– Romans 8:18-30 “Our hope for the future is certain, in spite of our trials”
the start of Chapter 6 until the end of last week’s passage (to Romans 8:17) we have been looking at the contrasts
between the old man nature (the old relationship or marriage under the law of
sin and death) and the new spiritual nature (the new relationship under the law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus). Now this passage today gets into
teaching that the calvinists claim to be definitive proof that they have the correct
doctrine, when, in fact, today’s passage actually destroys their most favoured
doctrine, that of the unconditional election of God’s people, that is, without
any foreknowledge of God being used to determine His choice of people.
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.
By this stage of Romans,
Paul has established what it really means to be of the Spirit of life in Christ,
the new man, a Christian. After defining the differences between those of the
old man of sin and death, and those of the new man of the Spirit of life, Paul
now commences to reveal some of the aspects of being born a new man through the
gospel of Jesus Christ. One major aspect of being a genuine Christian is
suffering. It’s a pity that most alleged Christian ministries teach that health
and wealth (in various appearances: name and claim, prosperity gospel etc) is the automatic right of all Christians, and that if
you lack these “essential blessings”, you are somehow a somewhat lesser
Christian, or perhaps not one at all. We have so many apostate teachings today
that preach another gospel: that the real gospel is going under, drowning among
the confusion of all the lies taught today. Thus you are a Christian if …..(a)
you speak in tongues, or (b) you are slain in the spirit, or (c) you can demonstrate
God’s ‘blessing’ upon you in the multitude of your possessions, or (d) you can
demonstrate God’s ‘blessing’ of good health, or (e) you are one of the elect of
God, or (f) you have a good time worshipping God at your local Sunday morning
church nightclub, and so on.
Unfortunately, it is
rare to find Christians who are defined as such by their suffering, such as
2 Corinthians 1:3-10 – 3Blessed [be]
God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and
the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us
in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any
trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For
as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be
afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is
effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or
whether we be comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. 7And
our hope of you [is] stedfast, knowing, that
as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so [shall ye be] also of the
consolation. 8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our
trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength,
insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9But we had the sentence of
death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so
great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver [us];
Doesn’t sound like he
was having a picnic here!
Neither was he in the
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 – 22Are they
Hebrews? so [am] I. Are they Israelites? so [am] I. Are they the
seed of Abraham? so [am] I. 23Are they ministers
of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in
stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of
the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one. 25Thrice
was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night
and a day I have been in the deep; 26[In] journeyings often, [in]
perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine
own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in
the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in]
perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside
those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all
the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and
I burn not? 30If I must needs glory, I will
glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31The God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32In Damascus the
governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the
Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33And through
a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
If suffering is the
measure of the bad Christian, then Paul must have been way down below such
“excellent” Christians as “Dollar-sign” Brian “You-need-more-money” Houston,
and all the other rich beyond measure “Christian” leaders in our world today. Even
further down in Romans 8 we find more references to suffering:
Romans 8:35-36 – 35Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it
is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day
long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
And why would Paul
teach that apparently the better the Christian you are, the more you will
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer persecution.
I can find nothing to
support the teaching that Christians are somehow entitled to health and wealth,
that God is guaranteed to bless His own with riches and good lives here on
earth. In fact, Paul makes much reference to the suffering that a good
Christian will experience, and even teaches that a lack of desire to experience
suffering could hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:12b – (we) suffer
all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
It is far too often
said that upon becoming a Christian our troubles are at an end. Well, perhaps
from the law of sin and death, but the truth is much different indeed: that
when we become Christians that’s when our troubles really begin (here on earth,
And with the fact of
the suffering of the Christian established, Paul then says that is nothing compared
with the glory that is ours for all eternity (but still largely in the future,
though). Our future glory as children of God far outweighs any suffering here
Romans 8:19 – For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
The earnest expectation – anxious and
persistent expectation; an intense
desire or anxiety; the intense interest of the Christian concerning what he is
expecting in the future.
of the creature – or of the creation, here probably referring to the new creature
or creation in Christ = the Christian (2 Corinthians 5:17).
waiteth – assiduously and
patiently waiting for. It is yet in the future,
they do not possess it yet, but that intense anxiety to possess it drives the
Christian to focus upon it with enthusiasm.
manifestation – a revealing of that which is not yet clear or
The sons of God may be
read as the male offspring, or more generally as the children of God. While yet
in our mortal fleshly bodies we do not stand out as greatly different from the
rest of the world, but one day, when we are changed from corruptible to
incorruptible, we will be like Jesus. Our true nature will be revealed.
