Monday, February 27, 2012

Chapter 24
(18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not for what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
(18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. “For I reckon,” means I am persuaded or know based on concrete evidence. These words came from the lips of an experienced man of God. He knew by the doctrine of Scripture applied to his life in experience. He believes and therefore speaks. He testifies, not from what others have described, but from what he himself felt. He knew what the sufferings of this present time were (2 Cor. 11:23-28), and He knew what the glory of Heaven with Christ is (2 Cor. 12:3-4). Who, of mere men, could so well expatiate upon suffering as the apostle? “I will show him how great things he shall suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16), were the words of the Saviour as He told of Paul’s future history, dating from his miraculous conversion, to his martyrdom.
“The sufferings” — “The multiplied and severe afflictions to which believers in Christ were exposed, in consequence of their faith in Him, no doubt appeared to many ill to harmonize with the apostle’s declaration , that they were the objects of the peculiar and unchanging favor and complacency of God. Surely such sufferings seemed to indicate something else than that they who sustained them were the peculiar favorites of Heaven. The conclusion they were ready to come to respecting the servants, was that which had come to with regard to the Master — “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” The apostle meets this natural misconception of the Divine dispensations, and shows, by a variety of considerations, that no afflictions, however severe, were at all inconsistent with the reality and security of that favor of God, which is the peculiar privilege of those who are interested in the Divine method of justification.” (John Brown).
“The sufferings of this present time” are of temporary existence confined to the sojourn of the believer on this earth. All the pain, the illness, all the physical anguish, the heartache and sorrow, and loneliness are included in those words of Psa. 34:19: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” The life of the Christian is a life of suffering in this sin-cursed world (Heb. 11:25-26). Too, true believers suffer with Christ at the hand of the ungodly. When we encounter the hatred of the world, we know that it hated Christ before it hated us. The world hates the children of God because we are not of this world, but chosen out of the world by Christ our Lord (John 17:14). To the believers, the world where sin holds its universal empire, tainting every object, must be a world of suffering. This world where the spirits of the saints are wounded, their hearts broken, sound reason dethroned, hope languishes, eyes weep, nerves tremble, sickness wastes, death reigns, must needs be a world of suffering (Phil. 1:29). From none of these forms of woe does Christianity exempt its believers. But there is comfort to true believers in the truth that they are the sufferings of the “present time.” They are but momentary, will soon be over, for ever
“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  We find in measuring their relative duration that “our light affliction is but for a moment,” while our glory is a “far more exceeding and eternal weight” (2 Cor. 4:17). Before long all suffering and sorrow will for ever have passed away while glory will deepen and expand as eternity rolls on its endless ages. One moment of glory will extinguish a lifetime of suffering. Although the suffering does not seem as light to us, yet, viewed from the point of view that it is God’s eternal purpose in Christ to glorify us with Him in the way of our suffering with Him, we can see that it is light. Our suffering does not just happen, nor is that suffering meaningless or of no consequence. There is purpose to it all, Divine purpose, and that purpose is glory (2 Thes. 1: 7-12). Through that suffering God sanctifies us, prepares and strengthens us, teaches us patience and endurance, quickens our hope and causes us more and more not to set our affection on earthly things. Through suffering with Christ we learn to seek the things above where Christ is at God’s right hand in glory.
“The glory which shall be revealed in us” — that glory is God’s glory and it shall be revealed in us (1 Pet. 5:1). God’s glory is the shining forth of all His marvelous virtues as they are revealed in our Lord Christ. It is the glory which Christ attained through the terrible way of the Cross where He laid down His life for us. God raised Him from the dead and set Him on His own right hand in glory.
It will be the glory of (1) perfect knowledge. “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor 13:12). The glorified mind, what capacity of understanding shall it develop; what range of thought; what perfection of knowledge will it attain. Then shall we know God, and Christ, and truth, and providence, and ourselves, even as we are known. (2) It will be a glory in us of perfect holiness. The Kingdom within us shall be complete. The good work of grace will then be perfected. It will be the consummation of holiness, the perfection of purity. No more sin! “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). (3) The glory of perfect happiness will be the certain effect. The completeness of Christ is the completeness of moral purity. “With reverence be it spoken, God Himself could not be a perfectly happy, were He not a perfectly holy Being. The radiance of the glorified countenance of the saints will be the reflection of holy thoughts and holy feelings glowing within. Joy, and peace, and full satisfaction will beam in every feature, because every faculty and feeling, and emotion of the soul will be in perfect unison with the will, and in perfect assimilation to the image of God” (Octavius Winslow).
Verse 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Verses 19-23 comprise one of the greatest passages in the Scriptures dealing with the creation of God. If we inquire into why the universe is here, and then read the passage in Colossians 1:15-17, we will find the apostle Paul supplying the answer. It was made for Christ, and the meaning and purpose is the glory and praise of our Lord Christ, through whom all things came into existence: “all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16). What of the mystery of evil, sin, sufferings, death, creation’s agony, its groaning and travailings in its imperfect moral state? The answer is, it is given to Christ to reconcile all things to God in one great moral act of atonement, whereby creation is redeemed and raised to the highest state of glory and perfection. Creation must groan in its travail till the eternal age time of the redeemed. It awaits the “manifestation of the sons of God.”
“For the earnest expectation of the creature” is regarded by many as the most remarkable and difficult passage in the 8th chapter of the Roman epistle. In our studies of different commentaries we found 12 different explanations of the word creature. Some of these are wild and fanciful, too improbable to need discussion. The proper interpretation turns upon the meaning of the word thrice rendered creature, and once, creation in these verses. It is clear that these words in this passage have exactly the same meaning. These words cannot mean the universe; for the best part has never been subject to vanity, and never groans nor is in pain. Nor can it mean fallen angels for they are not waiting in hope, nor shall they be delivered into the liberty of God’s sons. Nor can the creature mean Christians, for though they are called new creatures (2 Cor. ), they are never denominated simply creatures in Scripture. The teaching is that the whole creation was, as it were, in a state of travail, to bring to the birth, i.e., to bring the children of God into a state of liberty, happiness and glory. 
The only true interpretation demands that by the creature we shall understand the irrational creation, whether animate or inanimate. This requires a bold use of that figure of speech called Personification, but this is a lawful mode of speaking which abounds in the Bible. In these verses he brings in the creature, that is, the frame of nature apart from man — the irrational and inanimate creation, and makes use of them in a figurative manner, and speaketh of them in borrowed expressions, that hereby he might incite believers the more, both to expect certainly that glory which is to be revealed, and to wait for it patiently under crosses.
“For the earnest expectation” — the expression earnest expectation means an anxious yearning or longing. All nature, now groaning under the curse pronounced at the Fall of man (Gen. 3:17), awaits a deliverance and renovation corresponding to the deliverance of the redeemed (Acts 3:21; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1).
“Waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The manifestation of the sons of God, that is, the glory and deliverance of the resurrection day (Mal. 3: 17-18). This was to have its highest fulfillment at the resurrection, when the saints shall be born from the grave, and manifested in the most public manner in the proper glory of God’s children, and shall receive the most public testimonies of God’s Fatherly love. The sons of God shall be known. Their relationship with Christ shall be known — their principles shall be known — their glory shall be manifest before the whole universe. “Their status as sons of God with all privileges attached, such as freedom and heirship, existed before, but had not been openly demonstrated. Not their celestial body, but their supreme sonship was in hiding. It is this status that will be revealed, and this revelation will be accomplished, by laying upon them the glory, the medium for whose manifestation, to be sure, is the body of the resurrection” (Johannes G. Vos). Ultimately, God will make it known to all the universe that true believers are His children (Matt. 25: 31-46).
Verse 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. The word creature in these verses and the word creation in verse 22 are referring to the same thing. “The creature was made subject to vanity.” The world in which we live has become “subject to vanity” — to vicissitude, decay, disease and death, and dissolution because of Adam’s sin (Isa. 24: 5-6). Originally it was certainly not so. “The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished,” so “the heavens and the earth which are now, are kept in store, reserved unto fire in the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men; when the heavens shall pass away with a mighty noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent fire, and the earth also, and the works which are therein, shall be burnt up” (2 Pet. 5-7, 10).  The word “vanity” can be translated to mean the same as it is in verse 21, “bondage of corruption,” or subjected to the curse. When God created the earth, He looked upon this work of His hands and pronounced that “It was good.” This world was made for man and God put man in charge and gave him a command to “subdue” the earth. Jehovah God put everything under the subjection of man; to him was given dominion over it; it was for man’s use. But man sinned and fell, and God’s judgment fell upon man because of sin. God viewed all of creation again and cursed the earth and all therein (Gen. 2:14-19). The curse as originally pronounced upon the earth was not through any fault of creation. When man sinned in Adam, death came upon him, and death came upon all of God’s creation. Death came to all the animals, the plants and everything.
Into this state the creation was brought, “not willingly” — not of its own accord. The meaning of this phrase is that this subjection to vanity did not arise out of its original constitution. Of course it was not the creation that sinned, but God subjected the whole creation to His curse due to sin. “The apostle, personifying creation, represents it as only submitting to the vanity with which it was smitten, on man’s account, in obedience to that superior power which had mysteriously linked its destinies with man’s” (David Brown). This curse on the earth was abnormal, and was super induced by the will of “Him who subjected it.” This was not Adam or Satan, as some interpreters suppose, but it was God Himself. Sin was against Him and the curse was announced and placed upon all by Him — the omnipotent will of God alone could cause it. The world became “subject to vanity” when He proclaimed, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake” (Gen. 3:17).
This state of things shall not last always. There is “hope” of deliverance and it shall surely come, for this hope is a hope that cannot fail. The redeemed slave trader John Newton wrote, “God, the righteous Judge, subjected the creature to vanity, as just consequence and desert of man’s disobedience. But He has subjected it in hope; with a reserve in favor of His own people, by which, though they are liable to trouble, they are secured from the penal desert of sin, and the vanity of the creature is by His wisdom overruled to wise and glorious purposes. The earth, and all in it, was made for the sake of man: for his sin it was cursed, and afterward destroyed by water; and sin at last shall set it on fire. But God, who is rich in mercy, appointed a people to Himself out of the fallen race: for their sakes, and as a theater whereon to display the wonders of His providence and grace, it was renewed after the flood and still continues; but not in its original state: there are marks of the evil of sin, and of God’s displeasure against it wherever we turn our eyes.”
Verse 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The creation is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. In the Day of the Lord there is to be “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. ). The mortality, pain, and death are but an interlude in God’s Divine purpose for His people. The resurrection of the body is the realization of the primal purpose in creation. The earth that now is, is materially the same as it existed before the Flood, but after the restoration it will be perfect. At the coming of our Lord Christ and the resurrection of the bodies of the saints the earth will be purged by fire.
The total harmony of creation is finally realized “in the glorious manifestation of the sons of God,” when the Divine nature, united in the Son of God with human nature, will raise creation to its full and final glory. The whole creation is to be “delivered — into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” This liberty of the children of God is freedom from evil in all its forms and the enjoyment of all that God Himself regards as good; and when they enter into this liberty in its perfect form, the whole creation shall enter into a state of perfection, incomparably more perfect and beautiful than the created creation before the Fall (Rev. 22: 3-5). The Scriptures show the transcendent magnitude of that glorious deliverance which the saints of God are secured of, by His justifying grace, and in comparison with which the apostle considers the afflictions of the present time as nothing. “The excellency of our glory is of such importance, even to the very elements, which are destitute of mind and reason, that they turn with a certain kind of desire” (John Calvin). That desire shall be realized.
Verse 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Paul is showing, in figurative language and Scriptural personification, the ruin in which the apostasy of man plunged the whole creation and the agony and suffering of the world. Every creature or object that we see supplies an evidence of man’s fall, and bears the frown of God’s curse. Agonizing, mourning, lamentation, and woe cries from the whole creation, as it groans in pain, from the first moment of the apostasy until now. Because of man’s transgression the ground is cursed. Behold what sin has done to the creation. The once beautiful and fertile earth is now covered with thorns and weeds. Savage beasts — ferocity and deadly enmity in the brute creation. When man fell, God cursed the ground, and cursed the brutes of the field; and now the whole creation groans and travails in pain until the time of the restitution of all things shall arrive.
In this passage we are taught that at the period when the manifestation of the sons of God is to take place, which is at the time of the redemption of the body, a glorious change is to take place on the frame of nature. The final deliverance of the people of God from evil is to be connected with a great and most favorable change in the general frame of nature. Now the whole creation “groaneth and travaileth together in pain” with the saints. All of God’s creation is suffering and groaning and travailing in pain to be born anew, to be delivered from this corruption, from this curse, from this judgment that it is now under of God. The pain and sorrow are “until now,” from the fall of man to this time. It shall last until “the manifestation of the sons of God,” at which time, deliverance will come.
Verse 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. “And not only they,” the whole creation groans and travails in pain, but even we ourselves, who have received of the Spirit, while waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body, groan within ourselves. In the phrase “we ourselves also” Paul includes himself, which shows that he’s talking about all true believers, who have the “firstfruits of the Spirit.” Even in this present state, Christians, by receiving the Spirit, which is a filial Spirit, a Spirit of adoption, are brought forth, as the sons of God, and have the liberty and privileges of God’s children in part (2 Cor. 1: 22). It is, but in part, for they have only the firstfruits of the Spirit of adoption; and they themselves therefore join with the creation around them, groaning within themselves, waiting for the most glorious, the ultimate and perfect manifestation of the sons of God, when they shall be born from the grave in their resurrected body.
