Assurance of Hope (Romans 8:18-25)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23, 2021
In his book The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani shares a story from a trip he took to India with his father. While walking the streets of New Delhi, a little boy approached them. He was “skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself.” Because of his condition, the little boy could only waddle along on his calloused knees. He made his way toward Skye and his father and cried out, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” Skye describes what happened when his father eventually responded to the boy’s persistent begging:
“What do you want?” [my father asked].
“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.
“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give up five rupees. The boy started shuffling away, mumbling curses under his breath.
My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five-rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin in his hand. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.
A moment later the shouting resumed, except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—but not for more money but to touch my father’s feet. …
This, I imagine, is how our God sees us—as miserable creatures in desperate need of his help. But rather than asking for what we truly need, rather than desiring what he is able and willing to give, we settle for lesser things.
Do you realize that? God loves us and He sees us with our real needs. God sees our needs. God wants to save us. God gives us the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our salvation (Eph. 1:14). We do settle for lesser things but we have hope.
Today, we will look at Romans 8:18-25.
The Assurance of Hope
The believer has a new hope, the final redemption of all things.
- Present grief versus future glory (verse 18).
- Verse 18 reads: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Paul had been writing how we are adopted. Paul had been writing about how we are fellow heirs with Christ. Paul had been writing about how the Spirit testifies that we are children of God. Now, Paul begins to write about how our present suffering does not compare with our future glory. Paul writes about our hope.
- I notice that Paul acknowledges suffering, do you notice that?
- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time… Paul mentions “sufferings,” but also “present time.”
- We all suffer in this present time. We are all going through struggles. We all go through sicknesses, if not ourselves, our friends and family face sicknesses. We all go through mental illness, if not ourselves, our friends and family face mental illness. We all go through spiritual attacks, temptations, and even spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-12). This is true whether we realize it or not. We suffer.
- Paul here is acknowledging that we suffer.
- Paul does not say, “the suffering is not real…” Paul does not say, “toughen up…” No, Paul is comparing the suffering with our future with Jesus.
- Paul says the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Paul is contrasting the two.
- Paul is referring to the resurrection of the body.
- We are to make our present pain seem small in comparison to what is coming.
- 2 Co 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
- 1 Pe 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
- Some day God will make all things new. That is in Revelation 21:1-4.
- A few weeks ago someone died an untimely death. But the person was a believer in Christ. I was told the person was looking forward to playing cards with family again after COVID. As I prayed I thought, “This person is much happier in heaven.” No matter when we die, if we are in Christ, we will be happier in Heaven. We are always asking the Lord, “Why did You take them so soon?” They are in Heaven asking the opposite. They are in heaven asking the Lord when He will restore all things (Revelation 6:9-11).
- What is coming? Let’s look at the next few verses.
- Paul’s metaphor of creation (verses 19-23).
- Verse 19 reads: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
- Paul now broadens the subject matter.
- In verse 18 Paul used “I” and “us.” These are both personal pronouns. Now, Paul looks at this from a broader view. Now, he looks at this not from an individual perspective, but rather from a broader perspective. Now, Paul writes about all of creation suffering. All of creation is waiting with “eager” longing… or, literally, “eager expectations.” All of creation is waiting expectantly and how are they waiting “eagerly.” All of creation is earnestly waiting. As one writes: He personified it as leaning forward eagerly in anticipation of the great day in which God will fully redeem it too (cf. Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:28).
- What is all of creation waiting for? Creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.
- Who are the sons of God? That is us, actually we are sons and daughters of God and that is powerful. Remember verse 16 about this, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- Creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed and this would mean glorifying the sons of God when all is made new and right.
- What is wrong with creation? Sin. Everything is fallen, all creation is depraved and needs redeemed. “all creation” means all animals, insects, stars, asteroids, rivers, oceans, cells, everything is marred by sin.
- Look at verses 20-21: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
- Everything, all creation was subjected to futility. One source says: This refers to the inability to achieve a goal or purpose. Because of man’s sin, God cursed the physical universe (Ge 3:17–19), and now, no part of creation entirely fulfills God’s original purpose.
- Bobby Murphy wrote about this in a blog article, he wrote: Those verses reveal when Adam and Eve “fell” in the garden, so did the rest of creation, also called “nature.” There is a spiritual link between humans and nature so defined that nature’s destiny, from the beginning in Genesis 1:1, was tied up with the destiny of humans, and still is. When humans sinned and were cursed, so was nature. As beautiful and joy producing as nature is, therefore, there’s something wrong with it. It’s futile and corrupt.
- This futility and corruption are evident in non-living things and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that is, the Law of Increased Entropy. Left to itself, our sun, for instance, will eventually “grow cold and die.”
