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The Glory We Await (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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February 5, 2024 3:00 am

The Glory We Await (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 5, 2024 3:00 am

Suffering is an inescapable aspect of life. The apostle Paul knew this as well as anyone. He taught that Christians of all people ought to be able to persevere through periods of difficulty. Learn why when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!


As all of us know, suffering is an inescapable part of life. This is something the Apostle Paul understood. He was no stranger to hardship and he taught us that we, of all people, should be able to demonstrate perseverance during times of difficulty. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg examines Paul's letter to the Romans to find out why. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. A number of you I know are C.S.

Lewis fans. You will know his book, The Weight of Glory, and in it he makes an observation and he observes that when we consider what he refers to as the unblushing promises of all that God has in store for his children, he says we in response are half-hearted creatures. Quotes, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the ocean. In other words, it's a reminder to us of what J.B. Phillips was referring to when he wrote a little book called Your God is Too Small. And he was saying we have to make sure that when we go to the Bible we realize the vastness and goodness and faithfulness of God. And when we think in terms of salvation and all that precedes us here, not only in chapter 8 but from the beginning of Romans, we realize that our understanding of salvation is in accord with the vastness and with the grandeur of what that means, not just for us as individuals, and not just what it means for us in terms of our church families, but actually what it means cosmically, what it means in relationship to the entire created order. And it's possible again that the immediacy and the importance of our understanding of our own individual story of God's goodness to us may in some ways divert us from recognizing the grandeur of all of this. Now, what is so vitally important for us is to realize that in coming to a passage like this, we recognize that sin has actually fractured all the relationships. The only relationship that is intact is the Trinity, but mankind's relationship to God is broken, and that impacts the rest of man's relationship with his environment and with the created order. And that is why he's pointing out here that the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, and that the creation is actually waiting for the final redemption of the bodies of the sons and daughters of God. Now, just to say that and allow it to settle in our mind for a moment is quite remarkable, isn't it? And it's vitally important that we have an understanding of how the story of the Bible impacts these things.

Let me pause and let's just see if we can do this. Adam and Eve were created by God with a sense of having been made by a loving God. They lived in a world that God had made, a world that expressed God's character, and they themselves were invaded by a deep consciousness of the fact that they were made by God and they belonged to God. Or if you like, they were made by him and they were made for him.

So far, so good. Then you come to Genesis chapter 3, and in Genesis chapter 3, we discover that they who have been made by him and for him doubted his goodness, rejected his wisdom, rebelled against his authority, and found themselves banished from his presence. Then God in his mercy continues to reveal himself to them, continues to seek after those who doubt his goodness, reject his authority, and do not live in his presence.

And he does this throughout the whole story of the Bible, throughout the whole story of human history, in a whole series of dramatic revelations and magnificent representations of himself, which is finally revealed to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. When men and women actually repudiate God's goodness and essentially claim that there is no light in the universe, what the Bible says is the darkness is not on the outside. The darkness is on the inside, and that the fact of our rebellion against God and rejection of him actually closes down the light so that the people who are walking in darkness have now seen a great light.

I said, Jesus, I'm the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, which is where we are by nature walking, but will have the light of life. All the facts, all the facts of the universe, including the facts of the Bible in relationship to what it says about creation, must be interpreted in light of God's revelation of himself in the person of Jesus Christ. That's why if we take our eyes off Jesus, we lose our way around the Bible because the whole Bible is about Jesus. The whole Bible is pointing us to Jesus, sending us in that direction to the cross and from the cross, reminding us that that is the pivotal event of human history. Now, what he's doing here, of course, is not simply giving a comment on ecology, but he is actually making a huge contrast between the suffering that is part and parcel of our experience in a fallen world and the glory that is going to be revealed in us. The glory, which will be one day ours, outdoes any sufferings that we ourselves experience now.

And of course, it's Paul who's writing this, and he knew what he was talking about. In 2 Corinthians 11, remember, it maybe sounds a little bit boastful, he says, but if you want to talk about suffering, I've got a handle on suffering. There's nobody been in prison more than me. There's nobody had a beating more than me.

There's nobody who has been on the point of death more than me. I know this. I know this to be true. And here he is writing to these people. In the depths of human suffering, he says, the reality of God's fatherly presence may be known. And as it is known, then it is transformative.

Now, again, it is knowing God as Abba, as Father, not simply God as creator. I was with a couple of my buddies and we ended up in Sitka the other day, and the couple of ladies were outside one of the churches and I said, what do you do here? And they said, well, we tell you all the things that you need to know.

Something like that was some strange response. She said, we're here to let you know everything about everything. I said, well, why don't you just tell me the most important thing that you know that I need to know? And she said, well, the most important thing is that we are all God's children. I said, really? I said, are you sure?

