FUTURE GLORY OF THE SAVED
In Romans 8:18 Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” From this verse to verse 28 a contrast is drawn between our present sad state of existence and our glorious state of existence in the world to come. The idea seems to be that as great as our sufferings may be in this life, and as much as we make of them, still they are utterly insignificant. Really, they are not even worthy of mention in light of the glory which is to be revealed to the saved. The word glory here denotes the fulness of the honor and happiness which awaits the children of God at the resurrection. He elaborates on our great future in a most interesting way. He assures us that this is going to happen by presenting three different kinds of evidence, three different testimonies, three different witnesses that declare that God's people have a most glorious future awaiting them.
The first witness to give testimony to our glorious future is the material universe itself. In verse 9 we read, “The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” This says the creation is expecting and eagerly waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. In verse . 22 scripture says, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pains together until now.” This verse compares creation to a woman about to give birth to a child. The creation is longing to give birth to an entirely new world, a new heaven and a new earth. Not all preachers agree on what Paul meant by saying the creation is waiting for the revealing of God's sons and is groaning like a woman having birth pangs. Some think the word creation must be limited to the intelligent and thinking part of the creation, that is, the human race, but others think he means the material universe itself that is suffering along with the human race in this present time.
I agree with those who think he refers to the material universe, and especially the earth, because he will mention the human race later as distinguished from the rest of the creation... Since the earth cannot literally think or groan or expect or wait for the revealing of the sons of God, I think Paul personifies the earth, that is, speaks of it as a person associated with mankind and all the suffering they are going through in this present time. Paul is using metaphorical language. The Bible uses personification sometimes to express great happiness or great sorrow
In Isa. 55:12 God said, “For you shall go out with joy and be led with peace. The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Mountains can't sing and trees can't clap their hands. He was speaking of Israel when they returned to Palestine from Babylonian captivity. Mountains singing and trees clapping their hands was a figurative way of saying there will be great joy and happiness. This seemsd to be the idea of Paul when he says the creation, the earth, is waiting and agonizing like a woman in childbirth to bring forth a new and better world. We have sufferings in this present time and so does the earth on which we live.
Paul even explains why the earth itself is suffering and longs to bring forth a new world. In verse . 20 he says of the earth, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope.” The Old King James says God “subjected the creation to vanity. To say God subjected the earth to vanity or futility is very obscure. It gives no sensible meaning. My Greek Lexicon says this word means frailty or lack of vigor. I can understand that. God subjected this earth to frailty, and we all are suffering because of it. God did something to this earth, and it was not good, and that is why the earth would like to be delivered from it. It's having birth pangs, says Paul.
What does it mean that God subjected this earth to frailty, frustration and disappointment? This had great effects on the well being of the human race. We read how God subjected the earth to frailty in Genesis 3:17,18. God said to Adam, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: Cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you....in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” When Paul said that God subjected the creation to vanity or frailty it included all that fell under the original curse on account of Adam's sin. When applied to earth and vegetable products, it seems to denote weakness or inability to produce as formerly, also a tendency to premature decay or shortness of life. The whole of creation seems to have suffered. alike. It affected all forms of life: vegetable, animal and human. This present world is not the same world of which God said, “ It is very Good.” No, the earth suffered greatly when God placed a curse on it Now it brings forth tornadoes, hurricanes, storms volcanoes, avalanches and lightning strikes which start great forest fires, destroying
homes and whatever is in its path. Volcanoes rip mountains apart. Earthquakes rupture the surface of the earth. Diseases abound on earth causing sickness, sorrow and death. The flood of Noah covered the earth for almost a year and doubtless great geological changes were made. Some think the flood changed the climate of the earth. The earth does not sit exactly perpendicular to the sun in space. It has a slight tilt, and that tilt produces the seasons of the year. Because of that tilt some parts of the earth get more heat from the sun at certain times in the year than other parts of the earth. Some think when the flood completely covered the earth that the enormous weight may have changed the tilt of the earth. When Paul says the creation is groaning and longing to be delivered to a new heavens and earth which God has promised, I believe this is a figurative expression describing what a sad, sad condition this earth is in at the present time. Evil dominates the earth and as a result the human race is suffering, but Paul's main thught is that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to the sons of God . The first testimony to our great future comes from the earth itself.
