Romans Bible Study Lesson 26

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Eager Expectation

Romans 8:19—23

More on Adoption

Last week we said the biblical definition of adoption is different than today’s usage. In today’s world someone who is adopted is not a direct biological relation to the person adopted. They went from not being a part of a family to becoming a member of the family who has taken them in. Most people apply our current usage of the term to our salvation. They would say that at the point of our salvation we have been adopted into God’s family and are now a child of God.

There is a problem with this concept. Romans 8:23 points out today’s concept of adoption must be different than in biblical times.

Romans 8:23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

Here we see that we are currently waiting for our adoption to happen. We who have the first fruits of the Spirit are now eagerly awaiting our adoption. How could this be if adoption is equivalent to salvation?

With an understanding of the Biblical concept of adoption we can make sense out of this verse. Adoption is the giving of the full rights, privileges and responsibilities of a full-grown son. Prior to the time of adoption the son was a member of the family but was in effect no more privileged than a slave because neither one had possession of any inheritance. When the son became of age he was adopted and raised in status within the family to have all rights. (See Galatians 4:1—6)

Verse 19

When sin entered the world man wasn’t the only one to fall. All of creation was also corrupted and changed from its initial glory. Now, creation is said to be anxiously longing, or as the Greek literally translated would say: watch for with the head stretched out. The original creation was to last forever as was man. With the fall came death, not only physical and spiritual death of man but also the slow disintegration of the cosmos. Because of this it is said that creation is looking forward to the time when things are reset and everything is as it should. Verse 18 says that glory will be revealed to us. This will happen after the rapture. Verse 19 then focuses on nature and its wait for us to be revealed as sons.

Verses 20—22

With the fall of man, creation became subject to vanities. This word can also mean futility, condemned to frustration or depravity and in the case of the universe means to have been brought from a perfect state to one that is flawed. We can see this imperfection in every aspect of our universe. Orbits decay, stars burn out, animals fight, there is disease, birth defects and death, noxious weeds, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. Every aspect of life has been tarnished by sin. Every area of our universe is winding down and decaying. This winding down of the universe could have been a natural process before the fall but was supernaturally sustained through the power of Jesus Christ. As the shoes of the Israelites lasted throughout the 40-year wandering in the desert, the universe could also have been super-sustained before the fall. (Jesus Christ is still the sustainer of all creation. If He released His control I believe the universe would all melt away in a gigantic bang.)

Just as believing mankind will, in the future, be the benefactor of a God-directed makeover, eventually the universe will be restored and freed from this cure brought on by the one Adamic sin. Our own “makeover” will occur at the rapture when our vile bodies are changed into our permanent glorified bodies.

Philippians 3:21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

When the Kingdom is established I believe the Old Testament saints and those who were martyred during the Tribulation will be raised and given their permanent glorified bodies. Finally, at the end of the Millennial Kingdom those who are believers at the end will receive their glorified bodies. This is what I believe however the Bible isn’t entirely clear on when believers will actually be raised and glorified. One thing very clear for the members of the Body of Christ is that we will be given our new bodies once resurrected.

The new heavens and new earth will be created after the end of the Millennial Kingdom. At this point the elements will be completely freed and reformed. It appears God will not be creating new building blocks but reusing the materials He created at the original creation.

2 Peter 3:10—12 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!

The Day of the Lord covers a long span of time from the beginning of the Tribulation to the end of all time. It is in contrast with the Day of Man in which man is in control of the world. The Day of the Lord is a time when God rules. This term can refer either to the Second Coming or to the whole period of time or portions of it.

The Day of the Lord will happen after the Rapture:

1 Thessalonians 4:13—5:8 13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  18Therefore comfort one another with these words.1Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.  4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief… 9For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Day of the Lord includes the Tribulation:

Zephaniah 1:14—16 14Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. 15A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. 18Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

The Day of the Lord includes the Millennial Kingdom:

2 Peter 3:7, 10 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

The above verse covers a range of time from God’s judgment poured out during the Tribulation to the recreation of the universe.

Joel 3:18—21 18And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD To water the valley of Shittim. 19Egypt will become a waste,  Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, whose land they have shed innocent blood. 20But Judah will be inhabited forever And Jerusalem for all generations. 21And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, For the LORD dwells in Zion.

The above verses refer to the Millennial Kingdom after the Great Tribulation. The term “in that day” refers to the Day of the Lord as can be seen in verse 1. The term “Day of the Lord” is used in 2:31 to describe this period of time.

Verse 23

This groaning extends even to those with the Holy Spirit. The First fruits were a promise of a successful harvest. In Christian terms the first fruits of the spirit indicate a promise of being “harvested” at the rapture. If you have the seal of the Holy Spirit you will have an eternity with Christ. Having the Spirit and the promise of eternal life is no guarantee of a life free of suffering. We suffer along with the unsaved.

However, there is a difference in how we should handle tribulations and suffering. Paul was the authority on suffering:

2 Corinthians 11:23—28 23Are they servants of Christ?–I speak as if insane–I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

Even though he suffered greatly, he always tried to keep the right focus—Jesus Christ. This is why he could be a help to others who were suffering (2 Corinthians 1:4) or rejoice in a dungeon after being whipped (Acts 16:25). He truly believed that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us (verse 18). These afflictions were short-lived and not overpowering in light of the glory of eternity.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

Remember, Paul just said that we who are children of God will glory with Him if we suffer with Christ. He then continues by pointing out that not only are we suffering, but the whole of creation is suffering with us. He then gives us hope by refocusing our thoughts on our future. This all ties in with verse 1 where Paul states there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Imagine if we had to worry about the here-and-now AND worry about our future destination. Praise God that we are secure in Him. If we are walking in step with the Holy Spirit then we are centered in God’s will. What happens around us does not matter because God is in control. This doesn’t mean we are to be happy all the time but we are to always have joy. Happiness comes from external sources whereas joy’s source is Jesus Christ. The world can never have true joy because it doesn’t have the source of joy. We can decide to be joyful or decide not to be; it all depends upon where our focus and trust is.

Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!