1 John 3:1-2 – 1Behold,
what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called
the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved,
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we
know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as
Romans 8:20-21 – 20For the
creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who
hath subjected [the same] in hope, 21Because the creature
itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God.
vanity – what is devoid of truth; perverseness; depravity; frailty;
want of vigour; emptiness; nothingness; the illusion
of pleasure in sin. Here it probably means futility, emptiness, depravity,
noting that in Vs 21 the creature will be delivered from the bondage of that depravity
(corruption). Such depravity or corruption was as a result of Adam’s sin. The
creature was subjected to futility of purpose (through such depravity) against
his will through the decision of God who subjected that same creature to hope
for the future when the curse would be lifted, and God’s will for everlasting
righteousness would come (as per Daniel
When this relates to
the Christian (= a new creation), then the Christian (serving the new man
nature) is not subjected to this depravity willingly (or voluntarily) but has been
placed in this situation by God because of the old man nature of Adam’s sin.
This puts us under bondage to the corruption (decay) that sin produces. But for
those who are no longer under the condemnation of the law, their expectation
(hope) is that one day they will be delivered from that bondage of sin, and set
free to live as the children of God. The deliverance from this corruption will
be a glorious freedom from that bondage of corruption for the children of God
Note the following cry
from Paul regarding his pain from this conflict:-
Romans 7:24 – O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver
me from the body of this death?
Also note that this is leading toward the culmination of where God’s
plan for His children is leading.
Romans 8:28-30 – 28And we
know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who
are the called according to [his] purpose. 29 For whom he did
foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed
to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also
called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them
he also glorified.
Romans 8:22 – For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain
together until now. (Matthew 24:8 – All these [are] the beginning of
We know that all of
God’s creation (all the creatures of His creation, clearly not just Christians
here – see Vs 23) groans together (with each other) and undergoes agony (like a
woman in childbirth) together until this point in time, clearly to continue
until that day when creation will be set free.
2 Peter 3:10-13 – 10But the
day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall
pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,
the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11[Seeing]
then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of
persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking
for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on
fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless
we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein
The world was created
perfect, but sin caused it to decay or corrupt into emptiness and futility.
Like a mother about to birth a child, the pains are building to a crescendo.
Romans 8:23 – And not only [they], but ourselves
also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even
we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the
redemption of our body.
Not only all creation
as per Vs 22 (this is apparently the meaning here) but in particular those of God’s
children who are the first fruits (literally the first fruits of the harvest
which were to be offered to God before His people partook of any of it).
Proverbs 3:9-10 – 9Honour
the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits
of all thine increase: 10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty,
and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
firstfruits – to offer firstlings or firstfruits (of your produce); the first portion of the
dough, from which sacred loaves were to be prepared. Hence term used of persons
consecrated to God for all time. These could be the first generation of
Christians, but the context does appear to be Christians in general as opposed
to all creation in the previous verse. Paul could have been talking about his generation of Christians as being
the first of many more to come, as the harvest firstfruits
signified. Paul therefore talks of personally groaning (sighing) within himself
along with the other firstfruits, yearning for that
day when they (that is, all God’s children) would be free from the curse of
this current life, when they would become fully the children of God through the
changing of their bodies into incorruption.
Thus 1 Corinthian 15:20, 42-43, 54 – 20But now
is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits
of them that slept.
42So also [is]
the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in
glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and
this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the
saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Firstfruits of the Spirit could mean that we have received a partial provision from the Spirit as
opposed to the full provision of glory that awaits us, yet in the future.
redemption – redemption; deliverance; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.
