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Destined for Glory! - Part 4

Tom Pennington • Romans 8:18-25

  • 2018-07-01 AM
  • Romans
  • Sermons


It is my great joy today to ask you to return with me to Romans and specifically to Romans 8. Now as we've discovered together, Romans 8 is about the believer's absolute security in Jesus Christ. In fact, this chapter begins in verse 1 with no condemnation, and it ends in verse 39 with no separation. And that really encompasses the entirety of the message of this great chapter. We are learning, then, reasons why our salvation is secure. So far, we have learned that our salvation as believers in Christ is secure in verses 1 - 4 because God has redeemed us from all condemnation. There is no longer the condemnation of the Law and of God's justice because of our sins. Why is that? Look back at 8:3, "what the Law could not do, weak as it was through our flesh, God did." How did God accomplish this? He sent "His own Son in the likeness of our sinful flesh [In other words, He was just like us except for sin.] as an offering for sin," and in so doing, notice how verse 3 ends, God "condemned [our] sin in [Jesus'] flesh."

In other words, I can be right with God, not because of anything I have done or any effort of my own, but because of the work of Jesus Christ. God condemned the sin of every person who would ever repent and believe in Jesus in the body of Jesus Christ on the cross. So, there is forgiveness, then, for us. So, our salvation is secure because if we have repented and believed in Christ, "there is … no condemnation," verse 1 says, "for those who are in Christ Jesus."

A second reason that our salvation is secure is in verses 5 - 13, and that is because God has changed and empowered us by His Spirit. If you are a true believer, if you're a true Christian, then the Spirit of God has changed you; you are no longer the person you once were. You have been radically changed at the level of your soul and now empowered to obey God in a way that you were not before. The work that God began through His Spirit, He will complete; therefore your salvation is secure. Verses 14 - 17, we learned the third reason our salvation is secure. It's because God has adopted us as His children. If you are in Christ, God has legally made you His own.

And then in the paragraph that we were last studying together before I went away, we discovered a fourth reason that our salvation is secure. In verses 18 - 25, we learned that God has destined us for glory. He has determined our destiny, and it is to see and to the share His glory. Let's read this paragraph together, 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 in this paragraph, Paul teaches us three crucial lessons that underscore the reality of our security in Christ. And at the same time, these lessons equip us to deal with this life, to deal with the troubles and the pain and the suffering that we endure here. Let me just briefly remind you of what we've discovered so far in this passage. The first lesson that Paul taught us is that our future glory far outweighs our present sufferings. Verse 18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time," what's Paul talking about there? Well in context, he means everything that we suffer in this life, everything that we suffer as a result of living in a universe and in a world and in a body that has been subjected to sin and to God's curse. In other words, every circumstance in your life, whether it is small or great that has brought you grief and sorrow and pain and loss and heart ache. That's the sufferings of this present time.

Now notice in the second half of the verse, he talks about the glory that is to be revealed to us. We learned that that glory speaks of two realities. We will see the glory of God and we will share the glory of God. We will be made just like Jesus Christ; we will share the glory of His moral character.

Now as he puts those on each side of the scale, on one side the present sufferings of this life, on the other side our future glory, notice what he says about the comparative weight of them 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." Paul says, when you compare the sufferings of this life, when you put everything you have dealt with in this life or will deal with on one side of the scale, and you put what awaits you in God's presence on the other side, the sufferings of this life don't even move the scale, they don't even move it. Our future glory far outweighs our sufferings here.

Now a second lesson that we are learning here is that our future glory provides hope in our present sufferings. We've begun to see this in verses 19 - 23. This is not only true, by the way, of believers, but it's even true of the creation, and that's where Paul begins. We have seen that right now, today, all creation, the entire universe of animate and inanimate creation minus angels and men (they are separate as we saw), but all creation groans, and at the same time, eagerly waits for its future glory. Now that's where we left off when we studied Romans last time together, but that's not Paul's point. He's just getting to his point.

