Sunday service at Bronx Immanuel Community Church March 8, 2020 – Sermon by Dr. Paul DeVries

Romans 8 – You may have asked yourself, how can I be more of a leader in the church, be more engaged in the power of the Spirit and be aware of God’s awesome presence.

How can we be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, be more engaged? W should move to what the Spirit tells us to do. The Bible text is complicated and multi-layered just as the Spirit is. One important “complication” is that the Spirit constantly works in us on what we tend to divide into three levels:

  1. The Physical
  2. The Human-Relational
  3. The Supernatural – we think, of course, the Spirit is supernatural but He works in our bodies and with us. Sometimes it intercedes on our behalf and speaks to God in groans the things we cannot say ourselves.

The Bible talks about body, soul and spirit and they are not all separate, but all part of one. From the beginning we are imbued with the supernatural, as we were just hunks of dirt and the Holy Spirit was breathed into us. When we communicate with each other we tend to speak past one another. The Holy Spirit’s three levels are there in the beginning and are essential to our existence. The Spirit hovered over the Earth in the second verse in the Bible. It’s very physical, setting up the world for our presence. God made man and woman in His image and the Spirit was part of that creation moment. While we are creatures of Earth, he created us to be citizens of His Kingdom as well.

The deep prayers that are wordless groans that the Spirit interprets and understands. Throughout the Bible, all three levels of the Spirit are frequently described. Some issues with many issues of the religions of the world are that they focus on only one dimension. For example, in Taoism, it focuses on nature and empowers people so it is very physically focused. It was kind of against Confucianism which was not necessarily for nature. Confucians say lets build good relationships with one another but to not pray because it’s a waste of time and that there is no afterlife. It is just very important that we recognize all three aspects of the Spirit.

One of the reasons why Romans 8 is many peoples’ favorite texts is because of its description of the Spirit’s work in us. In Romans 8:12-30, Paul goes from the physical to the relational to the supernatural.

First, paying attention to the Physical level. Verse 11 says the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. If the Spirit can do that then imagine what it can do for our own bodies to give us strength and vigor and new life! Verse 12 – celebrate the Spirit’s presence in our own bodies. We are all temples on two legs, which is awesome! If you live according to the flesh, you will die. Flesh deteriorates and is not everlasting. If by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live. Verse 15 – the Spirit does not make us slaves but instead makes us sons of God.

Second, human relations – end of verse 15, we are adopted to sonship by the Spirit. It makes us cry out, “Abba Father!” 16 – the Spirit testifies with our own spirit that we are God’s children. When I was a senior in college, the first semester. I had spent a lot of time building a new ministry. We had some great ideas about total commitment to the gospel with new ways of expressing that love and commitment. With this taking so much time, I somewhat ignored my school work. The Christmas break which back then was still before the end of the semester, was a total disaster in terms of a meeting we had with an ‘adult’ organization. They completely vetoed our ideas and thought they were all right. The tragic part was the chairman of our board was the son of the chairman of the ‘adult’ board and he was berating his own son. So I invested all this time and when I got back to school, I had to catch up on all this work. Not only that, I had to deal with my anger and frustration for getting all of our good works wiped away. So I got on my knees and I prayed, saying maybe everything is lost this semester. So I prayed for him to release me from the anger and frustration and I went to the library which was empty. The librarian came over and helped me so that by the end of the first day, I was nearly done with my first paper. I had been working for 16 hours and I felt great. I realized I was free of my anger and frustration but he grace of God. So by the end of the week, I had finished all four term papers and I actually felt good about it. I was an honors student and I wanted to maintain my status and grades. When I got my reports back the next semester I had aced everything, by the grace of God. The point is that the Spirit can work in us in so many different ways to accomplish what He needs and wants us to do. Relational summary – behave and believe as a restored child of God.

Third, the supernatural level. 17 – if we are children, we are heirs of God. 18 – Our current suffering will not compare with the future glory we will receive. Summary – say yes to the miraculous work He can do in our body, soul and spirit. 19 – The Spirit eagerly awaits to find out who God’s real children are. 20 – The creation was subjected to frustration (or worthlessness due to sin, or perhaps pollution). 21 – in hopes that creation’s decay, or depletion, be liberated. 22 – The Spirit has been groaning as in childbirth to this present day. Perhaps caring for the environment has something to do with the Spirit and that we should be properly caring for the Earth. Can we change the conversation?

Back to the human relational level. 23 – our spirits groan as we eagerly await to be adopted as well. 24 – we are saved in this hope which is unseen.

26 – The Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes on our behalf through wordless groans. 27 – God knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people. We are about a month away from Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Romans 8 makes that the ultimate template of life. Good Friday is the nadir of human life and it seemed as though all hope was lost. Yet God turned the worst into the best, turning it on its head. This is the crux of human existence and see it as a source of hope. 29 – God predestined —> called —> justified —> glorified.