How the Gospel makes sense of the world

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30 Jun 2024

How the Gospel makes sense of the world

Passage Romans 8:18-27

Speaker Steve Nichols

Service Morning

Series Training for Mission

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Passage: Romans 8:18-27

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in your sight, o Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Well, what are you hoping for on Thursday when you vote? It's the year of elections. France is voting right now, today, and there are questions about what kind of party and what kind of politics they are voting for. On Thursday, we go to the polls. Perhaps you've been watching it with eager excitement and interest.

Perhaps not. Maybe you saw the presidential debate, the first presidential debate. I wonder what your reaction to that was. India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico have already voted. This year is the year of elections.

By the end of the year, 70 countries around the world will have gone to the polls. That is directly affecting the lives of more than half of the planet. 4.2 billion people for the first time in history. What are we hoping for from our leaders? Well, the manifestos of other political parties.

They've come through my letterbox. They've probably come through yours as well. They're making a neat pile on them on the kitchen work top even those with the most radical solutions. Well, they might be able to do a certain amount. What are we really hoping for?

What vision of the future do we have? Romans chapter eight this morning is going to give us God's vision of the future, of what is going to happen, what the hope is. And we need hope. If you have hope, you can cope with a lot of problems in your life, brokenness, disappointments, disillusionments. If you have hope, if you think tomorrow is going to be amazing, you can put up with a lot today.

But if you have no hope, well, even the smallest thing can crush you, can't it?

What are we hoping for? In many ways, the human race has too inflated an opinion of ourselves. We think too highly of ourselves. We read history with ourselves at the centre, our story, our development. We explain the world around us, politics, economics, environment, in terms of us and our influence.

It's all about us. And yet, at the same time, according to the Bible, our estimation of our own importance and our own significance isn't big enough. The Bible gives humanity a very important part to play in the story of the world. The destiny of our planet, in fact, of the whole cosmos, is determined by the human race. That's what we're going to see this morning in Romans chapter eight.

This morning we're going to unlock Romans chapter eight with three groans did you groan as you got up this morning? Well, it's biblical, verse 21. Have a look down at the three groans of Romans eight creation is groaning that's verse 21. Sorry, verse 22. Creation is groaning we are groaning that's verse 23.

And the Holy Spirit himself is groaning that's verse 26.

In this bit of Romans chapter eight, Paul is going to zoom the camera out to a very wide shot. If you've been here for the last couple of weeks, the camera has been tight in on us, as Paul has explained what goes on in our hearts. He looked in chapter seven of what he was like before he became a Christian. He looked at what he is like now. He's a Christian and he's been raised to new life with Jesus.

He's joined the life of the new humanity. The spirit is living within him, but he still has an old body, new life in old bodies. And he's talked about the battle that goes on inside him between the new desires and the old flesh. Now, in chapter eight, the camera pulls right back and the scope is the whole creation. Paul is going to say, that struggle that you're going through, new life in old bodies, it's the struggle of the whole creation.

We have a hope waiting for us, that everything is going to be made new. So let's look at verse 21. Creation groaning CREaTioN GROaNiNg and the Bible claims that humans are very important, that the destiny, not only of this planet, but the whole cosmos, is determined by the human race. Look down at verse 19. Paul says creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God, the children of God, to be revealed.

Why? Why does creation care what happens to the human race, living on a planet in the corner of a galaxy? What is the relationship between the human race and the rest of creation? Well, the answer is that what happens to the human race has a direct effect on what happens to the rest of creation. In verse 20, Paul takes us back to the Garden of Eden.

If you remember reading Genesis, the early chapters of Genesis, the climax of God's creation is humanity. Men and women created in the image and likeness of God. And the whole of creation was placed in our hands as a race, so that what we did had consequences for the whole of creation. For everything else, we were the heads of creation. But the Eden project didn't last very long.

According to the Bible, as the head of creation, when we sinned, we dragged the whole of creation down into sin as well. We unleashed a tsunami of sin, so that every part of creation, from the highest heaven to the very depths, is contaminated by sin, like fallout from a nuclear explosion.

The apostle Paul is careful to explain that the whole universe affected by our behaviour, sometimes we think of sin as just a personal, private thing. It doesn't affect anybody else. It's never like that. It's never a personal, private thing. But the first sin in particular had cosmic, universal consequences.

