The Sustaining Power of the Unseen (Lent 23-2013)

What can you have but never hold?  
What can you possess while it is invisible, but once you see it, it’s gone?
It sounds like a riddle, but it’s hope.

The hope of salvation is something we can possess but we do not see it, except by faith.  rainbow croppedHope sustains us between our first believing until we possess it fully.  Paul tells us that we do not hope for what we already hold in our hands.  Once hope has been realized, it’s no longer hope.

Hope is the hidden faith bridge between possession and realization.

Likewise, our passage today (Romans 8:24-30) teaches that the Holy Spirit provides a similar kind of sustaining power of the unseen.  We cannot see the Holy Spirit, but He testifies to our salvation and He is powerfully at work on our behalf behind the scenes. He bridges for us between saving faith and final redemption.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (NIV).

We try to pray and the Holy Spirit takes the believers’ prayers and prays for us in accordance with God’s will.  It’s reassuring to know that when God’s will isn’t exactly clear to me, yet I can pray the will of God because the Holy Spirit is the sustaining power of the unseen, hard at work, all the time on behalf of believers!

I’d prefer to finish with that encouraging word, but in good conscience, I cannot leave this passage of Scripture without pointing out that theologians try to use verses 28-30 to force the visible upon the unseen on two theological points.  They try to take what we clearly have and try to make it something we can hold.  I will address the issues of (1) God’s working things for good and (2) the idea of predestination in a separate article.  They’re important topics even if they generate far more heat than light in theological discussions.

We can be encouraged that sometimes things can simply remain a mystery and stay hidden to our eyes.  Mystery is a beautiful thing because when we force the visible upon the unseen, we lose something valuable.  We lose hope and the sustaining power of the unseen.

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Give it up for Lent: My need to resolve all mysteries

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For further study:

  1. Take a moment to ponder the unseen.  Rainbows’ ends, gravity, wind, love, hope…why do you think people desire to hold onto what is unseen?  Why are we tempted to harness it?  What are we doing when we harness something?
  2. Why might humans want to quantify salvation?  What would we gain if we know who is saved and who isn’t?  What would we lose?
  3. Read John 3:1-18How does this apply to the idea of the unseen?  Is it unseen to Jesus if it is to our eyes?  What is required of us if Jesus can see it and we cannot?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 11, 2013

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