Destined for Glory! - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Romans 8:18-25

  • 2018-05-13 AM
  • Romans
  • Sermons

PDF

Well, I invite you to turn this morning with me to Romans 8, as we continue our journey through this magnificent chapter in Paul's letter to the Romans; Romans 8. We live in a dying universe. In fact, scientists tell us that the universe is slowly unwinding; it is gradually spreading out from its center; and even as it slowly marches toward what they believe will be its eventual disintegration, our universe, in ways that we never think about and in many ways that we never know, is filled with cosmic catastrophes. Across the far reaches of the universe there are explosions of such magnitude that they defy comparison or description. There are black holes that seem to suck in and destroy everything near them. There are so many hurling objects threatening planets and eventually even at times threatening life on this planet.

But our problems are not isolated to the vast expanse of the cosmos because the very same principles of decay and disintegration are part of life on this pale blue dot that we call earth and home. It's as if the earth itself groans under the weight of its own decay and dissolution. Whether it's the volcano we've all read about in Hawaii or an earthquake in Indonesia, a hurricane in Houston or a tornado in Tulsa, the earth itself reels and staggers as if it is in the throes of death.

But on a personal level, this is true as well. Each of us faces all of the myriad of the troubles and suffering and problems of this life. We don't like to think about it and there is joy in life in all that God has given us and yet, Job was right. Job, speaking in the time of the patriarch says in Job 5:7, "man is born for trouble, As (the) sparks fly upward." It is absolutely certain that you and I, living in a fallen world among fallen people, will experience trouble. There are the genetic glitches and weaknesses within each of us in which we are born; there are accidents and illnesses, diseases, tragedies, damaged relationships, pain. There is the harm that we endure because of the sin of others against us, and there is the harm we endure because of our own sins. There is the slow, gradual decay of the body, the tent in which we live, and there is beside all that the constant groaning of our souls, wondering: there must be more. There must be more to life than this. Why are all of these things in the cosmos, and why are these things in our lives?

Evolutionary theory doesn't hold an answer to this. The Bible alone does and the Bible answers that in one word, the word "sin". It all began with Adam's sin; and because God cursed the entire universe as an act of judgment on Adam's sin, we all now live in a decaying universe on a decaying planet filled with sin and suffering and pain and death. We live in decaying bodies, and those of us in Christ find even our redeemed souls incarcerated in unredeemed flesh. In fact, except for the redeemed souls of believers, nothing in the created universe is as it was made to be. But in Romans 8, Paul reminds us that all of this is going to change because we and this entire universe, those of us in Jesus Christ and everything God has made is destined for glory. That is all of the creation and every true believer.

Let's read it together, Romans 8, beginning in verse 18, and we're going to be studying the paragraph that runs down through verse 25. We'll begin our study of this paragraph today. I promise you we won't complete it. Romans 8, beginning in verse 18:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Now just to remind you of the context in which this paragraph occurs, we're studying Romans 8. And so far, in this great chapter, we have learned that our salvation as believers is absolutely secure. It is secure, we learned in the first four verses, because God has delivered us from all condemnation. In the second-place, we learned that our salvation is secure in verses 5 - 13 because God has changed and empowered us by His Spirit. He has begun a work in us and He will finish it. He will complete it; and therefore, we can rest in the security that's ours in Christ.

We recently discovered in verses 14 to 17 that our salvation is secure because, amazingly, the eternal God has adopted those who believe in Jesus Christ as His own children. We belong to Him just as surely, and more so, than our children to us.

Now, in the paragraph that we just read, we learn a fourth reason that our salvation is secure. Our salvation is secure because God has destined us for glory. God has destined us who have believed in Jesus Christ for glory.

Now in this paragraph that we've just read, verses 18 - 25, Paul answers several key questions. Frankly, they're questions that, if you're a thinking person, you should be asking. Questions like these, if you and I are such special objects of God's care and favor, then why is it that we still suffer in this life? Why do we still encounter the troubles that we do? Why do those who have, as Paul just said, "been set free from the law of sin and death," why do we still struggle with sin? Why do we still have intense trials and sufferings in this life, and why, if Christ doesn't return, will all of us who've "been set free from the law of sin and death," die? And how in the world do we maintain hope in the middle of these circumstances?

