B.C.P. Trinity 4 - Romans 8:18-23
Romans 8: 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity ( frustration ), not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
A closely sealed vase was found in a mummy pit in Egypt. In it were discovered a few peas, old, wrinkled, and hard as stone. The peas were planted carefully under a glass, and at the end of 30 days, they sprang into life, after having lain sleeping in the dust of a tomb for almost 3,000 years - a faint illustration of the mortal body which shall put on immortality.
In this short passage we have thousands of years of humankind's relationship with God.
Paul first alludes to the time when Adam disobeyed God, letting sin in the world and bringing sickness, sin, death and disorder into the created order. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity ( frustration ), not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
This refers to God allowing this disorder which was a natural consequence of humankind's sin.
The sufferings of this present time, verse 18, refer to the sufferings that everyone experiences in this life as well as the sufferings associated with being a Christian.
This is contrasted with the glory that waits for every follower of Jesus. Paul refers to the manifestation of the sons of God, verse 19.
The word refers to the removal of a covering, like the unveiling of a statue. Previously it had been a rough, unattractive piece of stone which has been transformed to reveal a beautiful sculpture.
Believers experience some of the joys of a right relationship with God in this life. Forgiveness of sins, unconditional love and acceptance, joy, peace, hope, answered prayer, the care and fellowship with fellow believers.
Yet there are still the difficulties of living in a world which is subject to sin and death, and of suffering for one's faith.
Paul uses the image of childbirth to describe this for the believer and the created order. 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
The pain of childbirth is forgotten relatively soon and replaced by the joy of new birth.
The pain of this world will be forgotten very quickly by believers when God gives them new, perfect resurrection bodies like Jesus. Bodies that are not subject to wear and tear, sickness, injury, or death. This 'glorious liberty' will free us to be the people we were intended to be. To have fellowship with God for ever, praising, serving and worshipping him.
The created order will also be renewed, Revelation 21 refers to a new heaven and a new earth.
If you make a major purchase, for example buying a car, you may need to make a deposit to guarantee the final payment.
God has given a similar guarantee to believers by giving them the Holy Spirit. He, the Spirit, is described as "firstfruits".
This looks back to the Old Testament when the Israelites brought the first part of their harvest as an offering to God. They were acknowledging that everything comes from God and showing confidence that God would provide the remainder of the harvest for them ( Exod 23:19 ).
In giving His Spirit when someone comes to faith God is making a pledge that there is more to come. He will complete the process of salvation.
Paul refers to "the redemption of our body", verse 23.
The word "redeemed" was from the market place. It meant to buy back. Christians have already been redeemed. Jesus has paid the price for our sins on the cross, something we celebrate and proclaim in this service.
Although we have been redeemed and adopted as children of God there is more to come. We are to look forward eagerly to this certain hope and patiently endure the trails of this life.
Perhaps I can illustrate our journey will Christ in this way. Imagine a train in a long, dark tunnel. We were lost, in the dark when we were without Christ.
When we came to trust in Jesus some light dawned. Someone put the carriage light on which brought us some security.
We are waiting to emerge from the tunnel. When the light will temporarily blind us and the darkness be replaced by myriad colours.
1 Corinthians 15: 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.