But the apostle Paul says that in verse 20, creation was subject to frustration. If you have a look down by its own choice, he's saying God put the world into special measures. He's saying there's nothing natural about so called natural disasters. Disease and death are unnatural. They were never part of God's good creation.

They're like squatters in his world. While God has permitted sin, he's put a restraining order in place to stop sin rampaging unchecked forever. In chapter three of Genesis, he announced the death sentence. Special measures. Sin cannot go on forever.

There will be a limit. We live in a world that God has deliberately frustrated. Do you feel frustrated if you went out to work? Maybe you're still at work. Do you find fulfilment and satisfaction in your job?

Well, if you do, it's a blessing. But it's a surprise because God doesn't really want us to. He's deliberately set it up so that we might be frustrated. He doesn't want us to find satisfaction in a broken, fallen world because there's a hope still to come. Come.

In our marriages, in our relationships, we never find the deepest satisfaction. They can never really deliver all that we want for God set it up that way. He's frustrated it. Think of all the books and the films and the poetry, all the agony over the futility of life, the teenage Angsthenne, the midlife crises, the old age despair. What was that all about?

It's gone so quickly. Romans says, eight says there's a sense in which we should feel like that God has put us into special measures so we don't feel at home in this present fallen world. The best is yet to come. There's a hope.

Even before the death sentence was announced, Jesus the Lord promised that the saviour would come who would crush the serpent's head. Creation was frustrated in hope there was a future. Look, verse 20. Have a look down. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

The future of the world is tied to your future and my future. The physical future of the universe is tied to the physical future of the head, the head of creation, the human race. Creation is waiting for us to receive our resurrection bodies, because then it too will be set free from decay and death and brought into the freedom that we will have. The whole creation has been groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.

Now, this bit of Romans eight, I gave a health warning at the 937 service. It is so different from what we read in the newspapers and we hear on tv and is all around us, all that we hear about the environment and our responsibility and the hope and the future and the decimation, the cataclysm that's coming. It's so different. When we read the scriptures, creation is groaning for sure. But according to Romans eight, a groaning of creation all around us.

And it's not the death groans of a world about to collapse into nothingness. They are birth pains, birth groans of a world longing for Jesus to come back and for then it to be made new.

As Christians, we should care for our creation. We should care for the world around us. It's part of loving our neighbour and stewarding God's good creation. But our motive, well, it's not the hopelessness that, frankly, we do hear sometimes on the radio or on our tvs. Our motive as christians is to testify that creation is very special and that it's not up to us to save it.

But Christ has saved it by his death and resurrection, and he will save it when he comes back and makes it all new. Meantime, we care for it with joy and hope, knowing that ultimately it's not in our hands. But we point to Jesus, the true saviour, and we love our neighbours. The good news of Jesus is good news on a very big scale. So creation is groaning.

That's our first grown. That was the longest growing. Now a slightly shorter groan. Verse 23. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Do you enjoy baking? Our boys enjoy baking. We did some yesterday, actually. Chocolate orange brownies. And I said to John, I have to lick the spoon because I need it for a sermon illustration tomorrow.

Which is this? Which is this? When you have tasted. When you lick the spoon, you've tasted the future. The brownies in the oven or the army of gingerbread men.

You can't wait for that buzzer to go, can you? To get the real thing. And when we have tasted the life of the Holy Spirit and we become christians, we groan. We long for Jesus to come back, we long for that new life to flood out and restore the whole creation, including our bodies, we've tasted something of the future, the first fruits. The Spirit is described as showing the quality of the whole crop to come.

If you're a follower of Jesus, you have tasted the new life of the Holy Spirit and you want more. We who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption of sons, the redemption of our bodies. It's this world that will be renewed. It's our bodies that will be resurrected and made new. We don't have to say a permanent goodbye to our bodies when we die.

One day, God is going to give them back to us and in better condition. And everything that sin and suffering and death take away from us, God is going to give back to us and in better condition. We will be so like Jesus, the son of God, that there will be no mistaking who the children of God really are. And until then, we groan. We want it.