Paul's answer comes in verse 24. Notice what he says, "In hope we have been saved." In hope, something we don't have yet, and what exactly is it that we hope for? Notice verse 18, it is "the glory that is to be revealed to us."

You see, although we find great joy in our lives as Christians here and we ought to, we ought to, we ought to enjoy this life. It's made rich by God's goodness with friends and family and good food and all of the things that make life here a wonderful place for us to be. As wonderful as it is, it's important to understand that God's plan for us and for the entire cosmos is not yet complete. Throughout this paragraph, Paul develops a stark contrast; on the one hand there is our present suffering; on the other hand, there is our future glory. You see, if you're a Christian this morning, our Lord wants you to know that like the rest of creation, you find yourself waiting and hoping for something you don't yet have. What is that? It's the great consummation of God's eternal plan! It's coming, but we don't enjoy it yet.

Now, as Paul develops that contrast between now and future, between the present suffering and the future glory, he teaches us here in this paragraph three crucial lessons that underscore our security in Christ, lessons that strengthen our personal assurance that we really are in Christ, and lessons that equip us to deal with the sufferings of this life. So, I want us to begin to look at these lessons together.

The first lesson that he teaches us here is this: our future glory far outweighs our present sufferings; our future glory far outweighs our present sufferings. Notice verse 18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Now you'll notice that Paul connects this paragraph that we begin to study today to what has gone before with that little word "For". It's a word that explains a logical progress; he is about to give us an explanation, a cause, a reason and specifically for what he just said at the end of verse 17. Look at it. In verse 17 he says, "if [we are] children [of God, then we are] … heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ," and then he says this, "if indeed we suffer with … [Christ] so that we may also be glorified with Him."

Now he's not talking about our suffering with Christ on the cross in some mystical way. That's not what he's referring to here. He's talking about Christ as a man, enduring all the sufferings that were a part of life on this, and are a part of life on this fallen planet, in order that Christ could receive the glory that the Father had promised Him. He went through everything this life delivered so that He could get the inheritance, the promise that God had given Him; and for Him of course, that included the cross. The same is true for us. We don't face the cross of Christ, but we have to live through the difficulties and the troubles of this life. We are already children of God; we are already heirs of God; and the sufferings of this life, although they are profound and painful, do not, in fact, cannot alter or sever our relationship to God and Jesus Christ. But to gain our inheritance, to gain our promised glory like Christ, we must be willing to endure the sufferings and troubles of this life, remaining faithful to our Father through them all. And when we do, we receive, as Christ did, the promised inheritance.

Now don't misunderstand what Paul is saying here. Paul doesn't mean that we somehow earn our future glory. You see, Christ, the one-of-a-kind, unique Son of God, is the only one who ever earned His inheritance. We, on the other hand, were by nature God's enemies, and it was solely by His grace that He adopted us as His children; and so, understand this: whatever inheritance we get in the future, if it's anything besides eternal hell, it will be all grace.

So, with that clarification, let's take apart verse 18 and see if we can understand what Paul is teaching us here. I want you first of all to consider, as we look at how our future glory outweighs our present sufferings, I want to look at that expression, "the sufferings of this present time." We need to understand that first of all, "the sufferings of this present time." What are these sufferings? By the way, literally the Greek text says, "the sufferings of the now time." It doesn't mean just those sufferings that you may happen to have at this moment. He's talking about this age in which we live, life in an un-renewed world, in a fallen world, in the now age, we could say, "in the present time".

Now what are these sufferings? Well this word that's used here is often used of the suffering that comes to believers because of their faith, because of their confession of Jesus Christ as Lord; in other words, persecution of various kinds. And there are some commentators who think that's all Paul means here. He's just talking about enduring persecution. But that can't be all that he means. It has to mean more because Paul even speaks in this passage as you heard as I read, "of the suffering of the creation" that came as a result of sin and the curse. So, in context, Paul is talking about all that we suffer as a result of living in a universe and in a world and even in a body that is subjected to sin and God's curse. It is all the suffering, everything that has brought you grief and sorrow and trouble and difficulty in this life, all the suffering that results from living in a decaying world and in a decaying body.

