AUSTIN—Working sequentially through Romans 8, a series of six speakers emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit over the course of the Southern Baptists of Texas Annual Meeting in Austin, Nov. 14-15. Steven Smith, preaching professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, led off with the first eight verses, citing earlier chapters to reveal God’s response to man’s inability to escape God’s judgment.
“Based on the fact that we’re justified and are being sanctified, we do not have to fear for our future what Christ has taken care of in his past,” Smith shared, describing a “no condemnation” status for the believer.
From verse two, Smith focused on the Holy Spirit’s role in accomplishing the promise of verse one, stating, “Not only has he set you free from the ultimate penalty of sin, he also set you free from the immediate power of sin.”
He offered praise in knowing “that even my worst day for Jesus has been covered by his best day for me.”
SBTC President Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Baptist Church, spoke from verses 9-11 to describe the radical transition for Christians from life in the flesh to life in the Spirit. “The old person that used to live inside your body was God’s enemy, but the new person living inside your body is God’s son or daughter, heir to the divine fortune.”
Describing the Holy Spirit’s role in rewiring the heart of a believer, Lino said, “When you believed in Jesus with the kind of belief that saves you, God took you out of the kingdom of man and put you into the habitat of the kingdom of God.” [Read expanded story on Lino’s sermon]
In the next message, Chris Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist Church in College Station, spoke from verses 12-17 of the obligation to live according to the Spirit, challenging believers to begin each day committed to that choice.
“Here’s what most of us will do,” Osborne warned. “We make the consequences the purpose. We will go home and say, ‘Okay, God, I want you to fill me with the Spirit, here’s what I’m going to do,’“ describing efforts to pray more, read the Bible longer, go to church more often and avoiding secular influences.
“Those are things that happen when you are filled with the Spirit,” he said. “There are only two ways to pray. I pray my will, or I pray his will,” Osborne said, explaining that spiritual disciplines naturally grow out of that commitment.
“When you possess the Holy Spirit, trials will only deepen you,” Osborne declared, adding that with the promise of suffering comes the opportunity to glorify God.
SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards spoke from verses 18-27 of “three groans that end in glory, stating, “We’re going from that heaviness of spirit to the heights of the presence of the Lord Jesus.”
He described creation’s groan for release from the curse of sin, explaining, “A new heaven and a new earth and the created order will no longer be under the shackles of this curse that it is living under today.”
As believers groan for the resurrection body, Richards said, “The Holy Spirit living inside of us points us to the day of the completion of our salvation.”
As the Holy Spirit “groans for the righteousness of the saints,” Richards said God doesn’t always deliver believers from trials but “delivers us through them with the Holy Spirit’s presence.”
Grateful for the Spirit’s help, he added, “Your most eloquent prayer may be a groan in your soul, and he is the one who sighs with us in his inaudible offerings before the Father on our behalf.
SBTC Vice President Dante Wright, who pastors Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, spoke on verses 28-30 of how God’s work can be seen in his certainty, activity and purpose for the believer’s life.
“God’s sovereignty provides certainty for the believer,” Wright said. “Paul does not give us some polysyllabic language about what God is. Paul says without a shadow of a doubt, ‘And we know.’”
Describing God’s sovereign hand producing activity in the life of the believer, Wright said, “He’s working as a conductor of an orchestra,” with believers serving as “participants in a wonderful melody.”
Houston’s First Baptist Church pastor Gregg Matte served as the anchor leg as he preached from verses 31-39 to describe how victory over death gives way to intimacy with God. [Read expanded story on Matte’s sermon]
“If Jesus Christ didn’t give you or me one other thing in our lives, he’s already given us too much,” he said. “Therefore, I walk in gratitude with God, not with arrogance, but submission and say, ‘I give you my life.’”
Matte said the intimacy of God’s love is revealed as Paul states that nothing can separate a believer from God’s love, calling the closing verses “the home run over the fence.”
Using the account of the prodigal son as an illustration of God’s irrevocable love, Matte said, “God has given us victory in the cross and that victory is to bring intimacy so that you and I, the elder brother or the prodigal, can come into the embrace of the father and realize on bended knee that we can put our head against the breast of the father and hear God’s heartbeat for our lives and for the world.”