Who is most at one with the environment today? Who's most in harmony, most in tune with the world? It is the Christian who groans for the future, groaning with the rest of Christ. For Jesus to come back to make it all new. The spirit born Christian.

It's as if we've licked the spoon and we want the rest. But in this hope, we were saved. The 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 patiently.

It's hope only because it hasn't come yet. It's certain. As certain as Jesus death and resurrection. We haven't seen it yet. But do you know what it means?

It means we're not going to miss out. You might have missed out in this life in some way. Maybe life hasn't delivered what you expected. Perhaps it was in terms of a career or a relationship or a marriage or children or quality of life. Whatever it was, it feels as if we may have missed out.

The Bible says no hope is coming. We don't have to go through this life trying to stuff it all in our pockets now. We won't miss out. Christians will never miss out. We feel the frustration of living in a fallen world.

We are groaning because we've tasted what's good and we're waiting for Christ's return. Well, as we end, you might say, that's all very well, preacher. Just hang on. Is it until Jesus comes back and makes it all new? Is that what you're saying?

Here's our last groan. Creation groans, we groan. Verse 26. The Holy Spirit groans in the same way the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.

Is that your experience? Sometimes you don't know what to pray for?

A few days ago, I just felt prompted that I needed to get in touch with a friend, somebody I had not been in touch with for a little while. Good friend for many, many years. But we lost touch over the last few months, and I dropped him a message. I said, you've been on my mind, and I don't know why. And I've been praying for you.

Is everything all right? And he said, well, actually, our son, our 21 year old son, is just in cancer treatment, and we've not told anybody else, but will you pray? Well, I felt that was a prompt from the Lord. When you have a problem like that, you have to act on it, don't you? I felt that was a prompt from the Lord, and I've been praying every day for them.

But to be honest with you, I've not really known how to pray. But I've been thinking about this verse, because sometimes we just don't know what to pray. Oh, Lord, just pray for, for him. Help them. Oh, just bring them to you.

You know what we should be praying for. Do you have that experience? Lord, just bring this person to you. Help. It's biblical.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us and he groans. He knows what we should pray. He hoses down our prayers and presents them to God as we ought to be praying them. And our father, our loving father, hears them from him, and not as they leave our lips.

The Holy Spirit groans.

Well, creation groans as it waits for our redemption. We groan as we wait for the coming of Jesus and the renewal of all things. And the Holy Spirit, spirit himself, helps us while we wait, groaning, putting his weight behind our prayers. You see, as we come to Thursday and the elections, and we pray for our leaders, we already have, and we will on Wednesday at our prayer meeting. There are real problems that our country is facing, and our world is facing real problems, and we should pray for them.

But they are also symptoms of a deeper problem, according to the book of Romans, symptoms of a more serious problem, of a far older problem, a problem of our making that we can't solve, a problem that can only be solved from outside by somebody coming into this world to fix it. A problem that has been solved by Jesus, who came to this world 2000 years ago and on the cross took all the sin of this world on his shoulders and paid for it as if it were his own. He took responsibility of it for us. Not only our personal sins, but all the brokenness and suffering of this world was heaped on him, and he bore it in our place and died, put an end to it, drew a thick black line under it. But on Easter Sunday rose again, bursting out of the grave with new life.

And by faith, we're united to him and he shares that new life with us. We lick the spoon, we join to him. We receive his spirit. We've begun to live that new life, but we haven't got it in all its fullness yet. His death and resurrection hasn't been applied to the whole world yet, and we are still waiting for that.

While we wait, we groan.

So we take Paul's words to heart from our passage at the beginning. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Hope. Hope that will not disappoint us. We're going to sing of that in just a moment.

But let's pray as we do. Let's pray as we. As we come to an end, the question comes to us. Have we got that hope ourselves?

Do we know the hope of the future for our lives? Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that you are coming again to make all things new. The day is coming when you will apply your death and resurrection top to bottom, to the whole universe, when you will repair this broken world and our broken lives.

Thank you that you've given us your holy spirit to help us, to be with us, to groan and add his weight to our prayers while we wait.

Loving Father, we pray for those we know, those among us and around us this morning, perhaps, who are going through a great trial, great suffering. We pray that you would strengthen them and us to wait with confidence for the future that you will bring.

