BETWEEN THE TIMES
Gracious Lord, I’m grateful that You see what I’ve been, You know what I am, and You see what I will become. I want Your future for me.
Read ROMANS 8:18–30
Present Suffering and Future Glory
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[a] 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.
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. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For 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. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.’1
Paul’s focus so far has been on personal relationship with God and the community of the faithful. We could lose sight of the wider creation of which we are a part and on which we depend. Here Paul redresses the balance. Yes, we are part of a creation that is failing to reach its goal and so has become frustrated. Yes, this is because it has been suppressed and therefore obstructed (v 20). Yes, the creation is groaning and in pain (v 22) and we humans groan with it (v 23). Yet the pain is not the pain of death but that of childbirth as a new, redeemed creation struggles to be born. Creation itself longs to share in God’s future, one in which our bodies will be redeemed and all creation will be liberated to share the freedom into which we are entering in Christ. What a fantastic, all-encompassing, world-affirming vision!
The word that summarizes this is hope. If we are saved by grace through faith, we are motivated and moved by hope, the vision of a glorious future for all things. There is much to look forward to and much to pray for as we say, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’.2 The Christian faith is future-orientated and we long for a world set free. Because we do not know how and when this can be, God’s Spirit interprets our longings to the Father (vs 26,27). In the end, by God’s gift, goodness and love will triumph over all (v 28).
From eternity, God has purposed a cosmic redemption and has been pursuing that goal, through history and through those whom God has called (vs 29,30). In Christ, God has shown us what the future looks like and now, with him and for him, we pursue the consummation of all things for his glory.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes … for the old order of things has passed away.’3
Lord Jesus, as Your Word reminds me, the thought of Your return should motivate me to live a holy and godly life. Today, lead me further along on this journey.
1 2 Pet 3:13 2 Matt 6:10 3 Rev 21:4