The Blessing of Hope - Part 1 (series: Lessons on Romans)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(27) The Blessing of Hope

Romans 8:18-25

Scripture
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits 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 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.


The Blessing of Hope

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The verse can be restated this way: “If the suffering we presently endure brings great hardship, cruel and unusual punishment, severe persecution, or even death itself, none of these evils can compare with the heavenly bliss that is awaiting those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The greatest shame we may endure for Christ here on earth will be a mere trifle when He calls us forth and publicly acknowledges us before the hosts of heaven. Even the excruciating pain of the martyrs will seem like pinpricks when the Savior graces their brows with the crown of life. Elsewhere Paul speaks of our present sufferings as light afflictions which are only for a moment, but he describes the glory as an exceeding and eternal weight—“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). If we could only appreciate the glory that is going to be ours, we could consider the sufferings along the way as trivia! I suppose no person, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, ever suffered as Paul suffered. Paul was beaten, he was stoned, and he was dragged outside the city and left for dead. That was only a part of what he went through. After reading about the terrible afflictions, which the Apostle Paul endured, it may seem hard for us to understand how he could speak of them as a light affliction. In one sense, they were not at all light. They were bitter and cruel. However, the explanation lies in the comparison, which Paul makes. The afflictions viewed by themselves might be heavy, but when compared with the eternal weight of glory that lies ahead, they are light. Our sufferings and glory are closely identified with Christ’s sufferings and glory. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him; but if we deny Him, He will deny us. “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12). In addition, the light affliction lasts only a moment, whereas the glory is eternal. The lessons we learn through afflictions in this world will yield rich fruit for us in the world to come.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Paul personifies the whole creation (that is, all that God has created) as eagerly looking forward to the time when we will be revealed to a wondering world as the sons of God. This will be when the Lord Jesus returns to reign and we return with Him. That will take place at the beginning of the Millennium (Christ’s thousand-year earthly reign). At that time, the curse will be lifted and the earth will be restored to how it was before sin entered the world.

When He comes, He will be revealed in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. There will be no doubt that it is He, for according to Revelation 1:7, “and every eye shall see Him…and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.” He will come in the clouds and great glory; and we (the bride of Christ, the true church) will come with Him. I am not referring here to the Rapture, but to the Second Coming (the Revelation). Jesus comes first for His church, in the Rapture; then He will come in great glory in the Revelation, with His church, “and every eye shall see

Him.” Jude speaks of His coming with ten thousands of His saints (Jude 14). Paul says that creation eagerly waits for this event to happen. The word creation means all of God’s creation below the human level. Creation must be restored, because sin brought distortion, not only to humankind but also to the universe in which he lives.

So great is this glory that the material world (the creation of earth, the animal kingdom, etc.) itself is pictured as standing on tiptoe with expectancy, longing for and looking to the glory that is about to be revealed when the children of God shall be manifested (visible) in the likeness of their Lord. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn. 1:1-3). Paul wants us to look at the wonderful love that brought us into the family of God. Love could have saved us without making us children of God. Nevertheless, the manner of God’s love is shown in that he brought us into His family as children.

Now as we walk about from day to day, the world does not recognize us as children of God. The people of the world do not understand us or the way we behave. The world did not understand the Lord Jesus either when He was here on earth. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Since we have the same characteristics as the Lord Jesus, we cannot expect the world to understand us, either. However, understood or not, now we are children of God, and this is our guarantee of future glory.

We are already the sons of God, but the world does not recognize us or appreciate us as such. Yet the world is looking forward to a better day, and that day cannot come until the King returns to reign with all His saints. “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own” (JBP).

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

Creation originally was not cursed; it was good. It was not subjected to futility; it was perfect. Nevertheless, today, creation is cursed; it is not in its original state, and it is not how it will be someday. When Adam sinned, his transgression affected not only humankind but also all of creation, both animate and inanimate. Even the ground is cursed. Remember, God said to Adam, “Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread…” (Gen. 3:18-19). Man is condemned to exhausting labor in order to make a living. However, it should be noted here that work itself is not a curse; it is more often a blessing. It is the sorrow, toil, frustration, perspiration, and weariness connected with work that is the curse.

Man was cursed, the land was cursed, and in addition, many wild animals die violent deaths. Disease afflicts birds and animals as well as fish and serpents. The results of man’s sin have rippled like shockwaves throughout all creation. Therefore, as Paul explains, the creation was subjected to futility, frustration, and disorder, not by its own choice, but by the decree of God because of the disobedience of the first man, Adam. Tornados, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and drought are just a few evidences of the destruction caused by nature year-after-year. Although the Lord brought this about, He did it in hope, that is, with a definite hope for a future day when the frustration will be removed.

The writer of Ecclesiastes observed, “There is nothing in this life (apart from Jesus Christ) which provides lasting significance to life. If the hand of God were today removed from His creation, all that existed would be found pursuing a course of ultimate frustration.”

He who subjected it in hope can only mean God, for only God can subject His creation in hope.

The words in hope may also be connected with the next verse: in hope that creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.


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