We are legally God’s children now, yet we groan while awaiting our future
adoption which is the completion of our deliverance when our corruption gives
way to incorruption.
Romans 8:24 – For we are saved by hope: but hope that is
seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he
yet hope for?
Either we were saved by
the hope that is in us concerning our future eternity with God, or, perhaps more
likely, we are currently saved, or kept from current trials.
Syriac translates this
as “for by hope we live” and Arabic “we are preserved by hope”
We are either waiting in
hope for our future glory, or we are sustained in our current trials by our
hope for the future.
If we can see that for
which we hope, then it is no longer hope but certainty, not faith anymore, but
certain. (The word elpis
= hope is translated ‘faith’ in Hebrews 10:23.) In this verse, what we see may
be more to do with future certain possession of whatever it is we hope for.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – 6So we are always confident, knowing that while
we are at home in the body we are absent from the
Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are
confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present
with the Lord. (See 2
Romans 8:25 – But if we hope for that we see not, [then]
do we with patience wait for [it].
hope – a sure expectation of something. This is similar to
faith which is the accepting of God’s promises without any concrete evidence
beforehand. It is clear that our hope here is more certain that just a
possibility. Rather it is a waiting for that which we know by faith will
happen. Note in the following that our hope is something we should be assured
Titus 2:11-13 – 11For the
grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching
us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that
blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus
And because we hope with
a certainty for that which we cannot see because we believe by faith, then we
will wait for it with patience (steadfastness) in spite of the suffering we
endure at the moment. We desire to please God, of course, and without faith it
is impossible to please Him.
Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [it is] impossible
to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that]
he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
So our hope for the future is what sustains us now. That
Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth
our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered.
helpeth – synantilambanomai (to lay hold along with others; to strive to obtain with others; take
hold with another) This word is a “syn” word which indicates a synthesis of many
to become one. The Spirit works together with us to help us; the Spirit and us
become one in this work.
infirmities –weakness and frailty; feebleness of health or sickness. This has to be
taken spiritually here, thus our trials
and sufferings; our weaknesses in bearing such trials.
the Spirit …. makes
intercession – aids us; to be
present for the purpose of assisting, such as an advocate in a court of law.
groanings – with deep feeling and intense anxiety
cannot be uttered – cannot be expressed in words
Matthew 11:28-30 – 28Come unto
me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take
my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke [is] easy, and
my burden is light.
Romans 8:27 – And he that searcheth
the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the
Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints
according to [the will of] God.
God knows our deepest
desires and anxieties and He knows what the Spirit (as our Advocate) intends
communicating to Him who is the Judge holding court, because the Spirit
intercedes (as a good advocate should do in taking
our side of the case) for God’s
saints (the Church, the body of genuine
believers, Christians) in such a
way that it is in full agreement with God’s will (it cannot be in conflict with the will of God).
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for
good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
all things – pas (each;
every; any; all; the whole; everyone; all things; everything)
How do we know that this means “all”? And
what does “all” mean anyway?
Some people say that “all things” can only
represent spiritual issues, while others maintain that it’s only when God acts
on your behalf. But “all things” has to mean “all things without exception” or
else we are avoiding the straight-forward meaning of Scripture. The only
exception has to be if something occurs as a result of our decision-making. For
example, if I choose to stand in front of a speeding truck, I can’t demand that
it work together for good. Thus “all things” must mean all occasions when God
makes a decision concerning something that influences or affects us.
And who does it apply to? Does it apply to
all Christians or only when certain conditions are being met?
Consider the conditions first. To whom does
it apply – 1/. To those who love God, and 2/. To those who are the called
according to God’s purposes.
1/. This is clear – to those who are genuine
children of God, that is, genuine Christians as opposed to counterfeit ones (and
there are many of those sort, too!). Only genuine Christians
can love God as Romans 3 tells us, that when we are alienated from God, we are
haters of God! Strong words indeed. And we can only love God because He first
2/. To those who are walking reasonably
according to God’s will, or those who are part of the eternal purpose or will
of God. Either way, it is to do with being involved with God’s will, and only
as a genuine child of God.
