Why Christians Should Not Worry (Romans 8:31–39)

This sermon was preached at Catalyst Church San Diego on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Click here to hear the sermon podcast.


In Romans 8, Paul describes the power and impact of the Holy Spirit on the Christian life. He reminds us there is no condemnation if you are in Christ and tells Christians to set their minds on the Spirit. He tells us that as we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, and God is working all things together for the good, that we should be men and women conformed to the image of his Son. God is ultimately bringing us to a place where we will behold the glory of Christ, our Savior. 

Romans 8:31–39 summarizes all of this together in one package, saying to the Christian, "Christian, if God is working all these things together for us, why do you worry?" His point is that Christians don't need to be people who worry because God is for us.

Today, there's an endless list of things to worry about. You're worried because your dollar doesn't stretch as much as it used to. You're worried you won't make it this month financially. You may worry about your marriage or kids. Maybe you're worried about the world your kids will grow up in. You're concerned about their education and their future.

And if big things aren't enough for you, we're good at creating worry about many little things. We're worried about what people think of us. I heard someone say you wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you knew how little they do. You may worry you've got something stuck in your teeth. Maybe you're worried that when you go to the supermarket, you'll get that shopping cart that gets stuck or starts veering off to one side. You may worry your phone won't have enough battery today. You want to say hello to that new person at church but fear you won't remember their name. You would hang out for fellowship after church, but you're worried about making small talk. We are good at inventing things to worry about.

What happens when you worry? It starts with an external or internal stimulus triggering a thought. The problem today is the amount of information constantly coming at us, creating an environment where the potential for worry increases exponentially. We need to be careful with what we give our attention to.

When a worrisome thought occurs, scientists say there is a part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala acts like an alert system for the body. The thought triggers the amygdala to alarm, and the body reacts physically. This is where you get overwhelmed with anxiety and fear because of the worrisome thought. It's incredible how our minds and our bodies are so intertwined together.

I like what one person said about worry. He says, "When we worry, we believe more in our problems than in God's promises." But it's so easy for us to get caught up in worry and fear. How can we move from believing in our problems to believing that God's promises are greater than our problems? Let's open our Bibles to Romans 8, starting in verse 31.

Remember that Paul has just told us that God is working all things together for our good, that he's conforming us to the image of his Son, and that he is bringing us to a day where we will behold his glory. Then, we get to verse 31.

"What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:31–39 CSB

Romans 8:31–39 is such a beautiful passage. Paul takes us through a whole list of rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions are self-explanatory questions. It's a method that the author uses to bring us to a point. He asks us, "What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? How will he not grant us everything? Who will bring an accusation against God's elect? Who is the one who condemns? Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" The answer to this is that nothing can separate us from Christ. Christian, God is for us.

The audience for Romans 8:31–39 is Christians. In verse 33, he describes us as God's elect. We're not going to get into a whole conversation on election. For our purposes in this text, if you are someone in Christ, meaning if at the end of the day when you stand before the Lord, God identifies you as someone in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Jesus knows you, then brother or sister, you are God's elect.

Sometimes, we can get into our denominational beliefs when discussing Christianity and the church. But really, what matters at the end of the day is that when you stand before the Lord, does he know you? That's the church that matters. Are you one of God's elect?

The point of all that he is saying in verses 31 to 39 is that today if you are in Christ, you have everything you need. Why do you worry?

Christians should not worry because God is on our side.

We start in Romans 8:31, where he says, "What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" Think of all the people who have had to trust God in difficult circumstances.

Abram, who later became Abraham, had to trust God even though he couldn't see how God could fulfill his promises. In Genesis 15:1, "After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great." The Lord had promised Abram a child, but Abram was childless, and he and his wife were both getting old. It seemed like an impossible situation.

But God answered Abram regarding his promises. How could he prove to Abram that his promises were accurate and truthful? His promises are based on who he is: "I am your shield." The God who brought the world into existence is your shield, and God is on your side. No one can take anything away from you because God is on your side.

