The Deliverance of the Groaning Creation
Mr. John W. Bramhall of Charlotte, N. C., whose study articles in the past have frequently appeared in the magazine, is still active in the Lord’s work in a Bible teaching and writing ministry.
The doctrinal section of Romans extends from chapter 1 through chapter 8. Two distinct themes are given by the Spirit of God: God’s justification of a sinner — Chapter 1 through 5:11. God’s deliverance of a saint — 5:12 through 8:39. The last section can be subdivided as follows: Deliverance of a saint from sin’s power — 5:12-6:23. Deliverance of a saint from the law — 7:1-8:10. The complete deliverance of a saint from sin’s presence — at death or at Rapture by the “redemption of the body” —8:11-30. The blessed conclusion for our eternal praise — 8:31-39. Until final deliverance, the groans of Creation will be heard on every hand, but when the Lord comes then will vanish away:
The Sufferings of this Present Time
Suffering today is inevitable! Sin is the cause and the whole human race is subjected to sickness, sorrow, grief, pain, etc. — each one in our own measure feeling sin’s effect. Christians are also called upon to suffer for Christ during His rejection by the world; yet though this is our present time for sufferings, God has the final answer for His children — it is glory! “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the coming glory to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18, JND).
God reveals three depths of human suffering in Exodus 3:7: There is suffering that is seen — “I have surely seen the affliction of My people.” We see much of this around us — but God sees all! There is suffering that is deeper — felt —but not seen: “I have heard their cry.” God realizes this by the outpoured words of the lips expressing the inner feelings of the heart. There is suffering that is deepest; it is unseen and not uttered, lying deep in the sufferer’s heart. Yet God says, “I know their sorrows.” Whatever the depth of it and by whatever channel — spiritual, mental, or physical —God knows! God loves! God cares!
The Groans of This Present Time
Within Romans 8, from verses 22 to 26, we hear three kinds of groans:
The groans of Creation — “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (v. 22). The literal creation (other than man) became subject to vanity — to death, but not willingly (v. 20). Creation is neither in its original creation nor in its final condition. It is a groaning creation, all out of adjustment, manifesting that all is in discord between earth and Heaven. It groans! — for “All the voices of nature are in the minor key” because of the sin of man.
The groans of the Christian —“Even we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also ourselves groan in ourselves, waiting for the adoption” (v. 23). Suffering saints are in pain, grief, and sorrow everywhere, their groans expressing the longing for final deliverance. Exercised and concerned believers look across the world of political, ecclesiastical, and moral chaos and groan with deep yearning for that deliverance which the coming of the Lord will bring.
The groans of the Holy Spirit —”The Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (v. 26). No believer is able to comprehend the unspeakable sorrow and suffering in the world, nor the immensity of the great need around us, because of our infirmities. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought” and how often in our emergencies we realize this; but here is where the Spirit of God in His power comes in to meet the need, praise God! He takes up our weaknesses and makes intercession for us according to God’s perfect will and understanding (v. 27). He shares our longing and as long ago He “brooded upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2) over a past chaotic scene; so likewise today where human limitations are unable to express the immensity of the need, the Spirit of God can and does — a perfect Advocate!
The Time of Deliverance
For the Creation — It will be “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). “The creature…shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21, JND). Creation fell when man did (Gen. 3:17-19). It shall be restored when man is and then be no longer subject to vanity. The day of creation’s emancipation will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to set up His kingdom. See Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1-2; 55:13; 65:25. This is the “hope” of the literal creation (Rom. 8:19, 20).
For the Christian — The creation groans and the Christian groans, for both are looking for that which will bring each into right relation to the other. The Christian is “waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). This will be at the coming of the Lord, “Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of [the] power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21, JND). What a blessed prospect! Nearer than ever! (Rom. 13:11-12).
For the Spirit of God — His groans for us will also be over! He knows that the end is certain and the purposes of God all centre in His beloved Son. He knows that Christ is to be the “firstborn among many brethren” (v. 29), the Head of a new race of beings; but in that time surrounded by those who shall bear His image too! He knows that the saints are “predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29). You can believe with all your soul in the predestination of saints! Note Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:11 — always referring to saints alone. So certain is the Spirit of God about the purposes of God that He has written, “Whom He has foreknown … He has predestinated … He has called … He has justified [and] these also He has glorified.” He already sees it, as it were, fulfilled!
Our Present Consolation in Suffering
It is often true, as previously stated: “We do not know what we should pray for as we ought,” but what a blessed antithesis between the words “we know not” verse 26 and the words “we do know” in verse 28: “But we do know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to purpose” (JND). God is making all things work together for the good of His people for they are under His control and the Spirit knows this and so should we!
Furthermore, what three triumphant challenges the believer can confidently make! “Who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). “Who shall condemn us?” (Rom. 8:34). “Who shall separate us?” (Rom. 8:35).
The purposes of our God for His beloved Son, and all the redeemed saints belonging to Him, are marching forward to a blessed and eternal conclusion! Our deliverance is sure — we are going from groans to glory! Blessed deliverance, may it be soon!
The whole creation groans, and waits to hear that voice,
That shall restore her comeliness, and make her wastes rejoice.
Come, Lord, and wipe away the curse, the sin, the stain,
And make this blighted world of ours Thine own fair world again.
Come, then, Lord Jesus, Come!