Paul's main point here in this passage isn't about the universe. It isn't about all creation; it's about us, and so today, we come to where Paul has been building. And , as we look at how our future glory provides hope in our present sufferings, the second part of that reality is this, right now, today, all Christians groan, and yet at the same time eagerly wait for our future glory. That's the message of verse 23. Paul has already explained to us that the entire creation groans under the weight of sin and the curse as it eagerly waits for the freedom that it will enjoy with us. But that's not just true of the creation, notice verse 23, "And not only this (not just the creation), but also we ourselves."

Now clearly in context, Paul is referring to all believers. Earlier in this chapter in verse 9, verse 10, he's talked about those who have the Spirit dwelling within them. So, the context here is all believers, and what he is saying is what is true of the creation is also true of us. We groan in our present sufferings and eagerly wait for future glory.

Now, notice how Paul describes us in verse 23. He says, "And not only this, but also we ourselves (as believers), having the first fruits of the Spirit." If you're a true follower of Jesus Christ, then you have the first fruits of the Spirit. What does Paul mean? Well, he means the first fruits which consist of the Spirit, the first fruits which are the Spirit.

You see, we have the Spirit of God. If you're a Christian, you have the Spirit of God dwelling within you, abiding with you. Paul just said that back in verses 9 and 10; if someone doesn't have the Spirit within him, he doesn't belong to Christ. So, if you have repented of your sins, if you've put your faith in Jesus Christ and His work and His work alone as your only hope of heaven, then you have the Holy Spirit within you. And the Spirit Himself is like the first fruits of a coming harvest.

Now this would've been a familiar picture and metaphor in an agricultural society like Israel in the Old Testament, like Israel in the time of Christ, and there were many pockets of this all-around the world as there are today. This describes (this picture of the first fruits), describes the earliest fruit that is gathered from a crop. You'll remember, in the Old Testament, the first fruits that came out of a harvest were to be offered to the Lord as an offering, as a reminder that the rest of the harvest that was coming was His as well. So, the first fruits, then, were a promise or a pledge that a full harvest was coming.

While I was growing up, for many years, my dad and I planted a vegetable garden behind our house. We had two acres there in South Alabama, and behind our house was 300 acres that was completely undeveloped, and we would take and cut out of that, with permission of the owner, a garden that was about a third of an acre. This was a large garden. This wasn't like just something on your patio, about a third of an acre. And for a number of years, I prepared the ground myself with a shovel and a hoe, turning every spade of earth over and then coming back with a hoe and coming back with a rake and cleaning that soil and preparing it. And I can promise you this; in the South Alabama sun, I think there were days when the humidity was 95%.

I was so happy when my dad got a rototiller because I had been the rototiller, and now we actually had a machine that I could use that would do this. But we would take that third of an acre, and we would prepare the land. We would create furrows and rows; we planted the seed. You know, there was of course tomatoes, and there was okra, and there were peppers, and you know, all those sort of things that people grow. And we carefully weeded as the plants came up, and then we waited and waited. There was such a sense of satisfaction when the first vegetables began to appear on those plants. Those were the first fruits. They were the promise of a harvest of more vegetables that were coming and that there was a payoff coming of all that hard work.

That's exactly what Paul is saying here in Romans 8. If you're a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit already within you and you can see His presence and work. You are not the person you used to be. You have new desires. You have a new interest in spiritual things. You have a new power to obey God. You love things you once hated, and you hate things you once loved. You see the work in the fruit of the Spirit in your life. But that's just the beginning! His presence in your life is simply a pledge of a future harvest that's coming in your life. This isn't all there is. There's a harvest coming! All you're enjoying is the first fruits.

Paul describes it in a different image in 2 Corinthians 1:22. He says, God "sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." The word "pledge" is the Greek word "arrabon". It's a word which means 'the first installment, a deposit, a down payment or a pledge.'

Listen, what you have right now, Christian, isn't all you're getting; that's just the down payment; that's just the first installment; that's just God's deposit. The Holy Spirit and the work He has done in your life already is like the first fruits. He is simply God's promise of future fruit that He will produce in you, and that is a perfect moral character like Jesus Christ and a perfect new glorified body like that of Jesus Christ.

