good, but 999 of them and one besides-- his way of saying all things.

Now, what is included in all things? Of course we know it means all things. But what's included in context here? Well, remember back in Verse 17, we covered that last week when we were together? He said, if we suffer with Him we'll also share in His glory. So it speaks of suffering in the present world.

Down in Verse 23, Paul writes, "we ourselves grown within ourselves as we are waiting for the final redemption of our body." So we know it includes all things like suffering in this life and the groaning that comes because of it.

William R Newell writes, "dark things, bright things, happy things, sad things, sweet things, bitter things, times of prosperity, times of adversity, all things." But don't misread the verse. The idea is not that all things just happen to work out for good on their own. The idea of this verse is behind the all things is a God who is the prime mover, who is causing all those things.

In fact, the new American Standard Bible translates it that way. "For we know that God causes all things to work together for good." That really is the sense of this verse because it's in the active voice and it's in the present tense. So it speaks of an ongoing activity that is orchestrated by God. The verse would be better translated, we know with absolute certainty that God, on an ongoing basis, is causing everything to be working together for good to those who love God. So it's not a statement of fate, that things are just going to work out on their own. It's a statement of faith, that God is providentially overruling in all things for his plan.

Here's a related verse, another famous verse in scripture, one you love as well, Proverbs Chapter 3 verses 5 and 6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." Doesn't matter what's going on in your path, what obstacles are on your path, if the path is straight or twisted. He will direct your path.

Most every one of us has heard of PTSD. It's been popularized over the last 10, 15 years-- post-traumatic stress disorder. It's something that happens when a person is exposed to a traumatic event. Sometimes they will experience that and they will exhibit certain behaviors based upon that trauma. And so it's called post-traumatic stress syndrome or disorder.

But the world of psychology has tapped into another condition they're talking about now. They call it PTG, post-traumatic growth. And what they have noted is this is a positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity. And it is due to a shift in thinking and relating to the world that is the result of a traumatic event.

According to this field of experts, 2/3 of trauma survivors experience PTG, post-traumatic growth, whereas only a small percentage actually experience post-traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD. So their point is for most of us, adversity is healthy. It's good. It changes the way we think. We grow as a result.

Now, you add to that psychological condition the truth of this verse, that there is a personal God behind it all orchestrating those events, directing our steps in our path, all things, you have a great place of confidence. The certainty of God's care, we know. The comprehensiveness of God's care, all things.

Let's look at a third facet. Let's turn that diamond a little more. The cohesiveness of God's care-- he said, "we know that all things work together." Stop there. Work together, two words, one word in the Greek language, sunergeo, sunergeo.

If you're trying to write that down, I don't know why. But sunergeo is the word from which we get our word synergy or synergism, sunergeo. Synergy, it's the interaction and cooperation of two or more things. It is the working together of various elements to produce a result greater than the sum.

So it's not that you just have all these random things that happen. It's that God superintends the mixture of all things. So it's the right combination. Here's an example.

A few weeks ago, somebody did me a great, wonderful honor of giving me home-grown tomatoes from their garden. I brought them home. And after church, after third service I cut into a few of them and I ate them. They were delicious. But I put poison on them. I didn't die.

Well, we wouldn't call it poison. We call it salt, sodium chloride. But do you know that sodium, in its pure elemental form and chlorine, in its pure elemental form will kill you? It's poisonous.

However, in the right combination, sodium chloride, it's actually beneficial. It enhances taste. It brings out the flavor. It could kill you in one form but in another combination form, it can be beneficial.

God can do that. There are certain things in life in and of themselves are evil, horrible, bad, terrible. They're not good. But in God's chemistry lab, when He puts it in the crucible of omnipotence and He mixes it just right, He can give it back to us and it's actually healing, helpful.

So Paul can say we know that all things work together. That's God's chemistry. Now for a moment, I want you to compare two worldviews. One is from an Old Testament guy named Jacob. One is from this New Testament guy named Paul the Apostle.

Jacob and Paul had similar experiences. Bad things were happening in their lives. Jacob had his son kidnapped. He thought his son was dead. That was Joseph. There was a famine going on in the land. His boys were misbehaving. He had a lot of bad things happen.

