Our Great Salvation, 4

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SAVED BY HOPE

Romans 8:24

For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:24a NIV)

For we are saved by hope… (Romans 8:24a KJV)

Well, this can’t be right, can it? We are “saved by hope?” I thought we are saved “by faith” in Jesus Christ; by believing in Him. What did Paul mean when he wrote that “we are saved by hope?”

The first thing we need to do is establish the correct translation of this verse. The venerable KJV is wrong. Nobody is “saved by hope,” even the most casual of Christian realizes there is more to salvation than merely “hope.” We have verses like this one that dooms the idea of “salvation by hope”:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)

The NIV’s rendering of Romans 8:24 is preferable: “…in this hope we are saved…” Or, in other words, God planted eternal life deep within every man. The idea that we will go on and never cease to exist is the “hope” of which Paul wrote. It is with the hope of eternal life that we are saved.

The hope of all creation

As Christians, we exist in three dimensions, two temporal and one eternal: past, present, and future. Our salvation—our Christian experience—is built squarely on the Foundation that was laid in Christ. Our salvation lives in the present, empowered by the Holy Spirit. And our salvation stretches forward, to the future, toward our full redemption. So far in the book of Romans, Paul, the great theologian, has dealt with the first two dimensions. He’s already written about what Christ did and what the Holy Spirit does. Now, Paul turns his attention the great hope we have in Christ.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

Paul had already written something very similar to the Corinthians:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

This is a familiar technique of Paul’s: to compare the present situation to what is in store in the future. The present pales in comparison to our glorious future. Weighed on the perfect scales of eternity, the sufferings we endure in the present are light—they weigh nothing compared to the splendor of our life to come. It takes a measure of faith, though, because the Bible doesn’t say much about what our future glory will be, but it promises it will be ours. In fact, it promises even more than mere possession; our future glory—whatever that is and means—will be manifested in us, we will possess it, and it will forever transform us.

And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20b, 21 NIV)

This “glory,” whatever it may be or form it may take, will be so magnificent, that it’s not just the redeemed who are waiting in eager expectation for the future!

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:19 NIV)

J.B. Phillips in his translation, handles verse 19 like this:

The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.

The apostle, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has let us in on something very profound here. All of creation, excluding the angels, demons, and the unredeemed, is “longing” for the day when we Christians will reach the point of our final consummation because all creation seems to understand its own deliverance from its imperfect state caused by the fall cannot take place until then.

Why does Paul bring up such a “heady” idea? It’s because even Christians, especially in the face of suffering, are prone to doubt. By introducing the fact that ALL CREATION believes in man’s ultimate glorification, Paul is saying we ought to have that same kind of faith regardless. Our future as believers, in spite of our present, is certain. We have a glorious future waiting for us!

The “hope” of all creation is linked to the redemption of mankind. The future of the two—all creation and mankind—is inseparably joined together. God, on the day of resurrection, will give to man a glorified body which will suit his new, eternal home, and will create a corresponding new heavens and new earth. Both epoch events are anticipated today by “all creation.”

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22 NIV)

All creation looks to the future in hope that it, like man, will be restored. It cannot rest until God’s plan for man has been completed. Creation was intended to be man’s perfect home, but when man sinned and fell from grace, creation was corrupted; thrown into complete disarray. Now it’s wild; it works against man and even itself sometimes. But in that great day of the reconciliation of all things, the words of Francis of Assisi’s wonderful hymn will be made real:

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voices, let us sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beams,
thou silver moon that gently gleams,

O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Our cause for hope

So, if “all creation” has this hope, how much more should we, who have the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit convincing us that we are “God’s children?” The child of God should not fear death; he’s never going to die. The child of God need not be troubled by hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, beach erosion, supposed climate change or all the other upheavals of nature because all nature belongs to God and hopes in God. We ought not be disturbed by wars, famines, diseases, and other awful things that sully the human race, because we know that God is in absolute control and this world and everything in, on, and under it is flowing along the current of God’s eternal plan. And may I remind you that this plan was conceived and executed by an omnipotent, omniscient, all LOVING heavenly Father?

Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact, Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory. He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together. (Colossians 1:15—17 TLB)

Regardless of what’s going on around you, God has not left you up to your own devices. Regardless of what “nature” hurls at you, Christ is the glue that continues to  hold universe together.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Now, we either believe that verse or we don’t. If we don’t, we won’t have hope and we’ll be full of pessimism. But if we do, we will have hope and we will exude good cheer.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23 NIV)

Here, a new “groaning” is introduced. Not only is “all creation” groaning, but we are as well. Or at least we should be. Our “groaning” is linked to our adoption, which includes our glorified bodies.

At this present time, we are not in possession of our new bodies. But we have been adopted into God’s great family and we are full of His Holy Spirit, who helps us to recognize the reality of our new relationship with our Heavenly Father. This precious gift of the Spirit is God’s promise that the whole process of salvation will, one day, be fully complete. Yes, we are completely saved right now, but part of that salvation is our bodily resurrection, and that hasn’t happened yet. Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians, emphasized that the end goal of salvation included a new body for believers!

They are just human bodies at death, but when they come back to life they will be superhuman bodies. For just as there are natural, human bodies, there are also supernatural, spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:44 TLB)

Now, having a new body, a resurrection body, may not be a big deal for you. You may be one among many who’s just glad to be getting into Heaven and avoiding Hell. But consider this: do you really want to spend eternity with the body you have now? Do you want to wear glasses and a hearing aid for all eternity? Do you want to be taking your blood pressure medication for all eternity? Do you want to put up with the chronic pain of arthritis for all eternity? Here’s the point: God thought of everything when He saved you, and He saved ALL of you, including your body! Nobody knows what your glorified body will be like. We have a rough idea what Jesus’ is like, but as far as ours goes, the Bible is silent. One thing is certain, though:  our glorified body will be way better than our present, earthly body!

At this point in time, Christians are not fully redeemed, even though we have been adopted by God and fully accepted by God. We possess a body destined to die. It’s not over for us, yet.

And this is our hope:

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:25 NIV)

Hope for the future. Hope that what is coming is better than what is here now. Hope that all will be made right, finally and forever. Paul’s point is clear: we are to wait patiently for all the promises of salvation to be fulfilled.

We were truly saved the moment we placed our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were absolutely saved and redeemed when we were clothed with Christ’s righteousness. And yet, we were not “fully saved” because we were saved “in hope” of our future restoration. Faith and hope are distinguishable but inseparable. Calvin was right on when he said:

Hope nourishes and sustains faith.

Power for living comes from hoping in the right direction. From our perspective, the God of the future will be so much greater than the God of the past or even of the present. Do you have this hope? Does this hope possess you? It can, if you let it!

I pray that God will help you overflow with hope in him through the Holy Spirit’s power within you. (Romans 15:13b TLB)

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