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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


He is Alive

Last year marked the 350th anniversary of the publication of Paradise Lost, by John Milton. It is the greatest epic poem in the English language and certainly one of the greatest works in Western literature. Sadly, the anniversary went by largely unnoticed. What is encouraging is that this work has been translated more frequently in the last 30 years than in the preceding 300 and mostly in non-Western languages.

Milton began this work in 1652, the year he became completely blind and lost his first wife. He dictated the more than 11,500 lines of verse to his nephew, Edward, in perfect form in groups of 10 to 30. He finished this work in 1665.

The importance of this work to the Christian faith is that is is a collection of mirrors displaying evil as disarmingly close in appearance to the good! In 1639 he wrote in his commonplace book, “In moral evil much good may be mixed, and that with singular craft.”

This is all too apparent in the news of our day where we find our human depravity being displayed in all of our institutions. How can this be in a nation that was founded subsequent to the “Great Awakening”?

Jonathan Edwards, who was the most gifted theologian and philosopher ever to set foot on this continent, said it best in his work, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections.” It was written principally to describe the quenching of this amazing awakening of which Edwards was its chief preacher.

It was Edwards assertion that there is no greater importance of understanding than this: “What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?” He goes on to say that, “Though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another.” With the number of Christian Denomination now surpassing 40,000 it is not hard to see that the saints are separated by a distance spiritually in a similar manner as the stars within the multitude of galaxies in the universe.

“It is a hard thing to be a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraordinary appearances, and to rejoice much in it; and at the same time to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has been bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly but fully persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom till we do so. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particular saint.”

From Milton to Edwards we see the threat is true Christianity mixed with the counterfeit not discerned and distinguished by which Satan has enjoyed his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ (Edwards, paraphrase mine). The magnificent ramparts of the city of Mansoul become of none effect when the “Eye-gate, Ear-gate, Mouth-gate, Feel-gate, and Nose-gate are left open to the enemy as he approaches in a form over which the inhabitants think they have dominion (The Holy War, John Bunyan). The personification of virtues are thus extinguished in Bunyan’s allegory and Mansoul lay shipwrecked and lying in a pool of blood from self-inflicted wounds unable to be extricated (Edwards, Paraphrase mine).

It is fair to say that Jesus requires us to follow Him, not just attend Him. The former leads to “experiences of saving affections,” while the latter results in “those manifold fair shows and glistering appearances, by which they are counterfeited.” (Edwards)

Perhaps it is almost prophetic that Easter will be celebrated on April 1st this year. For it is written of a time when even the saints will be deceived. May we find this as an opportunity to ensure that we are on the “highway of holiness” that Isaiah described which is Christ Himself. For He said, “I AM the High Way, the truth and he life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.”

This immutable Christ is still available to us at the ground level. We need not try to climb into a second-story window, that is to “bring Christ down.” Nor do we have to dig a tunnel under a wall, that is to “raise Christ up” (Calvary Road, Roy Hession. Illusion to Romans 10:6-8). The foot of the Calvary Cross, according to Hession, is the place where the proud stiff-necked “I” is made to bow low until it becomes a “C”! This is what Andrew Murray call “Absolute Surrender.” This then is what fueled the Great Awakening and birthed a nation of which Tocqueville spoke: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

This Easter let us not just go through the motions of attendance but rather prepare our hearts with the cloak of thankfulness for this so great a salvation! For Christ has risen just as He said! Death could not hold Him in the grave. By his vicarious sacrifice He has purchased us out of the market place of sin and delivered us from the sinful travails of bondage into the liberty of His kingdom.

May we rejoice with renewed exuberance as we ponder the immensity of the Grace that saved us and extol with our loudest voice joined in unity that Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed! Now Go and tell somebody what Jesus did for you!

The Best of All Good Resolutions

The Best of All Good Resolutions


“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned”—Luke 15:18

I DO not know what day of what month of what year the prodigal said that, but I do know that for him it was the real New Year—the real beginning of life. The children of Israel sacrificed the Passover in Egypt on the fourteenth day of the month of Abib, but they were made to revise their whole chronology because of that event.

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months:”—Exodus 12:2

No man who is wrong with God is really living. In the deepest of all senses, he is like the corpse in the death ceremony of an ancient people, who dressed in costliest attire the body of a dead friend and carried it about to their houses, seating it at their tables before the finest feasts.  The cheeks were painted to represent life and the most flattering compliments were paid to what, after all, was a mere dead body.