Look at David, a man who, time and time again, was up against forces that seemed too powerful for him. He was a young man with rocks and a sling, standing before a giant in full armor. In his life, he had to deal with the king of Israel chasing after him to take away his life. I love what David says in Psalm 27:1–3,

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— whom should I dread? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident." Psalm 27:1–3 CSB

What is his confidence based on? He sets his confidence on the fact that he's seen God move impossible things before, and he knows that no matter what comes against him, there is a stronghold, a defense, a shelter, a shield in his life that is stronger than anything coming against him.

He has the best defense in the universe. Why should he be afraid? Why should he worry? He knows in his mind and heart that no one so powerful on the outside can cause anything within him to go on red alert. He is confident because there is a stronghold, a shelter, a shield in his life that is more powerful than anything he faces. God is on his side.

He's not worried about enemies. He serves the God who conquers his enemies. He's not concerned about armies coming against him. He serves the Lord of Armies.

Remember, the God who was the shield in Abraham's life and the stronghold in David's life is the same God you serve. There's a defense, a shield that is covering you. And if you are in Christ today, God is for you. No one in the world can come against you. God is on your side.

When I was in the police department, we would show up for roll call right before patrol. Police officers would stand in line, and the sergeant would give us our daily assignments. One of the things they would tell you is that, no matter what happened on patrol, make sure you go home at night to your family. You were going out into a world where people hated you because of your uniform. 

However, as I became a Christian, I had a different perspective on the dangers of my job. I realized something. I would say this to myself: "I am invincible until God decides to take me home." Because we serve a God who is more powerful than our enemies, we are invincible until God decides to take us home.

Christians should not worry because God provides all we need.

In Romans 8:32, Paul gets into his next rhetorical question by telling us to look at what God has done for us already. He says, "He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?" I became interested in the word "everything," where he says, "Grant us everything." My skeptical brain said, "Okay, what is Paul really saying here? What's the fine print? What does he mean by everything?" So I looked it up. The Greek word translated as "everything" means "each, every, any; any and every, every; all; every kind of, all sorts of." It means everything.

In Romans 8:33, "Who can bring an accusation against God's elect? God is the one who justifies." God has justified you in Jesus Christ. He has given his Son for you. God has not spared his Son but gave him up for us. He will grant us everything, so you have all you need in Christ. 

Since all of that is true, who will bring anything against you? Who's going to accuse you of anything? Because there's no condemnation for those in Christ. Often, we're the ones who want to blame ourselves and condemn ourselves for things. But God doesn't look at you as someone he accuses. God looks at us as someone that he has already justified in Christ. Our sins are on the cross, past, present, and future. Nothing is coming against you. So, why are you worried?

In Romans 8:34, "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us." Earlier in Romans 8:26–27, we've already seen that the Holy Spirit intercedes for God's people through our prayers. Here, he describes Christ interceding for us on our behalf. The point is that God is on our side. God looks after his children. He didn't justify you to walk away from you. He justified you in Jesus Christ, and he is with you at all times. He intercedes on your behalf. He is bringing us to a place where our temporary issues are behind us.

I love how the Lord describes worry for us in Matthew 6. Take a look at Matthew 6:31–34,

"So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:31–34 CSB

A Christian counselor described worry as a good emotion (concern) focused on the wrong day (tomorrow). That is what Jesus says here. He says, don't worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself. And for Christians, there is a cure for worry. The cure for worry is prayer because prayer-thought cures fear-thought. 

When worried, we can pray to God and say, "Lord, these things are hard. Lord, I put all these things in your hand because you are my life's stronghold. I know that you are stronger than the things I face, and your word says you will grant us everything in Christ. Lord, I trust you. God, I trust in your promises more than I trust in my worries."

His word says the Lord sits at the right hand of God, interceding for you right now. As we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. And we say as a church, "Forgive us, Lord, as we get caught up in our worries."

I used to teach a course on anger management in a homeless shelter. I would ask the students about what they are concerned about today. Remember, these are men and women experiencing homelessness. Some of them had real concerns about falling back into addiction, concerns about how they're going to get a job and how they're going to support themselves in San Diego. Many of them were starting what was a year-long program at the shelter. 