And we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. I.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This transcript has been automatically generated and therefore may not be 100% accurate

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in your sight, o Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Well, what are you hoping for on Thursday when you vote? It’s the year of elections. France is voting right now, today, and there are questions about what kind of party and what kind of politics they are voting for. On Thursday, we go to the polls. Perhaps you’ve been watching it with eager excitement and interest.

Perhaps not. Maybe you saw the presidential debate, the first presidential debate. I wonder what your reaction to that was. India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico have already voted. This year is the year of elections.

By the end of the year, 70 countries around the world will have gone to the polls. That is directly affecting the lives of more than half of the planet. 4.2 billion people for the first time in history. What are we hoping for from our leaders? Well, the manifestos of other political parties.

They’ve come through my letterbox. They’ve probably come through yours as well. They’re making a neat pile on them on the kitchen work top even those with the most radical solutions. Well, they might be able to do a certain amount. What are we really hoping for?

What vision of the future do we have? Romans chapter eight this morning is going to give us God’s vision of the future, of what is going to happen, what the hope is. And we need hope. If you have hope, you can cope with a lot of problems in your life, brokenness, disappointments, disillusionments. If you have hope, if you think tomorrow is going to be amazing, you can put up with a lot today.

But if you have no hope, well, even the smallest thing can crush you, can’t it?

What are we hoping for? In many ways, the human race has too inflated an opinion of ourselves. We think too highly of ourselves. We read history with ourselves at the centre, our story, our development. We explain the world around us, politics, economics, environment, in terms of us and our influence.

It’s all about us. And yet, at the same time, according to the Bible, our estimation of our own importance and our own significance isn’t big enough. The Bible gives humanity a very important part to play in the story of the world. The destiny of our planet, in fact, of the whole cosmos, is determined by the human race. That’s what we’re going to see this morning in Romans chapter eight.

This morning we’re going to unlock Romans chapter eight with three groans did you groan as you got up this morning? Well, it’s biblical, verse 21. Have a look down at the three groans of Romans eight creation is groaning that’s verse 21. Sorry, verse 22. Creation is groaning we are groaning that’s verse 23.

And the Holy Spirit himself is groaning that’s verse 26.

In this bit of Romans chapter eight, Paul is going to zoom the camera out to a very wide shot. If you’ve been here for the last couple of weeks, the camera has been tight in on us, as Paul has explained what goes on in our hearts. He looked in chapter seven of what he was like before he became a Christian. He looked at what he is like now. He’s a Christian and he’s been raised to new life with Jesus.

He’s joined the life of the new humanity. The spirit is living within him, but he still has an old body, new life in old bodies. And he’s talked about the battle that goes on inside him between the new desires and the old flesh. Now, in chapter eight, the camera pulls right back and the scope is the whole creation. Paul is going to say, that struggle that you’re going through, new life in old bodies, it’s the struggle of the whole creation.

We have a hope waiting for us, that everything is going to be made new. So let’s look at verse 21. Creation groaning CREaTioN GROaNiNg and the Bible claims that humans are very important, that the destiny, not only of this planet, but the whole cosmos, is determined by the human race. Look down at verse 19. Paul says creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God, the children of God, to be revealed.

Why? Why does creation care what happens to the human race, living on a planet in the corner of a galaxy? What is the relationship between the human race and the rest of creation? Well, the answer is that what happens to the human race has a direct effect on what happens to the rest of creation. In verse 20, Paul takes us back to the Garden of Eden.

If you remember reading Genesis, the early chapters of Genesis, the climax of God’s creation is humanity. Men and women created in the image and likeness of God. And the whole of creation was placed in our hands as a race, so that what we did had consequences for the whole of creation. For everything else, we were the heads of creation. But the Eden project didn’t last very long.

According to the Bible, as the head of creation, when we sinned, we dragged the whole of creation down into sin as well. We unleashed a tsunami of sin, so that every part of creation, from the highest heaven to the very depths, is contaminated by sin, like fallout from a nuclear explosion.

The apostle Paul is careful to explain that the whole universe affected by our behaviour, sometimes we think of sin as just a personal, private thing. It doesn’t affect anybody else. It’s never like that. It’s never a personal, private thing. But the first sin in particular had cosmic, universal consequences.

