These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Romans 8:18-39 Inductive Bible Study
I. The Third Stage: Free from the curse (Verses 18-23)
A. Creation hopes for it (verses 18-22)
B. We hope for it (verses 23-25)
II. God works for us (verses 26-30)
A. The Spirit prays for us (verses 26-27)
B. God plans good things for us (28)
C. He chooses us (verse 29)
D. He justifies us (verse 30)
III. God’s love for us is supreme (verses 31-39)
A. It is a giving love (verses 31-34)
B. It is an unconditional love (verses 34-39)
Glory- In verse 18 the word glory is mentioned. What is it referring to? Before, I talked about the third stage. In this stage we will be in heaven. We will be free from the curse God put on the world when Adam sinned. At this time we will see the glory of God’s plan when no sin is in the world. We will be in our glorified bodies and we will be able to see God’s glory. This third stage will be so great and can’t be compared with the trials and difficulties we go through now.
Creation- Under the curse even the creation, the world, has a kind of burden. Remember in Luke 19:38-40 when Jesus entered Jerusalem He said the stones wanted to cry out in joy at His coming? When sickness and sin and disease are lifted from the world this burden will be gone and creation will want to shout out for joy just as those stones did when Christ came the first time.
Hope- We cannot see this first stage now. But we have the promise of it. This is our hope, the time when we can be in heaven with Christ and all our sin, death, sickness, and disease will be gone (Revelation 8:16-17). We must be eager for this day and persevere until it comes.
Love- In Greek there are three words for love. Each kind is a different type. The word for God’s love is “agape” and it means that God’s love is unconditional. It is supreme. No matter what you do God will still love you. This doesn’t give us an excuse to sin. Because our fellowship with Christ suffers if we sin, but He doesn’t stop loving us. His love is greater than anything else in creation. Our hope is sure because God’s love never changes.
18. What kind of sufferings do we face in the present time? What glory will be revealed to us?
19. How can creation, which doesn’t have a soul or a conscious mind, long for something? What does the revealing of the sons of God refer to?
20. Who subjected creation? Why? What does it mean that creation is subjected to futility?
21. In what way is creation a slave to corruption? When will it be set free?
22. What does it mean that creation is facing the pains of childbirth?
23. In the Old Testament what were the “first fruits”? What does it mean that we have the “first fruits of the Spirit?” Why do we groan? Where have we seen his kind of groaning behavior in Romans? (Second half of Romans 7). Haven’t we already been adopted as sons? In what way will our bodies be redeemed?
24. What is the main point of verses 24-25? Do you wait eagerly for the redemption of your body? Explain the importance of combining perseverance together with eagerness.
26. What does the word “intercede” mean? Why do you think it says we don’t know how to pray as we should? What does the Holy Spirit’s intercession on your behalf mean to you?
28. What things work out for a believer’s good? Does this verse mean nothing bad ever happens to a believer? How can other people’s sin against us, persecution, losing our job, loss of investment, sickness, death of relatives, mosquitoes, withering heat, or overtime shifts, work out for our good? What is Satan’s intention when these things happen in our lives? What quality does this teach us God has? (sovereignty) Any examples in the Bible of seemingly bad things working out for good? Any examples in your own life? What effect should the knowledge of this doctrine have on our daily lives? How should it change our attitude and our outlook?
29. What does the term “foreknew” mean? Many would say that God knew it was going to happen ahead of time (still in man’s hands), and that this in a way sealed those things making sure they would happen. How would you respond to this view? What does it mean that Christ is the firstborn among many brethren?
30. What important truths can we learn from verse 30? Does the verse leave any room for a few people to somehow slip through the cracks? Roughly how long does this process take from start to finish? Where are we in this process now? How does God call us? What does it mean that we will be glorified? Isn’t God the only one who deserves glory?
31. Paul basically asks, “What response should we have towards these truths?” What is your answer? What is Paul’s answer?
32-33. What points is Paul conveying with these rhetorical questions? Does anyone actually try to bring a charge against the elect? Can Satan succeed?
34. Besides the Spirit, who else intercedes for us? What does this tell us about Christ’s care for us?
35. Where does Paul answer the questions he puts out in verse 35?
37. What important adverb is used to describe how large our victory is? How can we achieve this monumental victory?
38. Paul is convinced of these things, are you? If you are convinced of them too, what effect will this knowledge have on your life? If you could summarize the teachings of this passage in one word, what would it be? (More than one answer is acceptable.) Perhaps security.
Verses 18-23 It is divided into three basic sections that you can see in my outline. The first is from verse 18 to 23. Do you ever complain? Do you ever feel discouraged or depressed? Do you sometimes feel the world is too difficult and your life is too hard? Do you feel being a Christian who follows God is hard? Well, I am sure you do sometimes have these types of feelings. I sometimes do as well. This life is not always easy. We have many responsibilities and sometimes a lot of pressure. But you know what? All of this is nothing, NOTHING, if you compare it with the glory of the final stage. All of our difficulties are temporary. And even if we have some problems if you count your blessings I think you will see that you have many more blessings than problems. So during this second stage the curse is still in the world. Creation feels the weight of sin on the world.
