Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Romans 8:24-25 - Hope

Romans 8:24
 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Back into Romans. Sorry that I havent been posting, for one I'm in exams at the moment, and have been studying hard and the other thing is that I havent really known what to write about from Romans 8:19-23. This section has been about creation being renewed, though a number of commentaries say that creation should be interpreted a 'creature' and thus refers to the Gentiles or the Christian. Its all been a bit confusing, though useful nonetheless.

To understand this verse though, it is useful to look at Romans 8:23

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.
This verse says that we will be adopted as God's children, and our bodies will be 'redeemed' which I'm pretty sure refers to the restoration of our bodies at the end and therefore heaven and eternal life with God. Paul continues by talking about this hope we have. We know we are adopted as God's children, and we know that if we are Christians then we are going to heaven and will have eternal life with him, but the truth is that we only hope in these - we have not received either of them in full. It can be argued that we have received our adoption in full, and that is true - in God's sight we are totally forgiven, we are his children, he loves us and cares for us, he watches over us, he teaches us and rebukes us and trains us and he leads us where he wants us to go. But we have not been announced as his children, we are not in his presence eternally, and we do not have all the benefits of it yet. Likewise we are holy in God's sight, yet we live in a sinful world, we sin and we are surrounded by sin. We are holy and we are becoming holy - we will be in heaven. We are God's children and we will be God's children. It's kind of that we are, but we aren't quite yet.

So whats stopping God from just dashing our hopes? Why are we 'certain of what we do not see"? (Hebrews 11:1). Well because God is faithful. He has promised us heaven, being in his presence for eternity and without sin, mourning, pain or death (Revelation 21:3-4 and many many other verses), he has promised that we are forgiven he has promised that we are adopted as his children and he does not change his mind, he does not lie and he is faithful. Here's some verses so you know I'm not just making this up:

Psalm 33:4
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 36:5
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 1:9
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Numbers 23:19
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Malachi 3:6
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

Isaiah 46:10-11
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

God is faithful and he does not change, therefore our hope is certain. But why do we have hope in the first place? What is our hope based on? Well thats the gospel isn't it? In the beginning God created everything, and it was perfect. We then sinned and as a result there is sin and death and sickness and pain throughout the world. For worse then all that for us, we deserve God's wrath because he is just and hates sin and "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Roman 3:23). As a result we deserve death - not only physical death but spiritual death and therefore God's eternal wrath (i.e. hell) - "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a). Yet there is hope: Jesus is God, and he came to earth as a human. He lived among us, giving up his eternal glory for a time for us. He lived with us and then he died - he was murdered by those he came to save, but that also was his plan, so that by his death he could save us. He died when he alone did not deserve to die, since he was perfect. In his death "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) - we are, through Jesus alone, counted as righteous in God's sight - not by what we do, but by what Jesus did for us. How do we accept it? Repentance and faith - Romans 10:9 and Mark 1:15. We need to turn from our sin and say sorry to God, and we need to genuinely believe that he has saved us. We are no more deserving of heaven then anyone else in the world - we deserve it as much as the liars, the murderers, the rapists. We are sinful, and in God's eyes no matter how much sin we have committed, we are in rebellion to him and deserve his wrath. Jesus is our only hope - we don't deserve it. Thats the beauty of the gospel. We don't deserve it, yet God offers it freely. His mercy and grace are far greater then I can fathom.

So why does this hope involve waiting patiently? Well Barnes linked this passage and the preceding verses to the suffering we face here, and I think it fits. We hope in heaven and we fix our eyes on God and his promises and that enables us to wait patiently and persevere when we face hardship here on earth. We will suffer if we are Christians, Paul affirms this in 2 Timothy 3:12 - "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". We will suffer like anyone else, and we will suffer for our faith in Jesus. But it will be worth it, and our hope is a certain hope. It will be worth it - Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 come to mind: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." and "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." We will suffer here. No where in the bible are we told that we will not suffer. But God is with us (Hebrews 13:5, Zephaniah 3:17), he is in control (Romans 8:28), he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) and he will keep his promises. 

We have hope, and we have a hope which is worth waiting for. We need to desire heaven and hope for it strongly, and we need to wait patiently, serving God in our lives here and enduring suffering - trusting him also that he is using it for our good (1 Peter 1 and James 1:2-4). We have hope as Christians. So are you a Christian? Do you have this hope? If you are a Christian, do you believe this hope? Do you trust God that he is honest and truthful and will save? If you do then be encouraged! Be joyful, even in sufferings, because our suffering is nothing compared to the greatness of heaven and being in God's presence. It will all be worth it in the end for those who are in Christ! This is as much a lesson for me to learn from as anyone else who reads this.

God Bless!

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