Our hope is our Assurance
Good Morning! Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. As you hear every week here, If you do not own a Bible, please let us gift one to you from the table in the back. Please take one if you do not have one.
So, we are continuing through Romans chapter 8 this week. Paul is establishing our identity, who we are in Christ, who the Holy Spirit is and what His ministry is. He is establishing what God has promised and assured us of and what we can expect to see coming up in our Christian walk.
Last week, we established that those who know Christ, those that have been changed by the Holy Spirt, Christians have been given the right to be called children of God. And with that, God is our father. And with that, as our Father, and as Perfect and true in all forms and senses, once were are in Gods arms, he will never let us go. Romans 8:16 & 17, the end of what we looked at last week, Paul tells us: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We are given a promise, an inheritance now, that we will receive in the future, at the right and proper time. But, in the mean time, for a variety of reasons, some of which we touched on last week, we will endure suffering. That suffering, those trials, the things that we are dealing with every day, Paul is going to tell us later in this chapter that it will all work together for Gods glory and that it will help conform us to Jesus’ image. But that doesn’t always help us in the moment as much as it is supposed to. Paul is going to remind us that our focus is not to be on this world, but on God and his Glory in eternity.
Lets go ahead and read this mornings text. Ill be reading Romans chapter 8, verses 18-25, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:18-25, Paul writes:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Pauls first point here is that, yes, there are sufferings, there is pain in this present world. Some of the things we have touched on over the last couple of weeks that manifest this pain and suffering include, but are not limited to spiritual warfare between the enemy and his forces and God and his forces. It includes times when God disciplines us, either punishing us for things done wrong, or, and I think more often than that, growing us in discipline, disciplining our bodies to be conform onto the image of his Son, to grow in holiness and sanctification. It includes the evil of people and things around us having an effect on us, due to nothing that we have done. It includes the consequences to good and bad decisions, results of our sin and persecution and mockery for our holiness. All of those and more fall into the fact that we do indeed experience pain, suffering and troubles in this world.
But Paul says its not all bad news…And he is certainly not dismissing the pain and the struggles. What he is saying is that whatever it is that each one of us is going through, no matter how bad it is, no matter how tough things seem to be, how infinitely greater it will be when we get to eternity future and get to spend it reigning and ruling along side our co-heir, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, the LORD of Lords.
Humanity got a glimpse of this, to what extent, we honestly dont know, but we got a glimpse of this in the Garden of Eden. God created, God spoke creation into perfect existence. Scripture records that after God created different aspects, It was good. When God created Adam and Eve, they were made perfectly in his image and likeness. Creation, including mankind, was made to perfectly reflect his glory and his majesty.
But, as we know, from the Bible of course, but also, just by opening our eyes and looking around us, humanity and creation do not stay in this perfect, glorified state. Sin came and brought death, corruption, entropy, decay, imperfection.
We became sinful and we fell from Gods favor. We lost all righteousness. We spent the past 7 plus chapters looking at the results of the moment in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve sin in their lack of faith in God and his Word. And people go back and forth. People try to have both sides. They want to believe that people are generally and naturally good. That left to their own devices, people will do the right thing. The Bible says thats wrong. Paul has pointed out numerous times in this letter that this is wrong. Read chapters1 & 3, its crystal clear. The heart is deceitful above all things.
And so, for 6000 plus years, creation and mankind have failed to fully and rightfully reflect Gods glory and power and have failed to give Him the full honor that He is deserved. And yet, something in creation remembers. Psalm 19:1, David observes and points out, 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Something inside of us knows. It is deep down and sometimes just beyond the edge of our mental awareness, but something in us remembers. We just don’t do anything with it. Way back in Romans 1, Paul writes in verse 18, that by our unrighteousness we suppress the truth.
But the truth is there. And it is known, remembered even. We have a desire to get back to that, though our heart and our mind lie to us about how to get back to that. And so, when we attempt to fix the ails of this world, while listening to our hearts and our mind, we are desiring to build heaven. We are desiring to return to Eden, the perfect utopia that we were created to inhabit. We intrinsically know that this world is wrong, that it is broken and we either try to take advantage of that, the “every man for themselves,” mindset, the survival of the fittest idea of evolution. Do unto others before they do unto you. That’s the broken part of the world. Some people give in to that and give in to the desires of the flesh. That’s how the enemy helps to keep them from examining the brokenness of the world and trying to do something about it.
