March 25, 2022 12:00 am
If the condition of our world could be summarized in a single word, that word would be 'broken.' Beneath the drumming sound of a rushing waterfall and the trill of a nightingale's song is an inaudible cry of desperation. Every part of creation feels it.
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The hope of this church and this church in the country. In addition, the mission of the church is not the elimination of poverty and disease, though Christians can find their calling from God in battling both. Furthermore, the purpose of the church is not making life safe and prosperous for all the peoples of the earth. Even though the gospel does change a person, the gospel can change a family, a culture and a nation for the betterment of that nation. While those things may be the byproducts of the gospel, that is not the purpose of the gospel. If the condition of our world could be summarized in a single word, that word would be broken.
Think about this. Creation is marked by wonder and beauty and the revelation of God's creative glory, but creation is also bound to decay. The creation experiences pain and violence and fear and agony.
What should we make of this? Well, there's a coming day when the agony will be over. It won't be because we humans have figured out a solution. It'll be because God will end the groaning of creation. This is wisdom for the heart and Stephen Davey has a message for you today called the groaning of creation. Well, if there was ever a word that could characterize the human condition on earth, the condition of our planet from animal and plant life up through the human species, it could be that word trouble.
We all have this in common. We have experienced and we are to some measure in some way experiencing and we will experience in the future trouble. We live in a world filled with it. We are consumed with it. We are surrounded by it and we are even enamored with it.
It fills our screens and our minds and our publications. World Magazine's year end edition summarized the major news stories of 2003 and events of the year, many of them, most of them, in fact, riveted our attention and the attention of the world. This was the year when trouble surfaced in the already deeply confused arena of moral and medical ethics. One husband was successful in ordering his wife's feeding tube removed. His wife had suffered a heart attack and by mishandling of the medical community, her brain was damaged for the most part comatose. Although she was able to smile, she was able to respond to touch.
She could recognize the voices of her loved ones. Her husband won a $2 million malpractice suit on her behalf. He then moved in with another woman and hired an attorney using some of the money to turn around and argue for his wife's right to die. In reality, what that meant was she had the right to be starved to death.
Her feeding tube was removed and for six days left without food until the governor intervened. The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a decision that would devastate our country's moral foundation when they ruled sodomy as a constitutional right for homosexuals. One justice was so incensed in the ruling that he read aloud his dissent from the bench which was highly unusual declaring that this ruling marked quote the end of moral legislation. That didn't really trouble me as much as the church. The high court revealed how far it has fallen from the Judeo-Christian ethic but the church has fallen as well. One mainline Protestant denomination as you know ordained for the first time in history a practicing homosexual to the role of bishop.
Voting as well at the same time to bless same sex unions as quote within the bounds of church life and belief. While this battle was taking place within the Protestant church as you know the Catholic Church was reeling from the exposure of many of its priests who were nothing more than pedophiles moved from parish to parish one step ahead of their victims victims who had been betrayed by the worst predator of all a predator who comes in the name of God. Personal articles reminded the reader of how the world has been held captive by fear not only of terrorists but of an infection named SARS right? SARS claimed the lives of nearly 900 people. The irony of our world though towards SARS is that AIDS is killing millions of people. It is the politically incorrect disease dimension primarily because it is spread primarily through sexual promiscuity. There are African countries I know of one where half its population is infected it will completely die off in 10 years but it is the untouchable disease because it is related to sexual immorality. I was in that African country and one of the African pastors told me the young people of this country don't care to try to even protect themselves.
They've said to him riddled with poverty surrounded by despair they've said what do we have to look forward to as we grow to become your age we might as well enjoy whatever pleasures we have and then die there's no real good reason to live. There's trouble in our world. I haven't even recalled for you halfway through the articles in this magazine as a summarized event I didn't get to the stories of professional athletes and media stars accused of or indicted of drug abuse spousal abuse child abuse murder and rape. Mothers who've killed their children and children who've killed their mothers. The continual glorification of violence and sin and the growing stories that are now arising in our own country of this hatred toward anything that represents God and his commands.
One MTV special transcript recorded in a special two hour program and profiled superstars that kids follow today with the church what they believe about the church what they believe about the sins the church states are sinful. They asked several of them questions about what we would call sort of the seven worst of sins. They asked Queen Latifah what she thought about pride. She responded pride is a sin.