But it's not true yet. As we anticipate our future harvest of righteousness and glory, well it's hard. Verse 23, "we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves." If you're a Christian, you understand this. You've experienced this. We groan within ourselves. Now, the Greek word translated "groan" here refers both to internal and external expressions of pain and grief. In the Septuagint, this word is even used of the groaning that accompanies the pain of childbirth. We groan! Why? Why are we groaning as believers in today's life, in today's world?

Well, there are several clues right here in the context of Romans 8; and specifically, Paul explains that we groan for three reasons. Let me give them to you. As Christians, we groan, first of all, because of the difficult and painful circumstances of this present life. We groan because of the troubles we face in this life.

Go back to verse 18, that's included in that expression, "the sufferings of this present time." We groan because of our present circumstances of suffering. Down in verse 28, one of the most familiar verses in Romans, "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Why does He need to say that? Because there are a lot of things in life that don't look like they're going to be good and that don't look like they're going to work together for good, and he's telling us we're going to face those realities.

Look at verse 35. He anticipates some of the troubles that we as believers might face in this life, "who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, [That's pressure of all kinds.] or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, [dangers of various kinds] or sword [even war]?" Yeah, Christians have to deal in this life with many of those things. So, the difficult and painful circumstances of this life, sickness, health issues, cancer, the trouble in our families, the difficulty in our jobs, all of those things cause us to groan.

But there's a second reason that Christians grown: we grown because of our own human weakness, both physically and spiritually. Notice verse 26, "the Spirit … helps our weakness." Here he's talking about spiritual weakness. We're going to get there. This is an amazing ministry of the Holy Spirit, but we are aware of this spiritual weakness. But it's not just that, it's physical weakness as well. Turn over to 2 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians 4. Paul experienced this. He says in verse 16, "Therefore we do not lose heart … though our outer man is decaying," physical weakness. If you're older than about 30, you get this. Our outer man is decaying. And the rest of you will. I hate to tell you that. This is just the reality of living in the world. Our outer man is decaying; physical weakness, that's what he means in verse 17. That's part of that light momentary affliction that we face.

Verse 1 of chapter 5, "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house [He's talking about your body.] is torn down." We're going to get a permanent building, a new body from God. "A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this [one, in this tent] we groan, [because of this weakness and decay.]" Verse 4, "For indeed while we were in this tent, we groan, being burdened." So, understand then that we groan because of human weakness both physical and spiritual.

But go back to Romans 8, because there's a third reason we groan; not only because of the difficult circumstances of this life, because of our own human weakness both physical and spiritual, but we also groan because of our remaining sinfulness, our flesh. Go back to 7:24. Here's groaning, "Wretched man that I am!" Paul says, "Who will set me free from the body of this death?" Nothing causes us to groan in our hearts as believers like our disgust, our disappointment with ourselves, and our sense of guilt before God for our sin against our Father; we groan. Notice, Paul says we groan within ourselves. That doesn't mean we keep all of this always to ourselves, because in the Old Testament, this word "groan" often describes groaning in the heart in prayer to God. For example, in Psalm 38:9, David says, "Lord, all my desire is before You." In other words, you know what I'm crying out to you from my heart with, "And my sighing [That's the NAS translation; the Septuagint uses this word "groan", "my groaning"] is not hidden from You." So, our groaning then grows out of this sense of frustration and longing, and is often expressed as a prayer to God for God's deliverance.

Christian, do you ever find yourself groaning in your heart like this? Do you experience serious pain and grief within? Do you express that pain and grief to God in prayer, asking Him to intervene, asking Him for relief? Maybe it's prompted by your present difficult circumstances, painful circumstances.

In the weeks while I was away, many in our church encountered some of life's greatest difficulties. Others have continued to battle long-standing pain and grief. Maybe that's where you find yourself today. Or, maybe you find yourself groaning over your human weakness both physical and spiritual. And we all groan over our remaining sinfulness, our flesh.