Paul the Apostle also had bad things happen to him. He was falsely accused, put in prison. He was in Caesarea Prison for a couple of years, then went to Rome, was facing a trial before Nero. He had all sorts of bad things happen.

Jacob, when the bad things happened to him, this is what he said. "All things are against me." When all these things happen to Paul, Paul said, "all things work together for good to those who love God." Two different viewpoints.

I've met a lot of believers who live where Jacob lived. Everything is against me. Everybody's out to get me. Things aren't turning out right. Or all things work together for good. What's the difference? The difference is a perspective based on eternity.

Romans 8:28 must be interpreted from the eternal perspective, not the temporal perspective. Because you're looking at what's going on around you-- I don't get this. I don't know why God will allow this to happen.

There is a law of physics that basically says energy in the universe is never lost. It is always transformed from one state to another state. I think it's the same way in human experience. I think nothing is ever lost entirely, that God uses it to accomplish His purpose.

Most all of us have heard the story of Jim Elliot, the missionary to the Auca Indians. Now, here's a group of missionaries who planned, and prayed, and strategized, and had a heart to reach these people down in Ecuador. And one day, a mission team, Jim Elliott and four others, went out to share the gospel. They were all killed. They were all murdered.

When that happened-- and it was pretty significant news-- their sacrifice seemed like a senseless tragedy. It looked like a total waste of human life. That's because they were interpreting it, not in the light of eternity, but just temporarily.

However, in God's chemistry lab, there was a purpose. You see, each one of those tribespeople eventually came to know Jesus Christ. The gospel was planted into that tribal culture and to this day is thriving in that tribal culture.

Several years ago I actually met the man who put the spear into Jim Elliott. He's a believer. He's the leader, or he was. Now he's in heaven. Now, just picture this, in heaven right now is Jim Elliott, those four other missionaries, and the murderers of them all around the throne of God, looking back at the event and probably saying, it worked together for good. Don't you agree?

Romans 8:28 must always be interpreted in the light of the eternal perspective, not the temporal. So the certainty, the comprehensiveness, the cohesion of God's care-- let's turn that diamond a little bit more-- the culmination of God's care. "And we know that all things work together for good."

Let's consider those two words, "for good." Notice what it doesn't say. It does not say, and we know that all things work together for our comfort. Because they don't always. Certain experiences are very uncomfortable. It does not say we know that all things work together for our ease, or all things work together for our prosperity, or all things work together for our physical health. Know this, though, God is always working toward a supreme good as God defines good-- as God defines good.

50 years ago, a young woman at the time named Joni Eareckson who is now Joni Eareckson Tada was paralyzed in a diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay. For 50 years, she's been chained to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. She's an ardent, vibrant believer in God, in God's plan, in Jesus Christ. Her faith is not shaken.

She was asked the question, why? Why does God allow suffering? Now, I'd want to hear her answer. Wouldn't you, somebody who's been a quadriplegic for 50 years, why does God allow suffering?

Listen to her short but profound answer. She said, and I quote, "God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves." That's profound. "God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves."

The Christian is not naive about suffering, and pain, and heartache, and tragedy. We know what Jesus said. He said, "the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on the just and the unjust alike."

Job, who suffered greatly, said, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away." We know we're not automatically healed as Christian believers. We know that sometimes God calms the storm for us. But usually, He calms us in the storm. Most typically, He lets the storm rage around us. But He keeps us calm.

Jerry Bridges writes, "God never allows pain without purpose in the lives of His children." He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless he uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His son.

Did you hear that last part? God has a goal, conforming us into the likeness of His son. I want you to read it for yourself. Verse 29, "for whom He forknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son."

Why is this happening to me, God? I want to make you more like Jesus. That's why. I want your life to be sweeter, and richer, and better, and deeper. And so that's the good.

I look back on every trial. And I believe God had my highest good in mind. There's parts of it I still have questions about. There's some black pixels on the screen for me. And I go, what's up with that thing? Why that part of it? I don't get it all. I don't get it all. But I'm OK with that.