I wasn't aware of that. They asked Kirstie Alley about pride and she said I don't think pride is a sin. I think some idiot made that up. They asked a member of Aerosmith if he thought lust was a sin and he said and I quote lust is what I live for.
It's what I got into the band for. Another ice tea that well-known theologian was asked about anger. He said anger is not a sin. Anger is necessary.
You have to release this tension because life brings tension. When he was asked about pride he responded pride is mandatory. The program concluded after of course giving out its dribble that there isn't anything like an absolute right or wrong. They ended the program with this unbelievably ironic statement and I quote the most evil sin in the world.
Here it is. The most evil sin in the world is the killjoy attitude of people who think sin is offensive to God. Now how twisted is that? The worst sin is the sin of feeling bad about doing something bad because God isn't really offended by sinful things. In other words anybody who thinks God is offended by sin is committing the worst of all sins because if they tell anybody that they're going to ruin the party.
That isn't just the attitude by the way of that crowd. It is the attitude of the man on the street today that you have a right to believe what you want to believe but keep it to yourself. You have a right to believe what you think is morally right but keep it down. Keep it quiet.
There's trouble in the land. What is the believer to do? What is the Christian supposed to think about all this and how are we to respond? Well I'm here to deliver the message of God not mine but God's from the book of Romans which speaks to these issues. About the time the believer in Rome or Rwanda about the time the believer in Corinth or in Cary would think that you throw your hands up in despair and discouragement over the condition of the world and the fact that there is so much trouble the Apostle Paul comes and delivers a rather surprising message and he begins as we'll see in a minute in effect by saying I expected this to happen. This is not a surprise. We expect evil and believing men to do what evil and believing men will do.
I told you this would happen. He has already described the digression of a society in Chapter 1 a society that applauds sin and denies the creator. He said expect it in a very real sense then the growing Christian becomes more and more aware that he really doesn't belong here right left here by God's purpose but not really belonging here.
Our citizenship is in heaven not on earth. He told the Philippian believers in Chapter 3 verse 20 the growing believer accepts the Bible's promise that in the world you have the guarantee not of health and wealth but of trouble. Tribulation 2 Timothy 3 12 the true believer expects that evil in a society that rejects God will go from bad to worse. 2 Timothy 3 13 he recognizes that according to Christ's own words that the gospel is actually a great divider not a unifier. It divides families.
It divides loved ones. Matthew 10 34 and 35. That's the message of the gospel.
Expect this. And I want to say something that isn't politically correct as if I haven't already done that but I mean to the church but it needs to be said the goal of the church is not conservative politics. Although Christians can be called by God to a political arena where they can exert a holy influence and we rejoice and support them but the goal of the church is not going to be realized with a Republican majority.
Are you bothered yet? In addition the mission of the church is not the elimination of poverty and disease though Christians can find their calling from God in battling both the hope of this church and this church in the country is not heterosexual marriage being constitutionalized. That isn't the hope of marriage in the church. I read one well-known Christian leader saying a few months ago it was vast constituency that the only hope now for marriage is a constitutional amendment.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our hope is not in Congress. We would expect the world to denigrate the marriage of a man and a woman as society continues to digress and leave the standard of God and we happen to be in that era. Furthermore the purpose of the church is not making life safe and prosperous for all the peoples of the earth even though the gospel does change a person the gospel can change a family a culture and a nation for the betterment of that nation while those things may be the byproducts of the gospel. That is not the purpose of the gospel. The goal of the church is the glory of God in any nation with the church in China today meeting in private with the believers in Vietnam suffering for their faith. The goal of the church there and here remains the same. It is that God is glorified and obeyed.
The mission of the church has not changed. It is the making of disciples. It is the winning of men and women to the gospel of faith in Christ and maturing them. Matthew 28 19 the hope of the church. What is the hope of the church.
It is the coming of Christ. The purpose of the church in the meantime is to act as the agency of God in declaring the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. First Corinthians 16 and the function of the church here and now is to so love the word of God and to so love the people of God that the world will know that we must belong to God. The church today is as confused as the world. It has lost its goal its mission its hope its purpose and its function.
So what do we do about it. We go back to the perspective of God found in his unchangeable word and that clears the fog way that removes the politically correct messages from our culture and unfortunately from our church. Either way if we listen to the wrong message it'll become easy for the believer to either become discouraged in the world or distracted by the world and both are deadly to our mission. Paul addresses the troubles of his Christian friends in Rome and he reorders their thinking.
