9/08/15 – Romans 8:18-30 “Our hope for the future is certain, in spite of our trials”


From 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.


Romans 8:18For 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 Paul was.

2 Corinthians 1:3-103Blessed [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 following!

2 Corinthians 11:22-3322Are 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 8:35-3635Who 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 suffer?

2 Timothy 3:12Yea, 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, that is).

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 on earth.


Romans 8:19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.


The earnest expectationanxious 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).

waitethassiduously 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 obvious.


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 3:1-21Behold, 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 he is.


Romans 8:20-2120For 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 9:24).


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 (= Christians).


Note the following cry from Paul regarding his pain from this conflict:-

Romans 7:24O 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 8:28-3028And 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 8:22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Matthew 24:8 All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. (childbirth).)


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 3:10-1310But 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 dwelleth righteousness.

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 8:23And 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 3:9-109Honour 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.


firstfruitsto 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, 5420But 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:

54So when 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.

redemptionredemption; 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 8:24For 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 5:6-86So 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 Corinthians 4:16-18)


Romans 8:25But 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 of!

Titus 2:11-1311For 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 Christ;

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 11:6But 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 is encouragement!


Romans 8:26Likewise 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.


helpethsynantilambanomai (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.

infirmitiesweakness 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 11:28-3028Come 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 8:27And 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 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.


all thingspas (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 loved us.

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 6:33But 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 8:29-3029For 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 foreknowproginosko (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 1:2aElect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father


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 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:


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