"Saved in Hope" Bible Study on Romans 8:12-25
July 15, 2020, 12:33 PM

Dear Members & Friends:

I invite you to read the following passage from Romans 8:12-25 (Common English Bible).

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.

18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now.23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see?25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

In my opinion, Romans 8 is one of the most essential, revealing, and ultimately comforting passages in all of scripture.  Here we have the beginning and the end of Christian hope.  In Jesus Christ, we have seen who God is and what God is up to in the world.  God is the One who, in Christ, is inextricably bound to us, and who promises never to separate from us, not only us, but indeed all of creation.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:14 that those who are led by God's Spirit are marked out as God's family.  We gentiles, who had no claim upon the promises of God to Israel, have been brought near to God, made family.  In verses 18-25, Paul calaims that the whole fallen, struggling creation now has a future, and that future is tied to the resurrection life that God is brining to God's beloved children.  Now, as daughters and sons of God by the work of the Holy Spirit, our bodies are redeemed and all creation is ushered into the glory that God has bestowed first on Christ and then on us (Romans 8:18, 21, 23).  Christ is God drawing us and all of creation into relationship with God, made family.

To be adopted daughters and sons of God (Romans 8:15) is to have our future hope of adoption through resurrection (8:23) dramatically changed into the present moment.  The same Spirit through whom we are adopted raised Jesus and exalted him as God's firstborn Son (Romans 1:4).

It's almost like it's Genesis 1 all over again, recreation.

Paul uses the metaphor of family to describe our new relationship in Christ: Abba, Father, children, adoption, heirs, joint heirs.  Earlier Paul has referred to Jesus as God's Child, God's Son.  Now in Romans 8, Paul uses the words for "son" and "child" to refer not to Jesus, but to his siblings who are led by the Spirit -- that's us.  Paul describes this new, familial relationship with a series of compound verbs built on the prepostition syn- (to be, to live, to be alive).  We are joint heirs with Christ, suffering with him, glorified with him, humiliated and exalted with Christ, having a part in Christ suffering, death, and resurrection.

Someone I know was adopted by his family.  His family always said to him, "You're special.  You just wern't born into our family.  We chose you.  You are just as much a part of our family as your brother or sister is.  You're our child always."

Paul uses those same syn- compounds to describe the suffering of all creation.  Not only we ourselves, but the whole creation groans and together, all of creation waits for adoption, redemption (Romans 8:22-23).

The "breathless . . . anticipation" Paul refers to in Romans 8:19 is literally the craning of the neck to get a better view of what's next, "the revelation of God's sons and daughters," "the glorious freedom of God's children" (8:21), "adoption," and "the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23 - New Revised Standard Version)..

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed churches into learning new ways to be the Church.  The pandemic will eventually pass, but there's a chance that life in our church may not return to doing church the way we've always done it in the past.  What have we learned from this time of pandemic and social distancing, and how will it shape our future ministry and mission?

I suppose the answer to those questions will depend upon where we place our ultimate trust, our hope, for redemption.

Our present life is stretched between expecting and hoping for this redemption to occur and yet not having it fully occur in the present.  We live between the times, making our present time a time of expectation and yearning, but also a time of hope because we have, in Jesus Christ, been given a glimpse of the future.  We are saved in hope.

Paul, therefore, gives us a word of yearning and a word of hope to proclaim and live out in our daily lives.

Hope in God!  Trust in Christ!  Live in the Spirit of resurrection!

Yours in Hope,

Pastor Greg Rupright




07-16-2020 at 9:14 PM
Pat May
Had never read this before. Thanks!
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