He turns it back right side up. He untwists the message of the world and it's a rather surprising perspective. Would you go back to Romans Chapter 8 where we left off and let's pick it up at verse 19. He writes for the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God for the creation was subjected to futility. You can render that frustration not of its own will but because of him God who subjected it in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
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 completion that is of that adoption process the redemption of the body look at verse 26 and in the same way the spirit also helps our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we should but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. I had thought originally we'd deal with this paragraph and we're just going to deal with the first groan but we're going to deal with all three groans. It's interesting that Paul would believe that the way to handle the effects of sin upon nature and upon our world is understanding a biblical perspective of what it means to groan. What does it mean for the believer to groan? What does it mean for nature to groan? What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to groan? You ought to circle those three times that word appeared by the way. The groaning of creation in verse 22 the groaning of the Christian in verse 23 the latter part and the groaning of the Holy Spirit in verse 26.
What does it mean? Well we have time to look at the first groan here. We're told first of all as we go back to verse 19 about this groaning of creation that creation is eager about something and Paul tells us that creation is enslaved to something. Notice verse 19 again. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. The revealing of the sons of God is an expression Paul uses again in Colossians chapter 3 that talks about the second coming of Jesus Christ with his people who are displayed in all their glory as the kingdom of God comes to earth.
The longing of creation is for the revelation of God and his people in all their splendor. Now what is he referring to when he says creation? Is he referring to everything that God created?
I don't believe he is. He can't be referring to holy angels since they are not enslaved to corruption as he says in verse 21. It can't be them. He can't be referring to believers. They will be addressed separately in the next verses. He can't be referring to fallen angels or demons. They do not long for the revelation of the sons of God. They dread it.
They know it's coming. He can't be referring to unbelievers since they have no desire to see the glory of God revealed. The only remaining part of creation would be the non-rational creation.
That would be plants and animals and all inanimate things like rivers and mountains and heavenly bodies. Paul is using then in this text what's called personification. He is giving the attributes of personality to those things without personality. Isaiah does the same thing talking about trees clapping their hands. Isaiah 55 12. He talks about the wilderness and desert rejoicing. Isaiah 35 1. The mountains and the hills breaking forth and the shouts of joy.
Isaiah 55 12. So Paul says that that part of creation longs for you could literally just write in the word nature in your text that nature is literally longing. That word means to stand on its tiptoes. If it had toes it would be standing upon the tips of those toes longing for this revelation of God and his glory.
You could render it. They watch with outstretched head literally craning its neck. Nature longs to see the revelation of God. The revealing of the sons of God. Revealing that word translates the Greek word apokalupsis or our transliterated word apocalypse. Apocalypse means unveiling. Apocalypse means revealing. It is revelation.
In fact the book of Revelation gets its name from simply the transliteration of the word apokalupsis. The book of revealing. The book of the apocalypse. The book of the uncovering. It is the book that unveils the future of the world. Creation then is longing for that future unveiling.
That future revealing. When God brings his people and we'll talk about the groaning of his people and how that will end Lord willing. But creation here is eagerly awaiting this revelation. Paul also tells us that the nature not only is eagerly watching for this and waiting for this but that also creation is enslaved to something. And he gives us some hints of what he might mean in verse 20. For the creation was subjected to frustration or futility not of its own will.
In other words it didn't necessarily start out that way. But because of him God who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption. He says that creation is enslaved to corruption. Trees don't sin. What does he mean corruption? Plants don't battle temptation.
My dog at home does not struggle with pride. I think corruption here refers to simply the fallen state of nature. Most commentaries insert in here one of those evidences of a law to corruption being that second law of thermodynamics the law of entropy that things move toward disorder that things naturally move in nature toward disharmony and decay. You go all the way back to Genesis and you are reminded after the fall of mankind that God cursed his creation. He said to Adam cursed is the ground. And some things are going to happen that I didn't originally intend as it were because of man's fall. Things like thorns and thistles will now produce trouble for you. So since the fall of man decay and disease has been built into the very fabric of nature and apart from the effort of mankind it will go toward disorder.
