Saturday, August 29, 2015

trusting...move forward

artwork by Cherry Ashen Fargo

This beautiful work of art, Move Forward, by Cherry Ashen Fargo reminded me of an old chorus by songwriter Oscar C. Eliason who wrote, Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can't tunnel through? He responded to these questions by saying, God specializes in things thought impossible. He does the things others cannot do. As followers of Christ, we face obstacles in our lives, and walking in God's will doesn't guarantee that our way will be easy. It helps me to remember that no matter how difficult our trials and tribulations may be, we can trust God and move forward in faith. I often think of this when leaving a gated community. There is an automatic gate designed to open when a car activates a hidden sensor near the entrance. When I drive toward the gate, it remains closed, blocking the entrance. But as I get closer, the gate opens, allowing me to proceed. If I stop my car a few feet from the entrance, the gate would stay closed. Only when I move forward does it open. It's the first step into the unseen that proves we have faith. Abraham, for example, "went out, not knowing where he was going." He obeyed God and relied on Him to clear the path. When we walk in obedience to the Lord and come upon a closed gate, we can confidently take the next step of faith. As we move forward, we will see God make a way where there seems to be no way.

As we move forward in this series of posts on Romans 8, I felt led to do a word study of the word, written, from Romans 8:34-36

NASB:
Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Amplified:  Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.

NLT: Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

Phillips: Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.

Wuest:  Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, the One who died, yes, rather, who has been raised, who is on the right hand of God, who also is constantly interceding on our behalf?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?  Even as it stands written, For your sake we are being put to death all the day long. We were accounted as sheep destined for slaughter.

Young's Literal: Who [is] he that is condemning? Christ [is] He that died, yea, rather also, was raised up; who is also on the right hand of God -- who also doth intercede for us. Who shall separate us from the love of the Christ? tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (according as it hath been written -- `For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long, we were reckoned as sheep of slaughter,')

In Greek, the word, written, is grapho which means to engrave or inscribe with a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood, wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt, paper, etc. The verb grapho is in the perfect tense (gegraphtai) signifying that God's Word has been written down at a point of time in the past and remains on record as the eternal, unchanging Word of God. The perfect tense signifies the permanence of the written word of God. The phrase it is written (in perfect tense) always refers directly or indirectly to an Old Testament quotation and thus it carries great authority for the believer. The idea is that this divine revelation was written down at a specific time in the past and stands written and effective. As Jesus declared, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. (Matt. 24:35)

Warren W. Wiersbe commenting on the significance of the phrase it is written reminds us that "Our Lord used the Word of God to defeat Satan, and so may we. But the Word of God is not only a sword for battle; it is also a light to guide us in this dark world, food that strengthens us, and water that washes us. The Word of God has a sanctifying ministry in the lives of dedicated believers. Those who delight in God’s Word, meditate on it, and seek to obey it will experience God’s direction and blessing in their lives. The Word reveals God’s mind, so we should learn it; God’s heart, so we should love it; God’s will, so we should live it. We do not study the Bible just to get to know the Bible. We study the Bible that we might get to know God better. Too many earnest Bible students are content with outlines and explanations, and do not really get to know God. It is good to know the Word of God, but this should help us better know the God of the Word."

Lord Jesus, without You, I can do nothing. May Your Holy Spirit so flood my soul--the seat of my emotions, and my body--my fleshly desires and appetites, that only You remain and I remain in You...my determined purpose is that I may know You, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing, perceiving, and understanding the wonders of Your Person more clearly and more strongly...resting in who You say I am... blessed, accepted, adopted, chosen, redeemed, forgiven and loved with an everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting Arms. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

Romans 8:1-3

Romans 8:10-11

Romans 8:14-15

Romans 8:24-25

Romans 8:26-27

Romans 8:28

Romans 8:31-33


12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…


Sunday, August 23, 2015

justifies...God makes all things new

artwork by Cherry Ashen Fargo

As I pondered this beautiful work of art by Cherry Ashen Fargo, I was reminded once again, that it is God Who makes all things new. This Truth was reinforced while I was singing my confession of faith along with our worship leader, Conrad Johnson, This I Believe, Our Father everlasting, the all creating One, God Almighty, through Your Holy Spirit, conceiving Christ the Son, Jesus our Savior. I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, Our God is three in one, I believe in the resurrection, that we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus, our Judge and our Defender, suffered and crucified, forgiveness is in You...These precious words drew my heart to a word study of the word, justifies, from Romans 8:31-33:

NASB:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.