But what are the “firstfruits of the Spirit?” It is the Holy Spirit with His gifts and influences (Eph. 5: 9). The saints have such communications of the Spirit now, as are a pledge and foretaste of what we shall possess and enjoy in the great day of the coming glory. “In whom also after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. -14). If we are true believers, then are we partakers of that grace which is the earnest of glory. In the giving of His Spirit unto us, God making of us co-heirs with our Lord Christ, we have the greatest and most assured earnest and pledge of our future inheritance. And He is to be thus an earnest until or unto the redemption of the purchased possession. As believers we have a good and firm title unto an inheritance settled in us, but it may be a long time before we are actually admitted into possession of it, and many difficulties we have in the meantime to conflict withal. “The ‘earnest of the Spirit’ given unto us, where we become co-heirs with Christ whose Spirit we are made partakers of, secures the title of the inheritance in and unto our whole persons; but before we can come into the full possession of it, not only have we many spiritual trials and temptations to conflict withal in our souls, but our bodies also are liable unto death and corruption. Wherefore, whatever ‘first-fruits’ we may enjoy, yet can we not enter into the actual possession of the whole inheritance, until not only our souls are delivered from all sins and temptations, but our bodies also are rescued out of the dust of the grave. This is the full ‘redemption of the purchased possession;’ when it is signally called the ‘redemption of the body’.” (John Owen).
All the children of God, expecting and waiting for full salvation, and in the meantime we do “groan within ourselves.” Here our souls are burdened with innumerable infirmities, and our faith is hindered in its operations by ignorance and darkness. This makes our best estate and highest attainments to be accompanied with groans for deliverance. While we are in this tabernacle, we groan earnestly, being burdened, because we are not “absent from the body, and present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:2, 4, 8). With all the saints, sometimes we are “in heaviness” (1 Pet. 1:6); “cry out of the depths” (Psa. 130:1); we “roar” (Psa. 38:8); we “are overwhelmed” (Psa. 61:2); and “distracted” (Psa. 38:13). The more we grow in faith and spiritual light, the more sensible are we of our present burdens, and the more vehemently do we groan for deliverance into the perfect liberty of the sons of God. The groanings of the believer are not only expressive of sorrow, but also of hope, of the intensity of his spiritual desires, of his panting after God, and his yearning for the bliss which awaits him on high.
The saints are “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.”  The “adoption,” is the state of mature, manifested, Divine sonship that is identified with “the redemption of the body.” Our present adoption into God’s family is perfect for we shall not in reality be more the children of God in Heaven than we are now. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (1 John 3:2) and all the immunities and blessings of a present sonship are ours. Equally as complete is our redemption from all that can condemn. Our Lord Christ cried, “It is finished” and He by one offering perfected forever the salvation of the elect. Thanks be to God, for that work the saints do not wait. The saints do patiently and earnestly await the resurrection of the body, when they become “the children of the resurrection,” that in their complete nature — soul and body — perfected, they are, and are recognized to be, “the children of God” (Luke ). Also, the apostle, in calling the redemption of saints the redemption of the body, is referring to Hosea — “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”
“The Christian has already been received into the family of God. He is a child. But he is yet in obscurity. His character is often mistaken — his sonship doubted — his title denied. But the Spirit of adoption still abides in his heart. He calls God his Father, and waits with longing heart for his clear manifestation, among all the sons of God — his holy brethren — amid the glories of his Father’s throne. His adoption is, indeed, three-fold. In the eternal purpose of God he was chosen to be a son; — in time he is sealed as the peculiar treasure of God, unto the day of redemption; and shall finally be welcomed, with great rejoicing, to his Father’s house. That it is this future, public and glorious adoption that is here referred to is clear from the very words of the apostle — ‘waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.’ The resurrection of the body, which is but part of the believer’s adoption, is yet, here, called his adoption, because it is the last crowning act, which renders it complete and illustrious. His body has long lain in corruption. It has been buried in the grave as unworthy of entrance with him into His Father’s house. But now it is raised incorruptible, and fashioned to the likeness of Christ’s glorious body: and now, body and soul, both bought with blood by the Eternal Son — both washed and glorified by the Eternal Spirit — both accepted and openly acknowledged by the Father — enter together, inseparably united, the New Jerusalem — the palace of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (William S. Plumer).
Verse 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? The redeemed children of God groan and the reason is, although we are saved, our salvation, in its completed form, body and soul, is a future thing, not a present thing — the object of hope, not of present enjoyment. While we are justified, sanctified and secure in our Precious Saviour and Lord, we are not yet saved to the full extent of that blessed word. We long for complete conformity to Christ our Lord in soul and body (Psa. ). Full and complete salvation that is in Christ with eternal glory is to be looked and longed for, and will be brought to us at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ secures an interest in all the benefits of salvation, whether in this world or in the world to come, but it does not convey a present participation in all of them. There is a salvation “in hope,” which is a legal right to that which is yet future in realization: and there is a salvation which is “obtained” now (2 Tim. ). There are certain benefits which we as believers have not only a title to, but which we as fully possess now as we will in the future; such as our justification: we are as righteous in Christ now in the sight of the Divine Judge as we will be in Heaven, only then there will be a fuller enjoyment of it. Even now we are “the sons of God,” but it is not yet made manifest all that favor carries with it (1 John 3:2). Perfect sanctification of the Lord’s people is prepared by grace in election from all eternity, yet none of the elect now on earth are fully sanctified in their experience (John , 19). In Scripture, “hope” always contemplates something future, something of which we are not yet in actual possession (Heb. 6: 18, 19).
“We are saved by hope” does not mean the instrument, by which we are saved, but the condition is which we are saved. The condition of the renewed sinner is one of “hope” (1 Pet. 1:3). That blessed hope of being like Christ is not simply a mere wish, but a desire based on God’s promise and the full expectation of its completion in Christ (2 Thes. 2: 16). Salvation by the atonement of Christ through God-given faith is a complete and finished thing. All our salvation is in Christ — all our salvation proceeds from Him — all our salvation leads to Him, and for the assurance and comfort of our salvation we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him. Christ must be all (Acts ). Christ the beginning — Christ the centre — and Christ the end. But as it regards the complete effects of this salvation in them that are saved, it is yet future. It is the “hope laid up for us in heaven” (Col. 1:5). This hope is that emotion of the regenerated which keeps us afloat amidst the conflicts and trials in this present life. We are saved from sinking by the “hope” of certain deliverance and a complete redemption. “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2). The Christian’s state is one of hope (Rom. ). We do not yet realize our Heaven — but we hope in full expectation for it. The hope of the redeemed is a “good hope” (2 Thes. ). Moreover, it is “a good hope through grace). Also, it is a blessed hope that the redeemed are awaiting for they are always “Looking for that blessed hope” (Titus ), the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Our hope is the Lord: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is” (Jer. 17:7). Our hope is the mystery of Christ in us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Scriptural hope is not some vague attitude of mind; it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. And we shall realize the full glory and complete realization of our hope when He comes again. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).
“Now hope that is seen is not hope,” for the very meaning of hope is, the expectation that something now future will become present. A desire already experienced or realized is not hope. A blessing which we are expecting, when realized, ceases, as a matter of course, to be hoped for. When we are in full possession of Heaven, hope becomes reality and faith gives way to sight. “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” — For hope ends when the realization of having obtained begins.
Verse 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. On the lips of the majority of people “hope” signifies nothing more than a bare wish, and that with great fear that it will not be realized, for it is but a timid and hesitant desire that something may be obtained. But in Scripture, and in the hearts of the saints of God, hope signifies a firm expectation and confident anticipation of the things God has promised: “Remember without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1 Thes. 1:3). Steady hope, founded on firm faith, will not prevent the saints from feeling the afflictions of life, or from groaning under them; but it will enable us to expect and to wait — yea, it will enable us to even rejoice in our tribulations, for in grace we regard them as steps toward the glory of God, in the good hope of which He exults.