I would ask them about the things they are concerned about today. Will these things matter in six months? Maybe. Will they matter in a year? Are they going to matter in five years? Then I would ask them, do you remember what you were worried about six months ago? Do you remember what you were worried about a year ago? 

Often, the things that seem so big at the moment aren't that bad when we look back at them a year later. Somehow, the fear we had about tomorrow, the fear about the future, when the future happened, everything worked out. We look back and say, "God, look at what you got us through." God provides for our needs.

The Christian perspective on the future is not worry, but confidence. We base the future on what God has already done for us in the past. God has saved us in Christ, so we know he holds our future. He is working all things together so that we are men and women conformed to the image of his Son, heading to a place where we will behold his glory. We are justified in Christ, and we are his children.

Christians should not worry because our bond with Christ is inseparable.

The totality of everything he says is that we don't have to worry because God is for us. But if our best defense, our best stronghold, is that God is for us, we have a question. We ask ourselves, "Is there something so wrong, so terrible, that if I am in Christ today, somehow a terrible action could drive a wedge between me and God? Is there something that I could do, or something that could happen to me, that would separate my bond with Jesus Christ?"

Because if that were true, that would be something to worry about. If there was a possibility that there could be something so terrible that it could drive a wedge and separate me from the love of Christ, then my salvation is not sure. It's not on a solid rock. There's something extra that I have to do beyond the cross. For my salvation, I would need the cross, plus I would need my good works. 

Is there something that could separate me from Jesus? The Holy Spirit inspires Paul as he's writing this. The Spirit speaks through his word and says, "No." He says in Romans 8:35, "Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" In that verse, he brings us a list of possible ways to die. 

In the next verse, he then quotes Psalm 44:22. He says in Romans 8:36-37, "As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." The question that he's asking is, "Is there any possible thing in my death that could separate me from Christ?" That's a scary thing because if you're separated from Christ by your death, there's no coming back from that.

He says, "No, we're more than conquerors." We have conquered so much that we have even conquered death because Jesus Christ has conquered death for us on the cross. So even though I die, I will live. I am more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ, even if you take me to my grave. When you go to my funeral, my body may be there, but my life is with Jesus Christ. 

In Romans 8:38–39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Send the best you've got. Bring anything against me in my life, and I am with Christ. Take me to my grave, and I am with Christ. Let Satan work against me. I am in Christ. Bring all of your armies. Bring all the enemies you want. I am in Christ. There's nothing in creation, no power strong enough, nothing on Earth or the entire universe that can come against the stronghold in my life, the defense over me. I am in Christ.

I love what the Lord says in John 10. If you've heard the voice of Jesus Christ in your life, if the Lord Jesus has called you to him, and you've recognized that call on your life, then you are a follower of Jesus Christ. You are his sheep. You are his. Listen to what the Lord says in John 10:27–30,

"My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27–30 CSB

If Jesus is who he says he is, the Son of God who takes away the sin in your life, then there is power in Jesus, and no one will take you from him. 

There was a kid in a schoolyard, and he was worried about a bully. He'd been hearing threats from this bully all day. The bully had taunted him, saying, "Wait until I see you in the schoolyard." It got to recess time, and the kids were in the schoolyard. The little boy was in the schoolyard, and he was worried. He was looking around. And out came the bully. The bully was walking toward him. 

The little boy's eyes widened as he saw the bully approaching him. A crowd started to form around. And he said to himself, "That's it. This bully is going to beat me up. He's going to knock me out. What am I going to do?" The little boy was afraid. 

Suddenly, the little boy saw the bully's eyes get wide. Behind that little boy came this enormous guy with huge muscles. The bully recognized him because he was a famous wrestler. The little boy was confused and then felt a presence behind him. He turned around, looked up at the man, and said, "Oh, hi, Dad." The boy's father looked at the bully and said, "Is there a problem here?" The bully said, "No sir, no problem." 

