Redemptive Suffering Re-creation

Romans

Redemptive Suffering Re-creation

October 17th, 1954 @ 7:30 PM

Romans 8:17-25

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 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. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 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. 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? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
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REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING: RE-CREATION

Dr.  W.  A.  Criswell

Romans 8:17-25

10-17-54     7:30 p.m.

 

In our preaching through the Word, we are in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, and this morning the message ended with the first half of the seventeenth verse.  We pick up this evening at the last half of the seventeenth verse and go through the twenty-fifth.  In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, the seventeenth through the twenty-fifth verse.  And now we read God’s Word:

 

If children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. 

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. 

For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the children of God. 

For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who had subjected the same in hope; 

Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 

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

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? 

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

[Romans 8:17-25]

 

The title of the message is Redemptive Suffering in the re-creation of the world.  For the world shall be re-created – all of it.  The firmament above, and the earth below, the fowls that fly, the fish that swim, the little creatures that creep, and the man who walks in the earth, the flower that buds, the tree that dies, the grass of the fields:  everything that God has made will be remade.  All that God has created will be re-created.  There shall be a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1]. 

That is the eternal, unwavering plan of Almighty God.  In these three verses, one can record, can read, the entire work of God in creation from the beginning to the ending.  In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, on the sixth day, at the conclusion of God’s work, the Bible says, "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very, very good" [Genesis 1:31]. 

The second verse is in this text, Romans 8:22: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." 

And the third verse, in the twenty-second of the Revelation, and the third of the twenty-second of the Revelation: "And there shall be no more curse" [Revelation 22:3]. 

That is the course of this entire creative work and purpose of God.  In the beginning it was perfect.  It was marred, but some day it will be perfect and unmarred again.  Those three verses are the past, and the present, and the future of God’s work in this created universe: what was, and what is, and what is to be – the perfection in the beginning that the man marred, and the punishment that he now bears, and the glorious hope toward which all of us now move. 

In the beginning, God saw all that He did, and it was very good [Genesis 1:31]; and the now, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now" [Romans 8:22]; and the glorious hope that is to come: "There will be a new heaven and a new earth.  And there will be no more curse" [Revelation 21:1; 22:3]. 

In that glorious scheme, in that magnificent, incomparably blessed plan of God, Paul here writes some marvelous things.  In the nineteenth verse, he says the whole creation is on tiptoe, waiting, expectant for the manifestation [Romans 8:19].  The Greek word there is apocalypse, and in many of your Bibles, many of these translations, you won’t find the last book in the Bible called "The Revelation." You’ll call it "The Apocalypse."  The apocalypse is the Greek word for "unveiling."  It is translated "revelation;" the apocalypse, the uncovering. 

The whole creation, Paul says, all of it is earnestly waiting, expecting, on tiptoe, for the unveiling, the uncovering, the apocalypse of the children of God. 

"For the whole creation," Paul says, "was made subject to vanity," to futility, to unproductiveness, "not willingly," not of itself.  It was cursed for man’s sake.  God never made the ground to bear thorns or thistles.  God never intended for there to be a Sahara Desert to blight this earth, this globe.  God intended for the whole creation to be like the Garden of Eden.  But the creation was made subject to futility, to unproductiveness, to vanity by reason not of itself, but it was cursed for man’s sake.  "The whole creation was made subject to vanity and futility, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope."  God did it.  God cursed the ground on account of the man [Genesis 3:17-19]; but He did it with the infinite goal – that marvelous consummation that reaches out through the ages and some day shall bring us a better heaven and a better earth [Romans 8:20-21]. 

"Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" [Romans 8:21].  All of the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.  There’ll be a day when the soil will no longer bring forth thorns and thistles.  There’ll be a day when the animals of the field will no longer suffer and die.  Every time you pass down the sidewalk and there’s a little creature that’s been stepped on and mashed out and flattened, and it’s dead.  Every time you drive down the highway and there’s an opossum, or there’s an armadillo, and a car’s run over it, or a little squirrel out there on the street where we live; everywhere in this world that you see the carcass of a poor earth creature, it’s but a reminder of the bondage of corruption into which this earth has been plunged because of man’s sins. 

God never made a creature to die.  God never made a creature to have a fang, or a tooth, or a claw.  God never made a creature to be poisonous.  He never meant for the rattlesnake or the asp.  These things were brought in the world by virtue of the sin and the transgression of the man who disobeyed the commandment of Almighty God [Genesis 3:14-15].  And the entire creation is in the bondage of corruption, and the death that we see everywhere is a great "amen" to that terrible curse that fell upon our world. 

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together."  That looks forward to the birth.  Whenever you have somebody travailing, that word is used altogether, either figuratively or actually, with regard to birth.  "And we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" [Romans 8:22]; travailing.  There’s to be a new day.  There’s to be a new day for all of this world – not just for the humanity, not just for the people – but for all of God’s creation.  All of God’s world is to be delivered out of the bondage of corruption. 

