Romans 8:18-30 Groaning into Glory

Sun, 16/04/2017 - 10:00 -- James Oakley

I take it that we all know that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.

Today, I’m not going to try and convince you that the resurrection is a true story. I’m assuming you’re already convinced. You believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead. He’s alive today.

If I’m wrong to assume that, I’d love to give you a copy of {Val Grieve, Your Verdict}

I want us to ask whether it matters. Does it make any difference whether or not Jesus rose from the dead? Maybe, for many of us, it makes very little difference at all. I want to show you that it makes all the difference in the world.

We’re looking at that reading from Romans chapter 8, which is on page 1135.

How Life is Now

It’s a chapter with its feet on the ground. Jesus is alive, which makes a difference in the real world. Here’s how Romans 8 describes how life is now.

Two features of life.

Firstly, creation groans. Verse 22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Verse 21, it’s in “bondage to decay”. We human beings sin. And we haven’t just broken ourselves. We’ve broken the world.

Creation groans literally. Tectonic plates shudder against each other, sending out earthquakes as if the earth was in pain. Then there’s famine, drought, other natural disasters. Things grow old. Things fade. Things die. Even these lovely lilies you see around the church today won’t last more than two weeks.

Creation groans.

Second, we groan. Verse 23: “Not only so, but we ourselves … groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

Our bodies are broken, too. We get ill. We suffer. We die.

And above all, we sin. When we become Christians, God changes us. We have a new mind. But then – it’s intensely frustrating – we still keep failing. Chapter 7, verse 21: “I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Verse 25: “I myself in my mind am a slave to god’s law, but in my flesh a slave to the law of sin.”

It hurts to live in a broken body, in a broken world. Life is painful. We groan. Creation groans.

There’s a third groaning in this passage, but that’s for another day. The Spirit groans, too, and that’s good news.

Life in a broken world. Creation groans. And we groan.

Future Hope

And into that groaning world, Romans 8 speaks real, future hope. The groaning won’t go on forever.

Firstly, hope for us. Our bodies will be redeemed. Verse 23: “We wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

One day, when Jesus comes back, our bodies will no longer be broken. You’ll find all cancerous cells have gone, you no longer have the bad back, the arthritis, the joint pain. You’ll never again even get a cold.

But we won’t just be mended. We’ll be simply glorious. Verse 18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Glory: Weightiness, substance, brightness, perfection, beauty.

It will be so, so good. So good that it’s hard to picture how good. Try explaining to a caterpillar what it will be like to be a butterfly. So much better than anything it’s ever known, the caterpillar can’t even begin to picture the categories it needs to think about it.

A body so glorious and so wonderful that we can’t even begin to picture what it will be like. We get a glimpse from the body Jesus had after he rose from the dead.

There’s not only hope for us. There’s also hope for creation.

Verse 21: It will be liberated from its bondage to decay. It will no longer be broken. And like us, creation will be glorious, brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

The Bible pictures a world full of gold and silver, gemstones and jewels. Glistening. Shining. Beautiful.

The world will be mended from all that’s broken. Never again will anyone be hurt by an earthquake, a volcano, by drought, by flood. A beautiful Cornish moor, no longer scarred by the remains of a clay mine. The beautiful alpine valley, no longer scarred by electricity pylons. The broken world, mended.

But more than that, transformed, glorious, fit to be a king’s palace. Turn up the dials on what is already good. It will be made more beautiful. More striking.

You think you see the world in full colour. It will be transformed so that when we look back on now, it will be as if we were seeing in black and white.

See if this helps. Sometimes, you visit a famous landmark, and it’s disappointing. It doesn’t live up to what you’ve seen on the postcards. You visit and see this, … and wish it could look like that.

But now imagine that all those places were transformed, so they really did look like that. And imagine that all the truly beautiful places are given the same upgrade. Everywhere you go is more wonderful than last time you went there. The whole creation grows in glory.

In a world that groans, Romans 8 holds out future glory. We will be mended – even better, glorious. Creation will be liberated – even better, glorious.

How certain is this?

Wonderful – if it’s true! But how certain can we be?

You know those radio adverts. They had to pay extra for anything over 10 seconds, so they speak extra fast, trying to excite you about a car, a furniture sale, a holiday, in just 9 seconds. And 9 seconds is all they have, because the 10th second always goes: “Terms and conditions apply.”

There is one condition: This is the future that God promises to those who follow Jesus. Other than that, it’s absolutely certain.

Look at verses 29 and 30. “Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

There’s a great chain of events. Predestined. Called. Justified. Glorified.

The last one is this great hope. Glorified. It’s not happened yet. Verse 25: “We hope for what we not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” But Paul uses the past tense. It’s so certain, it’s as if it’s happened.

Paul knows the chicks will hatch. So he’s quite happy to count his chickens before they hatch.

In Wimbledon, the commentator might declare someone through to the next round when they’re at match point. It’s as good as won.

The future is so certain, you can call the victory, declare the result, say it’s done.

But why is it certain?

But why is that future certain? It’s certain because Jesus rose from the dead.

For two reasons.

First, because the future’s been paid for.

Verse 30 says: “those he justified, he also glorified.” God’s already justified us. Declared us not guilty. Forgiven us. In chapter 4, Paul said that God paid for this when Jesus died on the cross. Then Jesus’ resurrection was the receipt. Jesus’ resurrection says publicly that our forgiveness and new life has been paid in full.

If you go out shopping and buy lots of expensive things – clothes, things for your home, things for the garden, presents for your friends, you don’t leave it all behind in the shop. After all the trouble you’ve gone to, the money you’ve spent – you bring the goods home.

God wants a new, forgiven people to enjoy a perfect, glorified world. He’s already paid for this. The resurrection of Jesus is the receipt that says he has. God’s going to bring the shopping home. He’s going to have the thing he’s bought.

And second, we can be certain because Jesus blazed the trail.

In verse 29, Paul says that God wants Jesus to be “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”. Elsewhere, he calls Jesus the firstborn from among the dead. God wants Jesus to be part of a big family. He wants him to have loads of brothers and sisters. Many brothers and sisters.

God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was the first one to be raised, but many more will follow. The proof that many more will follow is that he’s done it once, he’s done it with Jesus.

The resurrection is the receipt. God’s future has been paid for. The resurrection is the first of many. Jesus blazed the trail so we can follow.

Because Jesus rose, there is a glorious future on offer for we who live in a groaning world.

Conclusion

I’m absolutely certain Jesus rose from the dead. Probably you are too. Even if you aren’t convinced, hopefully by now you wish you were.

Jesus’ rising from the dead makes all the difference in the world.

In a groaning world, there’s a glorious hope – and all because Jesus rose.

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