After the fall of man, sin entered the world. God cursed the world and subjected it to futility. It wasn’t nearly as fruitful as before. Before the fall, I think it was very easy to bear fruit and grow things. It was peaceful. It was a paradise. After the curse everything changed. There were thorns, thistles, and weeds. Soil wasn’t as fertile. Animals were violent. Humans were even more violent. Creation is in a sense a slave of this sin and this curse. All of creation groans under this yoke. How can it when it is has no consciousness? Paul is giving a comparison between creation subjected to futility, trapped in a corrupted, sin-filled body and us. As with many comparisons, he may stretch it a bit to make it work because he is illustrating a point. As creation, if it had a mind, longs for freedom of the curse in the future, so we as believers trapped in this body, also hope for the future. The pains of childbirth represent short term sufferings, which will eventually give way to great blessings. During childbirth it is very hard for a woman to think of the joy that will come because of the pain in the here and now. But those pains will pass and fade away when compared of the joy of having a new child. This is how it works for us as well, which we can see in verse 18. All of the present sufferings will fade when compared with what we will receive in the future when God culminates His plan for us. Colossians 3:4.
In fact, we are already adopted as sons and daughters of God. We are His children right now. But we haven’t seen Him yet face to face and we haven’t received our whole inheritance or our new body. It is a little bit similar to a kid who has been formally adopted, yet hasn’t yet met his adopted parents. While he is legally adopted, he doesn’t completely experience what it means to be a son until he physically joins their family and lives with them in their home. We are still waiting for that culmination when we will see Him face to face and be given new bodies.
Slaves often groaned and moaned under their bondage. The world does this too. Many of these slaves had a hope that someday they would be free. This is what kept them moving each day. This is what kept them from becoming too depressed. It gave them the energy to keep on. Our hope is much greater. Do you hope for heaven? Are you eager for it? We can’t see it, but it is coming. So don’t become discouraged with the problems in your life. Instead remember your blessings and live eagerly, waiting for that final stage.
This is the hope that we have. It is not something we can see now, but it is something that we are hoping for in the future. Again, this hope is not like the worldly hope, which is uncertain and not guaranteed. It is certain; it just hasn’t yet come to pass. Two words grab my attention. The first is eager. We are to be eager for this day. We should be longing for it. If we aren’t, it is because we love this world too much. We should set our minds on heaven. However, we are not to sit around idly dreaming of being in heaven and how wonderful it will be. The second word is perseverance. Until that day we are to persevere. We are to persevere in the tasks that God has given to us, being faithful. This hope should give us energy to keep persevering in our service to God. We can’t sit in a chair and wait for Christ to come back. We must keep active, doing the jobs He gives us to do, until He comes back and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Verses 26-30 Well, what is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (the Trinity) doing while we are waiting for this final stage? Sometimes you may look around and think God is doing nothing. This is totally wrong. We and the world are in God’s hands as He controls all circumstances (John 10:27-30). God is not just watching the world. He is active in it. In verse 26 we can see that the Holy Spirit prays for us. The word it uses is that He “intercedes” for us. That means if we don’t know what to say or what to pray for the Holy Spirit does and He prays for us. Intercede also means to step in and do something to help somebody else. When something in our life isn’t going well the Holy Spirit steps in and guides us towards the will of God. The Holy Spirit lives in our heart and guides us in our lives. If we are in the will of God He will bring peace to our heart. If we are out of the will of God He will show us the this too. What does it mean to you knowing that the Holy Spirit is praying for us?
It shows me His deep care for us. When we pray for someone, it shows that our heart is concerned for them. We are thinking about them and our needs. I would think that the Holy Spirit has bigger fish to fry than me. There is an epic battle between good and evil, the supernatural forces of God and the demonic forces of Satan, going on constantly. This battle is for souls, for human governments, and for the entire course of history. Yet even with world shaping battles going on behind the scenes, the Holy Spirit cares enough to pray for each and every believer. He knows us intimately, even better than we know ourselves. I don’t think His prayers focus mostly on our needs, because He knows God will supply those. So while we are praying for our exams, careers, finances, and health, the Holy Spirit is probably praying for the more crucial needs in our life such as wisdom, character growth, faith, hope, and victory over sin. The exact nature of those prayers is so deep that human words can’t describe it. Skipping ahead to verse 34, we can see that Jesus also intercedes for us. Two out of three members of the Trinity are praying for us. The other is the one receiving those prayers.