I can’t say this, that it’ll be exactly like this, but all I can say is that God’s Book looks that way.  It turns that way.  It moves in that way.  The bird that dies, the bird’ll live again.  The animal that dies, the animal will live again.  The insect that dies, it will live again.  All of creation will be liberated out of bondage; and then it won’t have a sting in it, and it won’t have asp bite in it, and it won’t have a cockatrice’s poison in it.  It won’t have a fang in it or a claw, but it’ll be perfect like God intended for it to be. 

Do you ever look at the butterfly?  Sometimes they are the most gorgeous creatures.  God meant all of his little insects to be beautiful like those butterflies – even a snake.  Did you ever see the marvelous coloring of a snake?  God created that serpent in the Garden of Eden.  It was a perfect animal [Ezekiel 28:12-16], and some of its beauty can still be seen in those configurated colors that sometimes glorify the body of that animal of the dust.  It’s because it was cursed that it crawls on its belly and eats dust all of the days of its life [Genesis 3:14-15].  But God never intended that, and some day there will be the re-making of this whole universe:  and the birds will be beautiful and perfect; and God’s insects will fly like beautiful butterflies; and everything will be just as the hand of God could make it; and behold, it will be very, very good. 

When we go to heaven, we’re not going to be up there by ourselves, lonesome like, everything gone.  You’re going to have trees there.  The trees will be re-made.  They won’t die.  They won’t shed their leaves.  The leaves are for the healing of the people; and it bears fruit not just in the autumn when the apples are ripe, not just in the early part of the summer when – what gets ripe?  Cherries?  When the cherries get ripe.  Not just in the winter when something else gets ripe, but they will ripen all the year roundThe trees will be like God intended for His trees to be, bearing fruit every month.  And the rivers won’t overflow their banks, and we won’t have any Hazels and Carols [hurricanes in 1954] knocking at our shores.  But it’ll be perfect.  Everything will be just as God intended it [Revelation 22:1-2]. 

Now, we’re in the bondage of corruption, but we travail in pain, looking toward the new creation.  "Not only they," not only all creation suffers, "but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, namely, the redemption of our bodies" [Romans 8:23]. 

Isn’t that a funny thing?  Isn’t that a strange thing?  The Lord God began with a man’s body – with this house of clay in which he lives and tabernacles.  God began with a body, and God ends with our bodies – the re-created, immortalized, glorified body in which we live. 

I was preaching one day, and I was preaching in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke.  I was preaching on that passage where Jesus said, "You are frightened as though you were looking at a spirit.  I’m not a spirit.  Handle Me and see.  For a spirit hath not flesh and bones such as ye see Me have."  And He said, "Have you here any meat?"  And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and of an honeycomb, and He ate before them [Luke 24:37-43].  And in the passage in John, the same experience: "Come and put your hand, put your finger in the nail print in My hand, and thrust your hand into My side – that it is I Myself" [John 20:27].

That’s what I was preaching.  I was preaching that in the resurrection, in the new world, out there in glory in heaven, that heaven is a place and has to be a place because a body has to be in a place.  You might put five thousand spirits on the point of that little doohickey there.  I don’t know how many spirits you can put right there on that doohickey.  But I know this: you can’t put bodies on that thing.  A body has to have space, and Jesus has a body.  He was resurrected from the dead in the body in which He lived in the days of His flesh, and we shall be resurrected like him [1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 35-53; 1 John 3:2].  You’ll be you, and I’ll be I.  Only you’ll be better, and I ought to be and will be, I pray, by God’s grace shall be – all of us, all of us, re-created. 

Well that’s what I was preaching, and there was a somebody there – there was a somebody there from another faith and another religion.  And in that faith and in that religion, they say mind is everything; and that when you’re sick, you know, you just got a crinkle in your mind, you’re not really sick; and that you don’t die, you just think you die; and that you don’t have body; and you don’t have materiality: "Oh, that’s just thinking," you know.  And it’s their religion. 

Well somebody was there in that religion and listening to me preach; and when they went out, they were very, very disgusted.  And they said to the family that brought them – did this once – that one said, "I never heard such a crass material preacher.  Never.  Why," said that one, "these things are great spiritual truths.  We’re not going to have any materialities.  We’re not going to have any bodies.  We’re not going to have any of this of the earth, or of time, or of tide.  But over there all of it’s going to be spirits; all of it’s going to be mind; and all of it’s going to be thought; and all of it’s going to be intelligence." 

Well, if that’s what it is, I’m not interested in going there!  I don’t want to live the rest of eternity with just a bunch of spirits, disembodied spirits.  Scares me to death just to think about it.  I don’t even relish the idea.  Don’t even like it.  Don’t even like it. 

And I’m not the only one.  Paul doesn’t like that either.  In the Second Corinthian letter and the fifth chapter, the apostle Paul writes saying how glory is going to be that when we – "when this earthly house is dissolved, we have another house, one made with our God, eternal in the heaven.  For in this one we groan" [2 Corinthians 5:1-2].  Just like he says here: "For we ourselves who are in this house, we groan within ourselves waiting for the redemption of our bodies" [Romans 8:23]. 