Christian reader let us who have good hope through grace seek to “abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13); and for this purpose, let us often meditate on the great object of hope, eternal life; and on the only ground of hope, the sovereign grace of God, finding its way to us poor sinners that we are through the mediation of His Son, made known in the Word of the truth of the glorious Gospel (Heb. 6:18-20).
Therefore “do we with patience wait for it.” This grace is called the “patience of hope” (1 Thes. 1:3). “We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5). We wait the Bridegroom’s coming. We await our Heavenly Father’s summons to our eternal home. We await our Master’s call to our eternal rest. May we constantly “bow our knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:14), the God of hope, that He “may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:17-18). Thus shall we be enabled, though groaning, to endure bravely, and wait patiently, as seeing Him Who is and that which is invisible, till the seen shall give way to the unseen, the temporal to the eternal; and then we shall find that “hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom. 5:5). Our desire to depart is ardent, but patient. Our longing to be with Christ is deep, but submissive. For the full realization of a hope so sublime, so precious, and so sure, we can patiently wait for.
The theater of suffering is the school of patience: “And patience” worketh “experience; and experience, hope” (Rom. 5:4); and hope in the depth of the trial, and in the heat of the battle, looks forward to the joy of deliverance, and to the spoils of victory. John Calvin wisely remarked that “God never calls His children to a triumph till He has exercised them in the warfare of suffering.” Oh, dear saint of God, living beneath the Cross, looking unto Jesus our Lord, toiling for Him, and cultivating conformity to Him, let us “be always ready to give a reason of the hope that is in us” (1 Pet. 3:15); and be always ready to enter into the joyous fruition of that hope, the substance and security of which is — “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Verse 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. After dealing with each phrase of this important verse we, by our Lord’s enablement, shall give attention to the grace of PRAYER. The word “Likewise” gives the meaning — not only does hope lead us patiently to wait for deliverance from our afflictions; spiritual aids are afforded us that we may patiently wait for our Lord’s delivering hand.
The gracious Holy Spirit “helpeth our infirmities.” — Our afflictions, and especially to afflictions rising out of the faith and profession of genuine Christianity (2 Cor. ; 12:5; 12:9-10). The word “infirmities” here refers to those weaknesses of the flesh which bind us to the earthly, to the carnal things. We are full of infirmities: physical infirmities, mental infirmities and spiritual infirmities (Matt. ; 2 Cor. 12: 5-10; Rom. 15: 1). By these we are cast down and staggered by trouble. We fret under the rod of God as we so quickly murmur and complain. Throughout the ages none of the children of God were perfectly free from inward distresses, temptations, fears, dejections, etc., which arise from our still possessing a fallen nature. When the Holy Spirit sees our souls pressed above measure and ready to sink under our burdens, He reaches forth a tender hand of assistance — helps against infirmities (Heb. 4: 15), by enabling us to look to our adorable Lord Christ — to an everlasting covenant — to precious promises — to a reconciled God — and enables us to cry, Abba Father.
But it is one specific infirmity of the child of God to which the passage restricts our attention — “know not what we should pray for as we ought.” We are cold, dull and low, in ourselves: we cannot make a prayer. The Holy Ghost must help us to pray from our hearts for it is He who is referred to as the Spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. ). Real prayer is a holy act done in an attitude of holy reverence. It is the highest possible expression of what lives in the true believer’s heart by grace. John Bunyan uttered, “Right prayer must, in the outward expression, as in the inward intention, come from what the soul apprehends in the light of the Spirit; otherwise it is condemned as vain and an abomination, because the heart and tongue do not go along jointly in the same, neither indeed can they, unless the Spirit help our infirmities” (Prov. 28:9; Isa. 29:13).
There is no subject on which there is so much misunderstanding as on the subject of prayer. How often is prayer, which is the chief medium for the glorification of God, considered a means to obtain the fulfillment of our own carnal nature? How often, while it should be the most humble expression of submission to the will of the Father in Heaven, it appears to be an attempt to impose our will upon the Almighty! And how frequently, while prayer is properly the seeking of the things of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, it is nothing but the expression of earthly desires! These carnal requests, motivated by self love, are not prayer at all and show the necessity for the illumination and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who is the true Author of real prayer. The prayer that reaches our Father in Heaven is sent there in the strength of the Holy Ghost (Eph. ). We cannot make pure prayer with our own mouths and gifts; the Holy Spirit breathes holy prayer into us, and draws it out of our hearts (Luke 11: 1, 13).
“But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us” by working in our hearts as the Spirit of grace and supplication. Every real prayer that we pray is inspired by Him for it was He who created the desires and awoke the groanings (Psa. ). The Spirit is said to make intercession for us, because the true intercessions and prayers which we make, are made by the Spirit: the Spirit forms them in us. The Spirit and the believer are both engaged in this work of praying; yet all the strength which we put to the work flows from the Holy Spirit Jude vs. 20-21). The Holy Ghost “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” John Bunyan cried in prayer to the Lord, “May our hearts be without words, O Lord, rather than our words without heart!” These groanings are those of the believer, yet inspired by the Spirit. They are the inarticulate utterances of a heart overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. No language can adequately express them. It is the soul’s hidden communion with God. As Augustine said, “The Holy Spirit does not groan in Himself — with Himself, as a Person of the Trinity; but He groans in us when He makes us groan.” Creature inability is illustrated profusely in God’s Blessed Book. Reader, take your Bible and read all of the following verses where you’ll discover that true prayer flourishes not in any heart that knows not its plague, grief, or sore. (Job 23:2; Psa. 42:4; Psa. 76:4; Psa. 88:8; Lam. 3: 7-8; 44:55-56). The convinced sinner cries for mercy. The spiritual prisoner sighs for deliverance. The wounded warrior groans for relief. The weary pilgrim longs for home. The worn-out rebel pleads for reconciliation.
But what is Prayer?  Prayer is the inward movement of God the Holy Ghost in the heart of sinners, elect sinners, creating longings and desires for those blessings which God Himself afore designed to give. It is the activity of the believer whereby we acknowledge the living God as the sole and only overflowing fountain of all good and approaches that fountain with the earnest desire to drink from its blessed water of life (Psa. 77: 1-3). True prayer is wrought by the Holy Ghost in the heart; it always accords with (and is never contrary to) the Will of our Heavenly Father as recorded in the Holy Word of God, and true prayer is always presented through the Mediation of His Blessed Son — through His Name, and for His sake (Matt. 10: 20). True prayer is addressed to the One God, with respect to the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead.
Throughout Scripture we find that the people of God are a praying people, even from earliest times. Without prayer they cannot live for it is the very breath of their spiritual life (Psa. 42: 1-5). They cry to Jehovah in their distress, “O Lord, pardon mine iniquity: for it is great” (Psa. 25:11). They call upon His name in the day of trouble (Psa. 107: 5-6, 13, 28); their feeble petition enters the heart and ear of a compassionate God, “Lord, help me” (Matt. 15:25); the terror stricken soul sighs out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13); they seek the promised Bread and Water of life (John 6:35); they sue for mercy through our crucified , risen redeemer and as mourners beg for His comfort and entreat Him for His favor; as humbled they desire His grace and fellowship, they worship and adore Him, and they praise Him and give Him thanks.
