Cheney United Methodist Church
Monday, January 22, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

November 12, 2017

Romans 8:18-27
“The Future For God's Children!”
We are looking at Romans 8, part two. Last week I presented part one and looked at “Life in the Spirit, verses 1-17. I said that chapter 8, has two themes. The first theme deals with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit permeates our lives, it gives us direction, power, goodness, wisdom and love. The second theme is the absolute security for the Children of God. Our eternal destiny has been decided the moment we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Sense we have been justified there is no condemnation!
To help us transition, let’s go back and look at verse 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. One of the blessings of our salvation is that we have been given the Holy Spirit as a “firstfruits” of
things to come. If we are joint-heirs with Jesus, then we will inherit a heavenly inheritance that can never spoil or fade, which God is keeping for us (1 Peter 1:4).
However, it is possible that Paul has something else in mind--he could be thinking that what we will inherit is God Himself! In the Old Testament the Levites, the Levitical Priests did not inherit land when the 12 tribes crossed the Jordan River. They were told God Himself would be their inheritance. Or consider Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
Remember how Jesus prayed that His own might be with him and see his glory and share his love (John 17:24). The promise is still future but our inheritance is certain. The Holy Spirit is himself the “firstfruits” vs. 23 guaranteeing the full harvest yet to come!
The end of verse 17 reminds us that the Scriptures teach the principle that enduring suffering is the
pathway to glory. In the next section as we look at the “Future for God’s Children,” we will discover that the underlying theme is “suffering and glory.” God’s creation is suffering but it will be changed into glory (vs 19-22). Next, Paul writes about the suffering and subsequent glory of the Children of God (vs. 23-27).
So, let’s sigh and praise God that suffering and glory are indissolubly linked together. Suffering and glory are
married together in God’s plan and cannot be divorced. What do we mean by suffering and glory? Let me
say, from the cross to the return of Jesus, is the time of sanctification--where God is taking confessed sinners,
who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and God is making them holy--that is they are becoming more like
Jesus. We live between the present and future; spiritually we live in the time between the “Already and the not-
yet.” Our spirits and souls have already been saved--our bodies have not-yet been redeemed. We are
looking at two Greek terms, “pathemarta” which means to suffer; and “doxa” which means glory. “Sufferings”
include not only worldly opposition and calamities, but all human frailty as well, both physical and
moral. “Glory” can be thought of as God’s presence being made manifest. So, for example as you grow in
Christ likeness--God’s glory can be seen in you. On the other hand, God’s glory is the unutterable splendor of
God, eternal, immortal and incorruptible. One day, God’s glory will be revealed, vs. 18. This end-time
disclosure will be made to us, because we will see it, and in us, because we will share in it and be
changed by it!
Suffering and glory go hand in hand but they are not to be compared. Our present troubles are declared to be “light and momentary;” but the glory to come is eternal and far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor 4:17) The magnificence of God’s manifest glory will greatly surpass the unpleasantness of our sufferings. Vs. 19 reminds us that nature shared in the curse pronounced in Genesis 3. Nature shares even now in groaning and in pain, and waits to share in the coming glory. Paul writes that nature, the world we live in, the earth--is eager, like someone standing on tiptoes trying to see the first glimpse of someone or something coming down the road. Paul tells us that creation is waiting for the Children of God to be fully identified as such, and the investiture of God’s glory to fully transform us. This will be the signal that creation will be transformed.
Paul tells us that creation has been subjected to futility, or frustration, emptiness, or meaninglessness because of the curse. As a result, thorns and thistles would grow along with the crops, making Adam and his sons toil in hard work and pain--but it was also, subjected in hope. Even in the Garden of Eden God knew the power of the resurrection--God’s power to restore, to give life and make things whole. Look at the imagery Paul uses to personify creation: in the future creation will be liberated from its bondage to corruption and decay and obtain freedom and glory. Creation’s groaning and pains like childbirth will come to an end when Jesus returns. These images reflect the language of the Old Testament in reference to the days of the Messiah: there will be a new heaven and a new earth including a new Jerusalem. When the Messiah comes the desert will blossom, streams will flow and flourish, the mountains will be brought low, the animals will live in harmony-- the lion and the lamb together. God’s material creation will be redeemed and glorified, because God’s chosen Children will be redeemed and glorified. Let me remind you that in the New Testament the pains of childbirth
are meant to be a sign that provides assurance that something is about to happen--God’s plans are
still on course waiting for God’s perfect timing! Rest assured the pains of labor will be followed by the joys
of a new birth.
Vs. 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.” As Children of God we are waiting for our adoption and the redemption of our bodies. So, we groan and experience pain from time to time. When God gave us His Spirit change was initiated--the indwelling Spirit gives us joy, the coming adoption and redemption give us hope, but the in between time gives us tension and pain.
Vs. 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.” For in this
hope we were saved. Notice, this is the aorist tense, in the past. So, we have been liberated from guilt and the bondage of sin and the just judgment of God upon our sin. Yet, we have not yet been spared the wrath of God, nor has all the lingering impact of sin been tossed out of our system--out of our minds. We still are waiting for the promised resurrection bodies--redeemed and transformed! We have hope--knowing and believing so we patiently wait. We are confident in God’s promises--that the firstfruits will be followed by the full harvest. We wait patiently believing that bondage gives way to freedom, that decay stops and is rejuvenated, that labor pains give birth to a new world, that suffering morphs into glory!
As Children of God we are living in the “in-between times,” between present difficulty and future destiny, between suffering and glory. The challenge for the Christian is to balance eager expectations of Christ soon return with waiting patiently with steadfast endurance the trials that are here and now and lonely and / or painful. We are to wait--but not so eagerly that we lose our patience, nor so patiently that we lose our expectation.
Vs. 26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray
for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” In the same way, or likewise,
which probably refers to the idea that as our Christian hope sustains us, so does the Holy Spirit. The Spirit help us in our weakness--we’ve been talking about the struggle and difficulty of living in the “already-not-yet” which can create a kind of vulnerability that comes with that. The Holy Spirit helps our weakness in prayer. Paul goes right to the point “We don’t know what to pray!” I don’t know about you, but I can’t count the times I haven’t known what to pray? How to get started? What to focus on? What to ask? Thank God there is help!
The Spirit himself intercedes for us. Groan! The Spirit groans “too deep for words/” The Greek adjective simply means, “wordless.” Think about it, Paul has creation groaning, the church groaning and now the Spirit groans. The Spirit identifies with us, and inspires our prayers. Who better than the Holy Spirit to pray to the Father? Look at verse 27, “And he who searches our hearts (God the Father) knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” The Father knows the mind of the Spirit and the Spirit knows the mind of the Father. So, the Spirit always prays according to the will of God and the Father always answers. Paul tells us three things about the Spirit, One, the Spirit desires to help you. Two, the Spirit intercedes in prayer for you. Three, the Spirit always prays the will of God, so that the Father listens and always responds.
For the Children of God our future couldn’t look any better! We live in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, and nothing shall separate us from that love. Just as our salvation is secure, our future with the Lord is safely in His hands--the Holy Spirit is the firstfruits of an amazing harvest yet to come. The future is promised, the road may rough but God has promised us that we can be more than conquerors as we keep alive our faith inChrist Jesus. He will help us overcome. Remember, God always wins. Be encouraged, Jesus is coming soon, and we have the Holy Spirit praying for us, and His prayers are effective, because He knows what the will of God is!