But notice in verse 23, Paul says there is a purpose to our groaning. There's a connection with the Spirit. Notice he says, we grown "having the first fruits of the Spirit." What's the connection between those two? I agree with many commentators who say the connection is one of cause. We groan because we have the first fruits of the Spirit. What does that mean? It means we know this isn't all there is. We know this isn't all our salvation means. We know there is so much more, and we just can't wait. That's what verse 23 says, "we … groan within ourselves," but this groaning is not pointless. It serves a purpose. It's while we're waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Now Paul used the same verb, "waiting eagerly" back in verse 19; and when we talked about verse 19, I explained to you that there is a very picturesque use of this Greek verb in secular Greek. This verb is used in secular Greek of a man who knows his friend is coming to visit, and he so eager to welcome his friend that he goes out to the road, and he stands waiting, waiting for him to arrive so he can welcome him. That's the picture behind this word. We are eagerly waiting to welcome, notice what verse 23 says, "our adoption as sons."

Now if you're confused by that, you might say, "Well wait a minute, I thought we learned I've already been adopted." That's true. Verses 14 - 16, we saw there that at the moment of salvation, you were legally adopted by God as His child. John 1 makes that clear. But your adoption has not in the fullest sense yet come to fruition. You have not yet entered into the full privileges of your adoption. You have not yet received your full inheritance, and part of that inheritance is a new glorified body. Look at verse 23, "waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, [that is for the full privileges that come with our adoption, specifically] the redemption of our body."

You say, "Why is that such an important issue?" Because while the body itself is not inherently sinful, God designed us to be body and soul; we will have a body forever, a glorified body. Yet today, a lot of our problems stem, most of our problems stem from our bodies. Why? Because that is the part of us that remains unredeemed, and the body becomes the beachhead for our sinfulness, for the sin in our lives. But a day is coming, Paul says, when God will redeem us; that is, He will release us from the bondage that we experience to our current weak, sinful, physical body. But don't misunderstand. It doesn't mean the body is bad; it doesn't mean you're going to be some sort of disembodied spirit forever. Instead, Paul says we're going to get a new glorified body. That's always been the hope of God's people.

You know, I think some Christians have this mistaken idea that they're going to be like this floating spirit forever. That's the result of the Greek philosophers, of Plato, not of Christianity. What the Bible clearly teaches, both Old and New Testaments, is that you are going to get a new body, and you're going to live in that new body, body and soul, forever. It was the hope even of God's people in the Old Testament. Here's Job, Job 19:25 and 26:

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives … [and] at the last He will take His stand on the earth. [Listen to this.] Even after my skin is destroyed, [In other words, after my current body has been destroyed.] Yet from my flesh I shall see God.

He says my current body's going to be demolished; but in flesh, I will see God. Psalm 49:15, "God will redeem my soul from the power [of the grave,] For He will receive me.

Psalm 73:24 "With Your counsel You will guide me, [and in this life and then] afterward receive me to glory." Daniel 12 talks about the resurrection. Daniel 12:2, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt."

Now, the New Testament explains our future glory happens in two stages. If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, this is how it works. Stage number one: at death, our souls will be perfected. Paul says, "To be absent from the body [2 Corinthians 5] is to be present with the Lord." And at the moment of death, our souls become perfect. How do we know that? Hebrews 12:3, says, "in heaven [are] the spirits of the righteous made perfect." Nobody is in heaven; no spirit is in heaven that hasn't been made perfect. That happens then at death. "The spirits of the righteous made perfect." At the moment of death, we enter what theologians call the intermediate state. Why is it called the intermediate state? Because it's better than this life. Listen to Paul in Philippians 1:23, I "desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better." It's better to be without my body, but to be perfect in my soul in God's presence than even to enjoy this life. Do you believe that Christian? That's what Paul said; that's what the Scriptures teach.