It includes persecution of course, but it includes so much more. It includes all of the troubles, all of the trials of this life. It includes inherited genetic struggles. It includes illness and disease, those difficult events that come in life that we call accidents, financial struggles, the loss of a job, cancer in ourselves or in others that we love and on and on and on the list could go, anything that has brought sorrow into your life, anything that is brought grief into your soul. Every trial, every trouble, large and small. It even includes the battle with our own sin and eventually our death. Those are the sufferings of this present time. Again, it is all encompassing. If you're in Christ, Paul is talking about anything that has come, that is or will come into your life that has brought you sorrow and grief and disappointment and distress; the sufferings of this present time.

By the way, it's important to note that God never promises us anywhere in the Scripture that we will be exempt from the troubles of this life. There are segments of the professing Christian church, specifically in the charismatic movement, where there are those who teach that if you will trust in Christ, then you will experience a trouble-free life. Folks, if that's what you believe, you are going to be greatly disillusioned because the Bible nowhere promises that. In fact, God didn't even protect His own one-of-a-kind, unique Son from the troubles of this life. Just think about what Jesus encountered in this life. He was born in a way that from His very birth He was criticized as being an illegitimate son. His father died when He was young. He had to take on the responsibility of supporting His mother and at least six younger siblings. All of His siblings rejected His claims to be the Messiah until after the resurrection. He was called a child of the devil and in cooperation with Beelzebub. He was called everything imaginable, and then He was not only persecuted by the religious establishment, but He was eventually to face physical suffering like none of us will ever face and death itself which we will. So, the Father, who loved the Son more than we can imagine, didn't choose to protect Him from the troubles of this life, and He hasn't promised to protect you from the troubles of this life either.

Let me add one more point that might seem harsh, but it's just reality. Nowhere has God promised that those troubles that you are facing are going to get better in this life. They may, God sometimes in His providence does that, and certainly I hope that for you as I would hope that for myself, I would pray that for you as I would pray that for myself. But there's no guarantee, no promise that your suffering here is going to get better. No, we face the troubles of this life, the sufferings of the "now time" and it's our present suffering that serves as the dark backdrop for the remarkable contrast that Paul gives us in verse 18. Notice the second part of this eighteenth verse, "the glory that is to be revealed to us, the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Now first of all, a very important point, who is "us?" This is not a promise to everybody here this morning, and I don't say that harshly. I just say that honestly. This is not a promise to every person sitting here this morning. This is a promise to believers only, those who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ, who own Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In fact, again in the interest of honesty, let me just say, if you're here this morning, and you've not confessed Jesus as Lord, there is no hope for you apart from Him. Absolutely none! In fact, you could take this verse, and you could restate it this way for you. "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the suffering that you will endure forever." I plead with you this morning. Jesus Christ has never turned a single person who's come honestly and repentantly to Him away. If you will come to Him, you will find Him open to accept you and receive you on His terms, but to forgive you as we have sung together and to make these truths a reality in your life.

Specifically, this phrase "the glory that is to be revealed to us" reads like this in the Greek text, "The glory that is about to be revealed to us." Now, by saying "about to be," Paul didn't mean that it was going to happen soon; obviously, it's been over 2000 years since he wrote this. Instead, this expression "about to be," was often used by Greek writers when they wanted to underscore the certainty of something. So, when Paul says it's "about to be," he is saying, "it is absolutely certain." Paul is absolutely certain this glory is coming; it's inevitable that it's going to be revealed to us. Keep your finger here and look over at Colossians 3; Colossians 3:4, here's how he puts it to the church in Colossae, "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." Or, look at 1 Peter 5; 1 Peter 5:1. Peter writes, "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, [Listen to this. Now Peter's talking about himself and all of us who are true believers.] … a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed…."

