The Rapture (4): The Holy Spirit helps us with Groaning
Now we come to the assistance of the Holy Spirit in the matter of the rapture or manifestation of the sons of God. So crucial an issue He helps us with groaning. Romans 8 verse 26-27 states that: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
To see the proper context of these two versus we must read again the larger Scripture: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” – Romans 8: 19-27.
This is the proper context. Paul has been talking of the creation, sin, bondage, redemption, hope, patient waiting, groaning of the creation on the one hand and the groaning of those who “have the firstfruits of the Spirit” on the other hand and went to say that the Spirit helps us in this all important question! This whole passage (Romans 8: 19-27) primarily has to do with the manifestation of the sons of God. It has to do with the rapture and our disposition and the life we should live, the way we must concern ourselves and the communication we must have with God because of our final salvation. These are so deep issues, so serious a concern that the Holy Spirit comes strongly involved. He comes to help our infirmities. He comes to make intercession for us. And specifically, He does it with groaning which cannot be uttered. Please note: This is not talking about speaking in tongues here, as some teach. Tongues: be it of men or angels, are utterable! By the groaning in Romans 8: 26 we are talking about stenagmos: unutterable gushings of the heart.
On this side of eternity we must groan. It is Gethsemane time. Now, we must fast and pray that we remain safe in the hands of the Almighty God. Now, indeed, the race is not for the swift. We must lay aside this ‘easy gospel’ and surfeiting lifestyle strangely being promoted variously in the Church. We must awake from slumber, the lust of the flesh and deceitfulness of riches that seem to consume many and overwhelm the messages of many a ministers. This is the time to awake to righteousness and unfeigned love of the brethren. We cannot afford to be at ease in Zion. No! There is nothing yet that signals us to relax. Wantonness must not be mentioned of the pilgrim awaiting the rapture, of a saint on his way to Heaven. We must clean up, and we must get equipped for service; and groaning is essential in both.
While the rapture has not taken place we must be earnest about waiting for it. And we must groan: Groan for ourselves that we are saved if we are not yet; groan for ourselves that we are able to present ourselves living sacrifice acceptable unto God; groan that through us some, peradventure, should come to know the Lord and make the rapture with us. We must groan that after being on this side of eternity with all its horrors and pains we will not end up in a worse place; the climax of all suffering! Yes, we groan. But can we really groan as we ought except the Holy Spirit comes up to help our infirmities; except He helps us with groaning?
If the creature could groan when there is no sentence of hell on them, how much should we groan! And we must groan. So compelling and crucial is this matter, the Holy Spirit is given partly to help us here. He specifically helps us here with groaning, words that cannot be uttered; words that come from the heart of God praying through us as we ought. Who really knows the mind of God and search the deep things of the Creator except the Spirit of God! Who really knows the nature of the race we are into and the nature of the fierce battle to stop us from going to meet our Creator and be with Him in all eternity except the Holy Spirit! Can we really be as earnest in this matter as the whole creation of God is if not by the Holy Spirit; and do we really know how to pray let alone groan except by the Spirit of God?
Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that the saints are “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory”. 2 Corinthians 1:22 similarly puts it this way: “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts”. And 2 Corinthians 5:5 renders it this way: “Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit”. The earnest of the Spirit! The earnest of our inheritance!
The word ‘earnest’ here is arrhahon in the Greek, and means earnest-money, pledge or first-payment. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit which is the ‘pledge or first-payment’ of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (or the final manifestation of the sons of God who shall inherit all that is of God with Jesus Christ forever) unto the praise of His glory. This Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance presently seals us: protecting, guiding, helping and enabling us along the way until that final redemption. And one of the key ways He does that is by helping our infirmities with groaning – words that cannot be uttered, and thus helping us to communicate mysteries, which ordinarily we could not have uttered or communicated even though they are compellingly necessary for our receiving certain graces from God in our heavenly walk and making much of our services for Him to be accepted by Him.
Shall we therefore not rely on the Spirit of God to help us in this matter! Because this is the context in which He is brought to our notice in Romans 8. He will help us. The rapture or the manifestation of the sons of God is so crucial that we must allow Him to help us. When He shows up to help us with groaning in the matter of our final salvation or redemption and eternity with God we are simply overhauled from within.
