Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your Shield and Helper and your Glorious Sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights….Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Deuteronomy 33:29; Hebrews 4:16)
Writer Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) reminded us “Thanksgiving is a spiritual exercise, necessary to the building of a healthy soul. It takes us out of the stuffiness of ourselves into the fresh breeze and sunlight of the will of God.”1 This continues our series commenting on Scripture themes mentioned by Elisabeth. If you missed them, you can read What God Is to Me: Elisabeth Elliot (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3), Christ is My Hope, My Trust, My Confidence; Christ is My Strong Tower; Christ is My Inheritance; Christ is My Rock; Christ is My Helper (Part 1)(Part 2)
I am using Romans Chapter 8 to explore some of the ways that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) helps Christ’s followers. This fuels our praising, thanking, trusting, and obeying Him.
- In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. God foreknew and predestined Jesus’ followers to be conformed to Jesus’ image, so that we resemble Christ our Elder Brother. God makes us holy, even as He is holy. Our salvation (in its beginning, middle, and end) is caused entirely by God’s sovereign grace. He predestined us, called us, justified us, and He will stay with us to the end, gloriously completing what He has begun.2 God reminds us that He providentially orchestrates every event in life, even bad things, to work for our benefit now and eternally. Joseph’s brothers intended to harm him, but God overruled and worked it for good to accomplish the saving of many lives.3 God is in charge; no need to worry. Elisabeth wrote, “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived (step by step, moment by moment), not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.“
Whate’er my God ordains is right: Holy His will abideth; I will be still whate’er He doth; And follow where He guideth: He is my God: though dark my road, He holds me that I shall not fall: Wherefore to Him I leave it all.4
- Since God is on our side, Jesus’ people cannot lose in the end. Since God not spare His own Son (Christ), but sent Him for us, God will also, along with Christ, graciously give us all that we need.5 On her radio program, Elisabeth always reminded us that the Lord is in control and that we are not at the mercy of circumstances, so we can keep a quiet heart. She’d ask, “Whose agenda are we following? God’s or our own? The Father knows what we need and also when we need it. And if we don’t have it, we don’t need it today. When the Lord withholds something we believe will make us happy, we need to remember His promise, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”6
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will While I am waiting, yielded and still.7
- Satan may accuse and try to condemn us, but he is doomed to fail. God has chosen us for His own people, He has given us right standing with Him, and Christ is our Defense Attorney. Jesus died for us, and was raised to life for us, and He sits at God’s right hand pleading our case.8 The Lord is bending over backwards in Romans 8 to make Christ’s followers feel safe and secure in Jesus! Both God the Holy Spirit and God the Son intercede for us.9 As our High Priest, Jesus helps us to resist temptation.10 As our Advocate, He keeps on restoring our fellowship with God.11 Christ represents us before God’s throne, so we do not stand alone and do not have to represent ourselves. In the Bible, Job wanted a mediator to lay one hand on God and one hand on us to bring reconciliation. Jesus Christ is that Arbiter, Mediator, and Umpire. So we now have everlasting peace with God.
My Advocate appears For my defense on high; The Father bows His ears And lays His thunder by. Not all that hell or sin can say Shall turn His heart or His love away.12
- Nothing in all creation (not even death or the devil) will ever be able to separate Christ’s followers from God’s love that is revealed in Jesus our Lord. No, despite all the things that trouble us and test us, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. God cannot neglect us and He guarantees that Jesus’ true followers cannot fall away from Him permanently. The Lord will never desert us, rather He draws closer to us during the difficulties of life.13
Romans 8 reminds me James Montgomery’s hymn “God Is My Strong Salvation,” based on Psalm 27:
1. God is my strong Salvation; What foe have I to fear? In darkness and temptation My Light, my Help is near.
2. Though hosts encamp around me, Firm to the fight I stand; What terror can confound me, With God at my right hand?
3. Place on the Lord reliance, My soul, with courage wait; His truth be thine affiance (help), When faint and desolate.
4. His might thy heart shall strengthen, His love thy joy increase; Mercy thy days shall lengthen; The Lord will give thee peace.
I think that Elisabeth Elliot would have loved this hymn. She wrote, “God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”
Prayer: Holy Spirit, make us more like you. In view of your mercy, help us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to you, as our true and proper worship. Help us not to conform to this world’s pattern, but transform us by the renewing of our minds. By your grace and for your glory, help us to trust and obey your good, pleasing, and perfect will. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Notes (various translations): 1 From Keep a Quiet Heart. 2 Rom 8:28-30. 3 Gen 50:20. 4 From the hymn “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right.” 5 Rom 8:31-32. 6 Phil 4:19. 7 From the hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” 8 Rom 8:33-34. 9 Rom 8:26-27; 8:34. 10 Heb 4:14-16. 11 1 John 1:7–2:2. 12 From the Hymn “Jesus, My Great High Priest.” 13 Rom 8:35-39. Other Scriptures alluded to but not footnoted: 1 Peter 1:15-16; Job 9:33.