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Liberation of the Creation

by Robert Garrett

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)RobertGarrett

This morning I want to give you a wonderful passage from Romans chapter eight verses 17 through 25. We read: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of child birth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For at this hope we were saved. But the hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has. But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Now there are a large number of important things addressed in this passage and they are all tied and intertwined together. First of all there are things concerning the child of God. There are our present sufferings and our future glory and there is what he speaks of as the revealing of the sons of God and the redemption of our bodies and our adoption as sons. Then he tells us a number of things concerning the creation. The creation, were are told, was subjected to frustration. We are told that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of child birth right up to the present time and that the creation is waiting for something. It is waiting in eager expectation for something. What is it waiting for? We are told that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay. First let us take up these things concerning the creation.

The antiquated language of the old King James version obscures the rich meaning of our text, because it uses the word creature in many of those verses. Most of the newer translations correctly translate that word as creation in each instance. Now to many people today the word creature conjures up the idea of some kind of terrible, dangerous wild beast, but that is not what he is speaking of here. What is in view here is the creation, this whole sin cursed creation of which we are a part and in which we live. Notice carefully the words – the creation was subjected to frustration. Various translations alternatively say the creation was condemned to vanity or condemned to futility. Today’s living Bible gives an expanded and descriptive paraphrase saying: “Thorns and thistles, sin, death and decay, the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command.” That is, the creation did not want to be condemned to these things, but it was by the command of God. And in verse 21 this is described as its bondage to decay or bondage of corruption.

Now the first three chapters of Genesis tell us how all of this came about. In the beginning the creation was perfect, for the last verse of the first chapter tells us that God saw all that he had made, that is the creation, and it was very good. Then in chapter three we see how sin entered and through sin came death. Because of sin God subjected the creation to frustration, to the bondage of decay. Everything wears out and breaks down whether it is man made such as our cars and houses or whether it is living things, plants or animals or people. All are subject to disease, to cancer and death. God did not create it that way, but because of sin it was necessary that God must impose the bondage of corruption, of decay upon the earth itself and everything in it.

However, here is the good news. That bondage of decay was not to be permanent, because God promised that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. When God first pronounced the curse upon Adam and Eve and upon this creation, he also made the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. In that was hidden God’s whole plan of redemption, not only for mankind, but also for this sin cursed earth. That is why John the Baptist could call aloud concerning Jesus: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That word world is the Greek word cosmos which is the origin of our English word cosmos. The whole world is in view here, not simply sinful mankind.
Now the statement in Romans eight that the creation itself is to be liberated from its bondage to decay is, in itself, not a new teaching. The apostle Peter speaking to Israel in Acts chapter three verse 11 to the end of that chapter spoke of that future event when God would restore everything as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Now what was Peter speaking of here? What are some of the prophecies that Peter spoke of in Acts 3:21 and the things that Paul had in mind in Romans chapter eight verses 19 to 22? Well, there would be changes in nature. Wild animals and snakes were to become harmless and helpful. This was the hope that was set forth in such Scriptures as Isaiah chapter 11 verses six through nine where we read that the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear. Their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all of my holy mountain. For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. So God is going to change that violent, blood thirsty nature of these wild beasts and make them to be tame.

Many years ago there in Zimbabwe, my daughter and her husband a couple of children came to visit us and we took them out to what was a nearby lion and cheetah park where lions are kept in a large enclosure. You can drive in in your car and see the lions right up close as long as you keep your windows of your car rolled up. But when we got there for some reason we were not able to drive into the enclosure. We had to stand outside and the lions were all up against the fence. It was a chain link fence. You could see through it. And we were able to get up right close to those lions. And I noticed one lion that was there right up against the fence kept its eyes on my little grandchild, about two years old. And I could almost see it salivating. It wanted to grab my little grandson and eat him. And I put my head down close to the fence and I glared at the lion and it turned its eyes away. Of course, that was very brave of me. I was protected by the fence. But that wild nature of those lions God is going to change. That is what these Scriptures are looking forward to. That is the promise of God.

Another promise we find is that the desert shall bloom. The land will bring forth plentiful crops. Such passages as Isaiah 51 and Joel chapter two and Amos nine and Micah four, there will be changes in the agriculture so that the land will bring forth plentiful crops. The desert shall bloom.

Another thing is in Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 65 we find that health and long life will be restored to mankind. Now this involves the people over whom Christ shall rule during the 1000 years. We, of course, will be changed. We will be like the Lord having a body like his and there Jesus said we will neither marry nor give in marriage. But the people still on then earth who are still in the flesh among them there will be no infant mortality as verse 20 says. And also long life is restored and if a person dies in 100 years it is because he is a sinner rebelling against the rule of Christ. Thus we see that sin and death are still present during that time for the people of the earth. Satan is removed so that he does not tempt the nations during that time, but that sinful nature of mankind, they still need the gospel.