Amplified: What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]

NLT: What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

Phillips: In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?
Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

Wuest: What then shall we say to these things? In view of the fact that God is on our behalf, who could be against us?  Indeed, He who His own Son did not spare, but on behalf of us all delivered Him up, how is it possible that He shall not with Him in grace give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s chosen-out ones? God, the One who justifies?

Young’s Literal: What, then, shall we say unto these things? if God [is] for us, who [is] against us? He who indeed His own Son did not spare, but for us all did deliver him up, how shall He not also with him the all things grant to us? Who shall lay a charge against the choice ones of God? God [is] He that is declaring righteous.


Justifies in Greek is dikaióō, which means to deem to be right, acquits, vindicates, frees. Note dikaióō, is in the present tense, indicating this is what God always does—He is the justifying God. His nature is to justify sinners, creating saints. dikaióō, describes the act by which a man is brought into a right state of relationship to God. dikaióō,  is a legal term having to do with the law and the courtroom, where it represented the legally binding verdict of the judge. D
ikaióō, ends in "-oo" which, in Greek, brings out that which a person is. Therefore dikaióō, brings out the fact that a person is righteous. It means to declare the rightness of something or someone.

Bible Scholar Leon L. Morris
has said, “Dikaióō, is a forensic or legal term with the meaning “acquit.” It is the normal word to use when the accused is declared, “Not guilty.” In salvation, dikaióō, describes the legal act whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. Stated another way, justification is not a process, but is an act that occurs once and need not be repeated. It is something God does, not man. Justification is not subject to recall so that you have to get it over and over again. Justification is not a change wrought by God in us, but a change of our relation to God. Justification describes a person’s status in the sight of the law, not the condition of his or her character."

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe writes: “Do not confuse justification and sanctification. Sanctification is the process whereby God makes the believer more and more like Christ. Sanctification may change from day to day. Justification never changes. When the sinner trusts Christ, God declares him righteous, and that declaration will never be repealed. Being justified is once and for all time, and as such defines the believer’s permanent state. Just as you may not be tried for the same crime again after being acquitted, God's justification means you will never be tried or condemned by Him again for your sins—past, present, or future. This is good news indeed. To reiterate, justification is not an act of God that makes us righteous, but is an act of God that declares us righteous based on what Christ accomplished on Calvary."

Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states: “The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, just, right, meet, are all translations of the same Greek root. The verb justify is dikaióō, the noun righteousness, dikaiosune, the adjective righteous, dikaios. This means that all these words have a general meaning that is common to all of them, even though their individual meaning may differ slightly. This again means that there is a definite and vital connection between the act of justifying and the righteousness of the individual who has been justified. Justification, dikaióō, is the act of God removing from the believing sinner, his guilt and the penalty incurred by that guilt, and bestowing a positive righteousness, Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the believer stands, not only innocent and uncondemned, but actually righteous in point of law for time and for eternity. The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, as used of man in his relation to God, have a legal, judicial basis. God is the Judge, man the defendant. God is the standard of all righteousness. The white linen curtains of the court of the Tabernacle, symbolized the righteousness which God is, the righteousness which God demands of any human being who desires to fellowship with Him, and the righteousness which God provides on the basis of the acceptance on the sinner’s part, of the Lord Jesus who perfectly satisfied the just demands of God’s holy law which we broke. A just person therefore is one who has been thus declared righteous."

The verdict is final. The case is never going to be re-tried—irrevocable. On that we can rest—we are justified on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
It is a blessing to know that I am, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by His precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for me and approval of me will never be determined by my performance is the most encouraging promise to which I cling. Truly, God makes all things new.
 
Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

Romans 8:1-3

Romans 8:10-11

Romans 8:14-15

Romans 8:24-25

Romans 8:26-27

Romans 8:28


12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Romans 8:28...trusting His heart

artwork by Kimberly Simmons

I was drawn to this beautiful work of art by Kimberly Simmons by all the small elements coming together to create the Cross and the word, TRUST. As I reflected on this artwork, and the scripture for this post, this beautiful hymn came to mind…Trust His HeartAll things work for our good, though sometimes we don't see how they could, struggles that break our hearts in two sometimes blind us to the Truth. Our Father knows what's best for us, His ways are not our own, so when your pathway grows dim, and you just don't see Him, remember you’re never alone…God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind, so when you don't understand, when don't see His plan, when you can't trace His hand, Trust His Heart…He sees the master plan, He holds the future in His hand, so don't live as those who have no hope, all our hope is found in Him. We see the present clearly, He sees the first and last, and like a tapestry He's weaving you and me, to someday be just like Him, He alone is faithful and true, He alone knows what is best for you…When you can't trace His hand, when you don't see His plan, when you don't understand…Trust His Heart.

Romans 8:28...

NASB: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Amplified: We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Phillips: Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.

Wuest:
And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose. 

Young’s Literal: And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose.

Pastor Ray Pritchard states: “Read the first phrase of Romans 8:28 in these three different versions:
KJV: All things work together for good to them that love God; NASB: God causes all things to work together for good; NIV: In all things God works for the good of those who love him. Did you catch the difference there? In the King James Version, God is way down at the end of the phrase. In the other two versions, God is at the beginning. It is partly a question of text and partly a question of grammar. There is nothing wrong with the traditional versions, but the modern translations bring out a proper emphasis. We will never properly understand this verse as long as we put God at the end and not at the beginning. But some people look at life that way. They believe that life is like a roll of the dice—sometimes it's seven-come-eleven and sometimes it's snake eyes. And they believe that after a tragedy, God shows up to make everything come out right. But that's not the Biblical view at all. In reality, God is there at the beginning and He is there at the end, and He is at every point in between.”

Romans 8:28 is the New Testament equivalent of Genesis 50:20...Joseph's great affirmation of God's sovereignty, His overruling providence and His everlasting, immutable faithfulness, when he declared to his brothers (who had attempted to kill him)..."And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." Joseph’s brothers meant harm toward him when they sold him. But God worked it for good. The concept of God working all things for good is the key to moving forward in forgiveness.

Elisabeth Elliot, whose first husband was murdered by the savage people he was trying to reach for Christ, and whose second husband died of cancer, wrote, “The experiences of my life are not such that I could infer from them that God is good, gracious and merciful necessarily. To have had one husband murdered and another one disintegrate, body, soul and spirit, through cancer, is not what you would call a proof of the love of God. In fact, there are many times when it looks like just the opposite. My belief in the love of God is not by inference or instinct. It is by faith.” This wide-angle God-lens view, led me to a word study of the word, purpose.

Purpose comes from the Greek word prothesis (from pró = before, forth + títhemi = place) which means to set before oneself to be looked at or exposed to view and then to purpose or plan. It is literally placing before or setting before and so means the setting forth of a thing or placing of it in view, a putting forward openly—a presentation, setting forth, plan, design, purpose, resolve, will. Prothesis means to plan in advance and comes to mean that which is planned or purposed in advance. Purpose means an intelligent decision which the will is bent to accomplish.

Pastor Albert Barnes explains: “The word here rendered purpose (prothesis) means, properly, a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others. Hence it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, or purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or haphazard. God does not convert men without design; and His designs are not new, but are eternal. What He does, He always meant to do. What it is right for Him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is His purpose or plan.”

Pastor Randy Alcorn writes, “God causes all things to work together for good”…pointing out that it doesn't say each individual thing is good, but that God works them together for good. Recalling his boyhood days, Randy tells how he often watched his mother bake cakes. One day when she had all the ingredients set out—flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla—he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven. “It didn't make sense to me,” he recalls, “that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product.” Randy concludes that God likewise “takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crisis, and produces a perfect result.”

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states: “Salvation is dominated by God’s purpose (prothesis)… that of glorifying Himself in the bestowal of salvation and in the life of the person who is the recipient of that salvation. Salvation, therefore, can never be earned. If it could, the sinner would be glorified. Salvation must be a free gift with no strings tied to it. And that is grace, the act of God giving salvation as a free gift to one who does not only not deserve it, but who deserves punishment for his sins. This grace is given us in Christ Jesus in the sense that He made the gift of salvation possible through His death on the Cross by which He satisfied the just requirements of the law which sinners broke, thus making it possible for a righteous God to show mercy to a hell-deserving sinner on the basis of justice satisfied. God’s purpose (prothesis) is this grace that was given us before the world began.”