You know what James said? He said, we should even get to this point, "count it all joy, brothers, when you fall into various trials." Oh, come on? Who do you know that does that? I'm so happy I'm going through a trial. Why would you be excited about that? Because God has got something up His sleeve. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the trial of your faith produces patience. Let patience have its perfect work, that you might be complete and entire, lacking nothing. God has something going on.

I've always loved the illustration of a simple bar of steel. A bar of steel worth $5, if you make it into horseshoes, is now worth $12. If you take the $5 bar of steel and make it into needles, hypodermic needles, sewing needles, it's now worth $3,500. When you make it into balance springs for fine watches, that $5 bar of steel is now worth $300,000.

What makes a $5 bar of steel worth $300,000? What increases the value? I'll tell you what-- heat, beating, twisting, more heat, more beating, more twisting. And the more it goes through those contortions, the more valuable it becomes.

I think, like us, what makes us more valuable? The trials of your faith produce patience. Let patience have its perfect work. So that is the culmination of God's care for good.

Let's twist that diamond a little further. Let's look at Verse 28 from another angle, the condition of God's care. And we know that all things work together for good. Here's the condition. Here's the audience, not just to anyone and everyone but to those who love God-- I know that most of you do-- to those who are called according to His purpose.

You see, we can't take Verse 28 and just quote the part of the verse we like, "we know that all things work together for good." Because that's not what it says. It's given to someone. It is to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. In other words, it's for believers. That's just a simple definition of a Christian. It is the definition of a Christian from two different directions, the human direction, those who love God, the divine direction, those who are called according to His purpose.

God's definition of a Christian is you're called according to His purpose. Our typical definition of a believer is we love the Lord. The fact that we love the Lord is proof that we are called according to His purpose. But it's the same truth from two different directions. He's simply describing a believer.

Now, Romans 8:28, there are so many biblical examples of that principle proven true in so many different lives. I was going through the scriptures this week. And I thought of several examples. I thought of Noah, Jacob, Moses, Esther, Job, David. I thought of the census in the New Testament Book of Matthew. I thought of Paul's arrest and trial. I thought of Barnabas and Paul in their conflict with each other in the book of Acts.

All of them, you can take an insert Romans 8:28 and you can see it. But I'm going to leave you with three examples that show Romans 8:28 three different ways, all of them very famous examples-- two out of the Old Testament, one out of the New.

Number one, Joseph-- Joseph was a young man who was misunderstood, who was the victim of jealousy from his brothers, who had bad thing after bad thing happen to him. Sold as a slave to the Midianites. Knights Midianites sold him to the Egyptians, placed in a home as the servant, falsely charged of rape by Potiphar's wife, thrown into pharaoh's prison, left there-- bad, horrible things happened.

But when he met his brothers at the end of the story, when they came before him and he revealed, I'm the guy you sold years ago as a slave, and they started shaking in their boots, like we're dead meat. He said this, "as for you, you meant this for evil. But God meant it for good to save many people alive as it is this day." That's Romans 8:28 in the book of Genesis.

"You meant it for evil. God meant it for good to save many people alive as it is this day." Here's the fruit. Here's why all those bad things worked together to be really, really good. Because the truth of the matter is, though they were bad, evil things that happened, if Joseph were not a slave, he never would have interpreted pharaoh's dream, which means he never would have been raised up in leadership to be the second most powerful man on earth.

Those bad things that happened were synergized by a loving, caring God so even Joseph could say, I know you meant it for evil. But God meant it for good. That's the first example.

Second example is when the Jews went into captivity in Babylon. Babylonians came into Jerusalem, sacked the temple, destroyed the temple, burned it with fire, killed people, took several of them captive, thousands of them captive to Babylon. It was horrible. It was evil. It was wicked.

Jeremiah wrote a letter to those captives. He wanted them to know God's heart behind it all. And he wrote these words, "I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of good, not of evil, to give you a-- to give you a-- future and a hope." To give you a future and hope.

You know that verse. You love that verse. Do you realize the context of that verse was when all thee evil things were happening, God wanted them to know he's got something up his sleeve. He's going to work it together to give them a future and a hope. So Joseph, captivity.