Ken Hughes writes it this way. Even now the animal world is filled with fear and violence even the loveliest scenes in nature. If you look at certain places while remaining beautiful they are also witnesses to bloody and violent horrors floods hurricanes droughts tornadoes blights avalanches and earthquakes stalk the earth.
These are in effect the sounds of nature's groaning that came because of the fall. Before the fall of man no weeds no poisonous plants no thorns no thistles or anything else existed that would cause misery and harm. Now there are those today that would cry out for us to live in harmony with nature but the truth is when people were supposedly living closer to nature you go back to the dark ages there was more pain less civilization less medicine of course and less invention and resources then you had people living close to nature with less comfort more pain more disease and people died younger. This is not a friendly earth but a violent and a dangerous one. Just watch the animal planet. Watch the merciless animals tear one another apart.
Watch the horrors of nature unleashed on certain parts of our globe at any time. God has a plan. He who gave the curse to nature will lift the curse and Paul personifies nature as saying nature longs to see it happen. It is groaning with decay and disruption and disease.
It is filled with fear. God will lift the curse and create a new heaven and a new earth. You know what that's going to be like? Isaiah tells us a little bit of it as earth is no longer bound to decay and violence and fear he says the wolf will dwell with a lamb the leopard will lie down with a goat the calf and the young lion together and a little child will lead them the cow and the bear will graze. He's going to reorder the animal kingdom they'll graze together no longer eating one another.
The nursing child will play near the hole of the cobra and the child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy and all my holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. This is a reference to the coming day. Imagine that creation will return as it were to God's earliest design.
It will produce free of pestilence and danger. Animals will dwell with mankind no more drought no more storm no more tornado no more violent disruption and disease. So Paul's message in effect is this.
He begins with nature and he says things are bad now but they are going to get a lot better. That's why he uses the illustration of childbirth to illustrate the pain and the agony of nature. Look back at verse 22 he says for we know that the whole creation or all of nature groans and suffers as it were.
Here's my illustration Paul says the pains of childbirth. In other words the groaning won't last forever. The pain won't last forever. The pain will ultimately end in ecstasy.
It will all be but forgotten. Those men who are married and have children have you ever noticed that none of us carry around pictures of our wives in labor? Here let me show you this. Look at the look on her face.
Wow that was right right when a contraction came. Let me show you another picture. No we don't have pictures like that. Frankly I don't really like to see any pictures related to any of that stuff. I don't know what men are thinking. They go in now and they set up video cameras and they record the whole thing.
Who's going to come over and watch it? Even your wife wants to forget it. Then the baby's born and even in the first few days those pictures are somewhat questionable. I know I'm a pastor and I'm supposed to say oh what a beautiful baby.
I'm paid to say those kinds of things. Well I don't particularly think newborn babies are all that especially cute. Even my own troubled me in the early days. I have a hard time telling a lie. You bring me your newborn and I'm probably going to just say wow and let you fill in the blanks. You can tell your family the pastor was speechless. I was. J. Vernon McGee his standard line when seeing a newborn was simply now that's a baby. We shouldn't let you in on these secrets. I like wow better.
That's what I use. There are so many things about the birthing process that are agonizing and painful and unattractive and there are some things about it that are precious and unforgettable and miraculous. So in effect he says that's creation that's nature it's marked by both wonder and beauty and glory and it reveals the handiwork of God. Romans Chapter 1. But it is also bound to decay and pain and violence and fear and agony.
That's Romans Chapter 8. And so part of our understanding of how to make it through life is understanding the earth is cursed that nature is headed for the day for which it longs. The day when the sons of God are revealed with the glory of God when God himself ends the groaning of creation by renewing it and we ladies and gentlemen can't even imagine the pictures that we could take of that day. We can't imagine the beauty and the splendor as John's revelation in the book of the apocalypse described it. It is beyond our comprehension. All we know is that Paul says here the groaning of creation will one day give way to the glory and beauty of God's new creation to be enjoyed forever by the sons and daughters of God.
We don't know when but we do know that God will put an end to all of our pain and we will live in the glory of God's new creation. This is wisdom for the heart. Our Bible teacher is Stephen Davey. Stephen is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. Before we end this week I want to remind you of a gift we have for you. During the month of March we have a free resource that we're making available. Stephen has a booklet called The Coming Tribulation. Go to wisdomonline.org for information. Join us again next time here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-18 05:56:10 / 2023-05-18 06:05:45 / 10