Let us consider together this good resolution of the boy in the old parable.  It was for him the best of good resolutions, because it began with the most important fact in his life—the fact of his father.  And the most important fact in the whole universe to each one of us is the fact of God.  We are in God’s universe and we cannot get out of it.  God made it, God sustains it, God rules it.  It is all His.  Every acre of ground, every blade of grass, every one of the cattle upon earth’s thousand hills, every spring of water, every bird, every fish, every molecule of air—all are His.  He has never parted with His title to one of these things.  We are all tenants by sufferance.  We till God’s earth, breathe God’s air, sustain life upon His bounty.  We are absolute paupers, from king to peasant. T he next moment, the next breath are not ours.

Furthermore we all want to go to God’s heaven when we die.  There is no other heaven. Money can neither buy nor make heaven. The world, for whose opinion we care so much, has no heaven. Satan has no heaven.  The heavenly things which are available here and now—unselfishness, helpfulness, purity, high and noble thinking, clean living, love—these are all God’s.  Think then of the folly of living on wrong terms with God.  Think of the unspeakable unreason of supposing that anything in life can be really right, till we are right with God.

But who and what is God?  Creation is an answer to that question.  God is the Being who made this fair universe.  He it is, who made this wonderful earth for man, and man for this wonderful earth.  He it is who adorned the heavens and sprinkled them with stars.  He it is who painted the flowers.  And it is He who made us capable of love and all the blessed relationships of life.  That is one answer.

The Bible is another.  God is the God of the Scriptures.  The Bible is the most human book in the world, because it reveals God at work in human lives, and at last reveals Him in the terms of a human life.  What is God like?  He is like Jesus.

“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;”—John 14:9

And in all the Book of God there is no more alluring portrait of God than that painted by the Son of God in the parable of the prodigal son.

What is God like?  Like this:

“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”—Luke 15:20

“But the father said, to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”—Luke 15:22–24

We are all prodigal sons. The son in the parable committed his worst sin when he wished to be independent of his father. When he said:

“Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,”—Luke 15:12

his heart was already in the far country.  The riotous living and the wasting of his substance were but details and mere incidental consequences.  The Bible says that sin is anomia—lawlessness. When Isaiah says that

“We have turned every one to his own way;”—Isaiah 53:6

it does not seem like a very serious charge.  But it is the sum of all iniquities.  Self-will is the Pandora’s box out of which come all the evils of earth.  We have treated God evilly.  The meanness of sin is that it robs a loving God of the love and fellowship which are his due.

When David said of his greatest sin,

“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,”—Psalms 51:4

we do not at once see the truth of his bitter words.  First of all, we think that his sins were against the husband whom he had wronged and the wife whom he had degraded.  But whose creatures were these?  They were God’s; and every sin against a fellow man is tenfold more a sin against God.

This prodigal about whom we are thinking, doubtless did many a kindly act in the far country.  It is the way of prodigals to be generous and to wish all men well.  You and I have done that.  We have had kindly thoughts and good intentions.  We have wished other prodigals happy new years with all sincerity, and because of this, have thought well of ourselves.

On one of Mr. Moody’s western campaigns, he was followed from city to city by an aged and broken man of venerable appearance who, in each place, asked the privilege of saying a word to the great congregations.  He would stand up and in a quavering voice say:  “Is my son George in this place?  George, are you here?  O, George, if you are here, come to me.  Your old father loves you, George, and can’t die content without seeing you again.”  Then the old man would sit down.  One night a young man came to Mr. Moody’s hotel and asked to see him.  It was George.  When the great evangelist asked him how he could find it in his heart to treat a loving father with such cruel neglect, the young man said:  “I never thought of him; but Mr. Moody, I have tried to do all the good I could.”  That is a good picture of a self-righteous prodigal in the far country.  He was generous with his money and with his words—yet every moment of his infamous life he was trampling on the heart of a loving father.

The other day, I met a foul old sot whom I knew as a beautiful boy and later as a handsome and high-spirited young man.  But he was no more in the far country when I met him in his degradation than he was when I parted with him in the pride of his youth. The far country is anywhere away from God.

Did you ever think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as an unfinished story?  Why have we no account of the boy after he came back to his father’s house?  Perhaps you have all felt what some forgotten poet has expressed so well:

“You have told me, preacher, the story sweet,
How the prodigal son, bereft of pride,
Left the far country with wayworn feet
And came back to his father’s house to bide.