But it's still not the best and most glorious expression of our salvation because God didn't create us to be one-part beings. He created us to be body and soul; and so, the second stage of our perfection is at the return of Christ, at the rapture, our bodies will be glorified. Turn to 1 Thessalonians; 1 Thessalonians 4. Paul says in verse 13:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, [That doesn't mean their soul is sleeping. It means it looks to us like they're sleeping, right? You see a corpse; and it's like their asleep just like when they're asleep. I don't want you to grieve about them as] the rest who have no hope. [We grieve the loss of those who die; we just don't grieve like those who have no hope. Why?] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, [Do you believe that Jesus Christ died, truly died, and God raised Him from the dead? If so, that becomes the basis for this hope.] Even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

So, a believer dies; his soul is immediately perfected, and he immediately enters the presence of Christ. When Christ returns, He brings those perfect souls, those perfect spirits back with Him. And it says, verse 15,

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord," [if we survive to the rapture, we're not going to] … proceed or go before those who have fallen asleep. [They are going to be changed first.] Verse 16, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [Those who have died in Christ, their already perfect souls, have come back with Christ at this event; and at that moment, their already perfect souls are joined to glorified bodies.]

And then notice what happens, verse 17, "Then we who are alive and remain [so if we survive till Christ returns, we] will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

So, at that moment, then, those who are alive in Christ at His return, their souls will be instantly perfected like happens to those who die. And then at that same moment, they will be joined to glorified bodies. Here's how Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 52,

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [Christian, do you really believe in your heart of hearts what the Scriptures teach? You are going to get a new body! What will that body be like?]

Well, there are two ways that we learn about that future body. First of all, from the clear statements Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15, I wish I had time to take you there, but let me just give you a summary. Here's what your new body will be like. First of all, it will be imperishable, 1 Corinthians 15:42. Imperishable, that means it will never wear out. It will never grow old. It will never die. It will never show the first sign of aging or wear. It will never be affected by disease or sickness or genetic issues. It will be perfect once and forever, imperishable! It will also be glorious, verse 43 of 1 Corinthians 15. Your new body will have a beauty and attractiveness, perhaps even a radiance. Jesus says that the righteous will shine in His Kingdom like the sun, like the noonday sun.

And certainly it will be glorious in the sense that it will have no more shame or dishonor from the presence of sin. Your new body will also be powerful; verse 43 of that same chapter says it will be raised in power. It will possess full physical strength, everything God designed the human body to be, yours will be. And there will be no more spiritual weakness either.

And then Paul also says in verse 44 of 1 Corinthians 15 that your new body will be a spiritual body. Now don't be confused; that doesn't mean it's going to be some sort of unreal thing, some sort of ghost you're going to be forever that appears to have a body. The word "body" is never used of human beings in the Scripture to refer to something nonphysical. I think John MacArthur is right when he says, "This body is called a spiritual body in the sense that it has no more limits to the time and space sphere." It will be unlimited by time and space.

Now another way we learn about our new bodies and what they'll be like is by comparing them with Jesus's glorified body. What was His body like? Well, think about it; it was recognizable and yet different, at times not so much. He was able to eat, but apparently didn't eat because He needed to sustain the life of that body. He was able to move through matter like when He walked through a locked closed door into that room with the disciples, and yet He could be touched. And there was continuity between His old body and His new body; you remember the marks that He had? I think that was for a specific reason so that He could be identified. But there's a link between our old bodies and our new bodies. Listen to Romans 8, we studied this, Romans 8:11, "He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also (now watch this) give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." In other words, you're not going to get some new body that you've never been exposed to before. You are going to get your body, but it's going to be completely refurbished, completely redone, completely renewed like Jesus' own body.

You see, the relationship between our current bodies and our new bodies is like that of a seed and the plant that grows from that seed. Paul makes that analogy in 1 Corinthians 15:37, he says, "that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be." He says, when you're planting seeds, you don't plant the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else, but God gives it the body He wishes. In other words, when we put the body of those we love in the grave who are in Christ, it's like planting a seed, and there's a relationship between that body; that's why we honor their bodies, and the body they'll eventually get, but it's the relationship of the seed and the plant that grows from it.

You know, some Christians worry about the bodies of loved ones who've been lost at sea or cremated and the ashes scattered. Listen, folks, that is not a problem for the God who made heaven and earth. All God needs is a single cell from that old body with its DNA to make a new glorified one.