So often, we hear the voice of our worries in our lives—the voice of those finances that aren't enough, the voice of that relationship we're worried about—all the voices of distress around us. We're worried about our kids, worried about everything that we see, and worried about a scary future. 

As we look at the bully in the schoolyard, we forget whose child we are. We have a hard time wrapping our minds around and comprehending what it means to be a child of God. It's easier to look at the bullies in front of us, and it's hard to get our minds around the immensity of what it means to be in Jesus Christ and to be a child of God today.

In Ephesians 3:17–21, Paul starts praying for the church, and it's a prayer that I have for all of us. He says,

"I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:17–21 CSB

Christian, accept the fact that you have an inseparable bond with Christ. Consider the incomprehensible love and power in your life, a more incredible defense than you could ever dream. You can leave here today walking tall, saying, "I am in Christ." Tell the world, "Throw the best you've got against me because there is nothing I will face that compares with who I am in Christ."

Christians should not worry because God is on our side. We shouldn't worry because God provides all we need. Christians shouldn't worry because our bond with Christ is inseparable. God is for us.

Communicating Well

Hi family,

Communication is vital to running any organization well, but especially a church. The church is in the communication business. We are God's people on a mission to proclaim his message clearly and without hesitation or fear. The world desperately needs hope in Jesus. His message is always relevant and necessary.

As a pastor, I feel a particular responsibility to communicate well, but the overall fragmentation of communication today is challenging. How do you communicate with everyone? Some are on social media, and some aren't. Some want a phone call, while others want a text. You may have someone's phone number but not their email address, or vice versa.

At Catalyst, we've been diligently working to communicate in multiple ways to reach as many people as possible. Our tools are varied to meet our congregational needs. Our service is live-streamed weekly on YouTube, and our sermons are uploaded to our podcast. We have a WhatsApp group where we share prayer requests and encouragements. We have a texting service where we send a weekly reminder of our Sunday service or other upcoming events. We communicate in person through our bulletins and announcements. We post on social media and send church updates via email. We are committed to keeping our church members informed and engaged.

Our church continues to experiment with the best ways to communicate well. From a pastoral perspective, I've been looking for a way to communicate in one place that is flexible enough to spread amidst different channels. This week, I started a blog for that purpose. Some may get this through an email, while others may see this on social media or our WhatsApp group. I've added our Catalyst members to our email subscriber list, but anyone is welcome to subscribe to receive updates via email through the blog website.

The Christian church has a long history and tradition of pastors writing to their congregations, including the letters from Paul and others that we read in the New Testament. I hope to carry on that tradition of writing to encourage the church through this blog. You'll receive sermon manuscripts, scriptural devotionals, and other pastoral reflections like this one. My prayer is that this content will be encouraging and helpful for you.

If you have thoughts, please participate and engage by commenting on the content. If you find something helpful, please share it with family and friends. As always, I want you to know you are valued and loved. Thank you for reading this, and keep looking to Christ in all things.

Much love,

Pastor Jason


Some interesting one-liners on worry for your day:

  • "A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work."
  • "You wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you knew how seldom they do."
  • "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength."
  • "Worry gives small things big shadows."
  • "Life lived in worry invites death in a hurry."(1)

"Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

(1) Pentz, Croft M. The Complete Book of Zingers: Over 5,000 Perfect One-Liners. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990.

The Glory that will be Revealed (Romans 8:18–30)

This sermon was preached at Catalyst Church San Diego on Sunday, May 12, 2024. Click here to hear the sermon podcast.


Happy Mother's Day. Mothers are amazing. They have an incredible ability to incorporate both beauty and strength in one person. And if you are a mother loving your children selflessly, thank you. Thank you for being an example to your children of beauty and strength. 

Mother's Day is a day to honor our mothers. As we honor them, it's interesting that today, in the book of Romans, we're going to be talking about glory because glory has to do with the honor of someone. We'll be talking today about the glory of God and how good his glory is, both now and forever.

My mother loves the Lord and vegan food. She is on a short list of people who can get me to eat tofu. My mother loves her family and wants us to eat well. She loves to tell me about the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Unfortunately, meat still calls my name.