You have told of the father, unfailing, fond,
You have told of the ring, of the robe, of the feast;
Of the long night’s revel all care beyond,
Till the Syrian stars grew pale in the East.

But, O, could I more of the tale invoke,
I would pray you tell me, thou man of God,
How it fared with the boy when the morning broke,
And his feet the old pathway of duty trod?

Did he never forget that he ate with swine
And suffered sore ’neath far-off skies,
Remembering only the nights of wine,
And the light in the dancing woman’s eyes?

Did he never go frantic with equal days,
And long to the wide world prisoner-wise,
Till a host rose up from the banished ways
To beckon, and beckon, with gleaming eyes?

If thus he fared, as we fare today,
O speak, that the world may sing with joy,
And tell how the father could banish away
The beckoning hands from before his boy.”

Ah, that is why the story seems unfinished.  When we have really come back from the far country when through faith in Jesus Christ we have come to God and have found Him, through the new birth our Father,—a new story begins, and it takes a eternity to tell it.

There is a way from the far country to the Father arms.  The actual journey of the prodigal may have been across forbidding mountains and along caravan trails over blinding deserts.  No such obstacles intervene between the returning sinner and God.  The blessed Christ from whose lips fell the tender story about which we have been thinking, also said:

“I am the way,”—John 14:6

When we come to Christ we find the Father, for Christ and the Father are one. And the way to come to Christ is to believe on Him; to put our whole life into His care and ordering, knowing that He has put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and that all who come unto the Father by Him can never more lose the way.  Let us say:

“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned”—Luke 15:18

“but know Thou hast saved me through Jesus Christ.”

Scofield, C. I. (1922). In Many Pulpits with Dr. C. I. Scofield (p. 9). New York; London; Toronto; Melbourne; Bombay: Oxford University Press. (Public Domain)

That They Might Have My Joy

That They Might Have My Joy

“That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”—John 17:13.

We have here two simple ideas—Jesus Christ filled with joy; ourselves privileged to partake of that joy until we also are filled.

Pleasure, Happiness, Joyousness

It is not uncharitable to say that many people in this world are content if they may be merry; they seek nothing higher from life than pleasure. If they may put far from them the burden and sorrow and care of this world, and forget its grief in a passing jest, they are content. There is a place in life for pleasure, but pleasure is never the object of lives which are noble.

Better than this and the pursuit, I would fain believe, of a far great number, is happiness. Happiness is an infinitely higher thing than pleasure, and the desire of God that His children should be happy is abundantly revealed in the Bible. The Beatitudes are instructions in the art of happiness.

But our text speaks of something which is better even than happiness, and that is joyousness. Joyousness, in the scriptural sense of the word, might be defined as happiness overflowing. Happiness too full to be used up in mere personal satisfaction; happiness all alive and aglow. If happiness might be compared to a tranquil lake, embosomed in protecting hills, joyousness would be like the outflowing of a brimming river.

It may, then, help us just at the beginning, to fix in our minds these three things which stand over against sorrow or pain; pleasure, which exists for and ends upon self; happiness, a deeper, nobler thing, and joyousness, which is the overflow of happiness.

The Joy of Jesus Christ

First of all, Jesus speaks of His own joy. Now, we do not habitually think of Jesus Christ as joyful. Long before His manifestation, the Prophet Isaiah had said of Him that He would be a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And so it was. But observe: A man of sorrows, not a man of melancholy. We can not think of Jesus Christ as moping through life; we can not think of Him as turning fretfully toward His burden, as thinking of His wrongs—His throne denied Him, His people rejected Him, His poverty and humiliation in a world which He had made. Just once, in Gethsemane, He speaks of His sorrows: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” But habitually He speaks of His joyfulness. That, then, is the paradox of His life. “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”; but bearing these sorrows, as it were, upon the deep floodtide of a mighty joy. And the joy was more than the sorrow.

Let us try to understand this paradox—an exultant and joyful man of sorrows.

Have you ever observed that the nearer Jesus came to the cross, the more He spoke of His joy? You do not find that He testified of His joyfulness much in the earlier part of His ministry, and I believe not once in that which is called “the year of public favor,” when the multitudes thronged Him, and it seemed as if the nation would really receive Him as the long-expected Messiah. But as He went on, drawing ever nearer to Calvary, and as the burden of the shame and sorrow and sin of the world began to gather in awful darkness over Him, He speaks ever more and more of His joyfulness, and in His closing admonitions and instruction there is a constant reference to the deep joy which filled His being. Just when the tide of sorrow is rising highest, the joyfulness seems to rise above it and triumph over it.