The who? God is sovereign and the one who is in charge, supervising the things that come into our life and ensuring they are for our good. The recipients are those who love God (ie: believers) and the ones who are called to His purpose, the ones called to obey Him. It DOES NOT apply to all people.
The what? It DOES apply to “all things”. Note that it is not just the majority of events in our lives or some select trials, but it includes everything. Nothing is outside of God’s control. Nothing slips through cracks. Satan never gets something by God without God noticing. Even if Satan does tempt us or cause us to suffer like with Job, God takes charge and makes sure we both have the strength to escape the temptation and can learn a lesson through it.
The effect God’s sovereign and good plans should have on our attitudes and outlook:
1. We should never complain about ANY situation or we are in essence complaining about God who brought this situation into our life for our good.
2. We should always be thankful in everything.
3. We should not worry about the present or the future because our lives are in God’s capable and loving hands. Even if it appears that we are in “the valley of the shadow of death,” God has led us there for a reason and will lead us out again at the proper time.
4. We should look to Christ in faith no matter what we face instead of looking at our circumstances and thinking they are too big to overcome.
5. We should be patient and loving with people who persecute or mistreat us because they are tools in God’s hand meant to teach us a lesson. Instead of reacting in anger, we should be thankful God has brought them into our lives.
6. We should continuously evaluate the circumstances around us trying to find the good in them so that we can learn the lesson God has prepared for us.
7. We should have a bright and optimistic outlook, living our lives in a joyful and secure way. This will also be a testimony to others so that they will want to know how we can be so joyful even in the midst of difficulties.
Examples in the Bible of seemingly bad turning into good for believers.
1. Lot’s choice of the good land let Abraham take the land God really prepared for Him.
2. Joseph being sold into slavery and then thrown into prison and then becoming second in command in Egypt as a result of it.
3. Satan’s persecution of Job, which God used to teach Job many valuable lessons.
4. Herod’s threat on the life of Jesus, which led to His family fleeing to Egypt and then fulfilling the prophecy about the Messiah coming out of Egypt.
We can also see that God chose us before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-5). This is called predestination, or the doctrine of election. I know David likes this one. Want to explain it to us? What does the foreknew mean? First, what it doesn’t mean. It DOESN’T mean that God simply knew ahead of time what would happen. This still leaves all control in our hands, which goes against the teachings of Scripture in multiple places about God choosing us (including in the first three chapters of Romans which discuss the total depravity of man and our complete inability to please God, do good, or even seek after the things of God if left alone.) It means something like to predetermine or decide ahead of time. The word “knew” in the Bible can often mean much deeper than simple knowledge and points to a relationship. God made the choice ahead of time to set His love on us. We will get more into the doctrine of election in the next couple of weeks so will not dig deeply into it now. Basically it means that God is sovereign and decided to choose us to bring us into His family.
Notice that the process didn’t end there. He works in us to change us and help us to grow. He makes us acceptable by taking away our sin, remember “justification”? And finally in the final stage He will give us new bodies and exalt us. How many percent of the people who begin this process, finish it? 100%. God does not lose any. This teaches both eternal security such as is found in John 10:28-30 and Philippians 1:6 and the perseverance of the saints, which are basically one and the same doctrine. Jesus also said He didn’t lose any of the ones God gave to Him except the son of perdition (Judas Iscariot), who was never saved all along and Jesus knew that. What effect will this doctrine have on your life? This doctrine is very comforting to me. It means that I don’t need to live in fear that God will suddenly change His mind and strip me of salvation and sonship. Yet it is also a challenge because we know that His sheep follow Him. True saints will bear fruit and persevere. We need to obey God faithfully and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8.
Because He is working in all of the circumstances and situations to do good things for us. Look carefully; you never know where you may find another blessing from God!!
Verses 31-34 tell us of the confidence that we can have in Christ. God is the greatest ally, such an ally that all enemies pale in comparison. Look at each rhetorical question one by one. Discuss in depth the love of God and what effect that love will have on our daily lives.
In the final section of this chapter (and most famous) we can really see God’s love described in detail. It is quite simple and not complicated. God’s love is greater than anything else we will ever face in our lives. It is greater than any enemies we might have. It is greater than the government. It is greater than your exam, than your colleagues, than your job, your family, than problems or difficulties. There is no situation where God doesn’t show His love to us. When we face difficulties God is always right there as our best friend to wrap His loving arms around us and comfort us. He gave us His one and aonly Son. He will not be too stingy (xiao qi) to give us anything else we need. Jesus is working for us right now too. He is standing at the right hand (it is the position of honor) of God making requests and intercession for us just as the Holy Spirit is. Isn’t it wonderful to have such a loving and kind friend? One who is a King and has unlimited resources that He pours out on us with unconditional love. This love is the reason that God sent His son to the world as a baby just over 2000 years ago. Because of this love we can celebrate Christmas. Don’t forget it!