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon writes: “Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes.”

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident that taught her to be thankful for things we normally would not be thankful for. She and her sister, Betsy, prisoners of the Nazis, had just been transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and infested with fleas. Their Scripture reading from their smuggled Bible that morning in First Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. Corrie finally agreed to somehow thank God for even the fleas. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their barrack without guard interference. Several months later they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.

Pastor John Stott describes the truth of this passage as “a pillow on which to rest our weary heads.” In every detail of our lives, God is at work. God will take even our errors and work them out for our good and His glory. He is sovereign. In everything, He works for the good of those who love Him. Supremely, the Cross demonstrates that just as God took the very worst event in history and turned it into the very best; He can take the worst things in our lives and use them for good.

As I wrote in How I Came To Be, my daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus
reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to fulfill His purpose (prothesis) for me to become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-Face and I will know as I am known. Praise His Holy Name!

Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

Romans 8:1-3

Romans 8:10-11

Romans 8:14-15

Romans 8:24-25

Romans 8:26-27


12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…


Saturday, August 8, 2015

right now...interceding for us

artwork by Lori Bedo

Lori Bedo described this beautiful work of art on our Artful Story Journaling Facebook page, “I was going through some boxes in my art room and came across some pages from an old art journal. Though years have passed since these were made, I can still see that my eyes were on my Creator…the swirls of paint with a cross scraped in the midst…scrapes and smudges, smears and cuts, using a putty knife on globs of paint with a cross in the midst…loving Jesus…I have loved the Lord all these years and He has kept me close to His side through it all.”

I reflected on Lori’s inspired artwork as I listened to one of my favorite hymns from Selah, Before the Throne of God AboveBefore the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect Plea; A great high priest whose name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is graven on His hands, My name is written on His heart. I know that while in Heaven He stands, No tongue can bid me thence depart. When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upwards I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free, For God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me. Behold Him there, the risen Lamb; My perfect spotless Righteousness, the great unchanging all I Am, The King of glory and of grace. One with Himself, I cannot die; my soul is purchased by His blood. My life is hid with Christ on high; with Christ, my Savior and my God…this inspired me to do a word study of the word “intercedes” from Romans 8:26-27:

NASB: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Amplified: So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.


NLT:
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Phillips: The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart’s secrets understands, of course, the Spirit’s intention as he prays for those who love God.

Wuest: And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular. thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.  Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

Young's Literal: And, in like manner also, the Spirit doth help our weaknesses; for, what we may pray for, as it behoveth [us], we have not known, but the Spirit himself doth make intercession for us with groanings unutterable, and He who is searching the hearts hath known what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because according to God he doth intercede for saints.

Intercedes for us: the Greek words entugcháno (from en = in + tugcháno = get, obtain) means to meet up with or to encounter and then to approach someone with a petition, and hupérentugcháno (from hupér = for, on behalf of + entugcháno = entreat) means to make intercession, bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, ask for something with urgency and intensity. It means to make an earnest request through contact with the one approached. To entreat (in favor or against), to bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, to ask for something with urgency and intensity, to plead, beg, appeal to or to petition. It further means to intercede for or in the behalf of someone or to plead for someone. It is a picturesque word of rescue by one who ‘happens on’ one who is in trouble, and ‘in his behalf’ (hupér) pleads ‘with unuttered groanings’ or with ‘sighs that baffle words.'

Intercedes for us: the preposition for (hupér) is the Greek preposition which in this context expresses the idea of substitution. Instead of for, one can render it as, Christ intercedes—in place of, for the benefit of, on behalf ofus. This act of love can never be fully appreciated until we understand exactly who the objects of that love were—unlovable, unlovely, ungodly, helpless-to-help-themselves-sinners, constantly rebelling against God's will for their lives, God's mortal enemies! It is for such as these that our constantly Risen Lord constantly makes intercession. Our Great High Priest speaks to His Father on our behalf and He is engaged in this gracious work continually, in the present tense, He is continuously interceding on behalf of His children.

Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes, “God the Father who searches the hearts of His saints, understands the intent or bent of our unutterable prayers, unutterable because we do not know the particular things we should pray for in connection with a certain circumstance, for He knows the mind of the Holy Spirit praying for us and in our stead in our prayers in the case of the above-mentioned items for prayer, the Holy Spirit praying according to the plan of God for our lives. The Messiah's current intercession includes every form of Messiah’s identifying Himself with humanity, and includes the idea of intercession. The Apostle Paul speaks here of the present intercession of Messiah on behalf of believers, which is based upon and follows His once-for-all offering of Himself as the sacrifice for sin.”

Pastor John F. Walvoord notes that “the verb hupérentugcháno is used twice to refer to Christ's intercession. For those prepared to enter into its wonderful truth, the fact that Christ intercedes for His own in heaven is another guarantee of the security of the believer. While the hope of the believer for eternal salvation rests essentially on his possession of eternal life and the finished character of the death of Christ, it is undoubtedly strengthened by the fact of the intercession of Christ. In His intercession in heaven, Christ sustains the believer and keeps him from many of the spiritual dangers of life. Such intercession pleads the fact that the believer is in Christ and a partaker of His righteousness. The doctrine of intercession emphasizes the great truth that Christ never ceases to intercede for His own. While human prayers on earth are limited in both extent and power, the intercession of Christ knows no limits within the will of God. As an infinite person, Christ is able to concentrate His intercession wholly on each individual believer without any diminution or detraction from the needs of any other. In effect, the believer is assured of the intercession of Christ in such a manner as would be true if Christ centered all His love and all His intercession on that one believer. Whatever may be the limitation of human prayers, the believer is assured that there is One who never ceases to pray to him and his needs and that this Intercessor has all power and favor with the Father and, accordingly, “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Robert Murray McCheyne, the beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, “It was dawn, and I was painfully aware of being only a few weeks into widowhood. After another restless night, I felt too weary to pray for myself. ‘Lord,’ I sighed, ‘I need someone to pray for me right now.’ Almost instantly God's Spirit comforted my distraught mind with the words of Romans 8:26-27, reminding me that Jesus was praying for me that very moment. With a wave of relief, I acknowledged Him as my lifelong intercessor. I will never forget how that bleak morning became gold-tinged with hope. Since then, I have drawn courage and strength countless times from my faithful High Priest. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!"

There are tears of joy flowing from my eyes even now as I recall the many times in 2004 that our then 13 year-old son, Jason, and I sang along with the album, Hiding Place, by Selah as we were driving in the car. The playlist includes the wonderful songs: You Raise Me Up, I Bless Your Name, There is Power in the Blood, You Are My Hiding Place, Through It All, By and By (We’ll Understand It Better), and the song I featured here, Before the Throne of God Above. The tears remind me what a joy it is to know that I know that I know that I am, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Nothing I do will make Him love me more, and nothing I do will make Him love me less. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by His precious blood, I am a greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved child of God. As He is, so am I in this world (I John 4:17). The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed (Romans 8:1). Knowing that God’s love for me and approval of me will never be determined by my performance is the most encouraging promise to which I cling. The tears of joy now falling from the eyes of my heart, come from the assurance and joy of our salvation, that God could not love us more, and He could not love us less than He does right now—interceding for us Before the Throne of God Above.

Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

Romans 8:1-3

Romans 8:10-11

Romans 8:14-15

Romans 8:24-25


12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…


Saturday, August 1, 2015

trusting...it's already done

artwork by Liz Lassa, creator of Spiritual Circle Journal

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesusthis precious old hymn page, captured in this beautiful work of art by Liz Lassa, creator of Spiritual Circle Journal, inspired me as I listened to these same lyrics woven into an anointed new hymn, Already Done, featuring Jonathan McReynolds…May the peace of God calm your heart and your mind, through the tears and the trials, the heartache of this life, and when you can't hold on, know He holds you still, He will keep you, never leave you, He promised that He will, tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know that if He said it…It's Already Done…It’s Already Done…His love endures, His Word is sure, stand upon His promise…this war is won…tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise, to know that if He said it, I believe it…It’s Already Done…tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know, thus saith the Lord…we trust You, we believe You when you say, It’s Already Done…

It was spring break of my senior year in high school. My friends from Sebring and I drove to a camp near Ocala to attend a Young Life retreat along with several other students from inner-city Jacksonville. We shared our testimonies and prayed together. My heart was open as we went outdoors to find our individual places for prayer during our quiet time. I took my Living Bible and sat down under a tree. I looked up to the heavens and began to pray. When I looked down, I saw that my Bible had fallen open to Romans 8, and a bright ray of sunlight shining through the tree seemed to highlight verses 24 & 25. It contained a powerful message to me that day, but even more so as the Holy Spirit inscribed it on my heart for years to come…leading me to this word study on the word “trusting” from Romans 8:24-25:

Living Bible: We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.