This is when our lives are purged and refilled for acceptable living and sacrifice; this is when we are broken and remolded to become choice vessels in His Hands; this is when we are emptied of the world and filled with Heaven; this is when we are made ‘rapturable’. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”
Yes, the Holy Spirit can help us pray with understanding – that is great. And He can help us pray with or in tongue – this is most valuable and inevitable in our Christian walk. But He can and He wants to help us pray with groaning. Here, our whole being is brought into action; our whole body is under task; all our members employed! They writhe, crack, quake and seems as if they will break-up as we moan and groan. In groaning they (our members) are arrested, as it were, by the Holy Spirit to send forth messages to God in pain and anguish; and who can tell their message!
There is something akin here to the groaning of the creation: No one understands each specific message being sent to God. And in the case of the saints, not even the groaner himself can tell the specific messages he has told God! We mean, specific. This is solely the ministry of the Holy Spirit using, as it were, a dead vessel or channel to reach God according to His perfect will. The result of groaning in the closet is nonesuch. And whether on the street, the office or in the crowd a strong pain inside of us because of unrighteousness or any evil manifestation around that causes a groan no matter how short and quick is heard by God. When it is more than short and quick especially if it takes us then or later to where we can better pour out ourselves to God; how great an endeavor and how great we are attended to: If the Holy Spirit is truly involved. If the Holy Spirit is not involved that would be being merely critical and censorious. That is ‘holier-than-thou’ thing. That is not what we are saying. We are talking of a holy pain that the Holy Spirit taps on to pour out the man unto God with words that cannot be uttered.
‘Groaning’ is the most secret of all prayers for no man except God hears; and if God hears in secret, then He certainly hears when we groan. We say parenthetically: It has been taught by some that when we pray in tongue we cut off Satan and his host as, according to these people, Satan does not hear us when we speak or pray in tongue. I beg to differ. When we pray in the tongue of men that we do not know or understand or pray in the tongue of angels (which are what speaking in tongue mean) Satan and his hosts hear. They hear tongues of men because they hear any language of men since there is no language or people they have not been dealing with since the fall of man. They hear tongues of angels because they are fallen angels (who know that language and even communicate with God with it). Yes, praying in tongues is also referred to as praying in the spirit. But it is different from the Holy Spirit helping us with groaning that cannot be uttered! Yes, speaking in tongue helps us to overcome the limitations of the mind thought and flesh thus helping us to pray freely without us understanding ourselves; which understanding is sometimes a barrier and cog in the wheel of faith. It is secret prayer to the extent that you don’t understand yourself and others may not. But Satan does.
But in groaning: Only one Ear hears the man. God! And He hears the whole man; every department of the man. Only the Holy Spirit can make this possible. And there is no better time the Holy Spirit shows up to help us with groaning than in matters of eternity as the rapture or manifestation of the sons of God and abiding with the triune God forever; and in all matters directly related to these.
Yes, when we pray in tongue it is wonderful and refreshing; and it is actually the Spirit tapping into the languages of men and or language of angels praying to God using the vessel called ‘man’, the man who is genuinely born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. And in speaking in tongue the Spirit can take any subject matter to God including the subject matter of the rapture and manifestation of the sons of God: on our behalf and on the behalf of others. But it is the subject matter of the Spirit helping the saints in groaning that Romans 8: 19-27 is talking about. And to say it again: In groaning only one Ear hears the man. God! Like speaking in tongue, it is the Spirit helping us to pray. But here God hears not just only Himself (i.e. the Holy Spirit) but also every department of the man; for all departments of the man are involved or employed in groaning. More so in the subject matter of God’s eternal sons!
The Rapture Well Understood.
The subject matter of the rapture well understood will utter our prayer life to the greatest purging of our lives, greatest and acceptable service we can offer God and to greatest ‘headache’ we can subject the forces of darkness too. And the Holy Spirit wants our prayer lives to just result in all of these. He wants to assist us in praying therefore; and in the matter of the redemption of our bodies, with groaning! If the entire creation of God has its portion in this matter of groaning, we ought also, and we ought even much more. This must be Gethsemane time! Since the Bridegroom has been taken away the Bride must expectedly fast, and good fast always knows groaning. And so, we must now be expectedly upright in this regard; and it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to help us accordingly.
