The Unfailing Salvation of God
August 20, 2023

The Unfailing Salvation of God

Passage: Romans 8:26-30

Human Failure and Weakness

Do you ever have those times when it feels like you can’t do anything right? When you feel like a failure at your job, a failure in your schoolwork, a failure at home in your family life, even a failure in your Christian walk? – or maybe you may feel like a failure at how you manage your time, what you spend your money on, what you eat, what you say – it could be anything. Everyone knows what it feels like to fall short.

And it’s because we have fallen short. Especially when it comes to living in a right way before God. We’ve been unfaithful to him. We’ve been rebellious. We’ve broken his law.

It would be perfectly just and right for God to punish us. But God instead acted in history to help us. He freely gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the penalty for our errors – for our failures – and to save us from them. Those who receive Jesus now stand forgiven and clean in the eyes of God. Here in Romans 8, we’ve even seen that God adopts those who trust in Christ, and promises to them a great future reward.

But while Christians wait to receive the fullness of our Father’s promises, we groan. We still live in a broken, suffering world. We ourselves are still weak. If we were left alone – if our persistence in the Christian life depended entirely on our own willpower and resolve, we wouldn’t last. Our faith would collapse like a house of cards in a hurricane.

But in our passage tonight, we’re reminded that God actively supports and saves Christians from beginning to end. We see three ways God continues to help his weak children.

God Helps Our Prayers (vs. 26-27)

First, God helps our prayers. Back in Romans 8, verse 16, we saw that “the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we’re children of God.” The Spirit helps affirm our place in God’s family.

And in our text tonight, in verse 26, we’re told “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Again, we see the Spirit of God helping us. And God supplies his Spirit to help us because he knows we’re weak. Even though we belong to Christ now by faith – even though we have forgiveness, cleansing, and adoption – we still have weakness. The way that we grow in maturity and completeness as a Christian isn’t by claiming we don’t have weakness anymore. The mature Christian – the strong Christian – recognizes more and more that they are weak. And they find their strength by leaning on the help God provides.

And how does the Bible here say the Spirit helps us? It says he helps us in our prayers. Because the text acknowledges that we’re weak in this respect. We don’t know what we should pray for. Our prayers are not perfect prayers.

You probably know what it feels like to struggle with prayer. Sometimes you’re on your knees – your heart is in turmoil – but you just can’t find the right words. Your prayers feel jumbled, dull, ineffective – you almost feel like you’re trying to shoot an arrow with a broken bow.

But God’s Word says, “the Spirit helps us.” He intercedes for us – he speaks for us. He takes our incoherent groanings, and he brings them before the throne of God. He makes them into good prayersuseful prayers.

It’s similar to a mom taking her kids through a fastfood drive-thru. The kids all start to tell their mom what they want. One child asks for seven ice cream cones, another child claims that he doesn’t feel hungry yet, another child can’t decide what to pick – they’re all over the place, kind of like we are in our prayer life sometimes. And, similar to the Spirit, the mom intercedes for her children – she speaks on their behalf – and she places an order for the legitimate meal that each of them need. (It’s possible the mom even does so with groanings too deep for words, but that part’s hard to say.)

I hope this encourages you to pray more confidently and expectantly, even when your prayers seem worthless! Because God helps us in our prayers, even the ones that feel weak, feeble, and insufficient.

We don’t always know what to ask for. We don’t know what’s best for us. But the Spirit brings our prayers in line with where they ought to be. The end of verse 27 affirms, “The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

God Confirms Our Purpose (vs. 29)

But what is the will of God for us? What is the great goal or purpose God wants us to be aiming for in life? This brings me to the second way that God helps his weak children: God confirms our purpose. He confirms our purpose.

