Three Groans Anticipating Glory
Read Romans 8: 18-39.
If we have the Spirit of God living within us we are the children of God. What could go wrong? Lots, actually. How do we reconcile the truth of our relationship with God to uncertain and painful present experience?
• How would you describe the current world taking into account a realistic description of human sinfulness while recognising God’s sovereignty?
• How does Paul describe the world in verses 19-23?
• What does the groaning creation ‘long for’? (19) What does the society around us seem to believe that creation needs?
• What does the Bible teach about the deliverance of creation? (22)
• The Christian groans with expectation as well. What do we long for? (23)
• When we think about the full completion of the salvation promised in the Bible what are we expecting to be our personal experience?
• Who else anticipates the completion of God’s purpose? (26)
• How does the Spirit’s work affect our prayer life? (26-27)
• What exactly is the knowledge all Christians have? (28)
• How is the sequence of events described in verses 29-30 a proof of verse 28?
• Verses 31-35 describe our salvation. Who is doing all the ‘work’ that makes us and keeps us saved?
• What does being saved actually gain?
• How can that vary from our expectation of being saved should mean?
• Notice again that Paul states we are more than conquerors. Given all the circumstances that we endure, what is the victory?
The ‘three groans’ are presented with some unity and likeness. While there are different aspects to each of them (the anthropomorphic desire of creation; the shared desire of all Christians; and the ‘sympathetic desire’ of the Holy Spirit) each is linked by the fact that they all anticipate the same outcome and do so with certainty and optimism.
So, while exploring the differences, it is needful to remember that these differences are not the focus, the shared expectation of redemption completed is.
The balance of the passage seeks to demonstrate that while present circumstance can seem overwhelming, these circumstances are not evidence of God’s disaproval. The fact of His sending Jesus to die for us, and Jesus own work of intercession on our behalf guarantees this. Instead of being overwhelmed by suffering we can marvel that whatever comes our way is not sufficient to thwart God’s saving purpose.
Various areas of Christianity will continue to try and transplant the final state into this intermediate one. They will teach that health, wealth and peace should be out lot right now. The biblical view keeps in mind the truth that the full realisation of these promises lies ahead.
But we have sufficient experience of God’s promises that whatever our circumstances we are able to endure, without doubt and with full anticipation of the full realisation of salvation which will be ours in Christ.