The subject matter of the rapture well understood and appreciated in our lives and living style, in our service to God and in approaching the throne of mercy and grace is an invaluable and inestimable asset of the pilgrim indeed. A high sense of the rapture changes the whole of the Christian’s world view. It sifts the unreal from the real; it highlights the priorities and put others where they belong. It gives a fixed focus!
We must say that there are also specific and serious matters in the heart of God that He wants us to pray about. Prayer points after His heart! Intercessions connected with our making the rapture. With our infirmities – physical, mental, moral weaknesses or flaws – we really cannot pray as divinely expected. But we better grasp the mind of God in these serious prayer points and better make good His expectation of them when the Holy Spirit come helping us with groaning. We all know God’s position, heart cry and call to prayer in the matter of the Salvation of souls; the great commission or world evangelization; the coming of His Kingdom on earth; righteousness in the Church and the need to break-down barriers to the pure gospel whether they be within or without the Church; the persecuted Church or the persecuted brethren; His missionaries who have hazarded their lives in the many ‘swelling of Jordan’; the Israel of God (physical Israel) and Jerusalem! The Holy Spirit rarely take you to this prayer point – after you have first sorted out yourself with Him and made fit for a vessel in this wise – without taking you to some depth of groaning because they are prayer points after His heart that the Holy Spirit would always want to take to God through us.
And come to think of it: How can we really pray acceptably and profitably in so spiritually sensitive and divinely requested prayer points if the Holy Spirit is not totally involved in our prayers. The moment we are right with God to take them up in prayer, and our mind is led to them and made ready to take them up and we invite the Holy Spirit to aid us; it is only a matter of time to pray from the known to the unknown; it is only a matter of time to be all involved spirit, soul and body; nay it is only a matter of time for the Spirit to employ all of them. He comes helping our infirmities and He takes total charge because this is utmost necessary.
And there is no gainsaying the fact that these prayer points are also vital to our making the rapture. The more reason He comes helping our infirmities. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” – Romans 8: 19-27.
Remember, the ‘creature’ groan. And we must groan! Indeed, remember, it is Gethsemane time. May we receive grace to make this to stick, and may we get grace to make it good. Beyond real and genuine earnestness, we must also groan. Paul by the Spirit has told us: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” – Romans 8: 23.
This is the time to wake up to our calling until rest we get on the other side of eternity. This is the time to put all on the altar, a time to make sacrifice – real sacrifice. For really there is no ease in Zion that now is or in the Church before the Last Trump. For now we must occupy till He comes; we must strive to enter in at the strait gate; we must look steadfastly up anticipating the coming of our Great King for His purchased possession: And in this we groan for, to reiterate it: “even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”. The result, if we do, shall be incomparably glorious!
WAKE, AWAKE, FOR NIGHT IS FLYING says Philipp Nicolai (1556–1608), nay, cry the watchmen on the heights, he says; and we cannot but listen to Nicolai’s glorious hymn as translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878) full-length.
1. “Wake, awake, for night is flying,” The watchmen on the heights are crying; “Awake, Jerusalem, at last!” Midnight hears the welcome voices, And at the thrilling cry rejoices: “Come forth, ye virgins, night is past! The Bridegroom comes; awake, Your lamps with gladness take; Alleluia! And for His marriage feast prepare, For you must go to meet Him there.” 2. Zion hears the watchmen singing, And all her heart with joy is springing; She wakes, she rises from her gloom: For her Lord comes down all glorious, The Strong in grace, in truth Victorious, Her Star is ris’n, her Light is come! Ah, come, Thou blessed Lord, O Jesus, Son of God, Alleluia! We follow till the halls we see Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee. 3. Now let all the heav’ns adore Thee, And men and angels sing before Thee, With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone; Of one pearl each shining portal, Where we are with the choir immortal Of angels round Thy dazzling throne; Nor eye hath seen, nor ear Hath yet attained to hear what there is ours; But we rejoice, and sing to Thee Our hymn of joy eternally.
Though I really don’t know the music or tune, the lyrics I found here remain some of the best any mortal can put together. I plead with you: Go over it again, and again. And I must say however that here or in it we see the sons of God manifested, and the desire of all righteous generations since Enoch consummated. But we must wait for the next work in this series to see the secret of their manifestation.
Igho writes from Warri
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