But the apostle Paul says that in verse 20, creation was subject to frustration. If you have a look down by its own choice, he’s saying God put the world into special measures. He’s saying there’s nothing natural about so called natural disasters. Disease and death are unnatural. They were never part of God’s good creation.

They’re like squatters in his world. While God has permitted sin, he’s put a restraining order in place to stop sin rampaging unchecked forever. In chapter three of Genesis, he announced the death sentence. Special measures. Sin cannot go on forever.

There will be a limit. We live in a world that God has deliberately frustrated. Do you feel frustrated if you went out to work? Maybe you’re still at work. Do you find fulfilment and satisfaction in your job?

Well, if you do, it’s a blessing. But it’s a surprise because God doesn’t really want us to. He’s deliberately set it up so that we might be frustrated. He doesn’t want us to find satisfaction in a broken, fallen world because there’s a hope still to come. Come.

In our marriages, in our relationships, we never find the deepest satisfaction. They can never really deliver all that we want for God set it up that way. He’s frustrated it. Think of all the books and the films and the poetry, all the agony over the futility of life, the teenage Angsthenne, the midlife crises, the old age despair. What was that all about?

It’s gone so quickly. Romans says, eight says there’s a sense in which we should feel like that God has put us into special measures so we don’t feel at home in this present fallen world. The best is yet to come. There’s a hope.

Even before the death sentence was announced, Jesus the Lord promised that the saviour would come who would crush the serpent’s head. Creation was frustrated in hope there was a future. Look, verse 20. Have a look down. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

The future of the world is tied to your future and my future. The physical future of the universe is tied to the physical future of the head, the head of creation, the human race. Creation is waiting for us to receive our resurrection bodies, because then it too will be set free from decay and death and brought into the freedom that we will have. The whole creation has been groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.

Now, this bit of Romans eight, I gave a health warning at the 937 service. It is so different from what we read in the newspapers and we hear on tv and is all around us, all that we hear about the environment and our responsibility and the hope and the future and the decimation, the cataclysm that’s coming. It’s so different. When we read the scriptures, creation is groaning for sure. But according to Romans eight, a groaning of creation all around us.

And it’s not the death groans of a world about to collapse into nothingness. They are birth pains, birth groans of a world longing for Jesus to come back and for then it to be made new.

As Christians, we should care for our creation. We should care for the world around us. It’s part of loving our neighbour and stewarding God’s good creation. But our motive, well, it’s not the hopelessness that, frankly, we do hear sometimes on the radio or on our tvs. Our motive as christians is to testify that creation is very special and that it’s not up to us to save it.

But Christ has saved it by his death and resurrection, and he will save it when he comes back and makes it all new. Meantime, we care for it with joy and hope, knowing that ultimately it’s not in our hands. But we point to Jesus, the true saviour, and we love our neighbours. The good news of Jesus is good news on a very big scale. So creation is groaning.

That’s our first grown. That was the longest growing. Now a slightly shorter groan. Verse 23. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Do you enjoy baking? Our boys enjoy baking. We did some yesterday, actually. Chocolate orange brownies. And I said to John, I have to lick the spoon because I need it for a sermon illustration tomorrow.

Which is this? Which is this? When you have tasted. When you lick the spoon, you’ve tasted the future. The brownies in the oven or the army of gingerbread men.

You can’t wait for that buzzer to go, can you? To get the real thing. And when we have tasted the life of the Holy Spirit and we become christians, we groan. We long for Jesus to come back, we long for that new life to flood out and restore the whole creation, including our bodies, we’ve tasted something of the future, the first fruits. The Spirit is described as showing the quality of the whole crop to come.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have tasted the new life of the Holy Spirit and you want more. We who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption of sons, the redemption of our bodies. It’s this world that will be renewed. It’s our bodies that will be resurrected and made new. We don’t have to say a permanent goodbye to our bodies when we die.

One day, God is going to give them back to us and in better condition. And everything that sin and suffering and death take away from us, God is going to give back to us and in better condition. We will be so like Jesus, the son of God, that there will be no mistaking who the children of God really are. And until then, we groan. We want it.

Who is most at one with the environment today? Who’s most in harmony, most in tune with the world? It is the Christian who groans for the future, groaning with the rest of Christ. For Jesus to come back to make it all new. The spirit born Christian.