The Paradox Solved

If we ponder that, and connect it with the prophet’s explanation of the sorrows of Jesus Christ, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” I think we shall be on the very verge of solving the paradox. In other words (and is it not very simple?), Jesus found His Supreme joy in bearing the sorrows of others. He was not joyful in spite of having to bear the sorrow and burden of the world; He was joyful because He could bear it. It was the fountain head, the very source, of His joy.

I think we can conceive of that, if we are willing to separate ourselves for a moment from that shrinking which we all feel at the thought of pain and sorrow, and get upon the nobler side of our own souls. We can understand that such a being as Jesus would rejoice, with joy unspeakable, that He could do that thing. We can understand how, when looking down upon this world, with its sin and misery and want and woe, and mountainous iniquity, there would be ever in His heart the exultant joy at knowing that it was He who, in due time, should come down here and get underneath all that unspeakable guilt and bear it away from man through the cross.

Just as Jean Valjean, in Victor Hugo’s great story, was happy under the cart; it hurt him cruelly, but he lifted it away from the old man who was being crushed by it. So there was a joy in the very pain which it cost to do it—the joy of vicarious suffering; the joy of getting underneath all that was bearing down the heart of humanity, and lifting it forever away—this was the joy of the Lord.

You know how easily, after all, poor as this world is in nobleness, this truth finds illustration. Surely, Winkelreid must have felt something of that joy when he gathered the spears of the enemy into his own bosom so that his comrades might break the hostile line and make way for liberty. There must have been in him an ineffable joy as he felt those spears crushing into his heart and his life going out. There was suffering, but it was a joyful thing so to die.

I think that pilot, who kept his burning boat against the shore until every passenger was safe, though his own hands burnt to a crisp as he held the wheel, must have had a joy greater than the pain. This is a very high kind of joy, but we may realize it after all, may we not?

I think that captain who stood upon the deck of the sinking ship and gave his place in the last boat to a poor stowaway, who had no kind of claim upon him, and saw him pass on into safety while he went down with the ship, drank deeply of this joy of vicarious suffering.

Sources of the Savior’s Joy

Then there was another source of the joy of the Lord. He rejoiced in the will of God. Will you consider that for a moment? What a joyful thing it is that we are not left alone in this world! What a joyful thing to know that one is not the sport of circumstance and of accident; not orphaned amid all these destructive forces that move in upon us, as children of God here in the world; to know, in short, that over it all there is the resistless will of God. Things are not happening to the children of God. We are moving upon an appointed course, and the joys and sorrows of our life are all appointed and portioned out, molding and shaping us for better things. The joy of doing and enduring the will of God, and of suffering that others might not suffer—here are the abiding sources of our Lord’s joy.

In the Hebrews we are told of another source of joy which sustained our Lord in the supreme agony of the cross—“the joy that was set before him.” The joy of the final consummation; the joy of anticipation when He should see the eternal results of His suffering; all this was present with Him helpfully in the hour of agony. That is what we need to see. Beyond question we do not live enough in the inspiration of the compensations and balancings of heaven.

The Lord’s Joy, Our Joy

Turn now for a moment to the other thought—the human side of it.

“That my joy might be fulfilled in them.”

But how shall we have the joy of the Lord? Evidently there is here a call to the unselfish heights? If we are to share the joy of the Lord we must be willing to share that out of which His joy sprang. We must rejoice if we can bear away some sorrow from another heart, some burden from another life, even if it means sorrow and burden to us.

We must learn to rejoice as we never yet have learned to rejoice, in the salvation of the lost. We read that there is “joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

We must stop regretting that “only ten were converted,” and, like the angels, rejoice over one sinner that repenteth.

Then we must turn our thoughts more toward the future, toward the heavenly rest, the heavenly activities and the eternal joys which are there. I repeat, it is a trumpet call. It costs something to have the joy of the Lord. Salvation, with its joy, is a free gift, but the joy of the Lord is to be had only by entering into fellowship with the Lord in His life plan; to be, in the measure of our capacity, Christ’s in the world; to get with Him into the joy of suffering; into the joy of the great sweet will of God; into the expectation of the things to come.

