Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
Listen to this week's message!
Map to the Church
Enhance your daily reading of God's word. Click here for free, printable Bible Reading and Prayer Journal sheets!
"THE BELIEVER'S 'EAGER AWAITS'"
Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
May 12, 2004
Theme: The glorious future that God calls His saints
to "eagerly await" helps put present suffering into perspective.
Paul was an authority in the area of suffering. He not only willingly
suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:4-8);
but he also gained a great deal of experiential suffering in the exchange
(2 Cor. 11:23-29). But in all this, Paul was able to say that the present
suffering he underwent was not worthy of being compared with the glory
which was going to be revealed in the saints. He didn't deny the reality
of present suffering; but was able to put present suffering into perspective.
He had grown to look beyond the present suffering to the glorious hope
in Christ that lay ahead for him.
Three times in this passage (vv. 19, 23 and 25), Paul uses the very
important Greek word: apekdechomai. It means to "eagerly await" something.
It is because of the sure expectation of the believer - his or her "hope",
in which he or she eagerly waits - that he or she is able to endure patiently
the trials one may suffer for Christ in the present time.
I. THERE IS A GLORIOUS AHEAD FOR THE BELIEVER (v. 18).
A. Paul took the glorious hope of the future in Christ as
his perspective on the present. And in doing so, he concluded that the
present suffering isn't even worthy to be compared with the future glory
that will be ours in Christ. Our union with Christ (Romans 6:4-5) is
the basis of this. When we were placed in Christ, we share in all that
happens to Him - not only His death and burial, but also His resurrection
and ascension, His righteousness, His inheritance and also His future
B. This glory is yet to be revealed in us; and so, we must view
it as a "hope". This "hope" is not meant to be understood as something
uncertain, as if to say we merely "hope" it will happen. Rather, it
is to be understood as a confident certainty that, though not yet
seen, will be fully brought to pass (Rom. 8:12-17).
II. THIS GLORIOUS FUTURE IS THE CONTENT OF OUR HOPE IN THE PRESENT
A. It's a hope that affects all of creation today (19-22).
1. Creation was subjected to futility by mankind's fall
(Gen. 3:17-19). But even then, it's subjection occurred in the context
of hope. Creation itself "eagerly waits" (apekdechomai) for the revealing
of the sons of men.
2. Until that time, the creation itself groans and suffers pain.
It's not the groaning and suffering of death, however; but the groaning
and suffering that proceeds birth! The Bible's promise is that,
when God brings His redeemed people into full glory in Christ, then
the creation - over which God had designed mankind to rule - will
truly come to life (Isa. 65:17-25).
B. It's also a hope that affects us today (v. 23). We, like creation,
groan in these weak and frail bodies. But our groaning is also in
the context of hope. We are assured of this hope in two ways:
1. We are assured of this hope because we have the "first
fruits" of the Spirit. Whenever any crop was harvested, or the offspring
of any cattle was born, the "first" portion - which was considered
the best - was offered to God before the rest could be used. Here,
we see that it's we who have the "first fruits of the Spirit" - that
is, something that is given by God to man. It is a pledge that more
is to come and will certainly be given (Eph. 1:13-14).
2. We are also assured of this hope because of the prospect of
our full "adoption". We are already God's children by adoption (vv.
15-17). The paper work as all been signed, as it were; and we are
already His. But we haven't yet been brought to our "new home" yet
- and we wont be until the "redemption of our bodies" has occurred
(1 John 3:2; see also 1 Cor. 15:50-55 and 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This
is something for which we are "eagerly waiting" (apekdechomai).
III. OUR HOPE, THEN, MOTIVATES US TO PERSEVERE IN SUFFERING (vv.
A. We are saved in a state of hope (v. 24a). God didn't simply
save us from our sins and leave us at that; but He saved us and left
us with a great expectation of hope for the future. He has held up to
us the glorified Lord Jesus Christ; with the promise that, since we
share in His death, we will also share in His glory.
B. But this is a hope that we do not yet see. A "hope" that we can
see is not really a "hope" anymore, because we can see it. But we
hope in something that we do not yet see; and so, we "eagerly wait"
for it (apekdechomai).
* * * * * * * * * *
May this hope in which we "eagerly wait" be the cause of our confidence
in our present times of suffering (2 Cor. 4:16-18).