It’s as if we’ve licked the spoon and we want the rest. But in this hope, we were saved. The 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 patiently.

It’s hope only because it hasn’t come yet. It’s certain. As certain as Jesus death and resurrection. We haven’t seen it yet. But do you know what it means?

It means we’re not going to miss out. You might have missed out in this life in some way. Maybe life hasn’t delivered what you expected. Perhaps it was in terms of a career or a relationship or a marriage or children or quality of life. Whatever it was, it feels as if we may have missed out.

The Bible says no hope is coming. We don’t have to go through this life trying to stuff it all in our pockets now. We won’t miss out. Christians will never miss out. We feel the frustration of living in a fallen world.

We are groaning because we’ve tasted what’s good and we’re waiting for Christ’s return. Well, as we end, you might say, that’s all very well, preacher. Just hang on. Is it until Jesus comes back and makes it all new? Is that what you’re saying?

Here’s our last groan. Creation groans, we groan. Verse 26. The Holy Spirit groans in the same way the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Is that your experience? Sometimes you don’t know what to pray for?

A few days ago, I just felt prompted that I needed to get in touch with a friend, somebody I had not been in touch with for a little while. Good friend for many, many years. But we lost touch over the last few months, and I dropped him a message. I said, you’ve been on my mind, and I don’t know why. And I’ve been praying for you.

Is everything all right? And he said, well, actually, our son, our 21 year old son, is just in cancer treatment, and we’ve not told anybody else, but will you pray? Well, I felt that was a prompt from the Lord. When you have a problem like that, you have to act on it, don’t you? I felt that was a prompt from the Lord, and I’ve been praying every day for them.

But to be honest with you, I’ve not really known how to pray. But I’ve been thinking about this verse, because sometimes we just don’t know what to pray. Oh, Lord, just pray for, for him. Help them. Oh, just bring them to you.

You know what we should be praying for. Do you have that experience? Lord, just bring this person to you. Help. It’s biblical.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us and he groans. He knows what we should pray. He hoses down our prayers and presents them to God as we ought to be praying them. And our father, our loving father, hears them from him, and not as they leave our lips.

The Holy Spirit groans.

Well, creation groans as it waits for our redemption. We groan as we wait for the coming of Jesus and the renewal of all things. And the Holy Spirit, spirit himself, helps us while we wait, groaning, putting his weight behind our prayers. You see, as we come to Thursday and the elections, and we pray for our leaders, we already have, and we will on Wednesday at our prayer meeting. There are real problems that our country is facing, and our world is facing real problems, and we should pray for them.

But they are also symptoms of a deeper problem, according to the book of Romans, symptoms of a more serious problem, of a far older problem, a problem of our making that we can’t solve, a problem that can only be solved from outside by somebody coming into this world to fix it. A problem that has been solved by Jesus, who came to this world 2000 years ago and on the cross took all the sin of this world on his shoulders and paid for it as if it were his own. He took responsibility of it for us. Not only our personal sins, but all the brokenness and suffering of this world was heaped on him, and he bore it in our place and died, put an end to it, drew a thick black line under it. But on Easter Sunday rose again, bursting out of the grave with new life.

And by faith, we’re united to him and he shares that new life with us. We lick the spoon, we join to him. We receive his spirit. We’ve begun to live that new life, but we haven’t got it in all its fullness yet. His death and resurrection hasn’t been applied to the whole world yet, and we are still waiting for that.

While we wait, we groan.

So we take Paul’s words to heart from our passage at the beginning. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Hope. Hope that will not disappoint us. We’re going to sing of that in just a moment.

But let’s pray as we do. Let’s pray as we. As we come to an end, the question comes to us. Have we got that hope ourselves?

Do we know the hope of the future for our lives? Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that you are coming again to make all things new. The day is coming when you will apply your death and resurrection top to bottom, to the whole universe, when you will repair this broken world and our broken lives.

Thank you that you’ve given us your holy spirit to help us, to be with us, to groan and add his weight to our prayers while we wait.

Loving Father, we pray for those we know, those among us and around us this morning, perhaps, who are going through a great trial, great suffering. We pray that you would strengthen them and us to wait with confidence for the future that you will bring.

And we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. I.

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