Romans 8:18-25

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)

According to Scripture, hope will last forever, along with faith and love.

In Isaiah 40:31 the Scriptures say:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

“But they that wait upon the Lord” is sometimes translated “hope in the Lord,” and at other times translated “trust in the Lord.” Hope and faith are tied closely together. The dictionary defines hope as:
...to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true
...to trust

The Christian cherishes a desire with anticipation for the return of Christ. We also trust that this will happen, not in a “wishing it to be true” sort of way. Rather, we anticipate it and hope in it because we have great confidence that it is true.

This world attacks our hope in many ways. Doubt and uncertainty are our enemies. Our loved ones are attacked by disease. Family members die. Pain and suffering are a part of every life. In the midst of these attacks, it is essential that we do not lose hope. Hope gives courage to face our challenges, and strength to overcome obstacles.  Hope bolsters up weak hearts and encourages the weary. Hope strengthens weak hands and straightens bent backs.

Romans 8:18-25 teaches us about the hope of the believer.

In Romans 8:18-25, we see our need for hope and the content of our hope.

First, we will examine our need for hope.

Put quite simply, we need hope because we suffer.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)

Romans 8:18 speaks of “the sufferings of this present time.” The fact is we suffer. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) The song from the 1970s said, “I never promised you a rose garden along with the sunshine. There’s got to be a little rain sometimes...” Suffering is something that everyone experiences, although not everyone experiences suffering the same in quantity or quality. 

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can speak of two types of suffering. One type of suffering is in this world because of sin. Because we are sinners, all humanity experiences death, disease and the consequences of what is called the Fall. Believer and unbeliever alike suffer the effects of this type of suffering.

Another type of suffering is experienced by believers alone. As believers in Jesus Christ, we suffer persecution for the name of Christ. I am not saying no one else suffers persecution. However, the persecution others may suffer is not for the sake of Christ. This changes the meaning and the content of the suffering. Jesus said:
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

For the unbeliever, this present age is the best they are going to get. For the Bible promises:
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment... (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

So, we know that judgment is certain, However, God sent His Son into the world to save us from the coming judgment. Therefore, John 3:36 warns us:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)

We must understand the dividing line revealed in this coming judgment in relation to our suffering. For the one who chooses to pay for their own sins by rejecting the free gift of God, life will end and lead to even more suffering, and that suffering will be eternal. It will have no end. For the one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, this life will end and lead to life everlasting. It too will never end.

For the believer, “the sufferings of the present time” become “light and momentary.” (“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV)
Indeed, in light of eternity, what comparison can there be between our short lives here on earth and the never-ending life to follow?

I do not want to diminish the reality of the pain, anguish and torture both physical and emotional that is implied in the fact of our suffering. Indeed, the Greek word translated “suffering” in our English Bibles means:
the capacity and privilege of experiencing strong feeling; felt, deep emotion, like agony, passion (ardent desire), suffering, etc.[1]

Notice that this definition uses the word privilege in describing our ability to experience strong emotions. This points to the fact that the very capacity that allows us to experience the ecstasies of love and passion has been turned against us by sin to cause us grief and pain. However, for the believer in Jesus Christ, suffering is not all bad. Suffering can be of redemptive value. As discipline from the hand of a loving Heavenly Father, suffering can serve to make us complete in Him. As suffering for the name of Christ, it can help to fulfill Christ’s mission on earth to reconcile all creation to Himself.

Romans 8:20 tells us that all of creation was subjected to futility. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes explores the futility of life. Another word for futility is “vanity,” or even better “emptiness.” This futility and emptiness is such that the entire creation groans as if in the pains of childbirth.

Notice also that Romans 8:20 says that the creation was subjected to futility against its will. Now, we know that inanimate objects cannot have a will like we do. However, they have a purpose. Because of sin, they are subjected to a situation in which they cannot function according to their purpose or design. This is why when the Bible speaks of God restoring the order of nature, it says:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6 ESV)

While I have been talking about suffering, I have continually been referring to things that give us believers hope. Our need for hope is so tied to our suffering that this is almost unavoidable. The world has been subjected to futility and we see this best when we consider suffering. This is why we need hope. Hope is what gives meaning to our suffering and imbues it with purpose. Hope replaces futility, or hope fills the emptiness.  Without hope, our suffering would be unendurable and meaningless.

For the person who has not yet put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, there is but one hope, and that hope is found in Jesus Christ. The believer also has his or her hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our need for hope is best shown in our suffering. Now let us consider the content of our hope.

Again, referring to Romans 8:18, we see that it says:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)

The content of our hope is contained in the phrase “...the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Verse 19 speaks of “...the revealing of the sons of God.”

We believers are promised many great and glorious things in the gospel. The everlasting life promised to everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is not just a continuation of an existence like the existence we have here and now. It is life as God created it to be. As I pointed out previously, our ability to experience passion, strong emotion and love are tremendous gifts that have been turned against us by sin. When sin is removed, there will be no more pain or suffering, but the ability to experience strong emotions will be put to its full and intended use. Imagine with me the pleasure of a cool glass of orange juice, the sweet cool tanginess as you enjoy swallowing this treat, and now realize that in heaven there will be pleasure without pain. This is just one example of the glory that will be revealed to us. Eternal life is life as God created it to be, and it is life in His presence.

Romans 8:23 also speaks of the “...redemption of our bodies.”

Here again, it is important for us believers to realize that we are going to get a new body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 says:
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 ESV

Our new body will be a spiritual body. We do not know what that will be like, but we know that it is glorious. As 1 Corinthians says, “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.” We know that our new bodies will be free from the results of sin.

Romans 8:21 says that the creation will be freed from its bondage to corruption. We know that in this world everything tends to decay. Nothing is excepted. It is one of the laws of our physical universe that all things tend toward decay and corruption. Our bodies are no exception, but part of the hope of the believer is that our new bodies will not decay. Our new bodies will not grow old and break down. As a matter of fact, the whole creation will be made new and nothing will grow old and break down.

So we see some of the content of our hope in glory, eternal life, new bodies and a new creation. However, the world asks, where is the evidence of these things? As Romans 8:24-25 makes clear, hope that is seen is not hope at all. We do not see these things at all in the world around us.

However, there is a clue in verse 23. Verse 23 speaks of “...the first fruits of the Spirit.”  The Bible tells us:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

For the believer, we have what is admittedly a subjective proof in the eyes of the world, but a certain confidence for us, namely, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So, although we do not see our hope, we have great confidence in our hope.

Although the Holy Spirit is the strongest guarantee for the believer, He is not the only evidence for our hope. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is objective evidence for our faith and our hope of the resurrection. The evidence is so strong historically that Christians, starting with the Apostles and continuing to this day, base their faith on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says:
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. ... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 ESV)

So, although we do not see our hope, we have strong reason to hope. We have the first fruits of the Spirit and we serve a risen Savior. There are other reasons for us to believe, but these two are enough to show us that we have reason for our confidence.

Seeing that we have such a great hope, we need to do what Romans 8:25 encourages us to do:
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:25 ESV)

Hope gives us the strength to wait. Hope causes us to wait with anticipation, eager anticipation. Because of hope, we can persevere in spite of the suffering and discouragement we experience in the world.

Fix your hope firmly on the glory that is to be revealed to us. Keep your hope focused on hope in the Lord Jesus Christ!

[1] http://biblehub.com/greek/3804.htm. Accessed July 6, 2018.


Popular posts from this blog

Let These Words Sink In

Who Do Men Say That I Am?

Samuel Anoints God’s Man