What is he talking about? What is Paul talking about back in chapter 8 of Romans? What's this glory that's in our future? Well, there are two hints that help fill out our understanding and make it clear. Look back in verse 17 of Romans 8:17 says, "if children, [we're] heirs also, heirs of God … fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with … [Christ] … that we may be glorified with [Christ]." Now keep that in mind, go back to chapter 5; 5:1. Paul has explained the gospel, and now he launches here in 5:1 into the immediate benefits of justification and he says:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, [If you have been declared right with God by faith in the work of Jesus Christ, then he says,] we have peace with God [That is, the war between us and God is over.] through our Lord Jesus Christ, [and it's through Christ] we have obtained our introduction by faith [I love this.] into this grace in which we stand.

If you're a Christian, you stand in grace. You stand before God solely in grace. That's the way God relates to you, in grace.

And then he adds this at the end of verse 2, "we exult in hope of the glory of God." We rejoice; we glory "in the hope of the glory of God."

One of the immediate benefits of our justification is that we have hope or confident expectation of the glory of God. What does that mean? It means exactly the same thing Paul means in 8:17, when he speaks of our being glorified with Christ. And in 8:18, when he refers to the glory about to be revealed in us. They all mean the same thing. What's he talking about? Let me make it very clear to you, when Paul says, "we are going to have this glory revealed to us," he means two things. He's speaking of two great spiritual realities.

Number one, our hope of seeing the glory of God, our hope of seeing the glory of God. You see, if you're a true Christian, if you really belong to God, I can promise you this, you long in your heart of hearts to see God, to see the glory of God, to see all that makes Him impressive, to have a first-hand view of God.

This is what the saints have always wanted. In Exodus 33, Moses asked, "Lord, show me your glory." And that's the prayer of every genuine believing heart, and here's the good news, Christian, that is what we will all enjoy someday. How do I know that we will? Because Jesus prayed it; and if He prayed it, the Father heard Him and will do what he prayed. Listen to John 17:24, "Father, [This is Jesus.] Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me, [Talking about all true Christians, all true followers of His.] those whom You have given Me, [I desire that they] be with Me where I am, [This is talking about into eternal future.] so that they may see My glory…." Jesus said, "Not only do you, Christian, want to see the glory of God, Jesus wants you to see His glory, and He prayed to that end. You and I can rejoice in the certainty that we will see Christ in all His glory.

But that's not all Paul means when he talks about the glory about to be revealed to us. It's not just seeing God's glory. Paul is also referring to our hope of sharing the glory of God. This is our glorification. Someday, we will perfectly reflect the glory of Christ by sharing it, by sharing His very moral character.

Turn over to, keep your finger here, turn over to 1 John; 1 John 3:1. John writes, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…." Christian, don't ever get over that. That's incredible! John says, "Do you understand how much love God has shown you? He could've just saved you; He could've just forgiven you, but He's made you His child." And then he says, "and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." Now watch verse 2; because in verse 2, John includes both our hope of seeing God's glory and of sharing His glory. Notice verse 2, "Beloved, now we are children of God, [That's a present reality.] and it has not … [yet] appeared … what we will be. [but] We know that when He appears, we will be like him, [There's sharing His glory. Why?] because we will see Him just as he is." There's seeing His glory. We will see the glory of Christ; and when we really see Him in all that He is, we will be changed into the same image.

We will share His moral glory. It's not like your physical appearance is going to look exactly physically like Jesus Christ. You're going to get a glorified body like His glorified body; but more importantly, your character will be just like His. You'll be as pure as He is pure. You will be as loving of God and others as He is. You'll be everything that His character is.

If you have been justified, you can rejoice in eagerness and in the absolute certainty that you will see Jesus Christ in all of His glory; and when you see Him, you will be like Him. That's the glory that's to be revealed to us.

Now that we understand the two parts of verse 18, let's go back to chapter 8 and look again at verse 18 and consider the point of the entire verse. Let's call this sort of third way of looking at this, at this lesson, the comparative weight of suffering and glory, the comparative weight of suffering and glory.

