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. Romans 8:18-25
Last week I attended a conference on Eschatology at Dallas Theological Seminary. Eschatology is the culmination of God’s plan for His creation. It’s about God’s final judgment on earth, Jesus’ return, and the new heavens and the new earth. It’s when God comes and makes all things new. It’s the Christian’s hope.
One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Michael Svigel, made note of the sad fact that hope has been cheapened in our world. He said hope is often pictured as an abstract, fluffy light out there. That kind of hope isn’t going to cut it when one is struggling with depression or someone has experienced tragic loss. Believing that one day we’ll all be strumming harps on some cloud up in the sky is not all that encouraging.
But that’s the great thing about the Christian hope. It has grit. It has foundation. We don’t know everything about our future with God, but He’s given us enough to know that what we’re looking to is a total transformation of ourselves and creation. Dr. Svigel described the Christian hope as a forward trajectory. We’re all moving towards something tangible, not clouds and a bright light.
He used Romans 8:18-25 as a reference to the solidity of the Christian hope. Earlier in Romans 8, we find the hope of life that comes with accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and receiving the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee of our salvation. So, even though there is true suffering in this world, we have the hope of a new life with Christ. The sufferings we experience here are absolutely nothing in comparison to the reality of our future with Christ in the new heavens and new earth.
Imagine a life of adventure with God who gives such great peace to us here on earth. Jesus who came to earth to live a perfect life for us, die for us, and resurrect so that we can be resurrected. It’s a place where Satan is not. Therefore, it is a place where abuse, anger, addictions, poverty, death; evil is not. We get to spend forever with God! The One who created us and knows us better than anyone else possibly ever could. He designed us to have special talents that no one else has. He gave us a unique personality and fun quirks. What will it be like to live in a world where we can use our personality and abilities to their fullest? What kind of satisfaction will we receive from being perfectly productive? What will it be like to have relationships with people that aren’t stuffed with assumptions, selfishness, and hurt?
Not only will we see our bodies redeemed, but we will see creation renewed. This one brings me such joy. I look forward to a world where there are no longer abused or neglected animals. Where nature looks it’s absolute finest and not every insect in the world is out to kill me. I don’t know what the Garden of Eden was like, but if Adam and Eve could take walks naked in the cool of the day and not even realize that they were naked… that’s some kind of luxurious nature in my book. I could go out in nature with seven layers on and a mosquito would still find a way to get some juice out of me.
I’ll leave you with the promises that Dr. Svigel left us with at the conference.
Our hope is centered on:
The Promise of a Bodily Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
The Promise of Future Glory (Colossians 1:27)
The Promise of the Coming Kingdom (Acts 28:20-31)
The Promise of Eternal Life (Romans 8:37-38)
The Promise of Ultimate Righteousness (Galatians 5:5)
Jesus Christ is our hope.