Monday, September 04, 2023

2023.09.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:19–22

Read Romans 8:19–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose earnest expectation does Romans 8:19 begin talking about? In what manner is this earnest expectation waiting? For the revealing of whom? What had been done to the creation (Romans 8:20)? What say did the creation have in this? In what did the One Who did it bring it into subjection? What was the hope in which He subjected it—from what will it be delivered (Romans 8:21)? Bondage to what? Into what will it be delivered? What sort of liberty? Whose liberty? Whose children are they? But how much of the creation does what, currently (Romans 8:22)? Until when has this continued? 

What is the point of the creation’s existence and groaning? Romans 8:19–22 looks forward to the midweek sermon. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the point of the creation’s existence and groaning is to stir up desire for the glorification of God’s children. 

The creation was originally to be ordered and governed under the dominion of man (cf. Genesis 1:26–28). Thus, the creation was to be witness to man, who was created in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. As man conducted himself well in it, its beauty would be harnessed to love God and glorify other men. 

But then man fell into sin, and the creation was cursed for his sake (cf. Genesis 3:17). Not just “on account of him” but “for his sake.” This helps us make sense of verse 20, which says that the creation was “subjected in hope.” The gospel gives us sure hope. Romans 5:2 told us that believers are not only justified but “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Now, we find that this hope is not only to see God’s glory but to be glorified together with Christ (Romans 8:17). 

This is what the creation is eagerly awaiting (Romans 8:19a): the revealing of the sons of God (verse 19b). As we’ll hear next week (Lord-willing) in Romans 8:23, this revealing is especially at “the redemption of our body.” The New Earth will finally get to be managed physically by man, who at that point will not only have been made in the image of God, but renewed in that image by being fully conformed to the image of God’s Son (cf. Romans 8:29–30). 

So, it was in hope of this that the creation was subjected (Romans 8:20) to bondage and corruption (Romans 8:21). The creation does not assign itself its own purpose (“not willingly,” Romans 8:20). God, Who gives it its purpose, is the One Who subjected it. His purpose for it is to witness to glory of His children (Romans 8:21b). And He will not free it until His children come into the freedom of their own glory.

As we see “the whole creation groan and labor with birth pangs together” (Romans 8:22), we note that these are pains that look forward to a birth, not backward to a death. The more conformed we are to Christ, the better stewards we should be for managing the creation in a way that glorifies God and serves mankind. When we understand the purpose of God for the creation, this should be one of the ways that we are happy to show our conformity to Christ.

But the great way of serving the creation is in evangelism, discipleship, and worship. The creation knows that God is its purpose. The creation knows that His people are the great purpose He has given to that creation. And, the day that it eagerly awaits cannot come until the last of His elect are gathered in. So, let us tell sinners the gospel of Christ. And, let us disciple our covenant children. And especially, let us worship the God Who saves in the midst of our worship and in response to our worship. This is the greater part of true and biblical “environmentalism.” 

Who subjected the creation? In hope of what? If we really hope for God’s elect to be glorified, what will be the things we most give our hearts to? Our time and effort and money to? What does that look like?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You that You have done so much for our sakes. You even cursed the creation to teach us to grow on forward to glory. Grant that by Your Spirit, we would give our whole selves to knowing You and making You known, until You have finished Your work in this world and conformed us to Your Son, our Lord Jesus, in Whose Name we ask this, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD” or TPH299 “Joy to the World!” 

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