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. Why do bad things happen to good people? Remix P2

WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? (PART 2) Remix

 

http://jsd.co.in/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/whyDoBadThingsHappenToGoodPeople.jpgRomans 8:18-25 (ESV) 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

Last week I sought to help you from the text to understand where you and your trials fit in with the big picture of God’s grand design. We saw that it is not just us who are groaning under the weight of suffering but the whole of creation is suffering. The reason it is suffering is because of a judicial act of God. When sin came into the world God condemned or subjected the whole of creation to futility (v. 20) and decay (v. 21) and groaning (v. 23). In other words, the sufferings of this life are part of a universal, God-decreed collapse of creation into disorder because of sin. And therefore all the misery of the world – and it is great – is a bloody declaration about the ghastly horror of sin. But there is a reason he condemned it to decay and that was to create hope. If you and I and the universe cannot understand what it is to suffer and to be in an imperfect world, we never will appreciate the holiness of God, neither will be appreciate the new heaven and the new earth.

Now before we advance into the thrust of today’s sermon, I need to remind you that the suffering I believe Paul has in mind here is suffering on all levels, whether it is sickness, or depression, or strife, or suffering at the hands of criminals, or persecution, or that which we call the ‘acts of God’, and even death. The reason I say this is because it is the suffering "of this present time" which we see in verse 18 witch comes from the fallen creation and makes us to desire rescue from these bodies according to verse 23.

The issue of the text before us has nothing to do with how the suffering comes, even if it is as a consequence of your own sin, but whether you trust the sovereign goodness of God over it all and through it all to bring you to everlasting glory. Just think, even if the suffering is at the hand of Satan as in Job’s story, the real issue is how you will glorify God in the suffering.

Christian there is great comfort to be seen in the verses before us. God is not distant from your trials. Your trials are there but He carries you through it. This is why verse 28 is a glorious summary of it all: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” So are just certain kinds of suffering for our good? No ‘all things’.

So let’s march ahead as we flip last week’s coin around and let's look at the way Paul helps us to keep on hoping in Christ when our suffering is great. This he does by presenting to us promises of God that we can hold on to in our trails. Let me point out seven of these promises, and as seven is the perfect number let’s remember them as seven perfect promises of God to sustain me in my trials.

1. God promises that after this time of suffering we will see the non-comparable glory of God.

Verse 18: Romans 8:18 (ESV) 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Look at that word “Glory”, wow, what a word when you think that we are created for God’s glory and now ‘His glory’ will be finally revealed to us. Now notice what Paul says when he uses the words ‘will be revealed to us’. Look around you and what do you see? You see the glory of God in the beauty and splendour of nature, you see the glory of God in man, you see the glory of God in the heavenly realms as you behold the fingerprints of God in the galaxies, and  then you realise that all of this is in decay, all of this is suffering.

I know the text is not clear, but Christian I fully believe that when we see God in glory, when we behold that which the angels are seeing now, as they cry out holy, holy, holy, we will remember what we have come from, otherwise how will we compare the future from the past when the glory is revealed to us? It will be like remembering that 1967 VW when you ride in your new Audi R8. I love the way Keith Green put it in a song of his. He said if it took God seven days to create the heavens and the earth and now Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and it has already taken Him 2000 years, we are now living in a garbage can.

When the angels cry out holy, holy, holy, they are crying out hagios, hagios hagios which means set apart, set apart, set apart. Christian that which will be revealed to us is set apart from that what you know. This is why I believe Jesus prayed for us the way he did in John 17:24 (ESV) “24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” This glory is set apart from what we can even think or know. This was the greatest thing Jesus could pray for on our behalf. It was the climax of his prayer. Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the best gift Jesus could pray that we would receive after we had suffered in this life.

2. God promises that the children of God will be revealed with a glory of their own.

Romans 8:19 (ESV) 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

So verse 18 says that God’s glory, Christ’s glory, or heaven’s glory in general will be revealed to us, and now verse 19 says that we ourselves will be revealed with a glory of our own. What does this mean?

It means that right now the children of God do not look as glorious as they will be. We look pretty much like everyone else. We get hungry and tired and sick, we age and we die, and on the way to the grave we make some progress in overcoming our selfishness and pride and greed, but we never get beyond the need to be justified by faith alone because of Christ alone, and we will say with Paul till the day we die, Romans 7:24 (ESV) 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Christian, all we are according to the word of God is jars of clay.

But, this is not the end, that is why Jesus can say in Matthew 13:43 (ESV) 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” I love the way Paul puts it: Colossians 3:4 (ESV) 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” So, Christian, there is a glory that awaits us and it is not just beholding Christ’s glory. Look at verse 21:21 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.”

So when verse 19 speaks of "the revealing of the sons of God" we now know what will be revealed, namely "The freedom of the glory of the children of God." This is what we saw at the end of verse 17 – that we would be glorified with Christ – that our bodies and minds and hearts would be so completely renovated that nothing would stand in the way of savouring Christ for all he is worth.  So in verse 19 God promises that we will savour that glory because we will be so completely changed by that glory that we will be free from anything that would frustrate our joy in God. Christian do you realise how big this is? It is so big that the whole of creation is waiting with bated breath for our revelation so that it too may obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

3. God promises that the purpose of His decreed futility is hope for his children

Romans 8:20 (ESV) 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.”

Look at the two key words in the text: “in hope”. The effect this is supposed to have on us is to make us seriously and soberly hopeful because God has decreed the fall of the universe into futility and decay and groaning and weakness. That not only makes us sober. It makes us tremble with a due respect for the infinitely Holy God who rules over the universe with justice and hatred for sin.