The third example, which is, to me, the best example of all of Romans 8:28, is the cross of Jesus Christ. What could be worse than killing God? That's the worst day in human history. Falsely accused, kangaroo court, put on a cross, bleeding, stapled to a Roman place of execution. Yet it was the best thing that ever happened. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life."

In fact, Peter, writing of the event of the crucifixion, mixes in one verse both human responsibility and divine sovereignty. He writes in the book of Acts Chapter 2, "Jesus, Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and slain." Yes, there is a culpability that you have in doing this. It was wrong, what you did.

However, God for-ordained it. He knew about it. He planned it. He gave His son. And Jesus gave His life. And what was so bad happened to be so good for those of us who believe that that's enough. Faith in him is enough to get us from Earth to Heaven.

John Stott wrote these words, "I could never believe in God if it were not for the cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who is immune to pain?" Then he says, many times in Asia I've been into Buddhist temples. And I've looked at that huge statue of Buddha in repose-- his legs crossed, his hands together, his eyes closed with sort of a restful little smile. Obviously detached, obviously aloof from all the pain in the world. And he says, I see that. And then I close my eyes and in my mind, I look to the cross. And I see Jesus hanging in agony and misery, with spikes through his hands and feet, and blood coming down his face. And he said, that's the God for me.

Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of a cross, not a Buddha in repose. He felt it. He experienced it. He knows how something so bad can become something so good for those who trust in Him. That is Romans 8:28.

Now, there's one final facet I want you to look at in closing. I've given you five. The sixth is the continuation of God's care. I want you to see a big scope now. Look at verse 29 and 30. And we'll just briefly look at it. "For whom he forknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son that He might be the first born among many brethren." Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called. Whom He called, these He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Now we get a wide panorama of God's care. Now we get the big picture. We go from eternity past to eternity future, from predestination and election all the way to glorification. These are the five golden links, you might say, in the chain of God's sovereign care. Look at them. He forknew. He predestined. He called. He justified. He glorified. Those five conditions take you from eternity past to eternity future.

But get this, four of them are past tense. One of them hasn't happened yet. He forknew us. He knew us in advance. He predestined us. He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world.

He called you. That was the day of your salvation. You said yes, you received Christ. He justified you when that happened. We've talked all about justification.

But look at the last one. Whom He justified, these He also what? Glorified. Well, guess what? That hadn't happened yet. You're not glorified. I'm looking at you. You're not glorified. Hadn't happened yet. I'm not glorified. You can see this. This is not glorified.

But God writes about it past tense. Why? That's how sure He is that it's going to happen. Your glorification is as certain to God as Him choosing you before the foundation of the world, and electing you, and calling you, and justifying you. The next step, glorification, done deal to Him.

So that is the continuation of God's care. It didn't just stop with the trial you faced last week. It's going to happen. And He'll continue to display His care forever.

There was a father and his son putting a puzzle together. The son, the boy, looked at the puzzle. There were dark pieces and light pieces. There were big pieces and small pieces. And he was trying to figure it out. And he couldn't do it. He quit in frustration. His father came in whistling, smiling. Put the puzzle together in no time.

Little boy, still frustrated, said I don't get it. How could you do it and I couldn't do it? The Father said, I knew what the picture was like all the time. He said, I looked at the front of the box. I saw the picture and the puzzle. Son, you only saw the pieces.

Right now, you might be holding a pretty dark piece of your puzzle. It's a dark pixel on the screen. I don't know why this piece. Where does this go? Why would God allow this to happen? He sees the whole picture. Are you OK with that?

The question you need to answer in leaving is, are you OK with knowing that He knows? You don't know. You can't figure it out. But He's got the big picture in mind. Are you OK with that?

Because Job, who lost family, and health, and bank account was OK with that. He wasn't OK with the bad stuff. But he ended up by saying this, "though you slay me, I will trust you." I don't get it. I don't understand it. I don't know why. But I don't need to know why as long as I know You because I know that You care and I know that all things work together for good to those that love God. And Lord, I love you and I trust you. And though You slay me, I will trust.

That's where we must leave whatever we're dealing with today as we leave here today. Father, we do that. We close in prayer. I'm saying that we don't understand all that has happened or is happening to us. We don't know why. We understand that there might be a purpose in certain things. But this?

