More / Book of the Month / Imagine / Sermon Preached at Southey, SK July 20th, 2014 / Romans 8 / Pastor Terry Defoe

Imagine / Sermon Preached at Southey, SK July 20th, 2014 / Romans 8 / Pastor Terry Defoe

Posted in 2014 / Pastor Terry Defoe / Pentecost / ^Romans



Imagine / Sermon Preached at Southey, SK July 20th, 2014 / Romans 8 / Pastor Terry Defoe

Our sermon text this morning is found in the book of Romans, chapter 8. I'm reading verse 18. The Apostle Paul says:

 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.(N.I.V.)

 

Human beings have the ability to put up with almost anything if they know that something much better is on the way. People have the ability to put up with hardship and trouble if they know things will eventually improve. When it comes right down to it, people need a reason for hope. With hope, life is definitely worthwhile. Without hope, despair is not far away. I pray that God would bless our consideration of His Holy Word this day!

 

One of John Lennon's most famous songs has the simple title, "Imagine." And in that song, John Lennon sings about a world he would like to see. The world John Lennon was waiting for, and hoping for, didn't arrive in his lifetime. But, just imagining it gave him a sense of hope. John Lennon wasn't a Christian. And he wasn't too impressed with those who called themselves Christians. And so the world he imagined was a world without religion. I was a world without a belief in heaven or hell. It was a world of tolerance and peace. Ironically, John Lennon died at the hands of a deranged gunman, outside his New York apartment, on December 8th, 1980.

        

I've got a question for you this morning. What do you think John Lennon's song would have been like if he was a be­liever in Jesus Christ? What would he imagine then? It seems to me that if John Lennon had been a Christian, his imagined world would have been a world of peace, made possible by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. His imagined world would have been a world without sin, or the effects of sin. His world would have been a world without death, or crying, or pain. It would have been a world of tolerance and understanding and wisdom. Our Bible text this morning is from the 8th chapter of the book of Romans in the New Testament. It’s about hope. It's about the way the world is, and also the way it will eventually be. Our text this morning is about putting up with things that aren't so great, knowing that even­tually things will be very different.

 

Three little words summarize the theme of the first part of our text. Those three little words are "our present sufferings." The Apostle Paul says (Romans 8:18):

 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.(N.I.V.)

 

In other words, says Paul, we can put up with our present sufferings, knowing that, eventually, the glory of God will shine into our lives. The life that God gives us as human beings is a wonderful life. It’s a life of sunshine, and flowers, and prairies, and mountains. It's a life of new beginnings, and love, and loved ones. The life that God gives us is truly a wonderful life. We are blessed with far more than we could ask or think. But we all know very well that the life God gives us also has a dark side. Sometimes the sunshine is obscured by gloom and rain. Sometimes the flowers are replaced by thistles. Sometimes rich land is replaced by rocky soil. There are times when the rejoicing that comes when a child is born is replaced by the grieving of those who have just lost a loved one. It’s true. The life that God gives also has a dark side. Everyone experiences suffering at some point in their lives. Some, it’s true, travel through life relatively unscathed. But others face suffering in an undiluted and brutal form. That’s true today. And it was true in Jesus’ day as well.

        

We know instinctively that our existence is less than perfect. That’s true of our own lives and of the world around us, too. The created world around us is subject to what scientists call the "Law of Entropy." And the "Law of Entropy," as I understand it, says that things are getting old. Things are running down. Things will break down, and rust, and fall apart. Useful forms of energy are being transformed into energy that we can no longer use. The Law of Entropy says that, given enough time, our universe will eventually come to an end. My point is this: this world is definitely not all that it could be. It's not the best of all possible worlds. That’s why the Apostle Paul says to us, (Romans 8:18) -

 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.(N.I.V.)

         

It’s as if Paul is saying:

 

“Hang in there. If you do that, God will make sure that you experience an entirely different life in an entirely different world. Don't give up. Be patient. I promise you that things are going to change for the better."

         

In Romans chapter 8, verse 20, the Apostle Paul says that the present creation is subject to "frustration." You and I are frustrated when we know that things can be better than they are right now. You and I are frustrated when things don't work out as they should. And in this world, as it stands now, there is much frustration. Paul experienced it back in his day. And we experience it in our day as well. Let me give you a few examples. We're frustrated when we see the lives of young people wasted with irresponsible sexuality and drug abuse. We're frustrated when we see so many marriages break up, leaving children to be raised by a single parent. We're frustrated when we see the rainforests destroyed, and natural resources mismanaged. We’re frustrated when we see religious zealots kill in the name of their twisted beliefs. In our hearts, we know that things could be much better. God's people are frustra­ted with sin and it's effects. And what's most frustrating is knowing that things don’t have to be this way.

        

The Bible tells us that this sad state of affairs began with Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Their disobedience changed their lives – and it changed our lives, too. Their disobedience brought a curse on creation, a curse that continues to this very day. In Romans chapter 8, the Apostle Paul describes the creation as being in bondage to decay. That's the "Law of Entropy" that I talked about earlier. In Romans, chapter 8, verse 22, Paul says,

 

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.(N.I.V.)