My mother wants me to eat in a pure, healthy way. Similarly, it strikes me that God calls his people to live pure and holy lives. God is working all things together so we can look more like him. 

What does that look like? We'll see that today in Romans 8:18-30.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience. In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:18–30 CSB

In Romans 8:18-30, Paul takes us on this journey from past to the present and from the present to glory.

From the Present to Glory

This text revolves around the idea of glory. It starts with Romans 8:18, where he says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." In Romans 8:21, he describes "the glorious freedom of God's children." Then, in Romans 8:30, he ends this section by saying, "And those he justified, he also glorified." What is he getting at here?

The term "glory" in the New Testament is an intriguing word. The writers of the New Testament reinterpret this word into a theological context. The Greek word is the word dóxa. In Greek philosophy, this word meant that someone had a good reputation. If someone had dóxa, they were of good repute.

But the biblical writers reinterpret this word in a Hebrew context. So when we see the word "glory" in the New Testament, it's more closely aligned with the Hebrew word kāḇôḏ. In the Old Testament, when they spoke of God's glory, they spoke of God's kāḇôḏ. When the ancient writers translated the Hebrew into Greek in the Septuagint, it went from the Hebrew word kāḇôḏ to the Greek word dóxa. The Greek word dóxa is the word that we see, for instance, in verse 18, where he speaks of the dóxa or glory that will be revealed to us. 

The Hebrew word kāḇôḏ is weighty, giving it importance. The kāḇôḏ of someone can refer to their honor or dignity. But about God, when we speak about the kāḇôḏ or the dóxa or the glory of God, we are talking about the reality of his presence. The presence of God is pure, powerful, and full of splendor. The reality of his presence is that he is the supreme authority and ruler over all creation. In him is light, beauty, and splendor. And when we think of the heaviness of who he is and the radiance, beauty, light, and splendor of who God is, we are in reverence and awe of his glory.

Glory in Romans

In his letter to the Romans, Paul takes us on a journey of unpacking the dóxa, or God's glory. He tells us in Romans 3:23 that we all fall short of God's glory. We all fall short of his splendor, majesty, and holiness. We all fall short of who he is. 

But that in and of itself, if you think about it, what is he saying? He's saying all of collective humanity, all of our achievements, all of the things that we produce, the things that we strive for, the things that we collect together, all of it, it all falls short of God's perfection, God's holiness, God's splendor, God's glory. 

That in and of itself is wonderful because it says that if you sense in your life that you're reaching out and feel like there must be something more, that this life is missing something, you're on the right track. Since we all fall short of God's glory, there is something greater beyond ourselves. There is something more that we are reaching for and seeking.

He takes us from Romans 3:23 to Romans 5:2. As Paul has unpacked how we have fallen short of the glory of God, we get to Romans 5:2, where he says, "We boast in the hope of the glory of God."

So follow what he's been saying here. He says that we fall short of the glory of God, that there's something greater than us, and that all of humanity's collective potential is nothing compared to the greatness and glory of God. 

Therefore, we are reaching out as Christians. We are seeking him, and we boast that our hope is not in ourselves but in the glory of God. We boast that there is someone greater than us. 

And if you feel like you keep falling short and there must be something more, we agree with you. We say that there is someone greater than us. There is someone more significant than the mistakes you've made in your past. There is someone greater than all your achievements. There is someone greater, more beautiful, more powerful, more splendid. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

And that gets us to verse 18. Since we can boast in the hope of the glory of God, he says this in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." Everything I'm dealing with right now—all the afflictions, pain, suffering—may be rough, but it's temporary. We are in a temporary moment, and a beautiful future is ahead for God's children. None of the stress of this moment compares to the glory that awaits us in Christ.

Creation Awaits Redemption

As he describes the coming glory, he takes us through a history lesson about creation, specifically the impact of sin on creation. In Genesis 3, Adam sinned against God. That sin impacted not only himself but also the world around him. In Genesis 3:17-19,

"And he said to the man, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.'” Genesis 3:17–19 CSB

When sin entered the world, it had an explosive effect on more than humanity. It also affected the rest of God's earthly creation. Remember that God gave humanity dominion and authority over creation. So, the curse did not only affect man but also the creation around him.