Now the new heavens and the new earth of Isaiah 65 is the millennial period, the 1000 year period of Revelation 20 verses one to six. It is not the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21 and 22 where there is no more death and no more sin. 1 Corinthians 15:20 tells us that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Revelation 20 and verse 14 speaks of that.   So long life is to be restored. Verse 20 and 22 of that Isaiah 65 passage says that as the years of a tree will be the years of my people.

Well, there are some living trees in America and other parts of the world that are more than 1000 years old. So it is possible, then, for someone who is born, say, at the beginning of the reign of Christ to live the entire 1000 years. Another thing is the glory of the Lord will be in Jerusalem. Now many of those same prophecies also deal with the restoration of Israel and the reign of Christ in Jerusalem such as Isaiah 35:2, Isaiah four verses five and six, Isaiah 11:10, Ezekiel 43. The Lord will be there.

So it will be a time of perfect government, righteous government such as this world has never seen. Such passages as Isaiah 11 verses one to five, Isaiah nine verses six and seven, Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah chapter four verses one to four, Jeremiah 23 verses five to eight, Psalm 72 verse two, four, 12 to 14 and Psalms chapter two verses six to nine. Righteous government. And it will be a time Jesus said in Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22 verse 29 to 30 when the apostles will sit on 12 thrones ruling over the nations of Israel. Christ will be ruling during that time over the nations. Such passages as 1 Corinthians chapter six verse two and three, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 2:26-29, Revelation 3:21, Daniel 7:21, Luke 19:11-27 when the Church, we the children of God with Christ will be ruling in his kingdom.

 

Also during that time will be the conversion and blessing of the nations. Zechariah chapter two verses 10 to 12, Jeremiah 16:19-21, in context of verses 14 and 15, Micah 4:1-4, Zechariah 14-16. We don’t have time on this short broadcast to read all those passages, but I give you those verses so that you can look them up for yourselves.

Now all of these things that we have mentioned are all included in that wonderful time when this old earth, the whole creation which is now groaning as in the pains of child birth will be liberated from its bondage to decay. But before any of that can happen something else of most importance to the child of God must first take place and that is the redemption of our bodies. Although we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, our mortal bodies are still subject to sickness and decay. In the words of 1 Corinthians 15:53: The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with the immortality.

Philippians 3:21 gives us the sure promise that Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. That is the redemption of our bodies. And in 1 John chapter three verse two this is confirmed and there we read that concerning the coming of Christ: We know that when he appears we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. According to 1 Thessalonians chapter four verses 13 through 18, this will take place when Christ comes for his Church when we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
Now the meaning of the word adoption is in the Bible quite different from our normal usage. We think of it today as a family taking a child that is not born in their family, but taking a strange child and bringing them into that family and having … going through a legal process of the courts to adopt the child. But that is not what is meant by this word adoption in the Bible. In the Bible it does not mean to bring a stranger into your family. The Greek word means placing as a son. It speaks of a child that was born into the family but has now come of age. He is no longer treated as an infant, but is not an adult and is given authority in the household. The modern example would be something like John Martin and Son, your neighborhood hardware store. This is the promise in 2 Timothy 2:12. If we endure we will also reign with him. And Revelation 20 verse six: Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over there, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for 1000 years. So that is the time that we will be given that authority.

The parable of the kingdom of God in Luke 19, which is often called the parable of the talents, sets that forth quite clearly in the rewarding of faithful servants by giving them positions of authority in the kingdom. So that is what is meant by our adoption as sons. But what is meant by the term the revealing of the sons of God? This is referring to the coming of Christ with his saints. When he comes to judge the world, we come with him. This is portrayed in 2 Thessalonians chapter one verse seven through 10, which speaks of the return of Christ in flaming fire to take vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it tells us that that is the time when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, his holy people.

This coming of Christ with his saints is beautifully portrayed in Revelation chapter 19. We do not have time to read aloud this chapter, but here we see the saints coming with Christ when he comes in judgment. They are identified by the garments they are wearing, fine linen, white and pure which is the righteous acts of the saints. It is this coming with Christ in glory that will reveal to the earth that we Christians are indeed the children of God.
Let me read again our main text from Romans eight now. We read: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. So there is a future glory for us. Now we have suffered, but these sufferings are not worth to be compared to that glory. And what is that glory? He is telling us now from verse 19 onwards, it is the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. See, our glory is in our being revealed then. For the creation was subjected to frustration not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope. So there is a hope for the creation that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

That is our hope. That is what we are looking forward to. Right now it says we groan inwardly. That is, there are these sufferings that we endure, some more than others, but we are looking forward to that time that our adoption as sons, that is, when we come, as it were, to maturity and that is only when our bodies are redeemed. So we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

Then verse 24 and 25 says: In this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? See, we have none of those things. We are hoping for them. We are looking forward to the glorious coming of the Lord when he will bring about all of those things that he has promised, but if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

The Scripture tells us that if our hope is in the return of Christ, we will purify ourselves even as he is pure. What is your hope? Is it in the things of this world? Money, fame, pleasure? All of those things will pass away. But only the things of God are eternal. We appeal to you: Set your hope on him who is eternal.

 

Robert Garrett is a missionary to Zimbabwe and is the son of missionaries to Africa.




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10