Oh, yeah, I'm sure. I said, well, you know, God is our Father by way of creation. But when God as God the Father is used the vast majority of times in the New Testament, it is not a reference to God as creator, but as the God who redeems us in and through the work of Jesus Christ. So I said, in one sense, by creation, sure, we're all God's children, He's the creator of all, but when the Bible is talking about we're all God's children, He's talking about something very different.

And that is that, you know, He came to His own, His own received Him not, to as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God, even to those that believe in His name. I said, so there's some kind of transaction involved in that. Well, it just collapsed from that point. I think she said, well, would you like to buy a jar of jelly for two bucks or something?

Which was basically like, get out of here. So there we have it. Now, let's just pause on this for a moment. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing. Christian people ought to be able to show the world how to suffer, how to be sad. The New Testament is not suggesting at any point that we're operating on the basis of, you know, like Tony Bennett songs, smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking, when there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by, zippity-doo-dah, zippity-ay, you know. No. And not even a Christianized version of that.

No. That's the great benefit of the fact that we've got 150 poems in the Old Testament that give us essentially the hymnody of the church. And they're not all jingles and jangles.

Many of them are laments, aren't they? Psalm 13. Why do you forget me, O God?

Forever? How long must I have sorrow in my heart all the day? Why are things as rotten as they are, God?

Why is it that when I wake up in the night, I'm troubled, I'm distressed and all these things? This is the reality of the Psalmist. And by the time he gets to the sixth verse, because it's only a short psalm, he says, I will praise God, I will trust God, I will do this. But it is all volitional.

It's not emotional. In other words, he has to wait for his heart to catch up with his head, or his heart is revealing what he's really feeling, and then he has to remind himself of what is true. Now, not only is the individual aware of these sufferings, but you will notice in verse 19, he goes on to point out that the creation itself is in trouble and is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. When Adam and Eve sinned, the entire universe fell with them, and now it awaits a day when it will be liberated. And again, we've got to learn to read our newspapers and our science journals through the prism of the Bible and not the other way around. It is the Bible that, without a Bible, you really can't understand human history, because even today the people say, well, it's got to get better. It'll be better in a while. I mean, it's like the Beatles are establishing, you had to admit it's getting better, a little better, but it sure is, it doesn't look like it's getting any better just at the moment, does it? A man with all of his technology, all of his power, all of his ability, all of his scientific abilities, and so on, and where are we?

Husbands can't live with wives. Children abuse their parents. Drugs consume a generation, lostness and hardness and emptiness, and the world goes on and says, oh, but I think tomorrow, or when we turn the corner, or when we get the new group in, then we'll fix it.

The answer is capitalism, the answer is socialism, the answer is this, the answer is that. It is a fallen, broken world, and it's the Bible that has helped us understand this. So we can say, well, we're not giving up to it, but we recognize what's going on. The creation itself is waiting, wondering. Three times you will notice in the little section that we read, Paul talks about groaning. To groan is to utter a deep mournful sound, either of pain or desire. And that sound, he says, is heard in creation, it is heard in the Christian, and he will go on to say it is heard in God. Groaning. First of all, in 20 to 22, the whole creation has been groaning, subjected to futility or subjected to frustration. This is, again, a reference to what has happened in the garden following the disobedience of Adam. And that is why, for example, you know, Shakespeare's plays, his comedies are good, they're fun, you know, Love Labor's Lost or the one with Puck in it and all of that stuff.

But it's like having a milkshake, it's gone. It's his tragedies that really grip you. It's his tragedies that you remember. What does a man, if the chief good in action of his time be but to sleep and feed a beast no more?

Sure, he that made us with such great ability of reason put this in us not to fuss unused. And he goes on and he marvels at it all. Macbeth, out, out, brief candle, you know.

What are you? Like a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage. It's a tiptoe by an idiot. It's full of sound and fury. It signifies absolutely nothing. Where does this come from?

Why are you groaning like this? All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Really? Woody Allen, the fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It's absolutely stupefying in its terror and it renders everyone's accomplishments meaningless.

Have a good day. See, that doesn't work. It just doesn't work.

Nobody can live a fulfilled life on that basis. Why is this? Because creation is subjected to futility, to frustration. And notice what he tells us, that God is responsible for this. God is responsible for this. You see that it is right there, for God Himself subjected it.

The reason is like that. He subjected it in hope, but nevertheless He subjected it. In other words, the present state of things is not the end of the story. Eventually no longer will there be anything that is cursed, anything that is left in the sorry state, because He goes on to point out that creation is going to be set free, that the creation itself, verse 21, will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. God has cursed His own creation. He has imposed upon His awesome creation a temporary restraining order, if we put it that way.