- As sociologist Tony Campolo points out though, it’s most evident in animals and two obvious characteristics God never intended but they routinely display. One is their brutality. So, hawks swoop down and rip open the necks of mice and squirrels or adorable lion cubs with bloody faces chew at the carcass of a Zebra their mother killed. The other characteristic is their fear: the rabbit frozen in its tracks, the wildcat hunching its back, the rattlesnake poised to strike, or dogs slinking to the ground. Those are without doubt postures of alarm.
- One source shares: Verses 19–21 are Paul’s commentary on Gn 3. When Jesus returns to earth with His people, the curse will be lifted from the world. Inanimate creation is personified in this passage as looking forward to the restoration of creation.
- Creation was subjected to futility, but not willingly… how? Who is the “him” who subjected it? This happened at the fall. God ultimately subjected it, but this happened because of sin entering the world, but there is a goal. Verse 21 shows that creation is waiting to be set free.
- Look at verses 22-23: For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
- All of creation is waiting for redemption. Look at the language Paul is using. All of creation is going through labor pangs. All of creation is going through childbirth. In verse 23 Paul comes back to us. All of creation is groaning in childbirth and so are we. We, Christians, have the firstfruits of the Spirit. That means that we have the firstfruits, that is a pledge that more is to come.
- What is the firstfruits? I think the firstfruits would be the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (Romans 8:9; Galatians 5:22-23).
- We are first groaning and waiting eagerly for adoption as sons, but we are ultimately waiting on the redemption of our bodies.
- I think right here Paul means resurrection. We are eagerly waiting until when God makes all things new. Paul will come back to this in verses 29-30.
- Also, as one source shares: First fruits may have OT offering connotations (cf. Lv 23). The first fruits offering was to show one’s trust in the Lord, that if He has provided early aspects of the harvest, He could be trusted for good provision later. God has given the Spirit to believers at the present time, establishing an unbreakable connection between the initial experience of salvation and its end in eternity. The Spirit is both the first installment of our salvation and the down payment of the pledge that guarantees the remaining stages of the work of God in our salvation.
- We wait patiently and confidently (verses 24-25).
- Look now at verses 24-25: For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- Paul talks about our hope. We were saved with the hope of when God will make all things new.
- We hope, not for what we see, but what we do not see.
- This is why we wait with patience.
- Think of this way.
- Until the last 30 or so years women did not see their babies until they were born, right? For many of you, you did not know if you were going to have a baby boy or a baby girl until the baby came. You know what that was like. You had hope. You had hope for the baby to come. You knew that you had a baby coming, but you had not seen the baby yet. The birth pangs came and eventually the baby comes. You waited patiently and then your baby came. But you had to go through labor first.
- Paul wrote about our creation in birth pangs in verse 22, and like a pregnant mother, creation is waiting for the baby to come. The birth is when God will restore all things and make all things new.
- We do not see our hope, but we trust in the promises of God.
- Our salvation is secure as long as we persevere in the faith, but our salvation is as of yet unseen so it is a matter of hope. We wait in faith and patience.
- Our suffering does not compare to our eternal life (verse 18). We must remember this. We must always remember that this world is the only hell we will experience. We must always remember to keep it in perspective.
- We must always remember that people in heaven are not thinking that they wished they lived longer.
- We must remember that God has a better plan, all of creation is fallen (verses 20-23).
- We must know that we have the firstfruits, we have the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our inheritance (verse 23).
- We must remember that we have hope. In Christ we always have hope.
- We must patiently wait for when God restores all things (verses 24-25).
- We must share the good news of Jesus with others.
The doctor said, “If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one.”
The doctor was talking about Alcides Moreno. By every law of physics and medicine, Moreno should have died. Moreno was a window washer in Manhattan. He rode platforms with his brother Edgar high into the sky to wash skyscrapers. From there he could look down to see the pavement far below where the people looked like ants. On December 7, 2007, catastrophe struck the Moreno family. As the brothers worked on the 47th story of a high rise, their platform collapsed, and Alcides and Edgar fell from the sky.
If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one.
No, Alcides Moreno didn’t land on a passing airplane or catch his shirt on a flagpole or have anything else amazing happen like you see in the movies; he fell the entire 47 stories to the pavement below. As would be expected, his brother Edgar died from the fall, but somehow Alcides did not. He lived. For two weeks he hung on to life by a thread. Then, on Christmas Day, he spoke and reached out to touch his nurse’s face. One month later, the doctors were saying that he would probably walk again some day.
If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one.
In the beginning of the human race, Adam also fell from a great height. From sinless glory in the image of God, Adam rebelled against God and fell into sin and death and judgment, and in this terrible fall he brought with him the whole human race. But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God the Son left the heights of heaven and descended to the earth to become a man. He lived a sinless life and then willingly went to the cross to die for the sins of Adam’s fallen race. On the third day he rose again, and in his resurrection he made it possible for all to rise again and live forever.
If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one.
 Source: Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity (Zondervan, 2009), pp. 113-114
 John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 8:20.
 Source: “It Wasn’t All Bad,” The Week (1-18-08), p. 4