Standing Firm: Walking Through Romans – Chapter 8 part 4

Welcome home church family.
I realize that although we cannot be together in person today, the church of Jesus Christ is not limited by buildings and walls and that Christ has declared that the gates of hell will not prevail against us.

I once hear someone say that we will never attain anything greater in life if we refuse to let go of what holds us down. Letting go or moving forward in most cases require faith.  There is something that we hope for that drives us to continue forward. In some texts, the Apostle Paul uses sports analogies to depict the life of a believer running or training with intention to achieve his or her spiritual goal. oday, as we continue in Romans chapter 8, we’ll see Paul unpack some key elements of our Christian faith using a different type of metaphor.

Last week we discussed more about the spirit life. Tat it means to be God’s children. And thus, the inheritance we share as Co-heirs to the kingdom of God. This morning we will look at some of the nuts and bolts of what our path to redemption in Christ Jesus may look like.

My prayer this morning is that by hearing this message that together, you and me, will see our paths to eternal destiny in Christ Jesus a bit more clearly with each passing day.  If you have your Bibles out, will you turn with me to Romans chapter 8, starting with verse 18.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:18-25

I have divided my thoughts into 2 sections or points in order to share them with you today. Let’s take a look at my first point.

The Road To Glory Is Paved With Suffering

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:18-21

Paul is beginning the contrast between suffering and glory by first demonstrating that they are inseparable. We have easily established in our study of Romans that we are co-heirs with Christ sharing in his suffering, dying to our sin, and resurrected in Christ Jesus. We are also sharing in His glory.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Revelation 3:21

Friends, Jesus suffered on His road to glory why must we think that ours should be any different? Here is the good news, in this life we will suffer temporarily but, in light of God’s glory revealed in us, the two are not comparable. The significance of God’s eternal glory far surpasses anything we might experience on earth. So, as a result of this encouragement Paul begins to elaborate on a larger concept.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:19-21

Genesis chapter 3 tells us that as a result of Adam’s sin all creation/all material matter became cursed.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 5:12

Here Paul is using a form of Hebrew poetry to personify all subhuman creation. Creation in this light awaits the children of God to be revealed as a sign that its own redemption is near. In fact, all creation has shared in the curse of sin and decay. All creation has shared in the suffering. And all creation will share in the glory. God’s intention here is to liberate his children and this world/material matter from this state of suffering and decay.  Those who are found in Christ and God’s subhuman creation will be redeemed. Our road to glory is paved with suffering. But God is restoring all things as he intended.

From the very beginning God created a place for humanity to dwell in His presence.  God created the earth and everything Adam would need to live and be fulfilled. God created a place where He could interact and engage His creation. In essence, God created a community for Himself. It has always been about God and his desire for community with his creation. Starting with Adam in the Garden Noah and fresh start after the flood Abram, God said, “Come to a land I will show you.” Israel, God calls them out of Egypt and into a promised land. The promised Messiah, Christ rescues us from the bondage of sin and restores God’s dwelling place among us. His Holy Spirit in the hearts of all who call/believe on Jesus. Each time, the manifestation of the deliverance is more complete than the last but, it is not fully complete until the final act of redemption where a new heaven and new earth are reborn and God’s holy city, the new Jerusalem is brought down from the heavens.  A perfect square as tall as it is wide and long, 1400 miles x 1400 miles. With walls roughly 216 feet thick. For the sake of comparison, larger than the nation of India at nearly 2million square miles. With full access to the heavenly realms

that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:21

See friends it’s not just us that hopes in our kinship to Christ it’ s all of creation that groans with us, waiting eagerly. We are in the tension between the now and the not yet.  The other day I was driving and traffic ahead of me came to an abrupt stop just as I was entering an intersection. Nowhere to go. I had cleared the one side but was unable to yet take possession of the other side. I believed that the other side was there waiting for me.  I had already received the initial entering into the intersection but, there I was caught in the tension of the now and the not yet. See my concern was that there might come another vehicle that I might be hindering or maybe another driver won’t see me and there could be an accident. I began to groan waiting in anticipation. Feeling a bit vulnerable or even incomplete. Our promise of glory and redemption can be seen as similar to my experience driving. Jesus died for our sins, that’s done. He rose from the dead, that’s done. He has given us his Holy Spirit. While it’s true that we are saved and made new. We have not reached the ultimate fulfillment of this promise. We are in the tension of the now and the not yet. We are in Christ/spirit, yet we are not yet revealed and glorified. We our path to glory in not yet complete.

Our Hope Lies Within The Anticipation Of Christ

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:22-25

Caught in the tension between the now and the future. We have the Holy Spirit/The first fruits of the spirit.  In the spirit we have joy over what God has done through Christ Jesus. And in the glory to come we have hope. But it’s in the suspense of waiting that we also experience pain. It is in this space where we find faithfulness. It is here that we cultivate perseverance. 

James chapter 1 teaches us that we should view our sufferings as joy.

And in verse 4 James says,

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

If we break verses 22-25 down this is what we see:

The first fruits of the spirit, As the spirit was given in Acts 2, in terms of the festival of Weeks/Pentecost Paul recognizes a tithe or first fruits harvest  as the church was being formed and also of the harvest that was yet to come. One commentator views this as a deposit or a down payment of sorts to ensure the completion of the purchase/redemption.

Next is Our inward groaning, the Holy Spirit in us (being merely the first fruits) produces a constant reminder of our incomplete salvation. Now this idea always made me nervous as a believer. Because we say these saying like, “Jesus paid it all” and the “finished work of the cross” and the like. All of these are true. Nevertheless, God’s word says that salvation is complete at the moment of our judgement. When the Son of God declares our innocence in his blood. It that moment when your name is revealed in the Lambs Book of Life.

We wait eagerly for our adoption to be complete. This denotes the redemption of our body. We have been assured that all of these things will come to fruition and by faith we move forward as though we are complete in His grace. However, there is still an additional depth of the father-child relationship that is still yet to come.  

We hope we are saved, Yes we are saved from bondage and the control of sin in our lives while we await God’s day of judgment again, where Christ will say either, “welcome my good and faithful servant,” or some will hear, “depart from me, for I never knew you.” Only then is our salvation complete.

We wait patiently, for the total fulfilment of these promises that we’ve hope for. That moment when we put on the final incorruptible garment of God. In that moment fully redeemed, Judged and declared innocent. Bodily glorified in Christ Jesus and fully released from the tension of the now and the not yet. 

One of the risks we take in our religiosity is this idea that once we have accepted Christ, we can just skate through life resting on our religious laurels.  Like any relationship, it takes work to be successful. There is personal growth that takes work. Enduring faithfully takes effort.  We will need to deny ourselves and suffer for his sake. I know that sounds very uplifting but, although our road to glory is paved with suffering, our reward reward is so much greater than the suffering.  And our truest hope is in the coming our Lord Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.

In studying this text, I was led to the last 2 chapters of Revelation. This is where much of the connections are made in my thinking in regard to the restoration of humanity and creation in general.  Today, I have spent time trying to bring clarity to the meaning of what Paul was trying to say so I could get to the overarching theme. Both of these points I’ve mentioned today serve as anchor points that help to further unpack some key elements of our faith. I would like to read a short passage that you may be moved as I was.

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Revelation 22:12-16

My question for you today is this, Will you open your hearts to Jesus, the Son of the living God, and receive what your heavenly father has for you?

Will you call on him today? Will you ask Him to help you discern what his word is revealing today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of hindrance or bondage in your life or your relationships today?  God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life?  He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late.

It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life.

If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me.

Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26