The second testimony that a future glorious world awaits God's people comes from the best people on the face of this earth, and they are Christians. Immediately after saying that the whole creation is groaning in birth pains to produce a new world, Paul says in verse 23, “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” This clearly says not only is the material creation groaning, but Christians also are groaning, even though they enjoy the firstfruits of the Spirit. We suffer and groan in common with the material world and are longing to be delivered from this present world.
Paul states in verse . 20 that at the very time God cursed this earth, making it frail and weak, at that same time God subjected it in hope. To subject the world in hope is to give it hope. When God created the earth to frailty, man included, he also planted in the mind of man the hope of a future deliverance, a better world. Hence, from that moment in Eden down to the present time. mankind and the rest of creation have always been expecting, longing for it and waiting for this future deliverance. This hope of a new world, a future glory, a future life was first given to Adam and Eve and thus belief was passed on to all mankind.
This explains why most all nations of the world have had some form of the almost universal belief that there is a life beyond the grave, a hope
of a heavenly world beyond the grave. Man did not invent this idea; it was not a psychological invention of the human mind.. God who made us put that idea in our minds, and this is in accord with the words Jesus will speak at the day of Judgment to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” In other words Jesus says, “Inherit the kingdom God always planned to give to the part of mankind that served him all of their lives.” It was God's promise from the beginning of creation.
In connection with the groaning and longing of Christians to enter this new world, Paul made a most interesting statement. He said that even though Christians have the firstfruits of the Spirit, nevertheless they still groan within themselves and look forward to their adoption into the heavenly family and the redemption of their body from the grave. What are the firstfruits of the Spirit? The firstfruits of any field, plant or tree are only the earliest part of the crop, but the full harvest comes later. Paul tells us what the firstfruits of the Spirit are in Gal. 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Christians gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” These, faithful Christians have much in this present world, but they are only firstfruits. The full and complete blessings; our full happiness and joy will be given us in the future life. The point Paul makes is that these wonderful blessings we now enjoy as Christians are only a foretaste of heaven itself, but they give us some idea what heaven is going to be like. Even though we enjoy now a foretaste of heaven, we still groan, we still suffer, and we long to be adopted into God's eternal family. This will occur at the resurrection of our bodies. We have already been adopted into the earthly family of God, and at the resurrection we will be adopted into the heavenly family of God.
Finally, I must mention one more testimony that a glorious future is awaiting the people of God. The creation has testified and Christians have testified of the longing to be delivered from this present world. Finally, the Holy Spirit has given His testimony. In Romans 8:26 Paul said, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” I wish I
could tell you that I understand all that Paul is saying in this passage. One thing we do know is that this is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to our glorious future. All that is said about the Holy Spirit is said in regard to the sufferings of Christians. Paul has said, “The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
It is in connection with our sufferings that might interfere with keeping our hope alive that the Holy Spirit helps. These sufferings can possibly cause us to lose our salvation. It is said that we do not know what to pray for as we ought. Especially is this so when we are enduring sufferings of various kinds. What shall we say to God when we are hurting? Shall we question God's love? What shall we ask God to do for us as we live in this troublesome world?. We are told the Spirit helps our infirmity, our weaknesses. . We are weak, and we should all acknowledge this fact. We need help. A part of our weakness is that we do know what we should pray for. It is our lack of knowledge that makes us weak. We are told that in some way the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers. He makes intercession to God in our behalf. This intercession is made in behalf of those who are in Christ, saints, those who are members of the Church and not for mankind in general. All of this is said to encourage us and let us know , that the Holy Spirit is helping us in our efforts to have a part in the glorious future awaiting the people of God. This is the testimony of the Holy Spirit that there is a future awaiting God's people, and He helps us and makes intercession before God regarding the prayers of Christians.