It can mean
(a) that if we are doing a reasonable job of
doing what God wants us to, then we can expect Him to provide our every need as
per Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
you. This assumes that you are seeking God’s
kingdom first and then all your provision will be met.
(b) However, what if you are not seeking
God’s kingdom first etc? Do all things still work together for good? This is a
grey area for most, as it isn’t spelled out clearly. It is possible that it
still could apply although it may well be in the form of discipline rather than
blessings. The only area that can really be questioned as to whether it is
applicable to Romans 8:28 is where a person is so disobedient that serious measures
must be taken to deal with it. For example, where someone is to be dis-fellowshipped
from the church itself, as per 1
Corinthians 5:1-5 - 1It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and
such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should
have his father’s wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather
mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For
I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as
though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed, 4In
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my
spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an
one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved
in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Even then, though, it is easy to see that
this extreme form of discipline may well be still God working things together
for both your good and His.
And what does it mean by “work together for good”? What defines good here? And who’s good
are we talking about? It has to clearly understood that when God talks about good,
He will always see it as being from His point of view. What we consider good
can vary according to how we perceive the event. My good could be bad for
someone else. But this is talking about God’s good, that which God sees as good
according to His will. Many things might happen to us that are seriously bad,
yet God can see them as good because He sees the bigger picture. And note that
while individual events may not be deemed good, it is the working together of
all events that is adjudged to be good. We tend to think of ourselves as individuals
with rights, yet God sees His overall plan for all creation with us as mere
parts of it. Note that God’s will for creation does appear to be to finish the transgression, and to make
an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in
everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint
the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)
So when it says all things work together for good, then for the genuine
Christian child this means all things which God has the choice of, or those
things that you allow God to have the choice of. You cannot seriously expect to
stand in front of a speeding train and demand that God do that which is good?
That’s your choice and therefore your responsibility. This therefore can only
apply to those things that are reasonably beyond your ability to choose or
where you make a conscious decision to allow God the choice.
Romans 8:29-30 – 29For whom
he did foreknow, he also did predestinate
[to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the
firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called,
them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Note the order here: foreknowledge
leads to being predestined which leads to being called which
leads to being justified which leads to being glorified.
did foreknow – proginosko (verb
form of prognosis – foreknowledge) Note that it is God’s foreknowledge
that takes us through this progression from start to finish of what we have
been discussing today.
Firstly, God foreknew,
which simply means that He knew beforehand things that would occur in the
future. Of course, God is not bound by time and so He didn’t look through the corridors
of time as calvinists would have us believe. He exists at all times
simultaneously, so His foreknowledge cannot be a case of observing something in
the distance, but rather that which occurred where and when He existed, at all
times for all time! Calvin taught that foreknowledge was irrelevant as it would
only determine that which God already knew, having been already ordained by His
sovereign will (Institutes Book 3, Chapter 23, Section 6), but then why have
foreknowledge if it’s irrelevant?
Piper claims that God
cannot foreknow free will decisions that don’t exist, so therefore “foreknew” has
to mean “chosen”! (“What We Believe About the
Five Points of Calvinism”, 1998 revision)
But the consistency of
the Bible demonstrates that God’s foreknowledge definitely plays a part in the
forming of the list of the elect.
1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God
The Bible consistently
teaches that God does use foreknowledge to determine those who were to be
included on His list of chosen ones, the elect. He knew from the start of time
who would choose Him and He consequently chose them to be His elect. Quite
simple and straight-forward! I realise that the
calvinists do not like this interpretation of foreknowledge, but their dislike
for the truth cannot make their lies the truth instead. There is an election,
that is true, but it is conditional upon the foreknowledge of sovereign God who
knows all things from beginning to end without having to foreordain a thing.
And those whom He predestined,
He called to be His for all eternity. Those whom He called to be His, He
justified, that is, freed them from the requirements of the law of sin and
death. And those whom He set free from the law, He also glorified, although
this is positional and not actual at the moment; our hope rests in the actual
glorification of our lives, body and soul, one day in the future.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he
which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of