Summary: Sermon focuses on stirring up our spirits to long for the purposes of God to be fulfilled.
Groan For The Glory
I. Life in the Present Age
A. Suffering is the normal Christian experience
B. Our suffering should be viewed through the eyes of eternity
II. All Creation Is Groaning
A. All creation is in tune with God—it excitedly awaits the fulfillment of His plan
B. All creation groans over its present condition
1. Subject to frustration
2. Anticipates deliverance
3. Groans as in labor
III. All Christians Should Be Groaning
A. We have the “firstfruits” of the Spirit
B. The Spirit causes a longing for the fulfillment of God’s plan
1. Adoption as sons
2. Redemption of our bodies
C. The Spirit gives hope to wait patiently
IV. The Average Christian Experience
A. There is little or no groaning
B. Causes for this lack of groaning
1. Habitual sin
4. Friendship with the world
C. If there is no inward groaning, then we should be concerned about our tuning
One day, President Abraham Lincoln was riding in a coach with a colonel from Kentucky. The colonel took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket. He offered Lincoln a drink. Lincoln said, “No thank you, Colonel. I never drink whiskey.” After a little while, the colonel took some cigars out of his pocket and offered one to Lincoln. Again Lincoln said, “No, thank you, Colonel.” Then Lincoln said, “I want to tell you a story.”
“One day, when I was about nine years old, my mother called me to her bed. She was very sick. She said, ‘Abe, the doctor tells me that I am not going to get well. I want you to be a good boy. I want you to promise me before I go that you will never use whiskey or tobacco as long as you live.’ I promised my mother that I never would, and up to this hour, I’ve kept this promise! Would you advise me to break that promise?”
The colonel put his hand on Lincoln’s shoulder and said, “Mr. Lincoln, I would not have you break that promise for the world! It is one of the best promises you ever made. I would give a thousand dollars today if I had made my mother a promise like that and had kept it like you have done. I would be a much better man than I am!” (Martin M. Hyzer, 15K-WS)
This morning I would like to draw your attention to a passage of scripture that deals with a much greater promise than the one that President Lincoln made to his mother—it is a promise from God. In fact, it “is one of the most glorious promises in all of Scripture. [Listen closely to this promise.] God is going to free all creation from struggling and suffering” (POSB-WS). While it stands as one of the most glorious promises in all of scripture, I contend that it is one that not many Christians truly long for its fulfillment.
“How can you say that Pastor?” you might ask. [Com-ments about being the Amen or Hallelujah “type” vs. the enthusiasm that would undoubtedly be displayed if I could legitimately tell you that you’ve just won $1 million. This promise from God has greater impact of you and all of creation than $1 million could ever have. And it is certainly more sure than the $1 million.] I also contend that our lack of longing for this promise to be fulfilled reveals our deep need for God’s reviving work in our lives.
Please open your Bibles with me to Romans 8:18-25 (p. 841).
Life in the Present Age
Paul begins this section by making a generalization concerning what life is like in the present age.
Suffering Is the Normal Christian Experience
He tells us that we should not be at all surprised when we experience suffering. Suffering is the normal Christian experience.
“The word ‘suffering’ means all the forms of suffering which the believer experiences throughout life…Very simply, suffering means the struggle waged by our spirits to overcome all that is experienced in this life, all that is involved in the flesh and the world…It is the weight and agony of fighting to overcome...sin and corruption; disease and pain; abuse and persecution; unregulated urges and desires; weaknesses and shortcomings; aging and loss; deterioration and decay” (POSB-WS).
Paul was well acquainted with suffering. He describes some of what he had endured in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.