Notice how he begins verse 18, "For I consider," that's an important word that word "consider". The Greek word means "to reckon or to count." It's a word we've already seen seventeen times in this letter. It's the word that he uses when he talks about in chapter 4, our being "counted righteous". What is this word? Well, the sense of this word here is this, Paul says, "I have, on the basis of careful thought, come to a logical conclusion in this case, on the basis of what I know about the gospel. I've given careful thought to this. I've come to a logical conclusion. I consider that the sufferings of this present time [And notice how he puts it.] are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Now look at that word "glory". In the Old Testament, our English word "glory" translates the Hebrew word "kavod". The Hebrew word literally means "weighty or heavy". That meaning is brought into the New Testament because the New Testament word "doxa" from which we get the word "doxology", a word of "glory", that the New Testament word is built on and informed by the Old Testament Hebrew word and its meaning. So, here's the point, whenever Scripture uses the word "glory", when you run into this word "glory", Old Testament or New Testament, it always has this idea of what is heavy or weighty. Why is that? Well, in Hebrew thinking, if something is light, it's worthless. And if something is heavy, it's valuable. Now that makes sense. I mean, think about the culture in which they lived. It was an agricultural society. So, you go out to winnow your grain, and you throw the wheat up in the air, and what happens? The chaff, that light stuff that is absolutely worthless, blows away; it's of no value, and what falls back to the ground? The wheat, the heavy, the part that has value!

Or, take metals for example. Maybe you've never thought about this, but do you understand that for the most part, the weight of the metal goes to determine its value. For example, take a cubic foot of metal. Let's start with iron. A cubic foot of iron weighs 450 pounds, 450. Let's move up a little bit to a more valuable metal. A cubic foot of copper weighs 542 pounds. Silver weighs 653 pounds a cubic foot. You know where I am going. Six-hundred, now keep that in mind; silver 653 pounds a cubic foot; gold is almost twice as heavy as silver at 1204 pounds a cubic foot. Weight determines value. The heavier it is, the more valuable.

Now, keep that in your mind; go back to verse 18 and look at the word "worthy". That word "worthy" comes from a Greek word that means "to lead or cause to move". It can be used in the sense of moving or tipping a set of scales for weighing something, and that's obviously the sense here. This passage is talking both about value, because what is heavier is more valuable, and weight. Now you see how the Hebrew word for glory fits his point. If you take a set of scales, I want to think with me now, you take an ancient set of scales where everything was measured; and on one side of the scales, you put the heavy weight of glory that's about to be revealed to you, seeing and sharing the glory of God; and on the other side of the scale, you put your present sufferings, all of them; you will find that the sufferings of your life here are so light they don't even move the scale. That's what Paul is saying; they don't even move the scale.

Now this isn't the only place Paul said this. Go over 2 Corinthians 4; 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." That's the story of life. As you age, if you are in Christ, your outer man is decaying, but your inner man is being renewed day by day. And then he makes this sweeping point; notice verse 17

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Now that is a remarkable statement. Don't misunderstand Paul. Paul is not denying that life has real pain and real hardship and real suffering. In fact, if you doubt that, listen to Paul describe his own back in 1:8 of this same letter. He says, "… we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction." He's talking about himself now, "… that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life…." You ever been there? The Apostle Paul has. So, he wasn't downplaying what he had experienced, and he isn't downplaying what you have experienced or may be experiencing even now. Instead, what he is saying is that when you compare even the lifelong, terribly difficult trials that we encounter here with our future glory, they are by comparison light and temporary.

Now, they are only light compared to the future weight of glory. When you compare whatever sufferings you face in this life with the glory that will certainly be yours in eternity, I can promise you this, whatever you have faced in the past, and there are some folks here who have faced some horrific things in your past. Or, whatever you may be facing now, and I'm confident that there are many who are facing some very hard things even as they sit here this morning. Or, what you may encounter yet in the future, and we all are, of course, unsure about what the future brings; but regardless, whatever you have faced, are facing, or will face, compared to what's coming for you in Christ, it doesn't even move the scale! And, they're temporary. They are temporary because even if they last a lifetime, and for some people they do, compared to the eternity of joy that you will experience, they are still temporary; they're brief. Think about it in comparison. Seventy or eighty years of suffering here compared to an eternity of blessing is like a single second of suffering in this life in seventy or eighty years. It's nothing; it's momentary; it's brief! So, the first lesson that we learn is that our future glory far outweighs our present sufferings.