And because we don't know, we are talking to the only one who does know. We certainly never want to abandon what we do know because of what we don't know. We know You. We know You care. We know You love us. We know that with that certainty. We can rest.

Father, I pray that we would grow, that at the end of the trial that we're facing, that there would be PTG, post-traumatic growth, not just because of a natural psychological phenomenon of readjusting to the world around us, but readjusting in faith to the God who is overseeing all things. In Jesus' name, amen.

Let's stand and let's sing together an anthem of worship.

[MUSIC PLAYING - HILLSONG UNITED, "TOUCH THE SKY"] You find me here at your feet again, everything I am. Reaching out, I surrender. Come sweep me up in your love again. And my soul will dance on the wings of forever. And my heart beating, my soul breathing, I found my life when I laid it down. Upward falling, spirit soaring, I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.

Thank you for being with us this morning. We love you. See you next week.

How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give.

Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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5/5/2019
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The Heart and Soul of the Gospel
Romans 1:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a thirty-two-week journey through the book of Romans. Considered to be Paul the apostle’s magnum opus, this book is largely responsible for igniting the fires of the Protestant Reformation and the Wesleyan Revival. As Paul introduced himself to the church at Rome, he got right to the heart and soul of the matter—the gospel—the good news that presents Jesus Christ as God’s great answer to the pressing need of the human race.
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5/19/2019
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Unashamed!
Romans 1:16-17
Skip Heitzig
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Standing up for and speaking out about our faith in Jesus Christ can sometimes feel awkward and intimidating. Often our message is not received with glad faces or with open arms by the people we work with and live next to. As Paul was planning to visit Rome, he expressed eagerness rather than hesitation to herald this message. Why was that? The apostle gives us five reasons for his readiness and enthusiasm.
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5/26/2019
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Is God Mad?
Romans 1:18-32
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The Wrath of God Is Revealed God is full of love, right? Right! That’s the good news. And Paul gets back to that theme and develops it fully in the chapters ahead. But first, there’s some bad news. Like a powerful prosecuting attorney, Paul made the case as to why we need the good news of Christ. God’s grace is necessary because of our guilt. In this section, we learn about the wrath of God—an attribute that many people can’t wrap their heads (and hearts) around.
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7/7/2019
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Four Mistakes Religious People Make
Romans 2:1-11
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Jesus was not a religious leader. He was a righteous leader. And He was often confronting the religious leaders of His day. Likewise Paul found many enemies among the religious elite of his day, among both Jews and Gentiles. After announcing his theme of good news in Jesus, Paul promptly plunged into the bad news of God’s wrath—a subject that religious people sometimes love (but for all the wrong reasons). Paul tells us some of their most common mistakes.
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7/14/2019
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Hypocrisy Gets an Audit
Romans 2:17-29
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All businesses, corporations, and individuals have blind spots. Auditors can help by giving a clear and unbiased reading of practices and procedures, and then give appropriate recommendations for change. Here, Paul played the role of auditing the hypocrite—the one who has spiritual style but no substance. Let’s consider the assets, the deficits, and the net appraisal of the one who wears a spiritual disguise.
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7/28/2019
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The Advantage of Having the Bible
Romans 3:1-8
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Those who have been raised in a home with spiritual foundations and the teaching of Scripture have an edge over those who were never exposed to such benefits. The advantage of having access to the Bible is enormous, but it is not a fail-safe. Paul addressed the Jews who were caretakers of God’s own words, and much can be applied to anyone who has the advantage of revealed truth but fails to take it to heart.
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8/4/2019
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How Prisoners Go Free
Romans 3:9-26
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Freedom is a huge word for the Christian believer. Picture yourself nervously standing in a courtroom before a judge who has just read the pile of evidence against you. Just before the gavel strikes the bench proclaiming your guilt, a piece of evidence strikes his gaze and he unexpectedly announces your innocence. You can now go free! Here Paul explains how any person anywhere can find hope and freedom because of the gospel.
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8/11/2019
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Old Age; Young Faith
Romans 4
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Our skin may wrinkle but our faith never has to. Abraham’s faith was vibrant and youthful even when he was nearing one hundred years of age. As Paul points to the patriarch Abraham as an example for justification by faith, we can learn what it means to believe God through all the ages of life. How vibrant is your Christian faith? Have you let cynicism and doubt choke out your confidence in God?
