Based on Chuck Swindoll’s “Focus on Treasure” from Rom. 8:28)

Paul remarks that all of creation is in pain, and has been for the greatest part of its existence. The source of its discomfort, is that its designated ruler has failed to obey the creator and supreme ruler of all creation, and as a result has reduced all of it to the misery that comes with alienation from God. In fact, Paul makes the point that God did not intervene when Adam sinned, he did not protect creation from the effects of Adam’s rebellion, but allowed the fall to sweep even creation into the whirlwind of his failure (Rom. 8:20). Paul calls the effects of sin futility, or frustration, probably from Ecclesiastes which pronounces the verdict of vanity, empty, on everything “under the sun” which has lost its connection to God, the creator (cf. Ecc. 12:1). Without God there is no point to any of it. It is finite, broken, painful and hopeless.

But personifying creation for the purpose of making his point, Paul says that creation is in fact bursting with anticipation of a liberation from the emptiness of the futility of existence without connection to God (Rom. 8:19). Creation was not abandoned by God, but allowed to go through the experience of alienation from God, along with fallen humanity. Adam’s race was to live in the environment of is own making when he rejected the sovereignty of God in favor of his own rule. Paul describes the terms of creation’s liberation from bondage to this futility; a participation with the “sons of God” in the full and final realization of their own redemption through Christ. This redemption that will bring about the total transformation of the physical body of the saints and the restoration of creation along with it (Rom. 8:23). In Colossians 1 Paul develops the same theme of creation’s full restoration as a reconciliation of every created thing in the Christ, because of his death, and under the authority of his final rule. John speaks of it, lifting the same theme from Isaiah 65, as a new heaven and earth, where the same word describing the new birth is used of a new material universe and new heavens.

To this glorious prospect Paul gives the name hope. Hope is a confident, even joyful anticipation of a better or good outcome in the future. Paul assures his readers that there is hope for the future in God’s plan. God has a great and amazing plan, and there is still a significant part of it that has yet to be realized. This present life is not empty and futile, but it is the prelude to a glorious future redemption that is as big as creation itself. And the fulfillment of this hope awaits the final redemption, adoption, of the sons of God, whose bodies will also be transformed. Not a single aspect of our fallen natures will be left behind! All of it will eventually come under the saving, transforming power of God one day, as a result of Jesus cross and resurrection. The reason, Paul says he calls this hope is because we have not seen the fulfillment of it; this is still future. Hope signifies that we are living in anticipation of it, we are waiting for it to come about in God’s perfect plan and timing. But as yet we have not seen it! Our hope and the hope of creation, as intertwined as they are in the purpose of God, rise in firm resolve to trust God until that day comes. We look to the horizon, hoping to catch the first gleam of his glorious appearing!

1. You do not see!

A. Only God sees the entire plan from beginning to end. We do not! That is why we struggle and fuss at times. It is the reason for our fatigue, discouragement and failure. We grow weary and discouraged. We reduce our effort. Faith rises and falls with the ease and hardships we face. We have no concept of how glorious the end God has in mind is, even though the Word often describes it in some of its aspects.

B. We have a tendency to complain about how long it is taking, or how hard it is. From our limited perspective, we cannot know the whole plan. We forget this is God project, not ours. he is working to fulfill his purpose not ours.

C. We only see the here and now. What we don’t realize is that in the process he is shaping the vessel. Like the potter in Jeremiah’s prophecy, God is making vessels out of the clay of our lives. Sometimes the vessel is flawed and he starts again! But in it all the hands of the potter never leave the clay, moulding it according to the shape and design of his own choosing! God simply asks us to not get impatient and to trust the potter. His hands never leaves us so that we are at all times safe, even if he is shaping and moulding our lives.

2. You do not know!

A. We do not even know how to pray. Whether because of the struggle or the pain, or because of our lack of knowledge of the compete plan, we don’t even know how to pray or what to pray for. At times we even sense that. Our prayers feel futile and empty. Words are empty. There are sometimes dark places and deep valleys where the voice of God is very dim and the fog to thick to see very far ahead. Prayer is hard and doesn’t seem to meet the need!

B. If there is a plan, if God knows where it is all going, how can we pray according to God’s will? We can’t. But Paul says, there is no need to fear, because, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and he intercede for us, entirely appropriately to God’s will! He positions us for God’s will even when we don’t know the way ahead!

3. You do Know One Thing!

A. There is one thing we do know… it is that in everything that we experience or go through in life, God is at work to do us good (Rom. 8:28). None of it produces harm or loss! God simply will not allow it!

B. Because we love God and are called according to his purposes, God will not allow the things of this world to damage what he is seeking to accomplish in our lives. He will not allow the temporary things of the now, to spoil or damage our prospects of future glory. He has made provision for us to finish the course as victors in Christ. He will reveal the sons of God one day, and there is nothing in earth or heaven that can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). God will simply not allow the things of this world separate us from him! He had ordained us to become conquerors through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37).

C. It is in confidence at the outcome – of the love of God, his provision, our present experience of salvation – that we seize the future hope. But as an anchor, God has placed within us the token of this future… the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:23)! God has given us a divine deposit, the glory of heaven for right now – his living presence in us to give life to the transformed, saved nature (cf. Rom. 8:1-14). We are no longer salves of sin, bound up to fear of the future and of destruction, but sons and daughters who cry, “Abba!” (Rom. 8:14).

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