        

Thankfully, Romans chapter 8 isn't all about gloom and doom. Paul says that if we can put up with these things for a while, God will grant us the fullness of his blessings. If we can put up with these things for a while, we can look forward to a new heaven and a new earth. As Christians, you and I look forward to heaven. We look forward to an existence untainted by sin. We look forward to a time when there will be no more death – or crying, or pain. We look forward to a world where the fruits of the Holy Spirit are everywhere seen: love, and joy, and peace, and patience… We can look forward to all these good things – we are able to imagine a transformed world – because of one special event. We can look forward to these things because of the birth of a little child in Bethlehem – a birth heralded by angels and verified by shepherds. We can look forward to these things because God sent His Son into this world. Jesus taught us about the Father. He healed sicknesses and dealt with diseases. He confronted suffering head-on -- and He won the victory. We can look forward to the glory of God and to a renewed creation because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. All of these things are possible because Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day. You and I have reason for hope. Thanks be to God!

 

You and I look forward to these blessings because Jesus is our Savior. We look forward to these blessings because God has given us His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has brought us to faith, through water and the Word. The Holy Spirit has given us his gifts – to help us in our Christian maturity and to build up the Church. The Holy Spirit enables us to understand God's word. He makes it possible for us to reach out with the Good News of Jesus Christ. So, God's people have much to look forward to. We can put up with a lot of trouble because we know that things won't always be that way. In Romans chapter 8, (v. 19) the Apostle Paul speaks of "eager expectation." He repeats that phrase twice for emphasis. The original word here carries with it the idea of leaning over to see what's coming down the road. You might compare it with a city-dweller, late for work, impatiently waiting for a bus at a bus stop, leaning over looking down the road, in the eager expectation that the bus will be coming soon.

        

You know, life is worthwhile when we have something to look forward to. Think for a moment about the things we look forward to, in life. As children, we looked forward to the first day of school. We could hardly wait for Christ­mas, or birthdays. As teenagers, we looked forward to the day when we could finally drive a car. We looked forward to a steady relationship with a special other. We looked forward to a part-time job and to graduation from high school. Young adults look forward to beginning a career. They look forward to marriage, and the purchase of their first home. Older folks look forward to a blessed retirement. They look forward to family get-togethers and regular visits with their grandchildren.

        

Believers in the Lord Jesus look forward to all of these things, and much more. We look forward to Christ's return. We look forward to heaven and being with the Lord with His people. According to the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit that dwells in our hearts is God's "down-payment" on his blessings. Believers in the Lord Jesus look forward to a new heaven and a new earth – no longer subject to decay, and corruption. Christian people have reason for hope. When I was a Lutheran Chaplain at the University of B.C. in Vancouver, one of the professors at Regent College – a man by the name of Dr. Michael Green , an Anglican church leader from England – held an evangelistic crusade on campus called "Reason for Hope." For five days, meetings were held each noon hour in the Student Union Building. Those meetings drew large crowds. I was able to attend three of the five sessions in that "Reason for Hope" campaign. I was there to hear Dr. Green speak of the hollowness and vanity of modern life. I heard his call to faith in Jesus Christ. And I sat in amazement as I saw how many university students responded to that call.

        

As a result of the "Reason for Hope" campaign, several new Bible Studies were started on campus, and the local Christian church received a real shot in the arm. It's my opinion that everyone everywhere is looking for a reason for hope. As I said earlier, people can put up with almost anything if they know something better is on the way. We shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s here – in Romans chapter 8, verse 28 – that we find Paul's famous words,

 

28 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.”(N.I.V.)

 

Paul also wrote, in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 17, (N.I.V.)

 

17 … our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…”

 

The Apostle Paul encourages us to persevere. In Romans 8, verse 26, he reminds us that God's Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. The Holy Spirit comes alongside to help us in our time of need. For me, life is two things. It's a journey. And it's a destination. In our text this morning, the Apostle Paul speaks about both. He reminds us of what we already know – that the journey can be very challenging. But he wants us to remember that the destination makes it all worthwhile. So I say it again: human beings can put up with almost anything if they know that something far better is on the way. Something better is on the way for us as God's people in Christ.

        

The next time you hear John Lennon's song "Imagine," I want you to think of Romans chapter 8. Imagine what this world is going to be like when sin is no more. Imagine what it’s going to be like when there’s no more self­ishness, or hatred, or intolerance – when suffering, and pain and even death are no more. Imagine, if you will, what this world is going to be like when everyone calls Jesus "Lord." May God speed the coming of that great day. AMEN.

        

Let's Pray: DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER -- Help us keep our eyes on Jesus when tough times come. Enable us to step off the curb of life to see your glory heading in our direction. Grant us patience in this world of frustration and vanity. Remind us that the day is coming when our salvation will be complete. And help us share that Good News with all who have ears to hear it. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


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