In order to get the full impact of Christian faith, we must first get the full impact of Christian hope—”now, faith is the substance of things HOPED FOR…” Three things are most important in the Christian life—faith, hope, and love; and although the greatest of these is love, in order to appreciate the full impact of the love of God in providing Christian faith as a way of life, we must see also all that God has provided both in this life and the life to come. All of this is summarized in HOPE!
“Behold, I make all things new…” (Rev 21:5)
One word, the word new, as found in Revelation 21:5 above can make obvious the full impact of hope upon Christian faith ! While they may seem a tremendous burden to place on one word, even the word new, it helps when we realize that this word and with the words above in Revelation 21:5 comes from God Himself, from “he that sat upon the throne” (Rev 21:5). Quickly in the book of Revelation the Almighty God the Father becomes “HE THAT SAT (AND SITS) ON THE THRONE”. In other words, God the Father reigns supreme over all the universe; and although the Father has placed all things under the feet of Jesus, and by Jesus all things consists and have their being, above the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Almighty God the Father who is sitting supreme on the great white throne. Just above the clouds, and with His feet in the clouds, sits God the Father in another dimension that we can not see. He sits on the “circle of the earth” so that He can see every sparrow that falls to the ground or each lily of the field that neither toils nor spins, yet your heavenly Father cares for them.
This God, the God of love and power, the God of the great white throne on the circle of the earth, and the God of the Lord Jesus Christ and full salvation, is the God who speaks, saying, “Behold, I make all things new…” You can count on it that all things in the heavens and on earth will be new. Counting on it, counting on these words from the Great Almighty God sitting on the great white throne of the universe is what faith is all about. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith believes that God is, that God is sitting up there on the great white throne caring and watching; and that this God rewards those who diligently seek Him!
God is making “all things” new:
God is making a new earth.
God is making new heavens.
God is making a new people to inhabit the new earth and under the new heavens.
All presently in this universe is very fragile. As physicists have told us for generations and as stated in the second law of thermodynamics—the order of the universe is decreasing. It is called the “law of entropy”. Entropy is increasing, and entropy is essentially disorder. So that the law of entropy tells us that order is decreasing in the universe and disorder is increasing. Sometimes we might tend to think that this physical law also has a social implication as a few weeks ago we witnessed in the news the anarchy, riots, and destruction in the city of Los Angeles. As we realize that our American society has within it the potential for self-destruction. Even as we realized also with the Judge Thomas affair that if America is destroyed, it must be destroyed from within as no foes are powerful enough to destroy it from the outside; and that this way of destruction is to destroy each other democratically in the public forum as we kill reputations, careers, and respect for others. With the boomers it has become very popular to tear down without grace and without compassion. No doubt these social as well as physical potentials for destruction are what the Apostle Paul had in mind as he wrote: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22 KJV)
The earth itself groans with earthquakes; the heavens of the universe groans with falling stars and entropy; and society and the individuals that make up society groan in self destruction for something better, and to be better! Even as the Creation of the world of the Genesis account includes the stars, the moon, the sun, man, and all the animals, fish, and birds, even so must the “whole creation (which) groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” include man, earth, and the heavens. The obvious analogy here is of a woman in travail and groaning to give birth; and even as that pain of birth is endured in order for the hope of bringing forth a new child, even so the groaning of this old earth, heavens, and man is in the hope of the new earth, new heavens, and the new man.
32-4: The Context of Romans 8:22
In order to build faith in hope, and hope in faith, we will base our faith and hope on the contest of the Word of God as given in these verse that surround in context of Romans 8:22. In order words, we will develop more understanding of Romans 8:22 by developing more understanding of the words that surround Romans 8:22. Romans 8:18-13—
“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. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:18-13 KJV)
The contrast is obvious between the present life and the life to come—”the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. This is the contrast between “the present life” and the future life; and while some criticisms of non- Christians or of social Christianity have been valid in that Christians have and do sometimes ignore the applications of Christian faith to this present life while concentrating solely on the future life, it is still true that THERE IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THIS PRESENT LIFE AND THE FUTURE LIFE.
And that while we must heed the faith contending of the Apostle James—to be discussed in the second half of this book—that faith is dead faith in this life without words in this life, it remains a fact of the Bible, the Word of God, that the priority is for the future life where all things, people and universe, will be made new!