There are 5 things that True Prayer consists of: (1) Adoring Love and Reverence. The Holy Ghost always produces reverence and awe in the presence of the Almighty (Luke 24:32). Without a felt reverential fear of God, there can be no approach to Him who is Holy (Prov. ). Jehovah is lovingly feared, honored and revered in the assembly of the saints (Psa. 89:7; Dan. 4:34-35)). (2) Confession of sins. With hand on mouth, humble penitents draw near to the throne of grace to confess their sins in true repentance (Psa. 51:1-19). It is not confession in a general way but a specifying of particular sins of which we are guilty, and a seeking of cleansing thereby by our Lord (1 John 1:9). (3) Thanksgiving for the mercies of God (2 Cor. ; Phil. 4:6). In acknowledging our unworthiness we acknowledge the Lord’s goodness to us (Luke -22). (4) Petition for needed favors from our Lord. This is supplication (1 Tim. 2:1-3) and it denotes the act of invoking God’s favor, grace, pity, or mercy. The Spirit of grace and supplications teaches us what we need and enables us to tell our Lord, whether it be for spiritual or providential mercies (Matt. -13). (5) Intercession. We constantly cry for our Lord “to be merciful to me a sinner,” but we do not pray only for ourselves (James ). While true religion is personal, it is not selfish. We pray for others that they might be saved, “O that Ishmael might live before Thee” (Gen. 17:18). And as our Lord Christ prayed for the brethren, so do His people (John 17:9, 20).
Prayer is called a lifting up of one’s soul to God (Psa. 25: 1), a calling upon the name of the Lord (Rom. 10: 13), a seeking of Him or of His face (Psa. 27: 8), a bowing toward His holy place (Psa. 138:2), an entering into His sanctuary (2 Chron. 30: 8), a drawing near unto God (Jam. 4: 8), a crying unto Him from the depths (Psa. 130: 1), a pouring out of one’s heart before Him (Psa. 62: 8), a waiting patiently for Him (Psa. 40: 1), and a thirsting and panting of the soul after Him (Psa. 119: 131). In the words of the great Dutch theologian Herman Hoeksema, “all true Prayer contains the following elements: (1) It is a holy activity of the entire soul, proceeding from the regenerated heart, dominated by the Spirit of Christ. (2) It is such an activity of the believer as brings him consciously into the presence of God in the face of Christ Jesus. (3) Hence, all true prayer is always an act of worship whereby the soul prostrates itself before the glory of God’s infinite majesty in humble reverence. (4) It is expression of a real sense of need, principally of God and of His grace, and of a profound longing for Him and His fellowship, and of the heartfelt desire that He hears us and fulfills our need. (5) Finally, true prayer is the assurance and confidence that He will receive us and give unto us that which we ask of Him, rooted in the consciousness of His great love to usward . . . But what does it mean when we direct our prayer to the living God? It means nothing less than that in our prayers we are wholly dominated and guided by the true knowledge of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.”
Verse 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. “He that searcheth the heart” is, and can only be God. It is not in the power of man, angels, or devils to look within the human heart. None can search the heart but He Who made it (1 Chron. 28:9). The searching of the heart is God’s sole prerogative, and a most solemn prerogative it is (1 Sam. 16:7). “The Lord trieth the hearts” (Prov. 17:3) and Jeremiah solemnly declares “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins” (Jer. 17:9-10). The eternal Son of God “knew what was in man” (John -25). And to the saints who have been led into deep discoveries of the evil of our hearts, we cry “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 119:23-24). How blessed it is to remember that while our Heavenly Father knows all the evil of our heart, He is as intimately acquainted with all the good that is in the hearts of His people — all that His Spirit has implanted, and that His grace has wrought (Ezk. 36:26-27).
“Knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit” — in prayer the great interpreter of the heart is the Spirit. And our Father in Heaven knows what is the mind of the Sprit as He is essentially acquainted with all the inditings and breathings of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart. In prayer we draw near to God Who knows all the desires of our heart, which, though they be clothed with no diction, and are inarticulate in their accents, are yet known to, and understood by, Him. God knoweth the mind of the Spirit, however it is expressed. Oh, dear saint, true prayer is not our voice that speaks to our Heavenly Father, but the indwelling Holy Spirit’s, when we draw near to God. And blessed be God, “The prayer of the upright is His delight” (Prov. 15:8).
“Because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” We read in the Scripture of one Intercessor, and of one advocacy. “There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). But while on earth the believer has two courts with which prayer has to do. On earth, where our prayers are offered up to God, the Spirit is our Intercessor (John , 26). In Heaven where prayer is presented, Christ Jesus is our Intercessor. On earth, we have a Counselor instructing us for what we should pray. In Heaven, we have an Advocate presenting to God each petition. The workings in our hearts by the Spirit are always in agreement with the mind of God. Every petition indited by the Spirit is approved in Heaven, because it is according to the will of God — the plan arranged by God for our salvation, according to His will, according to His nature, His grace and mercy, His wisdom and sufficiency (John 14:13; 1 John 3:22; 5:14). As William S. Plumer said, “God’s Spirit never stirs up in us approved desires for any thing, that we do not receive it, or something better; often the very thing itself and much more besides (1 Kings 3:11-14; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 12:8-10).”   rclvc
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 8:18-27
Verse 18. The multiplied and severe afflictions, to which believers in Christ were exposed, in consequence of their faith in Him, no doubt appeared to many ill to harmonize with the apostle’s declaration, that they were the objects of the peculiar and unchanging favor and complacency of God. Surely such sufferings seemed to indicate something else than that they who sustained them were the peculiar favorites of Heaven. The conclusion they were ready to come to respecting the servants, was that which had been come to with regard to the Master — “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” The apostle meets this natural misconception of the Divine dispensations, and shows, by a variety of considerations, that no afflictions, however severe, were at all inconsistent with the reality and security of the favor of God, which is the peculiar privilege of those who are interested in the Divine method of justification. — John Brown of Edinburg (1784-1858).
The Lord Jesus here pronounced blessed or happy those who, through devotion to Him, would be called upon to suffer. They are “blessed” because such are given the unspeakable privilege of having fellowship with the sufferings of the Saviour. They are “blessed” because such tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and such a hope that will not make ashamed. They are “blessed” because they shall be fully recompensed in the Day to come. Here is rich comfort indeed. Let not the soldier of the Cross be dismayed because the fiery darts of the wicked one are hurled against him. Remember that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans ). — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Believers, we are here assured, may be in great distress; but though much perplexed, and often discouraged, they are secretly held up by faith, and brought off conquerors. If God had commanded us to pray and hope only till a certain time mentioned, and His help had failed to come within that time, we might justly despair. But since He requires us to hope even to the end, or last moment of life, this should keep us from impatience and despair; for though He should tarry even to the end, believers will certainly experience Him then to be faithful to His promise. He may try our faith and patience to the utmost, but He cannot break His own Word. Dear Lord, whatever load Thou art pleased to lay upon me, enable me to wait, in faith and prayer, till the joyful hour of deliverance comes. — C. H. V. Bogatzky (1690-1774).
