Romans 8:18-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 6, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:18-25)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus, in John 16:33.

Do you see the connection between these two passages? The one Jesus spoke in the gospel of John happened first, and Paul further explains that same idea in today’s passage from the letter to the Romans.

It is a fact of life that we will have sufferings, struggles, and troubles in this world. But the difficulties of this life are not the point - the point is the future glory, and where we’re headed after our time on this earth. Paul alluded to this previously in his letter, in Romans 5:3-4, where he discussed the good character qualities that we can grow while we go through the sufferings of this life. Here, the focus is on what will be the climax of God’s plan - the glory we’ll experience in the future.

Future glory sounds great, right? But the catch is we have to wait for it. For a few thousand years already, we have been waiting for that future glory, and it still hasn’t happened yet. No one knows when that day or hour will come (Matthew 24:36), but we know that it will come someday. We must wait for it patiently, just as a woman waits for a child to be born. Paul uses this childbirth metaphor another way too - that all creation is groaning as we wait for the blessed event to happen. Both in childbirth and in living in this world, there is a lot of pain until that moment of joy when the child is finally born, or when we reach that future glory!

A few places in this passage, Paul talks about “the creation.” We as humans may think that means only people, since we know we’re the pinnacle of God’s creation. But Paul is speaking of the entire world, including nature - plants, trees, rocks, etc. are all included. Humans were the ones who caused the fall into sin (see Genesis 3), and the plants, trees, and rocks really had no part in that. But everything that was created by God has experienced the effects of the fall into sin, and everything that was created is groaning in suffering until Christ comes again to usher in the future glory.

There is something slightly confusing about this passage, however. In the couple verses just prior to it (verses 16-17), Paul wrote that we’re already adopted as children and heirs, co-heirs with Christ even. But here in verse 23, he writes that “we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship.” So, we’re already adopted, but we’re still waiting for adoption? How does that work?

There is a phrase among “churchy” circles that goes, “Already but not yet.” This phrase applies well to this concept here in Romans 8. We have already been adopted into the family of God by having faith in Jesus, the Son of God. We have been justified and made holy. But, we won’t be living in that justification and holiness fully until we get to heaven and enter that future glory. We are already sons and daughters of God, but we are not yet fully living in those roles while we’re still on the earth. It’s similar to the idea of simultaneously being a saint and a sinner, as I wrote about here.

Because we are living between the “already” and the “not yet,” hope is a way of life for followers of Jesus Christ. It’s more than simply hoping it won’t rain tomorrow; this hope is completely certain that it will come to pass. We hope with certainty that we will experience this future glory one day, especially since we do not have it now. We hope for what we do not yet have, and we wait for it patiently.

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