Jump with me for a minute to verse 29. Verse 29 tells us that “those whom God foreknew, he also predestined” – for what? For a purpose. And what is that purpose? He “predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son…”

God’s plan for his people is to make you and I more like His Son: for us to bear the image of godliness – of Christlikeness. And this isn’t a new plan. Back at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1:27, it says that God created man and woman in his image – in his likeness. But the first man rebelled against God, and the likeness of God in Adam was marred and corrupted. Ever since, every human being has inherited Adam’s corruption. Yet God’s purpose in saving us is to adopt us out of the corrupt family tree of Adam. He wants to give us a new family identity in Christ and to do a work of new creation – to transform your mind, your heart, and your actions so you’ll think the way Jesus thought, so you’ll love the way Jesus loved, and so you’ll live the way Jesus lived. He wants to restore His own likeness in us by conforming us to the image of his Son.

With this in mind, look with me at verse 28: “[And] We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse is talking about a group of people who both love God and are called according to God’s purpose – it’s talking about Christians. And it says here that all things work together for their good.

So often we get discouraged in life, because it doesn’t seem like things are working out for our good! We have our own plans – our own purposes – and when things don’t happen the way we want, we feel like we have failed.

But let me remind you what God’s primary goal isn’t. God’s primary goal is not to give you perfect health. God’s primary goal is not to make you popular. God’s primary goal is not to give you a steady job, plenty of money, and a comfortable life. The big goal that he’s concerned about – that you should be concerned about – is to make you like Jesus – to create in you the unfading glory of godliness. And He’s working all of your circumstances, all of your experiences – all of human history, even, toward this good purpose.

Whatever the world brings – prosperity, safety, hardships, sufferings – these things can’t undo God’s good plan for you. Even when you’re facing great trials, you can be assured that your Father is helping you along the same path as Jesus. He’s using all your experiences to produce greater Christlikeness in you – greater faith, greater character, greater love. He’s helping you and I to look more and more like his children. So God comforts us – he helps his weak children – by confirming what our real purpose is so we won’t set our hearts on plans that aren’t His plan.

God Ensures Our Salvation (vs. 28-30)

But there’s one more way that God continues to help his weak children which is related to this. We’ve seen that God Helps our Prayers and that God Confirms our Purpose. But God also Ensures Our Salvation. He guarantees that the salvation of his weak children is a plan that will not and cannot fail.

I say here that God Ensures Our Salvation, because when God chooses to show saving grace to a sinner like you or me, He doesn’t change his mind! He doesn’t start doing a work of salvation in us, and then throw us away. Everyone who God helps onto the ski-lift makes it to the top of the hill.

Let me read again the last two verses of our text. Verse 29 says, “For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers, and those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified.”

Now notice carefully here. He’s speaking about a single group of people throughout these two verses – The same people who are foreknown by God are predestined to be like Jesus. And this same group of people – they’re all likewise called, and everyone who is called is justified, and everyone who is justified is glorified.

When Verse 29 speaks about those whom God foreknew­, the word here indicates that He identified them – that he set his love on them, even before they came into existence. And those whom he foreknew, he predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son. The word predestined means that God determined ahead of time exactly what the future of this chosen people would look like – namely, that they would look like Jesus, as we just saw. And later in time, it says God called these same people – he sent out His Word and Spirit to powerfully, effectively call these people out of spiritual deadness, and to turn their hearts back to himself. And those he called, he also justified, meaning that God declared them to be just and righteous, because they’ve been joined to the Just and Righteous One, Jesus Christ. And those whom God justified, he also glorified. The glory that’s coming is as good as done. God’s children will be dressed forever in the glory of Christ – all fear, all frailty, all failure will be gone.

If our salvation depended on our willpower and strength, we would fail. But consider here – we weren’t the ones who paid the penalty for our own sin. We didn’t bring ourselves from spiritual deadness to spiritual life. We didn’t bring ourselves to God. And notice that the foreknowing, the predestinating, the calling, the justifying, the glorifying – God is the one acting! The sureness of our salvation rests on the power of God – the Lord is our salvation, just as we were singing earlier. The Sovereign God who has began our salvation is the same God who keeps us saved.

This is a great comfort for weak people like us. The strength we need for the Christian life is provided by God himself. Each child of God can lean into the arms of the Father, confident that he who started a good work in us will bring it to completion.

If you don’t know God as your father, this is an invitation. You don’t live as though you’re alone in the universe. You don’t have to live like a orphan anymore. But trust in Christ, and God will be your Father, your help, and your salvation.

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