We currently live in a creation that is groaning, that is under the weight of man's sin, waiting for God to redeem. God's redemption is a glorious thing. It comes as a result of his glory. 

In 2 Peter 3:10–13, Peter writes what will happen to this present creation. He says,

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells." 2 Peter 3:10–13 CSB

We live in a temporary time. There will be a day when everything around us will be dissolved by fire. God will redeem his creation through a new heaven and a new Earth. The Book of Revelation also tells us that God will restore creation through a new heaven and a new earth. Everything around us is temporary. The present moment and its sufferings don't compare to what God has in store. God will redeem creation according to his glory.

The Spirit as the First Fruits

He moves us out of this section on creation and gets us into the present moment that we have as Christians as people under submission to the Holy Spirit in our lives. He says in Romans 8:23, "we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits." What does he mean by first fruits? What is he talking about here? 

You have to understand this according to the Hebrew mindset. In ancient Israel, if you were a Hebrew living then, you would present the first part of your crops, which were the best part, to the priests as an offering. You did this because the first fruits are a gift from God. They were considered holy, and they belonged to the Lord. Numbers 18 talks about the first fruit offerings.

When the Israelites presented their first fruits to the Lord, they were saying, "God, your gifts are incredible. You have given these first fruits to us as a sign that there is more to come." God has given us the first fruits; we know more will come.

So Paul, when he uses this Hebrew language in verse 23, what is he saying about God? He says God has given his children the Holy Spirit, a type of first fruits in our lives. The first fruits of the Holy Spirit guarantee Christians that there is more to come. His Spirit abides with us, keeps us, and shows us that God's glory is yet to be revealed.

Second Corinthians 5:1–-5 sounds much like Romans 8 as he describes a groaning within our bodies and the Holy Spirit as a down payment. He says,

"For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment." 2 Corinthians 5:1–5 CSB

Like Romans 8, you have this picture of a down payment or the first fruits from God coming in the Holy Spirit, showing us that we are his children, that he abides with us, that his power is with us always, and that we will behold his glory.

Christian, there is a future coming. He says at the end of verse 23. Now, we've grown within ourselves, eagerly awaiting adoption—the redemption of our bodies. And we are eagerly awaiting our redemption. Creation is waiting to be redeemed. Our bodies are waiting to be redeemed. And s Christians, we have tremendous hope for our future.

Our Tremendous Hope

What is hope? Hope isn't about what you have right now but what is coming ahead of you. We hope for things we don't see today. Paul says in Romans 8:24, "hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees?" And in verse 25 we eagerly await the hope of our future with patience. Hope takes patience.

Humanity needs hope. Now, why is that? People recognize that there must be something better. We constantly see this need for hope in humans.

Our country has seen many recent protests on our college campuses. What is undergirding all of the protests? At the core, they show a groaning within humanity. It says that something terrible is happening. There is a recognition that something is wrong, and there is a desire, a hope for something better.

People need hope. We have a desire and a hope for something better for the Palestinians. We have a desire and a hope for something better for the Jews. We have a desire and a hope for something better for all of us.

However, the hope that the world needs is not another political process. The best that the world can do is some external semblance of peace. The real peace process that the world needs must happen in the human heart and soul. Eternal peace is only available through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We live in a world desperately needing peace, and his name is Jesus.

Hope involves belief in things that we don't see yet. In the Gospel of John, we hear the story of Thomas, who said he wouldn't believe that Jesus had resurrected from the dead unless he had seen the marks of the nail scars on his hand and had put his finger on his side. Jesus appears to Thomas, saying, "Look at my hands; reach out your hand and put it on my side. Don't be faithless, but believe." Thomas responds by saying, "My Lord and my God." And then Jesus responds and says this in John 20:29, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." Brothers and sisters, there is hope in Jesus. It's a hope we don't see right now, but it's real and sure. And the hope we have in Jesus Christ, our faith, is a blessing in your life.