It was a great thing for humanity when that strange being, Peter the Hermit, went through Europe preaching the Crusades. It was a call to those barons and knights to cease petty neighborhood wars; to come away from their pompous and empty way of life; from tilting in the castle yard, and feasting in the castle hall, to go forth to do an unselfish thing.

Is not the sorrow and pain of human life a call to a perpetual crusade, a call up out of the petty things in which our lives are frittered away, into sympathy and helpfulness? And is not the sin of the world a call to go out upon Christ’s own great enterprise of salvation into the uttermost parts of the earth? It seems to me there is something in this that ought to lay hold of the noble side of us, that ought to redeem us from the meanness of self-pleasing and to lift us up into a glad participation in our Lord’s sufferings and also in His unspeakable joy.

Romans 8:24 - Better in Hope

Romans 8:24 - Better in Hope

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? (NASB)

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (KJV)

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. (NLT)

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? (NET)

Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. (NLT96)

No matter how you slice it, we have hope of the future when we shall be with Christ. Perhaps the New Living Translation, First Edition (NLT96) captures the language for modern thought. Deliverance received is hope now for our future estate. We see now (as through a dark glass) but a little light. However, the light of future glory is nevertheless seen. It is the lamp of hope burning in our hearts, a gift of God's presence.

For we are saved by hope - It cannot be said that hope is the instrument or condition of salvation. Most commentators have understood this as meaning that we have as yet attained salvation only in hope; that we have arrived only to a condition in which we hope for future glory; and that we are in an attitude of waiting for the future state of adoption. But perhaps the word “saved” may mean here simply, we are kept, preserved, sustained in our trials, by hope. Our trials are so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. This is the proper meaning of the word “save”; and it is often thus used in the New Testament; see Matthew 8:25; Matthew 16:25; Mark 3:4; Mark 8:35. The Syriac renders this, “For by hope we live.” The Arabic, “We are preserved by hope.” Hope thus sustains the soul in the midst of trims, and enables it to bear them without a complaint. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Mat 8:25 The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" (NET)

Mat 16:25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. (NET)

Mar 3:4 Then He turned to His critics and asked, "Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?" But they wouldn't answer Him. (NET)

Mar 8:35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. (NET)

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (NET)

Col 1:5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel (NET)

1Ti 1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, (NET)

Heb 6:18 so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. (NET)

Romans 8:23 - Beauty Fades and Loveliness Decays

Romans 8:23 - Beauty Fades and Loveliness Decays

The world is one where beauty fades and loveliness decays; it is a dying world; but it is waiting for its liberation from all this and the coming of the state of glory. (William Barclay)

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (NASB)

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (KJV)

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. (NLT)

Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (NET)

It is the longing of my heart to be with Christ. This is an attitude shared among all those who have been redeemed by His blood. Is it not considered part of love to be with Him who first loved us? Though we now experience the foretaste of what is to come by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we long for the fruition of the promise and are assured our hope will not lead to disappointment.

Rom 8:23
The first fruits (tēn aparchēn). Old and common metaphor.
Of the Spirit (tou pneumatos). The genitive of apposition. The Holy Spirit came on the great Pentecost and his blessings continue as seen in the “gifts” in 1 Corinthians 12-14, in the moral and spiritual gifts of Galatians 5:22. And greater ones are to come (1Corinthians 15:44.). (WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson)

Rom 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. (NLT)

2Co 5:5 God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit. (NLT)

Eph 1:14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him. (NLT)

Eph 5:9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (NLT)


Romans 8:22 - The Whole Creation Groaning

Romans 8:22 — The Whole Creation Groans

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now — If for man’s sake alone the earth was cursed, it cannot surprise us that it should share in his recovery. (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (NASB

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (KJV)

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (NLT)

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. (NET)

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (ESV)

What a sad state of affairs. The condition of everything is bondage and corruption. Could we not understand that the fall from the garden changed all. The future redemption will again be for all. Therefore, all groans. For us who belong to Christ we have our earnest expectation of His return and the new heave and new earth that will not be afflicted nor in need of groaning but rather praise to the glory of the Son.

