by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 8 December 4, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(364)Thesis:Hope's impact is limited to its ability to address the reasons for groaning.
[We groan over sins' illegitimate impacts; Hope keeps the sins from being "ours".]
Introduction:In our study last week we looked into the fact that "hope" has been introduced into our experience of the "futility" to which the entire creation has been subjected. That "futility" consists of the inability of any of Sin's procedures to actually produce the results that are sought at the level of ultimate objectives. The only thing that can produce the final objective(s) is a Love-driven Truth. Any action taken that is divorced from Love or Truth will result in the defeat of the reason that the action was taken in the first place.
Though this is true, we do need to keep in mind that God did not subject the creation to "futility" as an act of "futility". In other words, God brings benefit out of futility even while He maintains the "futility" of the "futility". In a kind of "back door" approach, God can use Sin to teach us to not sin. In this sense, He uses Sin against itself.
This evening we are going to pursue the issue of Paul's introduction of "hope" into our experience of the universal futility. It is apparently obvious that this "hope" does not quench what Paul calls the "groaning" of both "all of creation" and "every believer". It is into this "obviousness" that we step in our study this evening with this question: If hope does not keep groaning at bay, what is its purpose?
I. What Hope is Not Designed to Do.
A. Paul says that creation was subjected to futility in hope.
B. Paul says that believers, being in possession of hope, still have to deal with the futility.
C. Paul says that this subjection to futility creates what he calls "groaning" in both "all of creation" and "every believer".
1. By this declaration, he acknowledges that "creation" is not kept from "groaning" just because it has "hope".
2. And by this declaration, he also acknowledges that "even believers indwelt by the Spirit" are not kept from "groaning" by reason of either their "hope" or their experience of "God's Spirit within".
D. The only conclusion that we can draw is this: Hope was not designed by God to make it possible for us to escape the experience of groaning.
II. What Hope Is Designed to Do.
A. To see what God intended for hope to accomplish, we must understand the issue that Paul calls "groaning".
1. In a nutshell, the issue of "groaning" is the issue of being subject to a situation that does not fit one's desires.
a. There are at least two things involved here.
1) On the one hand, there is the issue of one's desires.
2) On the other hand, there is the issue of one's subjection to an unsuitable situation.
b. Then there is also this reality: the magnitude of the "groaning" is directly related to two other issues.
1) On the one hand, there is the issue of how the "unsuitable situation" addresses the "desires" issue.
a) Does it merely "complicate" the processes involved in seeking achievement?
b) Or does it actually "block" that achievement?
2) On the other hand, there is the issue of how far "up" the scale of objectives the particular achievement sits.
a) If the achievement of the objective is relatively "minor" in the big scheme of things, the "groaning" is minimal.
b) If that achievement is, however, relatively "significant" in the big scheme of things, the "groaning" will also be significant.
2. "Groaning" is a universal experience that means that everyone has to deal with the fact that experience is not always going to be pleasant.
B. To see what God intended for hope to accomplish, we must understand why Paul uses the "birth pains" metaphor.
1. The introduction of the idea of the whole creation "travailing in birth" brings a sharper focus upon the "objectives" issue.
a. God has an "objectives process" in mind that governs what He has done and is doing in this creation.
b. The subjection of all creation to futility is a part of that process.
c. The arrival of the event called "adoption of sons" is a larger part of that process.
d. And the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom upon the earth is an even larger aspect of that process.
2. The imagery of the birthing metaphor is that the Kingdom of Messiah is the objective toward which all of the "pain" that causes "groaning" under the "subjection to futility" is moving.
a. This is a non-negotiable intermediate objective; it is not something to be "voted" on by human beings who have little understanding.
b. This intermediate objective involves a huge amount of "pain" (and progressively more as the time for delivery arrives) that no one is going to escape and, therefore, must simply include in their way of looking at life.
c. That "pain" is involved as an integral aspect of the "birth" process is linked by Genesis 3 to the advent of Sin into this creation.
C. This brings us to the answer to our question of what hope is actually designed to do.
1. Hope is not, and cannot be, designed to make a way of escape for us from the pain.
2. However, hope can, and is designed by God to, make a sharp distinction between the actual causes of the "groaning".
a. Sin is always the underlying cause of all "groaning".
b. But whose sins are involved is a crucial issue.
1) Whose sins are involved makes a great deal of difference to the one groaning.
2) One groans far more when the sins are our own because the "taste" of the "fruit" of the Spirit is denied the "sinner".
3) One groans far less when the sins are those of others because, as we endure the impact they make, we have the ministry of the Spirit within to empower our endurance.
c. It is precisely the issue of "hope" that the Spirit uses to empower us.
1) He does not empower the despairing unbeliever.
2) He does not empower the arrogant unbeliever.
3) He does empower the repentant believer.
3. Thus we see that hope is the key to whether our groaning has been caused by our own sinfulness, or has been caused by the sinfulness of others.