He's put a restraining order on it. And that is why those who do not have a Bible or do not read their Bible or do not believe their Bible are now the proponents of apocalyptic anxiety. It used to be that people in the media pooh-poohed the evangelical believing church for the idea that there was ever going to come a day that would threaten to undo us and which we ought to be concerned about and which we ought to get it figured out for ourselves. Oh, they said, what a silly idea that there is a Creator in the universe who is returning in power and glory and that we will stand before Him in judgment. We don't believe in that kind of apocalyptic nonsense. And yet every single day of your life right now you are subjected by climate theology, for it is theology, climate nonsense to a great apocalyptic drama which is about to unfold on us. Not before we finish the cruise, admittedly, and not in any of our lifetimes, and not in the lifetime of our great-grandchildren, but nevertheless, this is the great issue.

We must be concerned by this. Now I say to you, you can have your own views on ecology and you can share those concerns, and I share the concerns about pollution and about destruction. I don't want nice, beagle dogs smoking cigarettes.

I don't think that's very nice to do that to a dog. I share those concerns, but I don't share the explanation for the predicament, and I don't share the conclusion or the solution to the predicament. Why not? Well, you're not a scientist, Begg.

Clearly you're not. It's got nothing to do with science. It's got to do with my Bible.

And this climate stuff has got very little to do with science as well. It is an ideology. It is a cosmology. It is a theology. It is a religion. And it is part and parcel of a total rejection of God himself. Don't for a minute think that the questions of the choice of your own gender is a separate story to the issues that I'm referring to now. And the Bible comes to us and says, here's the deal.

Here's the deal. The whole predicament is there for you, and this is how it's going to come out. And the freedom that is going to come is the freedom that is found in the glory of God's children. Now, we need to read this then in light of the entire Bible, that the prophet Isaiah, when he was writing, and I imagine he'd get up in the morning and write, and his wife would ask him, What do you write today? And he told her, Well, I was writing today. Behold, I will create a new heaven and a new earth. And his wife said to him, Well, I wonder what that's about.

And he said, Well, the restraining order is going to be lifted, and he's going to make a whole new deal. Oh, she must have said, It's quite remarkable, isn't it? She said, It's not as good as what you wrote last week. I mean, I like it, but I mean, that stuff you did last week, Behold, a virgin will conceive and bring forth a son.

That was heavy stuff. You say, Well, how do you know this about the prophets? Because Peter says that the prophets searched and inquired about the things they were writing about without seeing the end of their own story. In the same way that the angels stand on their tiptoes from the parapet of heaven and look down and see the unfolding drama of redemption. The prophets look forward, the angels look down, and we, by God's grace, live in a world that is going to be restored, restored. In fact, when Peter gets filled with the Holy Spirit, gets his head on square in Acts chapter three and delivers that amazing sermon, amazing sermon, he says about Jesus, he says, He must reign in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything. That was his sermon, not the totality of his sermon, because remember he says, And it is in this Jesus whom you crucified. Amazing stuff, because he's got a comprehensive grasp of what's going on. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with a message he has titled, The Glory We Await.

We'll hear more tomorrow. There are some who become Christians with an expectation that when you trust Christ, life will become easier. But as we're seeing from the Apostle Paul, that's not the case. Like Paul, many Christians today face struggles, but the way we handle them is what sets us apart from the watching world. Today, we want to recommend to you a biography of a Christian missionary who remained faithful in the midst of extreme hardship. Her name was Helen Roseveare, and this biography is a children's book for kids ages four to eight.

The subtitle is The Doctor Who Kept Going No Matter What. If you're not familiar with Helen Roseveare, she was a resilient woman who served God as a missionary doctor in Central Africa during the mid 20th century. When you read her biography, along with a young child, you will both be inspired by her lifelong commitment to serve God even when it was dangerous and challenging. Alistair actually knew Dr. Roseveare and interacted with her years ago when she visited Parkside.

In fact, you can listen to a conversation between Alistair and Dr. Roseveare at slash Helen. And to encourage your children further, they can have fun completing several activity pages that go along with the book. These activity pages are available online. You can download them, print them from our website at the same link. Again, it's slash Helen. Ask for your copy of the book Helen Roseveare. It's yours when you request it as you donate to Truth for Life using our mobile app or online at slash donate. You can also call us at 888-588-7884. Thanks for starting your week with us as we study God's Word together. Tomorrow we'll learn how to be eagerly patient as we anticipate what lies ahead. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 09:03:13 / 2024-02-10 09:12:00 / 9

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