However, this groaning is not a useless thing: Paul compared it to a woman in travail. There is pain, but the pain will end when the child is delivered. One day creation will be delivered, and the groaning creation will become a glorious creation! The believer does not focus on today’s sufferings; he looks forward to tomorrow’s glory (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:15–18). Today’s groaning bondage will be exchanged for tomorrow’s glorious liberty!
(The Bible exposition commentary)


He had said (Romans 8:20-21) that the condition of a Christian was one of bondage and servitude. It was an imperfect, humiliating state; one attended with pain, sorrow, and death. This might be regarded as a melancholy description, and the question might arise, why was not the Christian at once delivered from this? The answer is in this verse. “It is just the condition of everything.” It is the manifest principle on which God governs the world. The whole creation is in just this condition; and we are not to be surprised, therefore, if it is the condition of the believer. It is a part of the universal system of things; it accords with everything we see; and we are not to be surprised that the church exists on the same principle of administration; in a state of bondage, imperfection, sorrow, and sighing for deliverance. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which the creature has contracted by the fall of man: the creation is sullied and stained, much of the beauty of the world gone. There is an enmity of one creature to another; they are all subject to continual alteration and decay of the individuals, liable to the strokes of God's judgments upon man. When the world was drowned, and almost all the creatures in it, surely then it was subject to vanity indeed. The whole species of creatures is designed for, and is hastening to, a total dissolution by fire. And it is not the least part of their vanity and bondage that they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. (Matthew Henry)

2Pe 3:13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness. (NLT)

Jer 12:11 They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares. (NLT)

 

Romans 8:21 - Set Free From the Bondage of Decay

Romans 8:21 - Set Free From the Bondage of Decay

Romans 8:21 — Set Free From the Bondage of Decay

Rom 8:21
The creation itself (autē hē ktisis). It is the hope of creation, not of the Creator. Nature “possesses in the feeling of her unmerited suffering a sort of presentiment of her future deliverance” (Godet). (WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson)

That the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (NASB)

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (KJV)

The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. (NLT)

That the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God's children. (NET)

From bondage to liberty. Herein lies the true concept of freedom. We often consider our freedom as an ability to do. But the Scriptural freedom is liberty, the deliverance from the oppression and bondage of corruption. The world system is a system held in corruption and it can and does entrap those who would hear the call her sirens. But the promise kept, the prayer answered, is that Christ in us is greater than the world and greater still than our fallen desires. This is not intestinal fortitude, nor anything else that can be conjured up from the flesh or the latent power of the soul. Rather it is the true and eternal God flowing like a river of living water through the valley of dry bones that moment by moment brings us back to life.

And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. (2 Peter 1:4 NLT)

From the bondage of corruption - This does not differ materially from “vanity,” Romans 8:20. It implies that this state is not a willing state, or not a condition of choice, but is one of bondage or servitude (see Romans 7:15-24); and that it is a corrupt, imperfect, perishing condition. It is one that leads to sin, and temptation, and conflict and anxiety. It is a condition often which destroys the peace, mars the happiness, dims the hope, enfeebles the faith, and weakens the love of Christians, and this is called the bondage of corruption. It is also one in which temporal death has dominion, and in the bondage of which, believers as well as unbelievers shall be held. Yet from all this bondage the children of God shall be delivered. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

The glorious liberty - Greek, The freedom of the glory of the children of God. This is,
(1) “Liberty.” It is freedom from the bondage under which the Christian groans. It will be freedom from sin; from corruption; from evil desires; from calamity; from death. The highest “freedom “in the universe is that which is enjoyed in heaven, where the redeemed are under the sovereignty and government of their king, but where they do that, and that only, which they desire. All is slavery but the service of God; all is bondage but that law which accords with the supreme wish of the soul, and where commands accord with the perfect desires of the heart.
(2) this is glorious liberty. It is encompassed with majesty; attended with honor; crowned with splendor. The heavenly world is often described as a state of glory; Note, Romans 2:10. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:15-24 NLT)

But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. (Romans 2:10 NLT)

Romans 8:20 - Creation and the Curse

Romans 8:20 - Creation and the Curse

Romans 8:20 — Creation and the Curse

Rom 8:20  For the creature was made subject to (x) vanity, not (y) willingly, but by reason (z) of him who hath subjected [the same] in (a) hope,

(x) Is subject to a vanishing and disappearing state.

(y) Not by their natural inclination.

(z) That they should obey the Creator's commandment, whom it pleased to show by their sickly state, how greatly he was displeased with man.