But the point of verse 20 is that this subjection to futility is not God’s ultimate purpose. The words "in hope" at the end of verse 20 show that God's aim in his judicial decree of futility and pain is hope. So when you feel almost overwhelmed by your own pain and the pain of the world, instead of cursing God, you hold fast to him as your treasure, because you know this is not the end. So Christian, whatever trials you are going through in this life, realise that you have to go through them so that you do not put your hope in this world. You cannot put your hope in people, they will disappoint you, you cannot put your hope in finances because finances will fail you, you cannot put your hope in medicine as it cannot treat all sicknesses and you cannot put your hope in your body as it will fail you. The reason you live in a hopeless world is so that you will not put your hope in this world but in the world to come. God subjected it to futility, so that you can hope in something bigger and better.

4. God promises that all creation will be freed from futility, corruption and groaning.

We already touched on it in my second point, so I won’t say too much but look again at verse 21: 21 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.”

We've already seen from verse 19 that the children are going to be revealed with glory that suits them to enjoy the glory of God. But now we see the other part of the promise in verse 21 namely, that creation too will be freed from its bondage to corruption and decay and futility. In other words, the universe will be changed into a place perfectly suited for the perfected and glorious children of God.

No more destructive tornadoes or hurricanes or floods or droughts or plagues or diseases or accidents or harmful animals or insects or viruses. The prophecy of Isaiah 65:17 will come to pass 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” What is interesting is that we will see God’s glory, we will be able to compare it when we are glorified, but when the final act of the redemption of creation is revealed the old will be forgotten. Look at Revelation 21:1-5 (ESV) 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

And then Peter reveals it to us in 2 Peter 3:13 (ESV) 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

So the sons of God will be glorified, but now the heaven and the world will have to be glorified so that it is a suitable environment for freedom of the glory of the children of God. In other words, our freedom and our glory will be so great that only a glorified heaven and earth will be adequate to suit our almost infinite capacities for happiness.

The next point I love to bits.

5. God promises that the miseries of the universe are not the throes of death but the labour pains of childbirth

Romans 8:22 (ESV) “22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” This is just another way of saying that God subjected the creation to futility in hope (v. 20). That is, in the hope for something much better than the pain coming out of all this.

Now you ladies know what I am talking about, or at least many of you do. Now think about this for a moment. I often visit the hospital and I see people lying on their death beds in oncology wards, they are filled with pain and suffering, I hear nobody screaming, it is actually quiet, but yet the mood is sombre and there is an anticipation of death. However, when you wander to the maternity ward, suddenly you hear groaning and screaming and pain and suffering, but everybody is running around excited.  So why the difference – pain is pain, isn't it? No. Some pain leads to life, and some pain leads to death.

And what verse 22 promises is that for the children of God, all pain leads to life. All the groaning of this world are the birth pains of the kingdom of God. If you are part of the kingdom – a child of the King – all your sufferings are labour pains and not death spasms. And I mean all of them – even the final death spasms!

6. God promises that our bodies will be redeemed from all groaning.

Romans 8:23 (ESV) 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Listen to the way Paul sings over this truth in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 (ESV) “51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Now for you who trust in Jesus Christ for the fulfilment of all his promises to you, know that in this hope you have been saved, and if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it – with groaning and patience and unconquerable joy. That is why we often say that death is nothing but graduation day. It is a day of redemption. The Old body is placed in the grave, or cremated, no matter what, but praise God that is redemption and we look forward to it.

I have one last point with which I need to end.

7. God promises that His spirit in the meantime prays for us in our trials.

Now this morning I might be talking to somebody who is groaning inwardly with creation. You might be saying to yourself, well this is not good enough, I understand that Job did not have his story, he knew nothing of what was happening in heaven, and so I do not understand my story and I do not know what is going on in heaven. In short what is the will of God in all of this? The joy today Christians is that somebody knows exactly the will of God in all of this, and He is your companion, He is your comforter, He is the one you keep in step with, He is the very one who testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God, provided you suffer with Him. And who is this person? It is none other than the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26-28 (ESV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So church family, you are not alone in your weakness. Even when you do not know what to pray, He intercedes for you, and rest in this, He intercedes according to the will of God. So when we clamour around and we pray our confused prayers, especially around a sick person, or a person in trials, we know one thing and that is that the Spirit prays according to the will of the Father. Is that not good news? I get sick and tired when I watch Christians around a person in trials, they bind the devil, they promise healing and they do all kinds of stuff, and they do not even know the will of the Father. Now I do not believe you can bind the devil, but just think if you could, why would you want to bind the devil when God at that very moment is allowing him to buffet you so that God’s glory might be revealed in your life and eternally? I will rather stay with the intercession of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t you? You know what is so beautiful about the Godhead? There are those Christians who claim that believers will always be healthy, wealthy and prosperous and it normally the very same Christians who claim a special portion of the Holy Spirit. Then why did God decide to call the third person of the Trinity ‘our Comforter’. My friend the Holy Spirit is not your cheerleader in health wealth and prosperity, but He is your comforter in trials.

And Christian, no matter what your trials, no matter what your groaning, remember this, the whole of creation is groaning with you, and now we see that even the Spirit is groaning, but His groaning is different as He is expressing the will of the father with words that you and I cannot express, so rest on the promises of God as we saw this morning and let’s end with a final promise which is a point in itself, we just don’t have time for it: Romans 8:28  28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

What a glorious promise to end with. Let us rest in it and be satisfied in it, until the day we are glorified.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 15 February 2015