So far then, here in this text, we've learned that our future glory far outweighs our present sufferings and that our future glory, and this is what we see here, provides hope in our present sufferings.

But Paul has one more lesson for us in this passage. Go back to Romans 8. Here's the third and final lesson: our future glory builds endurance for our present sufferings. Now Paul develops this idea by making two basic points. Let's look at them individually. First of all, salvation produces hope, verse 24, "For in hope we have been saved." We have already experienced salvation, but only in part. What do I mean by that? We have been saved from the penalty of sin. That's the first few chapters of Romans. We have been saved from the enslaving power of sin. That's Romans 6. We are being saved from the habitual practice of sin. That's Romans 6 and 7. But some day, this is the point Paul is making here, we will be saved from the presence of sin, and I love this, even from the possibility of sin. Just like Jesus Christ can't sin, someday, I won't be able to sin. That's the hope to which we have been saved. That's why we can endure the troubles of this life.

Go back to chapter 5, look at 5:2. Paul says, "through [Christ] … we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, [and as a result of that notice] we exult in [the] hope of the glory of God." We're going to see and share the glory of God. Verse 3, "And not only this, but [right now in this life] we also [are able to] exult in our tribulations." Do you see the connection? Our hope of a future glory builds endurance for us to deal with the troubles of this life. Go over to chapter 15; Romans 15. This hope is so important. Romans 15, the end of verse 12, Paul says in Christ "the Gentiles hope," that's us! Our hope is in Jesus Christ. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Paul says I want you having faith in Christ to have more and increasing hope. Go to Colossians 1; Colossians 1:5. He says there is this "hope [that is] laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel." The gospel told you about this hope. What is the hope? Well go down the verse 27, to the saints "God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, [Here it is.] Christ in you, the hope of glory." You have a hope of future glorification of being made perfect in soul and body like Jesus Christ, and that's the hope that's held out in the gospel. It's not just forgiveness of sins, although it is that. It's not just help in this life, although it is that. It is a future hope!

Now go back to Romans 8, and I want to consider just for a moment that word "hope". I would venture to say that 95% of the people here in this room this morning don't really understand what Paul is saying when he says "hope". Why is that? It's because of your definition of the English word "hope". It throws us off.

Recently, I was on a trip to Los Angeles, and I found myself standing in line in a convenience store near LAX Airport. The reason for that was I was trying to put gas in my rental car and fill it up before I took it back, and the printer at the gas pump had malfunctioned, and so I was waiting in line to get a receipt from the cashier, and it was taking a long time because in front of me, there was this woman who was obviously not wealthy. But with her meager resources, she was in the process of buying a stack of lottery tickets. Now, I will tell you that during the years I lived in Los Angeles, out of curiosity I looked up the odds of winning a major jackpot in the California lottery, and I discovered that the odds of winning were almost as bad as your odds of winning without a ticket, and so that was my strategy. Why would I waste my money buying a ticket when I've got almost as good a chance of winning without one? But I can tell you this, if I had asked that woman, standing in front of me, buying that stack of lottery tickets, "Do you really think you're going to win?" What would she have said? "Well, I hope so."

You see that's the problem with the English word. The English word marries two ideas. It marries desire with something that is very uncertain, perhaps even unlikely. That's the English word. You have to get that completely out of your mind when you come to the Bible and you read the word "hope", the Greek word for hope in the Scripture because the Greek word isn't like that at all. Instead, the Greek word, like the English word, has two elements, but it has first of all desire, like the English word; but instead of uncertainty, the Greek word has certainty, desire married to certainty. In fact, the leading Greek lexicon defines it this way, "looking forward to something with reason for confidence respecting its fulfillment."

You see what Paul is saying here? We have been saved in the confident and certain expectation of something yet to come, our complete redemption including the redemption of our bodies. And if we are saved in the hope of that, then by definition, it's something we have not yet received. That's the point of verse 24, "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen [isn't] hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?" You don't confidently expect what you already have! So, we were saved in hope, the certain and confident expectation of a final and complete salvation that includes the redemption of our bodies.