Amplified:  For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.

NASB: For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Phillips: We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience.

Wuest: For we were saved in the sphere of hope. But hope that has been seen is not hope, for that which a person sees, why does he hope for it? But if that which we do not see, we hope for, through patience we expectantly wait for it.


Young’s Literal: for in hope we were saved, and hope beheld is not hope; for what any one doth behold, why also doth he hope for [it]? and if what we do not behold we hope for, through continuance we expect [it].

The word, trusting, comes from the Greek word elpízō,
the verb form of elpís, which means to hope, to hopefully to trust in, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation. It means to look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial. It is in the present tense which expresses continuous action, constantly, habitually. It pictures this attitude as the believer's lifestyle, which is one of hope, where hope is defined as the absolute assurance that God will do good to us and for us in the future.

It is interesting that elpízō and elpís do not appear in the Gospels. And yet the concept, this truth expressed in the word elpis does appear in First Timothy 1:1 as the Apostle Paul writes, it is "Christ Jesus our Hope." Hope is not just an ideal, but is a Person, Jesus Christ, our Peace, our Life, our Hope.

Pastor John Piper explains: “There is no sweeter message of hope in all the world than to hear God announce that when you get up in the morning miserable and depressed with a sense of guilt and estrangement before a holy God, you can go to bed that very night—this very night—with a quiet and peaceful heart knowing that every sin you have ever committed and ever will commit is forgiven, and you are reconciled to the Almighty by the death of his Son. That’s the free offer of the Gospel!"

Pastor John Stott has said, “We wait for it patiently, that is, for the fulfillment of our hope. This whole section is a notable example of what it means to be living ‘in between times,between present difficulty and future destiny, between the already and the not yet, between sufferings and glory. ‘We were saved in hope’ brings them together. And in this tension the correct Christian posture is that of waiting, waiting ‘eagerly’ with keen expectation, and waiting ‘patiently,’ steadfast in the endurance of our trials. The combination is significant. We are to wait neither so eagerly that we lose our patience, nor so patiently that we lose our expectation, but eagerly and patiently together. Yet it is hard to keep this balance. Some Christians overemphasize the call to patience. They lack enthusiasm and lapse into lethargy, apathy and pessimism. They have forgotten God’s promises, and are guilty of unbelief. Others grow impatient of waiting. They are so carried away with enthusiasm that they almost try to force God’s hand. They are determined to experience now even what is not available yet. God give us a patient eagerness and an eager patience as we wait for his promises to be fulfilled!”

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes, “This is our present position, patiently waiting for “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” patiently waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God,” for “it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” If we could be all we should like to be, there would then be no room for the exercise of hope. If we had all that we are to have, then hope, which is one of the sweetest of the graces, would have no room in which to exercise herself. It is a blessed thing to have hope. I believe the New Zealand word for hope is “swimming thought,” because that will swim when everything else is drowned. Oh, happy is that man who has a hope that swims on the crest of the stormiest billow.”

Pastor George H. Morrison illustrates, “One might take the instance of Zacchaeus, that outcast from the commonwealth of Israel. He had been taught there was no hope for him, and he believed it until the Lord Jesus came by. And then, like the dawn, there came the quivering hope that his tomorrow might differ from his yesterday, and in that new hope the saving work began. In the movements of the soul, hope may be the forerunner of faith. And our Lord, bent on evoking faith, that personal trust in Him which alone saves, began by kindling hope within the breast. That is how He often begins still. He does not begin by saying, "Trust in Me." He begins by kindling these hopes of better things that are lying crushed in every human heart. Despair is deadly. It is blind. It cannot see the arm outstretched to help. Our Lord begins with the quickening of hope.”

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for kindling these wonderful words of hope in my heart that day under the tree at the Young Life camp, I have never been the same…We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.

Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

Romans 8:1-3

Romans 8:10-11

Romans 8:14-15

12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…

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