Romans 8:18. We must distinguish between the three aspects of salvation: (1) Salvation in the past which is called “regeneration” or the new birth which happens or happened the first time that a Christian expressed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Salvation in the present which is a matter of Christian growth or growth in Christlikeness which is generally called “sanctification”; and (3) Salvation in the future of which Paul is writing in Romans 8:18, “the glory which shall be revealed in us”. This last aspect of future salvation is much greater than the past and present aspects of salvation: this last aspect of salvation in the future is the very reason that Paul at the close of this passage in Romans 8:24 writes of “we are saved by hope”; for this is a salvation still to come. One which requires hope and requires faith!
Romans 8:19. Here is another way to say hope and faith: “earnest expectation”. It is more than legitimate expectation: It is earnest expectation! What do we wait to happen in the future as we continue in earnest expectation? The answer is here in this verse—”for the manifestation of the sons of God” These are the new creatures of the new heavens and new earth, the new sons of God. Even as Jesus Christ was and is the “firstborn of God”, so also is every Christian the secondborns as sons of God. As the Bible tells us in John 1:12.
“But as many as received him (Christ the Word made flesh), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12,13 KJV)
The Apostle John is so fearful that we are going to miss the prime purpose of the book of John which is to “believe” in order to have “life”, abundant life at the present time and eternal life in the future, that here at the beginning and in the first chapter he lays out the whole plan of salvation around the Lord Jesus Christ as the “Word made flesh”.
Romans 8:20. This matter of every person on the face of the earth “being subjected to vanity” speaks also of this tendency of individuals and societies to self destruct. The Apostle James, quoting form the Old Testament in Proverbs, says it this way of even the Christian spirit:
“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:5 KJV)
No, the Bible says nothing to vain for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see; and the Bible, Old and New Testaments, tells us that even after the initial faith and new birth that the old spirit stays inside us, that spirit even of a Christian which continues to envy, to vanity, and to self destruct.
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21 KJV)
(1). FROM: the bondage of corruption, from vanity, and from the spirit within us which lusteth to envy.
(2). TO: glorious liberty from corruption, from vanity, and from the spirit within that lusteth to envy; and to being a complete and completed child of God, a completely new creation in Christ!
Romans 8:22: “FOR WE KNOW THAT THE WHOLE CREATION GROANETH AND TRAVAILETH IN PAIN TOGETHER UNTIL NOW”. (ROMANS 8:22 KJV)
(1). Romans 8:22 in the New English Version.
“Up to this present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in the pang of childbirth.” (Romans 8:22 NEV)
a. “We know”—this is a matter of faith, hope, and understanding, that we have the confidence to know.
b. “The whole created universe groans”—this gives us obvious understanding that it is the whole universe of earth, heavens, and created beings.
c. “In the pangs of childbirth”—this gives us obvious understanding that the groaning and travailing of the King James Version is that of childbirth. The earth is in the pain of childbirth to bring forth the new earth; the heavens are in the pains of childbirth, or entropy, to being forth the new heavens; and men and women are in the pains of childbirth to bring forth new men and new women.
(2). Romans 8:22 in the New American Standard Version.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8:22 NASV)
“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23 KJV)
(1). We wait in hope and faith as Christians for the complete body.
(2). We wait in hope and faith for the completed work of the Holy Spirit inside and outside our bodies, sanctification and glorification.
(3). We wait in hope and faith for the completed adoption as children of God.
(4). We wait in hope and faith for completed redemption; that is, for the complete salvation of our bodies as well as our souls and spirits.
How are we saved? “For we are saved by hope…” Is it hope if we can see our salvation already? No, “but hope that is seen is not hope…” You are out of luck if you can see your salvation as completed already, because this is not hope! If you see your salvation then you have nothing to hope for: “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”
“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:13 KJV)
APPENDIX: The Continuing Christmas Story according to John 1.
John 1 New King James Version
The Eternal Word
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [a]comprehend it.
John’s Witness: The True Light
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That[b] was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His [c]own, and His [d]own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [e]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
The Word Becomes Flesh
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me [f]is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
16 [g]And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten [h]Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.