Verse 19. That the natural creation, which was brought into existence as the temporary scene for the working out of the great drama of life, is included in the scope of the Atonement is clear from the fact of the resurrection of the body and from the Words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8: 19-23. It is thus that the Atonement becomes the center of all creation. The moral dislocation caused by original sin disrupted all, but the Atonement brings forth from death and the grave a new creation in which all that is discordant is forever put down.
The goal of creation is man, bearing all the glory and exercising all the dominion of the invisible God. The failure of man opened the way for the incarnation of the invisible God as man — the wonder of Bethlehem; the mystery of the Holy childhood; the devotion of Deity to the common task of the village tradesman; the manifestation of the Triune God at the baptism in the voice, the Dove, and the man Christ Jesus; the works of creative omnipotence in the few short years of ministry; the appointment of the twelve apostles as the spiritual patriarchs of the new mystic tribes of Israel; the solemnity of the upper room; the arrest; the blows; the degradation; the judgment; the scourging; the unanimous shout, “Crucify Him”; the crucifixion; the darkness; the sevenfold utterance of the Cross, prophetic of its purpose; the bowing of the soul to death; the entombing; the watch and the seal; the glorious resurrection; the triumphant ascension; the expectation of the great consummation when at last all enemies must become the footstool of Immanuel, God with us — this is the story of the Atonement. By this means, God achieves His purpose, and the sentence of Eden is executed — “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head, O serpent, and thou shall bruise His heel.” Only by the Atonement is the nature of God fully revealed. Here is eternal suffering love. Here is the meekness and patience of Deity. Here God and man are reconciled. Here the superb angelic creation learns humility and is content to be the servant of a lower creation, which has for its head so adorable a God and King as Christ Jesus. — Charles D. Alexander (1904-1991).
At present things are not right; the good are depressed; bad men are exalted; Lazarus is a beggar; Dives fares sumptuously every day; Naboth is slain; Ahab holds the vineyard; from the way men fare, it is impossible to tell who is a saint and who is a sinner; one event happeneth to all alike; or, if there is any difference, the vile often seem to have the advantage: they flourish like a green bay tree; they have more than heart could wish; their eyes stand out with fatness; virtue is unrequited; vice is rampant. But it shall not be so always; God has so purposed; righteousness so requires; nature would lift up her hands in horror at the thought of this state of things being perpetual. The creature expects that a time is rapidly approaching when things will be adjusted, and all shall discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
The total harmony of the creation is finally realized in the glorious manifestation of the sons of God, when the Divine nature, united in the Son of God with human nature, will raise creation to its full and final glory. Modern science does not have the key to the meaning of the mysteries unlocked by its noble researches. That key is REDEMPTION — the goal and climax of the holy wisdom of God. — Charles D. Alexander (1904-1991).
Verse 20. Ask almost any man, “Whether he hopes to be saved eternally?” He will answer in the affirmative. But enquire again, “On what foundation he rests his hope?” Here too many are sadly divided. The Pelagian hopes to get to heaven by a moral life and a good use of his natural powers. The Arminian by a jumble of grace and free-will, human works, and the merits of Christ; the Deist by an interested observance of the social virtues. Thus merit-mongers, of every denomination, agree in making any thing the basis of their hope, rather than that foundation which God’s own hand hath laid in Zion. But what saith Scripture? It avers, again and again, that Jesus alone is our hope: to the exclusion of all others, and to the utter annihilation of human deservings. Beware, therefore, of resting your dependence partly on Christ, and partly on some other basis.  As surely as you bottom your reliance partly on the rock, and partly on the sand; so certainly, unless God give you an immediate repentance to your acknowledgment of the truth, will your supposed house of defense fall and bury you in its ruins, no less than if you had raised it on the sand alone. Christ is the hope of glory.Augustus M. Toplady (1740 – 1778)
“God, the righteous Judge, subjected the creature to vanity, as the just consequence and desert of man’s disobedience. But He has subjected it in hope; with a reserve in favor of His own people, by which, though they are liable to trouble, they are secured from the penal desert of sin, and the vanity of the creature is by His wisdom overruled to wise and gracious purposes. The earth, and all in it, was made for the sake of man: for his sin it was cursed, and afterwards destroyed by water; and sin at last shall set it on fire. But God, who is rich in mercy, appointed a people to Himself out of the fallen race: for their sakes, and as a theater whereon to display the wonders of His providence and grace, it was renewed after the flood and still continues; but not in its original state: there are marks of the evil of sin, and of God’s displeasure against it wherever we turn our eyes. — John Newton (1725-1807).
The creature doth, as it were, groan by reason of this subjection to wicked men, although it be but for a while. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now.” Therefore surely it would be no way fit that wicked men, who do no good, and bring forth no fruit to God, should live here always, to have the various creatures subservient to them, as they are now. The earth can scarcely bear wicked men during that short time for which they stay here, but is ready to spew them out. It is no way fit, therefore, that it should be forced to bear them always. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Verse 21. It is indeed meet for us to consider what a dreadful curse we have deserved, since all created things in themselves blameless, both on earth and in the visible heaven undergo punishment for our sins; for it has not happened through their own fault, that they are liable to corruption. Thus the condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Many are sorry for actual transgressions, because they do oft bring them to shame before men; but few are sorry for the defects that sin has made in nature, because they see not those defects themselves.  A man cannot be sorry for the sinful defects of nature, till he sees they have rendered him contemptible to God; nor is it anything but a sight of God, that can make him truly see what he is, and so be heartily sorrow for being so. Job.42:6. — By John Bunyan (1628-1688).
The future glory of the saints must be inconceivably great, if the whole creation, from the beginning of the world, groans and longs for its manifestation. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
It is, and always shall be, the world which God Almighty has created, which He, in spite of all the sins of angels and of men, has in its broad dimensions upheld and maintained, and which at the time of the end He will so bring out to a perfect form of live, that it will perfectly correspond to His purpose of creation, and which, in spite of the sins of angels and of men shall make His original plan — now no more susceptible of corruption — shine forth resplendently in fulness and richness of form. — Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920).
Verse 22. Because the creatures are subject to corruption, not through their natural desire, but by God’s appointment, and also because they have a hope of being freed hereafter from corruption, it follows that they groan like a woman in labor until they have been delivered. This is a most appropriate comparison to inform us that the groaning of which he speaks will not be in vain or without effect. It will finally bring forth a joyful and happy fruit. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Its groans and travail-pangs. It is like a sick man racked with pain, and crying out for relief; it is as a woman in labor, suffering the pains of child-birth, and longing for the moment when she shall be delivered. All nature sighs as if conscious of imperfection, as if bowed down under the curse. Blight, decay, death, storms, earthquakes, lightnings, are all the groans of creation, and perhaps still more, the sufferings of the beast of the field, and fowls of the air; for their case seems unspeakably sad, suffering at the hands of man in a thousand ways not by any fault of their own. Perhaps also the labor-pangs of earth may not simply be to shake off the corruption with its bondage; but especially to be delivered of the millions and millions of bodies which it contains. Does it not travail in pain to be delivered of the dust of the saints which it has carried in its womb for ages? And of earth also shall it not be said, “in the beauties of holiness from (more than) the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth” (Psa. 110:3)? — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889).
