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The Rev. Jonathan Pryke: “A Glorious Future” (Romans 8)

June 27, 2008

From the Rev. Jonathan Pryke of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom, we have another in that parish’s series on the Epistle to the Romans, this one being A Glorious Future, based on Romans 8. He talks about our present groaning, our future glory, and our eager expectation, and this is what he says about our future glory:

Just as Paul speaks of the groaning of all creation, and also of our groaning, so he speaks of the future glory of all creation, and also of our future glory.

See here, first, the future glory of creation

Verses 20 – 21:

“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.”

Creation will not for ever be locked into what John Stott vividly describes as…

“… an unending cycle, so that conception, birth and growth are relentlessly followed by decline, decay, death and decomposition.”

Nor will creation be destroyed. But it will be renewed and brought into glorious freedom. That is the future glory of creation.

Then see here our future glory

Verse 18:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

As we’ve learned afresh through Romans so far, God has wonderfully freed believers from both the guilt and the power of sin. That’s a miraculous transformation. That’s the power of God’s Spirit within us. But human beings are physical beings. God’s creation is physical. It’s not just our minds that are saved from eternal death by God’s grace. It’s our bodies as well.

For the believer, physical death is the gateway to bodily resurrection and entry into the new heaven and the new earth – the new physical and spiritual realm that God will create when Christ returns.
I remember seeing a programme about a talented young British rock climber. He was in Yosemite National Park, in the west of the USA. He’d gone there to climb some exceptionally difficult routes.

We saw him attempting to climb a long slab of overhanging rock at a great height. He was upside down the whole way, almost as if climbing across a ceiling. If he had anywhere to put his feet at all, they were continually slipping, leaving him hanging by his hands. Sometimes he was just holding on by his fingers. Sometimes he would jam his hand into a crack and swing from it.

It was obvious that he was finding the going intensely difficult. His face was often contorted with the effort and struggle of it all. Things were not going as smoothly as he had hoped. His frustration was frequently boiling over and he would groan and cry out at his failure to make progress. What is more, again and again he lost his grip altogether, and simply fell.

But however many times he fell, he knew that he’d make it to the end eventually. His frustration and groaning went hand in hand with confidence. And it was obvious that he was relishing the whole experience. How come?

Two reasons. For one thing, he was on the end of a rope that was firmly held by his climbing companion. Every time he totally lost control and fell, the rope took his weight and he was hauled back up to try again. And for another thing, the location was stunning. And, as he knew would be the case, when he finally slogged his way to the end of the climb, the views were utterly spectacular.

He knew that the struggle was worth the effort for the sake of the destination. Because of his own mistakes, and because of the sheer difficulty of the climb, it was a painful struggle. But it was ultimately secure. It was exhilarating. And it was worth it. In the same way, the struggle of the life of faith will in the end prove infinitely worthwhile.

Our present bodies will not be resuscitated or merely reconstituted in another place like Captain Kirk on Star Trek being beamed up by Scotty. We’ll be very different, while yet remaining the same people. We’ll have new bodies, not in bondage to decay, but bodies more physical, more real than these, bodies that won’t be transient, that won’t wear out. Redeemed bodies. Eternal bodies. And we will see Jesus face to face.

Hard to imagine? Yes it is. Who would think, if you hadn’t seen it, that a rotting apple dying on the ground could become an apple tree? Who would think that a bleeding, dying man nailed to some rough timbers could become the exalted King of the whole universe? But apple trees do grow from mere pips. And Jesus is the living Lord. And death will be swallowed up in victory. And groaning will turn to glory.

So what should be our attitude when we can’t help groaning, but we know there’s glory to come?

As Rev. Pryke goes on to say in this message, we as believers should indeed have an attitude of eager expectation about this glorious future that we have in Christ.  May His Spirit be in out hearts that we might be thankful.

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