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8/18/2019
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Our Benefits Package
Romans 5:1-5
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Why is being a Christian so great? Every unbeliever you meet is asking that question as they observe your life. What are the benefits of living with a committed faith in Jesus? After explaining what it means to be right with God by believing in Christ, and after illustrating that principle with Abraham, Paul gives a short list of some of the benefits of a saved life.
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8/25/2019
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Unrivaled Love
Romans 5:6-11
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Modern wisdom continually tells us, “Love is a verb,” rather than a sentimental feeling. Love is a commitment that involves action. For the first time in the letter to the Romans, Paul introduced the word love and a very singular kind of love—God’s love for us. Wanting to show how secure we are in this salvation, he described the greatest demonstration of love—its proof, its provision, and its product.
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9/1/2019
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A One-Man Show
Romans 5:12-21
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Just one person can do a lot of damage, and conversely just one person can do a lot of good. Paul here showed the effect that Adam brought on by his rebellion and the effect that Jesus bought with His blood on the cross. One caused death. One conveys life. One brought guilt. One bought the gift of grace. The big question is, have you received the gift?
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9/8/2019
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Don’t Look Back
Romans 6:1-7
Nate Heitzig
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9/15/2019
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Winning the War with Sin
Romans 6:11-14
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There is not a person I know who doesn’t struggle with sin. Evil thoughts, bad habits, immoral impulses, and recurring temptations all rear their ugly heads, leaving us exhausted and disappointed in ourselves and wondering if any deliverance is possible. This struggle is real. The war can be fierce. How can we believers (who still have our old natures) win in these battles? Consider this four-step strategy.
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9/22/2019
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The Struggle Is Real
Romans 7:14-25
Nate Heitzig
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9/29/2019
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Safe and Secure
Romans 8:1-11
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As the old saying goes, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That’s certainly true of Paul’s authorship of this book. He closes chapter 7 on a low note, only to crescendo to a swelling high point in chapter 8. “Don’t despair! You’re in secure hands and you’re safe,” Paul tells us. He reminds us of four facts that should settle every heart.
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10/6/2019
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The New You
Romans 8:12-18
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Most people love new stuff: a new car, a new set of clothes, a new puppy, a new haircut, a new adventure. But the best new thing you could have is a new you! Being a Christian isn’t a temporary reformation but a total transformation. When the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person’s life, He begins the process of a total makeover—changing you from the inside out. As a Christian believer these are among the changes you can expect to see.
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10/20/2019
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A Midterm Exam: Five Questions to Test Your Understanding
Romans 8:31-34
Skip Heitzig
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In the middle of any given course or semester, a test consisting of questions is given. This does two things: it measures the student’s grasp of the course materials, and it helps identify any areas that need work. Right in the middle of his sixteen-chapter book, Paul gives his readers a series of questions to jog our spiritual memory and face some wonderful realities about the love of God. Let’s consider five questions in these verses.
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10/27/2019
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For the Love of God
Romans 8:35-39
Skip Heitzig
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Can anyone really comprehend unconditional love? Perhaps the love that parents have for their children is the closest to unconditional love from a human point of view. But life’s circumstances certainly can challenge the idea that God loves us unconditionally. We’ve all heard about God’s love, we’ve sung about it, and we’ve affirmed it with our “Amens!” But as Paul closes out this section of Romans, he moves us into a fixed and secure confession that no matter what life can throw at us, we need never doubt God’s love for us.
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11/10/2019
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God, the Jew, and You
Romans 9:1-26
Skip Heitzig
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We now come to the third major section of Paul’s letter to the Romans that reveals God’s plan for Jew and Gentile. The early church in Jerusalem was entirely Jewish, but by this point, in most other parts of the world, it had become predominantly non-Jewish. But if God made so many promises to the Jewish nation, does that mean those promises are all now annulled? How does Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah fit into God’s sovereign strategy, and where do we fit in?
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There are 19 additional messages in this series.