Others go a different route. Many genuinely see the brokenness of this world, they see inequity, they see injustices, they see systems and processes that are designed to protect those who take advantage of this broken world and its vulnerability. They see these things that are not right and they want to fix them and they fight for those whom they think are being oppressed, where they think they see injustice. This means things like racial inequality, this means businesses and owners oppressing the workers. This means equal rights for all, unless you disagree with these “rights.” This means righting wrongs, whether real or perceived. This stems from a desire to fix the world of its brokenness and recreate the Garden of Eden. The desire that this stems from is there as a remembrance for Genesis 1 & 2. But without God, the one, true God, with the Gospel, with out the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, without the truth being “un suppressed,” by the Holy Spirit, without those things, it is nothing. It is a failure, before it ever gets started. Often, its perceptions of what is right, what is being fought for, and its perception of what is wrong, what is being fought against, those perceptions are just plain wrong. But the desires to remake, to recreate, to bring us back to Eden are there.
CS Lewis wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
And that’s true. We are made for a different world than this. Partly. I want us to be careful with this. As with many things in the scriptures, if its is misunderstood or misconstrued, it can sound like permission to be unbiblical. We are not here by accident. We are not here simply to wait for Christ to come back. We are not here to wait until we die and then go to Heaven. We are here, right here, right now, to glorify and honor Jesus Christ as LORD and to do the will of the Father.
We are here for a reason. We are to be in the world, not of it, but we are to be in it. God is in control of everything in the world, in the universe and beyond and in control of time and everything else you can think of. He put you right here, right now for a very specific reason. We may or may not know what that very specific reason is, but we can rest assured that it exists. We have a God given purpose, as does creation. So we are created for this world.
But we have also been created for a different world. Not “out there,” or “up there,” but this world, only different. Revelations tells us that in the end, this world will be cleansed by fire, whether thats literal or metaphorical is for a different day, but out of that, God will recreate the world, we will have New Heavens and the New Earth, there will be a New Jerusalem. This world, creation itself, that has been broken and fallen, will be recreated into what it was always, and originally created to be.
But we are not there yet. Creation recognizes it better than we do at times and Paul says, it eagerly waits, it cries out, it groans with labor pains for that moment when we, as adopted children of God, get to redeem our bodies and take hold of our inheritance.
We have talked about that, Already and Not Yet. The tension that this creates. The tendency of us to forget about today, to ignore it and just focus on getting to heave. Or the tendency to forget about eternity and simply focus on living our best lives now.
But one of the terms that Paul uses to describe our longings and waiting and crying out is the pains of childbirth. Having, of course, not experienced this physically, my self, but having been with Hope for 5 births so far, having talked to her about this phrasing, having heard her and other moms, especially among themselves, talking about their experiences, some things about this make more sense than they used to or otherwise would.
One of the things that was explained, maybe expressed would be a better word, hopefully accurately out into my own words, is that labor has a similar tension of the already and the not yet. There is the intense focus on what is going on right there at the moment. There is the inability, and I don’t say that as a bad thing, but the inability to see past that purpose and that moment and reason why God put you in that spot. And there is pain, there is tiredness, there can be frustration. It can, at times, feel like it will never end. I can feel like all the work, all the pushing, is for nothing and its not working. It can feel like there is no progress being made. It can feel that way, In That Moment.