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

In Romans 8:26, Paul describes the Holy Spirit in our lives as he has been doing. But there's something significant here. Underneath verse 26, there is an assumption that the Christian is a praying person and that the church, the gathering of God's people, is a praying people. As praying people, he says that the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness."

What is he referring to in our weakness? Remember how he described in verse 23 that we are groaning within ourselves and waiting for the redemption of our bodies. As we live today in this flesh, we live in a weak and hurting flesh. We fall short of his glory. 

But God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide his people through the Spirit and intercede on our behalf. The Holy Spirit takes the praying people of God and speaks for them. He speaks for us because we don't know what to pray for. Think of the disciples who go to Jesus and say, "Jesus, teach us how to pray." They say that because they realize that there is a weakness within themselves. We know that God has called us to pray. But what do we say? What do we say to someone holy and perfect and pure?

Yet the Spirit testifies with our Spirit that we are his children. And God wants his children to come to him. He loves his children, and he intercedes on our behalf. 

It says in verse 27 that God searches our hearts and intercedes on our behalf. God knows what's in your heart. He knows the things that you struggle with. God knows your pains. He knows the suffering that you're going through in this present moment. He knows you've been trying every day, but you still struggle. You know you should pray, but you don't know how. God calls us to come to him. And he knows our hearts. He knows the things we need, and he connects with us in our lives as we are people who pray.

For the Good

In one of the most famous verses in Romans, Romans 8:28, Paul says, "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Connecting the Christian's prayer life to the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf, he says God is making all things in our lives work together for our good, for those called and who love God. 

We love this verse. We love that God is working all things together for good. And often, we want to stop there. Why is that? We want to be the ones who define what good is. You know, "Right now, I'm struggling. I don't have enough money, but you know what? All things will come together because, after all, I need a car. Eventually, at the end of this, he will work all things together for the good." Or I'm in this relationship, and she's not interested in me, but I like her. And, you know, somehow, all these things will come together and work for the good.

Time and time again, we want to define what the good is. But the only good that matters is the good that God gives because God is good. And if you look at the context of verse 28, you will see that he describes what that good is. 

Why is God working all things together for the good? What is the purpose that he has called us to? He describes God's purpose in Romans 8:29, "For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son." God is working everything together in your life, including all the sufferings and things you're going through; through prayer and the intercession of the Spirit, God is working out a process. What is God working out? He's working out within us the good of being conformed to the image of his Son.

God is molding and shaping you to look more and more like Jesus, which is the greatest good! In everything that we're going through, everything around us is working together for our good so that we can look more like Christ. 

God predestined that purpose according to his wisdom and power. He saw a people of faith, a people of faith that he would draw to himself. God saw people who would look more and more like him, people who would yearn for him more every day, people he has created to be conformed to the image of his Son, the image of his perfection, the image of his purity, the image of his holiness. 

God is calling a people to come to him in faith, people who will be obedient and live holy and pure lives before him. He saw a people who would live according to his calling to be more like his Son—a people predestined, called, justified, and glorified—a people called and brought to the Lamb of God.

Paul describes Jesus in verse 29 as "the firstborn among many brothers." The term "firstborn" does not refer to God creating something. Jesus Christ is eternal. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. He always was. He always will be. He's the beginning and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. As John says in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus Christ is eternal. 

So why is Paul calling him the firstborn? He's not calling him firstborn in terms of creation. He's calling him firstborn in terms of position. The Hebrew mindset would remember the term firstborn as the heir. The firstborn is the one with the first rights. He is the heir, the one to whom everything is being handed over.

In Colossians 1:15–20, Paul writes,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:15–20 CSB

Jesus said in John 17 that he wants his church to be with him because he wants them to see his glory. The Lord rules over all creation, is before all things, is the head of the church, and has reconciled everything to himself. 

If you are in Christ today, whatever you're going through today doesn't compare to the glory God will reveal in Christ. We serve the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is before all things and above all things. 

Christian, we should live today as people being conformed to the image of the Son of God and eagerly anticipate seeing his glory.