But there's a second lesson back in Romans 8, a second lesson. Our future glory provides hope in our present sufferings. Our future glory, what we know is coming, helps us right now deal with life, deal with those troubles, deal with what we're experiencing. And we see this unfold in verses 19 - 23 of Romans 8.

Now, this is true, by the way, on two levels. It's true of all of us as believers, but it's even true of the entire cosmos, of the creation, and that's where Paul begins. Notice, he explains in verses 19 - 22, that now, right now, all creation groans, but at the same time, eagerly waits for its future glory. It groans now, but eagerly waits for its future glory. Notice verse 19, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly…." Now, you'll notice for a second time Paul begins this verse with the word "For" because he's about to explain what he just said in the previous verse. He's about to explain what he means that the glory is about to be revealed.

So, let's walk through verse 19. Notice first of all those two words "anxious longing". That translates one Greek word, but one unique Greek word. In fact, this Greek word doesn't appear in secular Greek at all. It only appears in Christian literature; and in the New Testament, it only appears here and in Philippians 1:20. And it's a fascinating word because it's a Greek word in which Paul has taken three separate Greek words and crushed them together. There's in this one word, a word for "head", like what's on your shoulders; the word "to stretch", and a prefix that means "away from". So literally this Greek word means "to stretch the head away from". It's an incredibly picturesque word because it pictures someone craning his neck, kind of standing on his tip toes, craning his neck to see what's coming. That's the picture of this word; and in this case, it's not a person craning his neck to see, it's the entire creation.

Now what does Paul mean, "the creation"? Well, he can't mean certain things; it's important to understand this. When he says, "the creation", there are some things he can't mean because he makes it clear in the context. He can't mean angels. Why? Because the good angels, the holy angels, were never subjected to vanity or the slavery of corruption the way verses 20 and 21 describe. Can't be the evil angels because they're not yearning for the revelation of the sons of God; so, angels are out. He's not talking about Satan and demons then because verse 21 says whatever is part of this creation will share in "the freedom of the glory of the children of God." So Satan and demons are off the table. He can't be talking about human beings. Why? Because, in verse 20, he says whatever this creation is he talking about "was subjected to [vanity], but not willingly, [not by its own choice]. That rules out all human beings.

In addition, think about this; unbelievers are not eagerly waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, and believers are contrasted with this creation down in verse 23, "not only this, but … we ourselves." So, he gets to believers in verse 23, so he's not talking about them in the previous verses. So, what's left? The creation here must mean everything that's been created by God except angels and human beings: in other words, all subhuman creation, animate and inanimate, the entire universe of matter including on this planet, plants and animals; the universe as we think of it or cosmos minus men and angels.

Now he uses a literary device here that's common in the Old Testament. He actually personifies creation. Again, this happens all the time the Old Testament. Listen to Psalm 65:12 and 13:

The pastures of the wilderness drip,

… the hills gird themselves with rejoicing,

The meadows are clothed with flocks

And the valleys are covered with grain;

[and then it says this of the hills and the meadows and the pastures.]

They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

He's just personifying creation. That's what Paul is doing here in Romans 8; but in Romans 8 he pictures the entire cosmos minus men and angels, craning its neck, standing on its tiptoes, to see what's coming. You see, Paul is trying to give us a sense of the cosmic consequence of man's fall into sin, of God's curse on the entire cosmos, and the future restoration of all these things to glory. But if anxious longing isn't enough, if craning your neck to see isn't enough, he adds, notice verse 19, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly." He adds another word to sort of multiply the sense of anticipation. And this too is a fascinating word that's translated "waits eagerly". In one extra biblical use of this word, it describes a man who is waiting for his friend to come; and he's so anxious for his friend to come, (he's on a trip to visit him), and he's so anxious for him to get there that he goes out to the road and he waits. He stands there, and checking his watch, and when is he coming, and he's waiting for him to come, and he's anticipating his coming so he can welcome him. He's eager for him to come.

