“But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:25).
As a pastor, sometimes my heart goes out to church members who are hurting. I pray for the aging man who suffers daily with arthritis pain. I grieve for the older widow who has lost her husband and can’t move on. I hurt for the lady who found out her unbelieving husband of 30+ years is having an affair. I care about the man serving several years in prison for an irresponsible act that gave him five minutes of pleasure. These are all believers who have the Spirit of Christ in their lives.
Our hope must be in something beyond what we are currently experiencing. Painful as life may be, we can’t give up hope in what is coming next. This is what I call the ‘Resurrection Principle’. When something within your life dies or is stolen from you, you have a right as a child of God, to have that restored. You have a legal claim as a joint heir with Christ.
So, we wait patiently for our hope to be fulfilled. Don’t settle for less than being an over-comer.
Tags: hope, restoration, resurrection
“For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for it” (Romans 8:24). This is an illustrative statement, not a doctrinal statement. Paul clearly said in Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God“.
So Paul is not saying here that we were saved by hope. He was saying that when we become saved by grace through faith, hope in what God did and says becomes our lifestyle.
But once you’ve received the promise, what do we need to hope for any longer? You see, there is much more to Christianity than any of us have already experienced. We’ve only received a taste of God’s goodness. When I hear or read about heaven, I know that’s yet in my future. As the singing group Mercy Me sang, “I Can Only Imagine”.
Our hope is in what we have not yet received. What are you hoping for today? What might God, the Deliverer, do for you today?
Tags: faith, hope
Paul had just described in v. 23 that all of creation is groaning for deliverance. Now he brings that down home: “And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
Having received the “first fruits” [there will be many more to follow], we also are doing the same groaning in our inner selves as we struggle with our own deaths, failures, and unfairness. Life just isn’t fair.
Those of us who have the Spirit already have received the first stage of our redemption, having our sins and offenses washed away by Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. I’m now free from my past!
The second stage of our redemption is when we were adopted into the family of God, where we become insiders with all the saints across all denominational lines. We’re in this journey together and we need each other.
But the third stage of our redemption is the redemption of our bodies, also called the resurrection. There is a day in the future when our souls will leave this life of vanity and enter the presence of the Lord. Or, hopefully, the rapture of the church occurs before that. But Revelation 20 describes a day when the righteous shall have new, glorified bodies. All tears shall be wiped away and all physical ailments will be gone.
In the meanwhile, we patiently wait with optimistic hope for that day.
Tags: hope, redemption, resurrection
Paul had said in v. 19 that “the earnest expectation of the creation waits…“. He continues that thought: “For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope” (Romans 8:20). Why would a loving God submit all of creation (the whole worldly system) to vanity and emptiness and futility. Why is it we wrap our lives up in relationships that will end in death, the accumulation of wealth that will be divided among others, and pampering bodies that just get wrinklier with age? What’s the purpose?
The answer to that goes all the way back to the creation story, the fall of man, when in proclaiming judgment upon sin, God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed [perpetually]; he [the woman’s seed] shall bruise your head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The earth is cursed because there is an ongoing war between creation and Satan. Satan, who is the god of this world, undermines God’s presence to deceive us in all corners.
We believers are part of creation and we do not willingly submit to this life of vanity. It is forced upon us by this curse. Is there no hope for those of us who cry out to God for mercy? Absolutely. Note that our verse ends with the phrase “in hope“. That verse ending actually interrupts Paul’s thought, which we’ll continue in the next blog entry on v. 21.
But its that final word, “hope” that we hang onto. Have hope in God’s grace and mercy today.
Tags: creation, curse, hope
“For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
When Paul uses the word “creation” in verses 19-22, he is referring to the natural order of creation: the carnal mind, the fleshly natural world around us, with its own way of coping with worldly problems. The “earnest expectation” he refers to here is the natural hope that we all have that something good will come out of something bad.
The hope of the world has been that some prophet or judge will step up and give us small, temporary breakthroughs, like those recorded throughout the Old Testament. We are naturally hoping for the “sons of God” to be manifest so we can be delivered. We want a quick fix for our right-now problems.
So, we’re waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting. Its been that way now since Adam and Eve got evicted from Eden. We cannot appreciate what Jesus provided for us until we understand the hopeless dilemma the world finds itself in.
Paul gives us hope ahead, but we first must travel a little deeper down this dark natural path through vanity, corruption, and groaning. We’ll do that with Paul over the next couple of days.
Tags: hope, nature, patience
“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul here concludes the Love Chapter, but is only midway through the teaching on spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts should not be taught without a full understanding of how Agape love works. If love is left out, spiritual gifts “puff up“, breed “envy“, and lead to “vaunting” oneself above others. (1 Cor. 13:4). I’ve seen some of the ugliest people in Pentecostal churches competing for who is the greatest in these supernatural gifts. The better question is: who succeeds in loving others into the Kingdom? Jesus said, Whoever is greatest among you should be servant of all (Mark 10:43-44).
Although spiritual gifts are only temporary, and although Jesus will one day return and answer all these mysteries and questions we have, there are three foundational principles that will always be steady: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith is seeing God in the current picture and believing for something better. Hope is the earnest expectation that God is up to something good whether I see the big picture or not. And Love is allowing God to love sinners through us. Love is unconditional and sacrificial, and never gives up.
I heard a testimony the other day about a Christian woman living in a Muslim land. A man persecuted her by pouring hot sauce into her eyes in public. She cried out in agony, “I still pray for you, ———“. He replied that he would be back to teach her an even greater lesson. That night the Muslim man had a dream about Isah (Jesus). He couldn’t shake it from his mind, so he went to her and asked her to tell him about Isah. She did and the dream gave him the faith to accept Christ. Today he is a leader in the church in that closed Muslim nation. That’s how Love overcomes evil.
Tags: Christian love, faith, hope, persecution
Pastor Thomas Collins was visiting a family in his church when the mother was very depressed and despondent and felt that God had forsaken them. Looking at the baby in the woman’s arms, Pastor Collins said to her, “Drop that baby on the floor.”
Startled by the suggestion, she looked at him in disbelief. “Well,” he said, reaching for his wallet, “for what price would you do it?” Indignantly she replied, “Not for as many dollars as there are stars!”
He then said kindly, “Tell me, do you really think that you love your child more than the Lord does His?” That truth broke through the woman’s despair.
We all face times of deep trial. That is the time to strengthen our faith in God’s love and His promise to carry us through. Jesus said clearly, “No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28). He was talking about you.
Tags: hope, trouble