Romans 8:22-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. If we already have something, we don’t need to hope (wait) for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.
And in the NIV (UK):
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Our Eternal Hope in Christ (First fruits)
Did you have a favourite teacher at school? And one you disliked intensely! Years ago, I worked at a school where the deputy head was very unpopular… but one Christmas he received a bottle of whisky from a child! Nice gesture. When he opened it, the bottle contained water. It wasn’t a nice present; it was a cruel joke!
Recently, I ordered shopping ‘on-line’ from a major supermarket. When it arrived, the grapes were mouldy! I was given a refund and a shopping voucher.
Imagine if you were a child and your parents gave you a broken or soiled toy for your birthday instead of one in good condition! What would it tell you about your parents’ love for you?
In the OT, the Jews were told to bring some of their first and best harvest produce and offer it to God as a sign of their love for Him and commitment to Him.
- These gifts were the freshest and tastiest first fruits of the harvest, not the stale leftovers!
And in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses the same expression, “first fruits” to describe something wonderful that God gave to you and me…
- The sacrifice of God’s Son, called Jesus, on the cross, was the best that God could give to us
- He didn’t offer second best or something inferior
And when we trust Jesus as Saviour, we receive another wonderful gift: the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling within each one of us to teach, comfort, rebuke and guide us through life.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives points us to Jesus Christ and gives us HOPE for now and eternity
The gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the very best that God can give us… His personal guarantee to give us reassurance that no matter what happens to us, we can trust in His unfailing love
In Romans 8: 22-25, the Apostle Paul focuses on the fact that God’s presence in our lives gives us genuine HOPE
- He accepts in his letter that life is sometimes challenging
- Even Christians can “groan” as they go through difficult times
- But we can still place our hope (trust) in Him because God promises to be with us by His Spirit through every circumstance… ~He does NOT promise that we won’t have to go through some tough times!
The word ‘hope’ is commonly used in everyday language. See if any of the following examples fits the Biblical idea of “hope and trust in God”:
- Grandpa is sound asleep… His grandchildren wake him up: “Grandad, Grandad, your tea is ready”.
- “I was just having a nice dream about being on a lovely holiday with sunshine, golden sands and blue sea.”
- “Will it come true, Grandad?”
- “I hope so”, Grandad replies with a smile. “Now, where’s that cup of tea?”
- Your neighbour is very excited because he’s bought a Lottery (‘Lossery’ ticket) and is convinced that this is his lucky week to win a prize.
- “Do you really think you’ll win this time?”
- “I hope so!” the neighbour replies enthusiastically. “My horoscope says that I’m going to receive an unexpected surprise, so I’m feeling confident!”
- A friend of yours is sad because her sister has been unwell for some time.
- “Is she likely to get better?” “I hope so”
- “What did the doctor say?”
- “It’s a bit uncertain; we just touch wood and hope for the best!”
- Your grandchild is very excited because it’s nearly his birthday and he wants a new bicycle.
- “Do you think you’ll get one?”
- “I hope I’ve crossed my fingers and made a wish—that should work!”
These expressions of hope appear to be positive… but look closely and there’s always a proviso… always a sense of being at the mercy of circumstances or ‘chance’.
Expressions of hope in society are usually tempered by reference to “good luck” … or to “fate”.
- When people say, “I hope so”, it is often rooted in feelings, emotions or in a deep-seated longing (akin to fantasy) that ‘somehow’ all will be well.
- A friend of mine is in debt but told his wife not to worry because: “I hope we might win the Lottery!”
But hope for the Christian to which Paul refers is not wishful thinking or luck or fate… It is rooted in a CERTAINTY that God has given us and will give us the best
Hope for the Christian is not achieved through superstitious practices, such as crossing fingers, touching wood, horoscopes, lucky charms… or “hoping for the best”
Godly hope is different from worldly hope because it is principally based on a BELIEF that God can be trusted, not on feelings or on circumstances
- Godly hope is being certain of things not seen… trusting that God, who sees everything, is in control… even when life seems desperate…
Circumstances are not always a good guide, as the following story shows…
A man was shipwrecked and survived on a deserted island by building a rudimentary shelter and surviving by eating berries and the odd sea creature. By a miracle, he manages to start a fire. As he searches for food, the wind sweeps the flames onto his shelter and sets fire to it. The man is mortified and loses hope… But a seaman on a passing vessel spots the smoke and the man is saved. Circumstances appeared to work against him but served to work in his favour!
People sometimes sneer and say: “You can believe in all that religious stuff if it makes you feel better. I prefer to deal in realities!”
- But our hope in God is a cast-iron guarantee… not wishful thinking or a fantasy or a sedative to ease our pain!
And God’s hope is not just for this life… He offers us hope both now and in the future, even beyond this life.
We’re not vainly “hoping for the best”…we have One who is THE HOPE of the world
- And just as God gave Christ as His best possible gift, so we are also “first fruits”… God’s great harvest of those who will be raised from the dead
Some people say that they don’t need luck or God… they put their hope in themselves and in their own efforts…
- Working hard and striving is good and commendable… but we must make sure that we’re striving for the right things
- And for all our hard work and perseverance, hope that relies on self often proves disappointing and empty… We need God’s Spirit within us
We rightly admire (most) self-made people and entrepreneurs… but we cannot place our hope in riches, fame or success
If God chooses to bless us with wealth and position, so be it… we have to use them wisely in a way that honours Him
- But rich or poor, success or failure, we still place our hope in Christ.
And confident hope in Christ builds our faith in God.
The world says: “I hope so”… The Christian says: “I hope in (God) and the certainty of His promises”
As we read in Romans 5:5… Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.
- Why is our hope so certain? Because of God’s love “poured out” in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
Today’s passage reminds us that if we believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world and died for “me” personally, the Holy Spirit will live within us as a guarantee of salvation and eternal life…
So what’s the difference between a Christian and non-Christian?
~ The presence or absence of the Holy Spirit in his or her life
Like the poor farmer who drilled for water and found that he had been sitting on an oil reservoir, so the Holy Spirit is ‘available’ to every believer…but we need to tap into His power and influence.
We are also reminded by Paul in Romans 8 that when Jesus Christ comes again and the present world ends, we shall be given new bodies
- We shall be free from sin and suffering
But for now, we must continue to hope in God and believe His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us
Finally, God also hopes…
- He hopes that just as He promises never to leave us or forsake us, so we will say the same to Him: “I will never leave you or forsake you”
- ‘For the rest of my life, I will continue to put my hope in you, whatever happens; however confused I may sometimes feel; through good times and painful times… I will continue to trust God.’
So where are you and I placing our hope for today and for the future?
- Is it in luck or fate… or in the One who gives us the certainty of an eternal hope that will never fail?