But, God designed this all for a reason, for a purpose. And God has given that purpose to mothers along with the knowledge that, in just a little while, all of it will be over and the mom will be in a euphoric state holding their newborn and, Moms, testify to this, in that moment, holding your baby, the pain that you felt while in labor, and while you were pushing, the pain is completely forgotten. Now, alter as the kid is growing up, terrible twos, not napping, waking up at 4 AM EVERY MORNING, or in their teenage years, hormone riddle, sure, you remember, in your mind, the pain, and you make sure that the kids know what you went through to bring them into this world, but when you are holding your baby, feeding that newborn, seeing their perfect little faces, their perfect little fingers holding onto ours, none of that pain, exhaustion, struggle, none of it exists. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
There was a Christian pop rock band when I first became a Christian called Reliant K. In one of their songs, that has stuck with me since I heard it, they are in a conversation with God and their lyrics here could have been inspired by this passage of scripture. Listen to this:
And you said I know that this will hurt
But if I don’t break your heart
Then things will just get worse
If the burden seems too much to bear
Remember the end will justify
The pain it took to get us there
Read more: Relient K – Let It All Out Lyrics | MetroLyrics
I love that. God has a purpose for everything that we are going through. Careful, that doesnt mean that everything we are going through is good. We go back to last week. Sometimes is God doing things to discipline or get our attention. But, sometimes, sometimes it is an attack from the enemy. Sometimes, its a result of others sinning against you. Sometimes its a result of our own sin. Not everything we go through is good.
It hurts. Its painful. It breaks us down. It stinks. Out of that all, John Piper sums up this passage with three words; Its Worth It. All that stuff, when we get to see the glory of God that will be revealed to us, It will be forgotten and it will be worth it. We will be redeemed and glorified to the glory of God and not only us, but ALL of creation will also be freed from the corruption and bondage that is here and now because of sin.
Thats what creation is waiting for and thats why we are going through this life. We are in this life for a reason and purpose. We are to make sure that we are focusing on why and where God has placed us. We have jobs to do here in this world, and that job is not to bunker down, with our admission ticket to heaven and wait for Christ to return. Our job is to do the will of God in the community, on the family, in the job or the school where God has placed us.
That might seem like a natural stopping point, but we still have a couple of verses that we haven’t touch on. Lets reread these verses, starting in the second half on verse 23:
we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
We finish up this passage with Hope. And our Hope is in the promises that God has made to us, that we are the adoptive sons of God and that, as the sons of God, we will receive the redemption of our bodies. Again, our hope is in the promises of God. Which means that our hope is in the character of God, because if God makes a promise, he will keep it. Our Hope is in what God has done, not what he have or will do. Our hope is in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. For in this hope, we are saved.
Now, Paul uses the word hope very purposefully. Because Hope that is seen is not hope. We are looking forward, we are longing, desiring the promise of God to be fulfilled. We know it will be, it already has, but we are not there yet. We have it already, but not yet. Hope is not a wish. Hope, as used in the Bible, is not used as, I hope this thing happens,” when it might not. Instead hope is the knowledge that it will happen, it just hasn’t yet.
Look around, we don’t hope right now that we are all getting together for worship this morning. We already are gathered together, as a part of Gods family. We hope that next week, we will get together again, for worship and fellowship. We don’t hope that we have the Word of God from which to learn Gods will. We hope that we will encounter and spend eternity with the Word, and the Word was God and the Word is God.
Paul finishes this passage if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. We hope for Jesus to come back. We hope for the new creation. We hope for the redemption of our bodies and of creation and we hope to be eternally in the presence of Gods glory. We don’t see that right now. We see our broken, disease riddled, decaying bodies. We see the broken, sin filled world around us, the injustice, the inequity, the attempts to fix it in our own power and the temptation to take advantage of the brokenness. We see problems in nature. Animals going extinct. Forests burning out of control. Pollution, droughts, smog, all sorts of things.
All of which will disappear when our hopes are realized. All of which will disappear when Christ comes back and this world, creation itself and each and every one of us who are sons of God will be redeemed and created anew. All of which will disappear when Gods promises are kept and fulfilled and he is glorified above all.
We do not yet see what we hope for, and Paul says that we are to eagerly wait for it with patience. Does that sound contradictory to you? On the surface it absolutely does. But to me, it fits. We are here and now, doing the will of God, and we can and should be excited and waiting eagerly for Christ to come back. But we should be waiting eagerly with patience.
One of the things that Hope and I tell the kids, when we are teaching them when they are young, is What is patience. Patience is waiting with a purpose. We can and should eagerly wait, but we do so with a purpose. We eagerly wait while focusing on why we are here. We eagerly wait while fulfilling our purpose. We eagerly wait while doing Gods will and living our lives for his glory. We eagerly wait, and we wait with a purpose. It will be worth it.