TODAY’S READING: Romans 8–10
Commenting on the groaning recorded in Romans 8:18–27, G. D. Watson writes: “It is as if God inspired the whole material world, and all the animals and fishes and birds and the human bodies and souls, with one gigantic longing and prayer for the coming of Jesus, and the fulfilment of God’s purpose in redemption.” In Romans’ first seven chapters, Paul made the case that the gospel is for the whole earth, for all peoples without exception. Now he points out that all creation longs, groans, pants for the fulfilment of God’s purpose in redemption—namely Jesus returning to be worshipped by every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. In other words, every rock and mountain, every forest and glade, every stream and ocean all pulsate with the missionary heart of God. The earth will not be renewed until the nations are reached.
Romans 8 also references the groaning of the Holy Spirit. Watson writes: “The Holy Spirit can see with infinite knowledge every detail to the uttermost extent concerning the fall of man and the curse on man and on creation, and He can see the infinite merit of the death of Christ, and also the infinite extent of the glory that is to come, and hence, being a Divine person and knowing everything with absolute clearness, He works in us, not according to our vision and knowledge, but according to God’s infinite purpose and glory, and so His intercession and prayer in us is on the lofty scale of Divine measurement, and must be beyond our ability to understand and express: and so the apostle says that He makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. If the prayer that the Holy Spirit prays through us was nothing more than our human thoughts and desires, then it could be expressed or uttered; but because it is an infinite prayer to the Godhead for an infinite glory, it lies beyond all our ability to express in words. …[The] Holy Spirit groans…for the absolute consummation of every plan and every purpose and every work that belongs to the Son of God.” What is the work that belongs to the Son of God? To purchase men to God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. To build a worshiping church comprised of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. It is to this end that the Spirit groans through us.
It is to this end that the great missionary promises of Romans 8 are addressed. Given that God the Spirit Himself groans for the saving work of Jesus to be accomplished, then all things will indeed work towards this glorious good. Given that God the Spirit Himself prays from within us that every unreached people will be offered eternal life, we know that in every missions endeavor we will be more than conquerors and nothing will ever separate us from the love of God. Because the Spirit groans we believe. Because the Spirit groans we preach. Because the Spirit groans we send.