Then, in ver. 22, Paul introduces the whole of this lower creation in the misery and wretchedness of which God’s people were naturally involved, and with which, whilst in the present condition, they have to suffer. Now, this whole creation groans; but the elect part of it not only groans, but expects. The whole sin-and death-and misery-struck creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but the elect and regenerated people of God share in that groan, waiting for the adoption, the full manifestation of that glorious condition of sons and heirs of God, which God in Christ has bestowed upon them, and which will be fully, completely discovered and enjoyed at the resurrection of the dead; when the body, now redeemed by Christ, shall share in the soul’s felicity, being delivered fully and finally from sickness, death, and the grave. — Grey Hazlerigg (1818-1912).
Verse 23. When the Redeemer is pleased to call forth into lively actings upon Himself the graces He hath planted, I can then find a blessed season in contemplating His glories, His beauties, His fullness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency.  I then sit down, as the church of old did, under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to my taste.  But amidst these firstfruits of His Spirit, these blessed earnests and pledges of the glory that shall be revealed, I know no less also what it is to groan within myself, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of my poor, polluted, sinful body.  I find the partner of my heart, this earthly half of myself, at times the greatest opposer of my better dispositions.  The flesh lusteth against the spirit; the soul is straitened, shut up, so as to say nothing and do nothing when appearing before the Lord.  I dare not neglect prayer; I dare not absent myself from going to court; but if I go I am cold, dead, and lifeless.  I hear as though I heard not; I pray as though I prayed not.  Can I do otherwise than groan?  Can I help at times being deeply affected, although I have the firstfruits of the Spirit?  Lord Jesus, undertake for me, and let all the sanctified blessings intended by Thy love and wisdom from these painful exercises of the soul be accomplished.  Let this thorn in the flesh make me humble, and endear Thee, Thou Precious Emmanuel, more and more to my affections. — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).
Mark the adoption of the church. “Even now are we the sons of God;” we have already received the Spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father. But as it was resurrection that manifested (Rom. 1:4) Christ’s own Sonship (though He was the eternal Son), so by resurrection is our sonship or adoption to be manifested. The day of adoption is here called the day of the redemption of the body. For this fulness of Divine, and visible, and proclaimed adoption, we wait in hope and patience. — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889).
There is an obligation upon our Saviour to take care even of the bodies of the saints; nor will He fail of executing the will of the Father in raising them from the state of the dead, with unspeakable advantage. Besides, their bodies are a part of His purchase, as well as their souls; and what He bought at the expense of His blood He certainly will take special care of; and therefore He will gather the scattered particles of their precious dust, and form their bodies, which are now corruptible, and often dreadfully emaciated by wasting sickness, before their dissolution, immortal, spiritual, and inconceivably glorious. — John Brine (1703-1765).
Verse 24. We are saved! Are not these amazing words? Saved, from wrath, and guilt, and sin, its pollution and its power; saved by an almighty hand and by amazing grace; saved when the most just and terrible destruction was impending; saved when others no more guilty were left in their blindness and hardness of heart. Nor is this salvation all future, but it is all in its great elements a present salvation, so that while some texts say that the believers shall be saved, our verse says, we are saved. If we put the emphasis on the first word, the sense is no less striking, we are saved; we, who merit no good thing; we, who are by nature the children of wrath even as others; we, who were dead in trespasses and sins, we, yes even we are saved! Surely our song will ever be of salvation! — William S. Plumer (18021880).
The difference of these two graces, faith and hope, is so small, that the one is often taken for the other in Scripture; it is but a different aspect of the same confidence, faith apprehending the infallible truth of those Divine promises of which hope doth assuredly expect the accomplishment, and that is their truth; so that this immediately results from the other. This is the anchor fixed within the veil which keeps the soul firm against all the tossings on these swelling seas, and the winds and tempests that arise upon them. The firmest thing in this inferior world is a believing soul. — Robert Leighton (1611-1684).
Hope is a glorious grace whereunto all blessed effects are ascribed in the Scriptures, and an effectual operation unto the support and consolation of believers. By it we are purified, sanctified, saved; and, to sum up the whole of its excellency and efficacy, it is a principal way of the working of Christ as inhabiting in us, (Col. 1:27), “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” — John Owen (1616-1683).
Verse 25. In Scripture “hope” always respects something future, and signifies far more than a mere wish that it may be realized. It sets forth a confident expectation that it will be realized (Psa. 16:9). In many passages “hope” has reference to its object, that is, to the thing expected (Rom. ), the One looked to: “O Lord, the hope of Israel” (Jer. ; cf. 50:7). In other passages “hope” refers to the grace of hope, that is, the faculty by which we expect. Hope is used in this sense in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Now abideth faith, hope, charity.” Sometimes “hope” expresses the assurance we have of our personal interest in the thing hoped for: “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom. 5:3-5). That is, hope deepens our assurance of our personal confidence in God. In still other cases “hope” has reference to the ground of our expectation. The clause “there is hope in Israel concerning this thing” (Ezra 10:2) means there were good grounds to hope for it. “Who against hope believed in hope” (Rom. ): though contrary to nature, Abraham was persuaded he had good and sufficient ground to expect God to make good His promise. The unregenerate are “without hope” (Eph. ). They have hope, but it is based on no solid foundation. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Thus may we attain to that great grace patient waiting on God and for God. Much is said of it in both Testaments. It is illustrated by a reference to the farmer, who hath long patience and waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth; to the watchman who waits and longs for the day; to the hireling who toils on in hope as he sees the shadows lengthening and is persuaded his toils will end as the light of day disappears. Patience is needful for three reasons — the good expected is absent — there is delay, and many difficulties intervene. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
But spiritual patience proceeds from a principle of grace, is actuated by higher motives, and is induced by greatly superior considerations than those which regulate the most refined and self-controlled unregenerate person. Spiritual patience springs from faith (James 1:3) and from hope (Rom. ). Patience eyes the sovereignty of God, to which it is our duty to submit. It eyes His benevolence and is assured that the most painful affliction is among the “all things” He is making work together for our good. It looks off from the absolute nature of the affliction, considered in itself, to the relative nature of it, as it is dispensed to us by God, and therefore concludes that though the cup is bitter, in our Father’s hand it is salutary. Though the chastisement itself is grievous, patience realizes it will make us partakers of God’s holiness here and of His glory hereafter. Patience eyes the example Christ left us and seeks grace to be conformed to it. The Christian strives to exercise patience not out of self-esteem, because he is mortified when his passions get the better of him, but from a desire to please God and glorify Him. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 26. The thief upon the cross had no very long prayer: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”  The poor publican, with burdened conscience, stood, in his feelings, very far off, and dared not approach near, nor even so much as to lift his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, as a proof of his soul-torturing feelings, under a deep sense of his guilt, and cried, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”  His prayer was short, but the Lord both heard and answered it; for “he went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.”  When the Lord quickens and enlightens a poor sinner, and makes him see and feel his guilt and danger, he has no time to form a long round of fine, worded prayers, nor can he feelingly read those man-made prayers already formed to his hands; but he breathes out before the Lord the feelings of his heart, though it be in broken accents: “Lord, save me!  Lord, have mercy upon me, a poor, vile sinner!”  And sometimes, in sighs and groans, or words he utters the same again and again.  I tell thee, poor soul, for thy comfort and encouragement, that when this is done feelingly from the heart, it is real prayer, and “The Lord will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.”  Thus the Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor and needy;  but the fine, long, self-exalting prayers of the Pharisee never reach the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth so as to gain His approbation and be a means of bringing blessings from above. — William Gadsby (1773-1844).