(a) God would not make the world subject to be cursed forever because of the sin of man, but gave it hope that it would be restored. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope (NASB)

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (KJV)

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, (NLT)

 For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly but because of God who subjected it — in hope (NET)

We must be mindful of the literal genesis of our current estate.  When our parents fell from their paradisiacal estate, the whole creation became subject to the fall as well.  We see in the Scriptural account a host of first words, "thorns, thistles, sweat, ect., that are indicative of the pain cause by sin and the judgment justly delivered.  But we have hope that this will not remain forever but for a season.  So let us be busy making sure that none should perish.  Let us be swift of foot delivering the words of life by our words, by our actions and by the witness of our whole life.  Lives that have been delivered from the marketplace of sin into the glorious resurrection light.  Let us be the purveyors of this hope to a lost and dying world.  

The word “vanity” here ματαιότης  mataiotēs is descriptive of the present condition of the Christian, as frail and dying; as exposed to trials, temptations, and cares; as in the midst of conflicts, and of a world which may be emphatically pronounced vanity. More or less, the Christian is brought under this influence; his joys are marred; his peace is discomposed; his affections wander; his life is a life of vanity and vexation. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Rom 8:20 
For the creature was made subject to vanity - The Gentile world were subject to vanity of mind; but how? not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same. May we not say, it became vain willingly, but was made subject to vanity unwillingly? For, let us recur to the origin of Gentilism, the confusion of languages, by reason of the attempt to build the tower of Babel; and though there are some passages in the gloss of the Targumists upon this matter that are sufficiently ridiculous, yet as to their scope and design they are worthy of notice. “They said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, and let its head reach unto the top of heaven; and let us make a house of worship in the top of it; and let us put a sword in his hand that he may wage war for us against our enemies, before we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” It is an ancient tradition among the Jews, that this tower was built on an idolatrous account. The confusion of tongues, by which true religion was lost in the world, is a proof that the builders of this tower sinned against God in the highest degree. They were inclined to vanity, i.e. idolatry, Willingly; but they were subjected to vanity Unwillingly; for this proceeded from the just indignation and vengeance of God. From this time the world lay under heathenism till the bringing in of the Gospel, upwards of 2000 years after. See Lightfoot. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Rom 8:20  For the creature was made subject to vanity,.... This designs the vanity and emptiness of the minds of the Gentiles, who were without God and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, without the law and Gospel, and grace of God; also the vain conceits they had of themselves, of their wisdom, knowledge, learning, and eloquence; likewise their vain philosophy, particularly their gross idolatry, their polytheism, or worshipping of many gods; together with their divers lusts and vices, to which they were addicted, to such a degree, that they might be truly said to be made subject thereunto, being under the government of these things, slaves unto them, and in such subjection, as that they could not deliver themselves from it. (Dr. John Gill)

Was made subject to vanity, not willingly — that is, through no natural principle of decay. The apostle, personifying creation, represents it as only submitting to the vanity with which it was smitten, on man’s account, in obedience to that superior power which had mysteriously linked its destinies with man’s. (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has come upon the creature by the fall of man. There is an enmity of one creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. (Matthew Henry)

For the creature was made subject to vanity. The creation was subjected to vanity; i. e., became empty; lost its original significance. The Greek word rendered "vanity," means "to seek without finding." God placed "the creation" under man's dominion, and when man fell the whole was subject to vanity by God. (The People's New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson)

To vanity (tēi mataiotēti). Dative case. Rare and late word, common in lxx. From mataios, empty, vain. Eph 4:17; 2Pe 2:18. (WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson)

Eph 4:17  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (KJV)

2Pe 2:18  For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. (KJV)

Gen 3:17-19  And to the man He said, "Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.  By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return." (NLT)

Gen 6:13  So God said to Noah, "I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! (NLT)

Job 12:6-12  But robbers are left in peace, and those who provoke God live in safety—though God keeps them in His power.  "Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.  Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you.  For they all know that my disaster has come from the hand of the LORD.  For the life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being. (NLT)

Isa 24:5-6  The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God's instructions, violated His laws, and broken His everlasting covenant.  Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin.  They are destroyed by fire, and only a few are left alive. (NLT)

Jer 12:4  How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. For the people have said, "The LORD doesn't see what's ahead for us!" (NLT)

Jer 12:11  They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares. (NLT)

Jer 14:5-6  Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass in the field.  The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass, but there is none to be found." (NLT)

Hos 4:3  That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing. (NLT)

Joe 1:18  How the animals moan with hunger! The herds of cattle wander about confused, because they have no pasture. The flocks of sheep and goats bleat in misery. (NLT)