And that brings us to the second point Paul makes here as he develops this third point about endurance and that is, hope produces endurance. Salvation produces hope; and verse 25, hope produces endurance. Notice what he says, "But if we hope for what we do not see, [what we haven't gotten yet] with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." If you are certain you're going to receive something in the future, you wait eagerly for it; but if you're sure you're going to get it, you can also wait with perseverance, with patience.

Let me ask you, and I want you to ask yourself this question, if you're a follower of Christ, ask yourself this question, "Do you ever seriously think about your future glory?" Do you ever think about the fact that you are going, in your moral character, to be just like Jesus Christ? Do you ever think about the fact that your body is going to be replaced with a new glorified body like His own body? Can you say that you're living in eagerness waiting for that? If not, you need to ask yourself, "Why not?" This is how Christians are supposed to think. This is how they're supposed to live. You can wait eagerly for it if you know it's coming, but you can also wait, notice what he says in verse 25, "with perseverance."

That's a Greek word that we've met already in this chapter. In this book it means to "remain under". When I have explained this word to you before, I've described it like Olympic weightlifting. Some of you are enjoying the World Cup; probably not many of you are big into Olympic weightlifting. But you have at least seen these images, you know, this massive guy walks up to this bar, and he pulls it up to his chest, and the bar is bending. I don't know about you, but I've never really had that experience. And then he thrusts it above his head and the rules of Olympic weightlifting say that for it to be a valid lift, you have to hold it above your head for a specified period of time; and while he's doing that, his whole body, this massive body, is shaking and trembling beneath the load, and then he drops it, and it's a valid lift. That's this word perseverance; it means to remain under.

What is Paul saying here? Our hope, the confident and certain expectation of our future glory, enables us to remain under the load, under the load of our difficult circumstances, under the load of our physical and spiritual weakness, and even under the load of our constant battle with our flesh. Why? Because we know what's coming; we know what's coming. This is how life works on almost every level. Most people endure the work week in anticipation of what? The weekend or retirement, right? Most people endure a year's work in hope of vacation; and every day, people endure serious and painful surgeries in the hope of a better and healthier, more pain-free life. That's exactly what Paul is saying here. The way you can face the difficulties of this life including your struggle with sin is to keep your eye on your future glory. It will build endurance into your life.

You say, "How does that happen?" Well, I want you to turn just briefly to Philippians 3, Philippians 3. Here's the strategy. Here's how you can cultivate your hope of future glory to produce spiritual endurance right now. Mark these two verses because I think they are key. First of all, Paul says, remember where you really belong, verse 20 of Philippians 3, Remember where you belong "For our citizenship is in heaven." I think a lot of Christians lose their hope in the midst of this life because they act like this is all there is. Folks, this is not all there is. This is prologue to your real life, to the real story of your life. Remember where you belong, "our citizenship is in heaven."

Secondly, remember who you're waiting for, verse 20, "from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." You are going to see, with your own eyes, Jesus Christ, and you are going to see Him and to be with Him and to serve Him forever.

And then thirdly, remember what you'll become, look at verse 21. He "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory." Listen, if you will cultivate that mindset of hope about your future glory, it will produce perseverance in your present sufferings. So Christian, let me just say this, whatever you are dealing with here, whatever you have had to deal with, whatever you will face in the future, embrace this passage. Live on your tiptoes, straining to see and to welcome your future glory; it's coming; your soul is going to be just like Jesus Christ in its moral perfection, and your body will be a new glorified version of you just like His.

That's why Paul ends 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter on our future resurrection and new bodies with these words. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

Let's pray together.

Father, thank you for these magnificent words of hope and comfort. I pray that you would use them for our good. Lord, help us to think like this. Help us to think like Christians, to remember where we belong, to remember who we're waiting for, to remember what we'll become, and may that provide the endurance we need to live in this life with all of the troubles and all of the struggle with sin.

Father, I pray for those who may be here this morning who don't know Jesus Christ, for whom none of this is true. May they see the beauty of the gospel today, and may they humble themselves in repentance and faith toward Jesus Christ, and cry out to Him to change them, to save them, to make them His own.

We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.