When John Bunyan stepped into the pulpit to preach his last message on August 21, 1688, he bowed his head to pray. Prayer with Mr. Bunyan was very real; and when he would pray, he would always ask himself, “To what end, O my soul, art thou retired to this place? To converse with the Lord in prayer? Is He present? Will He hear thee? Is He merciful; will He help thee? Is thy business concerning the welfare of thy soul? What words wilt thou use to move His compassion? With bowed head his prayer begins, “We are but dust and ashes; Thou the great God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are vile sinners; Thou art a Holy God! We are as poor , crawling worms! Thou art the omnipotent Creator! MAY OUR HEARTS BE WITHOUT WORDS, O LORD, RATHER THAN OUR WORDS WITHOUT HEART! Give us, therefore, the true spirit of prayer, which is more precious than thousands of gold and silver.” — Don Bell.
God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. God hath many worshippers on particular occasions who cannot be called spiritual worshippers. Take, for instance, the prayers of the wicked under their convictions, or their fears, troubles, and dangers, and the prayers of believers: the former is merely an outcry that distressed nature makes to the God of it, and as such alone it considers him; but the other is the voice of the Spirit of adoption, addressing Himself to the hearts of believers unto God as Father. Woe to professors of the Gospel, who shall be seduced to believe that all they have to do with God consists in their attendance upon moral virtue; it is fit for them so to do, who, being weary of Christianity, have a mind to turn pagans ; but “our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,” under the promised working and intercession of the Spirit; for by them alone are the love of the Father, and the fruits of the mediation of the Son communicated unto us, without which we have no interest or comfort in them; and by the influences of the Spirit alone we are enabled to make any acceptable returns of obedience to God. To exclude the internal operations of the Holy Ghost, is to destroy the Gospel. — C. H. V. Bogatzky (1690-1774).
All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their faith, they pray. Just as the first sign of life in an infant, when born into the world, is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women, when they are born again, is praying. This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God. “They cry unto him day and night” (Luke 18:7). The Holy Spirit who makes them new creatures, works in them the feeling of adoption and makes them cry. “Abba, Father.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their nature to pray as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They see God’s mercies on every hand. They are thankful and offer to Him sacrifices of prayer and praise. They must pray. Not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a believer. He cannot feel his sins, love God, feel himself a debtor to Christ, long after holiness, desire Heaven, or find any comfort in Christ if he does not pray. The Lord Jesus has set His stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When He sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, He gave no other evidence of his change of heart then this: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts ). — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
Verse 27. God's will must ever stand; it is as unchanging and as unchangeable as God Himself. Our wills are ever fluctuating; God's will fluctuates not. And as that will must ever live and rule, it will be our highest wisdom and richest mercy to submit to, and be conformed unto it. Now the will of God to you who desire to fear His name is not your destruction, but your salvation; your profit now, your happiness hereafter; your present grace, and eternal glory. And the Spirit is making intercession for you according to the will of God; for is it not your earnest desire and prayer that your soul should be saved and blessed, that you should serve God and live to His glory, and when you die be with Him for ever? Lie, then, at His feet. Be the clay, and let Him be your Heavenly Potter. Think not of saving yourself, or of putting your own hand to God's gracious work. Be content to be nothing. Sink even lower than that; be willing to be less than nothing, that Christ may be all in all. Covet above all things the Spirit's interceding breath; for in possessing that you will have a sure pledge that He will guide you in life, support you in death, and land you in glory. With His guidance we can never err; with His supporting arms we can never fall; taught by Him we shall see the path of life plainly; upheld by His strength we shall walk in it without fear. Without His light we are dark; without His life we are dead; without His teaching we are but a mass of ignorance and folly. We cannot find the way except He guide; but if He do guide, we cannot but find it. The more we confide in His teaching and guidance the better it will be for us; and the more that under this teaching we can lie submissively at the Lord's feet, looking up to Him for his will to be made known in us and perfected in us, the more it will be for our present peace, and the more it will redound to His eternal praise. — J.C. Philpot (1802-1869).
The intercession of the Holy Ghost in His people, is a great ground of boldness. They have not only Christ making intercession for them at the right hand of God; but they have the Spirit Himself making intercession in them, and for them, Romans 8:26-27. A special Scripture; that I would remark five things from, relating to this purpose. (1). Who is the assister of believers in prayer? The Spirit itself (Himself); as also He is called as to His witnessing, ver. 16. And the word points at the immediateness of His assistance. (2). What this assistance is applied to? Our infirmities; infirmities in ourselves, and in our prayers; as the apostle declares, We know not what we should pray for as we ought. The communion of the Holy Ghost is only with believers, for He dwells in them only; and His communion with them is only with His own new creation in them, and because of this, as in them, labors with infirmities, His care is about them also. (3). The way of His helping, is in the original hinted: He helpeth with us, or over-against us, as a powerful assistant to the weak, in bearing a heavy burden; as Col. 1:29. Whereunto I labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. It is in vain to expect the Spirit’s assistance in work we neglect, or against infirmities we indulge and comply with. (4). What this assistance is? Making intercession for us, ver. 26,27, and that according to the will of God. How can a believer but prevail, who hath the blood of the High Priest speaking in Heaven, Heb. 12:24, and the Spirit of Christ crying in his heart on earth, Gal. 4:6 ? The voice of the Spirit is the best thing in our prayer; it is that God hears and regards. (5). But, lastly, How doth this assistance and intercession work in us? With groanings which cannot be uttered. What? Only with groanings? We would think it should be, that He assists with piercing cries that might reach Heaven, with strong arguments that cannot but prevail, with mighty force and power that cannot be resisted. Is all this great preamble of the Spirit itself helping our infirmities, and making intercession for us according to the will of God; is all this come to a poor unutterable groaning? How strange seems this to be! Yet how sweet is it! Some groanings are so small, that they cannot be uttered; for the believer hardly feels them: some groans are so great, that they cannot be expressed; as Job 23:2. Even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Sometimes the Spirit of grace and supplications is a Spirit of liberty and enlargement unto Christians in prayer; so as they can, by His help, pour out all their hearts to God, and plead strongly: sometimes He is a Spirit of groaning, working only sense of want, and breathings after supply. There is more of the Spirit in a sensible groan, than in many formal words of prayer. The Spirit is called the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. 4:13; and the Spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. 12:10. Join both these names together: He is the Spirit of faith in prayer, or, the Spirit of prayer in faith, Rom. . The Spirit of grace belongs to the throne of grace; and His assistance doth give boldness to believers. The more you feel His help, pray the more boldly. — Robert Traill (1642-1716).  

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