So, what does the entire cosmos stand on its tiptoes and strain its neck to see and is eager to welcome like a friend who's coming, notice verse 19; "for the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God;" literally the apocalypses of the sons of God, the unveiling, the uncovering, the revealing of the sons of God. What is that? Well, it really has two ideas I think in that expression, "the apocalypses of the sons of God." Part of it is our adoption will one day be made public. Today, you and I, as Christians, experience suffering and weakness and trouble just like everybody else around us. We don't really stand out in that sense. We don't necessarily look a lot like the sons of God. There probably aren't a lot of people in your neighborhood going, "There goes one." But a day is coming in which it will be fully disclosed to all that we are, in fact, the children of God. And the creation strains its neck waiting for that moment.

I think it means something else though. I think when it says "the revelation of the sons of God," it means our adoption will not only be made public, but be finalized. It'll be made complete. You see, although we are already the children of God, a day is coming in which our adoption will enter its final stage and will be completed. Verse 23 of Romans 8 says it includes the redemption of our body when we get everything that's coming to us in Christ. The entire cosmos stands on its tiptoes and strains its neck to see the day when our adoption is made public and when it's completed. Why? Well, Paul is going to go on to say because our destiny is tied to the destiny of the cosmos. Have you ever thought about that? Your destiny, Christian, is directly tied to the destiny of the entire universe.

Now, notice again how Paul began this paragraph, verse 18, "For I consider," for I consider. Paul considered. Paul gave careful thought, he reached a firm conviction based on careful, logical deduction about what he understood in the gospel.

Have you? Have you ever carefully considered your own life's troubles and trials and difficulties in light of the gospel? Is this how you think about the little struggles that you encounter every day in life? Is this how you think about those huge, dramatic events and tragedies and trials and difficulties that come in life? Have you ever considered your troubles in the light of eternity? I want you do that right now with me. I want you to imagine in your mind a set of scales, an ancient set of scales because that's the picture behind this text. And I want you to take all of the griefs and all of the sorrows and all of the troubles that you have encountered in life, large and small, the ones that you have experienced in the past that perhaps have changed your life forever; maybe the ones that you're experiencing right now, and I want you to put those on one side of that imaginary scale, all of them, not one of them is excepted.

And then on the other side of the scale, I want you to think about the glory that is to be revealed to us. I want you to think about actually, with your own eyes, in a glorified body, seeing Jesus Christ your Lord in all His glory. I want you to think about you, your person, being completely revolutionized so that your moral character looks just like Jesus. And I want you to compare the two. You are going to see Jesus Christ. You're going to be like Him, and you're going to be with Him forever; and when you compare all the suffering, whatever it is that you've encountered in this life with that glory that is to be revealed, it doesn't even move the scale. It's like Henry Lyte in his hymn that we sing, wrote:

Man may trouble and distress me,
'Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heav'n will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, 'tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, 'twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o'er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father's smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee, [And then he says,]
Child of heaven, … [how can you] repine.

Haste then on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven's eternal days before thee,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

That's the glory that's to be revealed in us and to us; and when you compare that with all the suffering of this life, it doesn't even move the scale.

Let's pray together.

Father, forgive us. Forgive us for being so shortsighted. Forgive us for living and acting like this life is all there is. Oh, Father, help us to have an eternal perspective. Help us to think like Christians. Help us to compare all of the suffering that we encounter in this life just as our Lord did, and help us to compare it with the weight of glory that's coming. And may that give us hope. May it strengthen us. May it build endurance into us for this life with whatever you and your providence bring?

Father, I pray for those of us in Christ; help us to live in light of this passage. Help us to be filled with joy even in the midst of life's troubles and trials; not in a pollyannic way, but like Paul in a carefully, logically deduced way because of the gospel, because of what awaits us.

And, Father, I pray for those here this morning who are not in Christ. Oh, God, my own heart aches for them as I realize that their present suffering is not worthy to be compared with suffering that they will endure forever at Your hands because of their refusal to repent of their rebellion and run to Christ. Lord, may this be the day when they see themselves as they are, and they see Christ as He is, who never has turned away a single repentant sinner, and may they come to Him and find in Him forgiveness and peace, even today.

We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.

Romans