Romans 8:19 - Eager Expectation or Annexed to Glory

Romans 8:19 - Eager Expectation or Annexed to Glory

Romans 8:19 — Eager Expectation or Annexed to Glory

In Rom 8:19 Paul uses a wonderful word for eager expectation.  It is apokaradokia (<G603>) and it describes the attitude of a man who scans the horizon with head thrust forward, eagerly searching the distance for the first signs of the dawn break of glory. (William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (NASB)

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (KJV)

For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. (NLT)

For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. (NET)

I suppose it is a bit like the architect wanting to see the long awaited completion of an intricate project.  But here it is the creation (project) itself that longs to see its destiny.  We are that project that waits in hope for the day when we will see with our own eyes what the Lord of Glory has prepared for us because of His wondrous Grace.  The very thought makes my heart flutter.  So far it is above our current post paradisiacal estate where impurity, infirmity, and deformity rule the day and the headlines define the spot where even the saints have fallen into the ditch and sullied themselves by bathing in the filthy water of a lost and fallen world.  All the while the creation itself groans to be delivered from the agony.  Yet we in this modern age have little concept as to the great sufferings made manifest in ancient times where our forefathers in the faith were despised, rejected, counted as outcasts, and even slain (The People's New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson, paraphrase mine).  What then is the point to ponder?  Is your heart all a flutter in earnest expectation?  If not, confess your fallen estate (each day) and find your earnest expectation of glory awaiting you in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior and friend.

For the earnest expectation - ἀποκαραδοκία  apokaradokia. This word occurs only here and in Phil 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope,” etc. It properly denotes a state of earnest desire to see any object when the head is thrust forward; an intense anxiety; an ardent wish; and is thus well employed to denote the intense interest with which a Christian looks to his future inheritance. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

Php 1:20  For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. (NLT)

Earnest expectation (ἀποκαραδοκία)

Only here and Phil 1:20. From ἀπό away κάρα the head, δοκεῖν to watch. A watching with the head erect or outstretched. Hence a waiting in suspense. Ἀπό from, implies abstraction, the attention turned from other objects. The classical student will recall the watchman in the opening of Aeschylus' “Agamemnon,” awaiting the beacon which is to announce the capture of Troy. (Vincent's Word Studies, Marvin R. Vincent, D.D., Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature in Union Theological Seminary New York.)

He teaches us that there is an example of the patience, to which he had exhorted us, even in mute creatures. For, to omit various interpretations, I understand the passage to have this meaning — that there is no element and no part of the world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection. (John Calvin)

In these words the apostle describes a fourth illustrious branch of the happiness of believers, namely, a title to the future glory. This is fitly annexed to our sonship; for as the adoption of sons entitles us to that glory, so the disposition of sons fits and prepares us for it. (Matthew Henry)

“The apostle, fired with the thought of the future glory of the saints, pours forth this splendid passage, in which he represents the whole creation groaning under its present degradation, and looking and longing for the revelation of this glory as the end and consummation of its existence” [Hodge]. (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

Isa 65:17  "Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. (NLT)

Act 3:21  For He must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through His holy prophets. (NLT)

2Pe 3:11-13  Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.  But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness. (NLT)

Rev 21:1-5  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."  And the One sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making everything new!" And then He said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." (NLT)

Mal 3:17-18  "They will be My people," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.  Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (NLT)

Mat 25:31-46 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?' "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!' "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn't feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit Me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?' "And He will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.' "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life." (NLT)

1Jn 3:2  Dear friends, we are already God's children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. (NLT)

Romans 8:18 - Suffering With Christ

Romans 8:18 - Suffering With Christ

Suffering With Christ

“True, we must suffer with Christ, if we would partake of His glory; but what of that? For if such sufferings are set over against the coming glory, they sink into insignificance.” (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (NASB)

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (KJV)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.  (NLT)

 For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. (NET)

To reckon or consider (logízomai) is the result of considered deliberation.  When put in the balance scales what we suffer in this life is not worthy to be compared with the future glory to be revealed.  Though the trials of life may seem all encompassing, they are temporary and do not last forever.  However, the future glory is eternal.

Rom 8:18  (20) For I (t) reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

That this glory which we look for surpasses a thousand times the misery of our afflictions.  (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

In the saints when they shall have received the inheritance which God bestows in Christ. The comforts of the saint in the midst of suffering are now given: (1) The hope of glory for which all creation, ruined by the Fall, is looking. (2) The present help of the Spirit. (3) The overruling providence of God.  (The People's New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson)

2Co 4:17-18  For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (NET)

1Pe 1:6-7  This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials.  Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold — gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away — and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NET)


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