In the fifth chapter of the Second Corinthian letter, Paul is saying: "Not that we would be unclothed," not that we would be naked; that is, not that we want to be a disembodied spirit [2 Corinthians 5:3].  Nobody who has any intelligence, or religion, or knows the Book would look forward to a disembodiment.  Paul says, "Not that we would be disembodied, unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life" [2 Corinthians 5:4]. 

Paul is saying there [that] what we look forward to is a new body, a new house, a new tabernacle – one that doesn’t grow old; one for which our hair doesn’t turn gray, and our hair doesn’t turn loose; a perfect body – one that your eyes stay good; one that your limbs stay strong; one in which you don’t grow old, but you’re always are like God intended for us to be.   That’s what we want, and that’s what I look forward to. 

I’d like to be handsome, wouldn’t you?  Oh, think of it!  Well, brother, I’m going to be handsome some of these days, some of these days.  And wouldn’t you like to be pretty?  Don’t have to go to the beauty parlor – just made that way and stay that way.  Get a permanent and it lasts all eternity.  Think of that.  Think of that.  Why, it’s just glorious.  It’s wonderful, and that’s what God’s Book says. 

God’s Book has nothing about disembodiment.  Could I say it like this?  The Holy Scriptures, God’s Book, abhors disembodiment like nature abhors a vacuum.  Nature cannot bear a vacuum.  It rushes to fill it up.  So with this holy revelation.  The Book of God cannot bear disembodiment.  God’s Word cannot bear the death of the body and the liberation of the spirit, and the spirit just stay a spirit.  No, sir.  Jesus said, "And the third day, I shall rise again; the third day, live again.  The third day, I shall be raised incorruptible," and He was [Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27-28; Mark 15-16; Luke 9:22, 18:33, 24:7, 21, 46; 23-24; John 19-21].  And He is, and He has a body, and He’s in glory; and some day, we’re going to be raised.  We’re going to be raised incorruptible [1 Corinthians 15:50-57; Philippians 3:21].  We shall have a body, and the whole creation shall be re-made with us. 

What a glorious prospect!  "For we are saved by hope?"  No!  For we are saved unto this hope.  We are saved into this state of hope.  We live as Christian people in this hope.  "Now hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" [Romans 8:24]  We don’t see it yet.  We’re still dying.  We’re still suffering.  We’re still in this body.  We groan in this house in which we live.  "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" [Romans 8:25].  It’s coming.  Some of these glorious, marvelous days, it’s coming. 

Now, modern materialism and atheistic infidelity look down through the years that lie ahead and all they can see, all they can know, all they can discover is just death, night, darkness, the end; that’s all.  When they think of us, mankind – crass materialism, blind infidelity – all they can see and know is just that the man is a pawn in the hand of forces he cannot resist.  We’re just a prey before powers that are dumb, and inexorable, and impersonal, and passionless.  We’re just so many automata, slaves, the product of the caprice of circumstance and heredity.  That’s all; that’s all. 

But to the Christian, to the man of God, to the one who believes the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, in all of this vast created earth and its history and its travail and pain, in it all God has an infinite and a glorious plan. 

Now, may I speak of that plan as Paul has presented it here?  "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For we are the children of God, joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" [Romans 8:18, 17].  And then the go back: "For the creation was made subject to vanity, to futility, to death.  Not willingly, not of itself, but by reason of God who subjected the same in hope" [Romans 8:20]. 

God allowed all this, and God did all this.  The curse when the man transgressed and the death that comes upon us: God did it all, and God allowed it all because there is an infinite reaching out of the Almighty toward some glorious consummation – toward that final and holy end for which God made us and this world. 

Now, in that plan of God, in that reaching out, God’s plan included suffering and trial, discouragement, temptation, all of the weariness and burden of life.  What he says – "the groaning within ourselves" – it has a place [Romans 8:23].  It has a part.  There’s a vast difference between God’s creating and God’s redeeming.  When God created this world, He did it at no cost at all.  He just said it; that’s it.  Just spoke, and there it was.  God said, "Let there be light," and there was light [Genesis 1:3].  God said, "Let the heavens appear and the firmament and the division of the cloud in heaven above and the waters in the sea below," and there it was [Genesis 1:6-8]. 

And God spoke into existence by fiat all of these things [Genesis 1].  And He made the stars also – just added that.  He just threw in those five hundred million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, centillion – the rest of them He just threw them in extra.  He just did that on the side.  That was just nothing.  That was just the way God made the world [Genesis 1:14-18].  It was nothing to Him to make all of that; just did it just like that [Psalm 8:3-4, 136:7-9. 147:4].   

But the Lord God did something.  He made a man whom He could love and who could love Him, to whom He could talk and who could talk to Him.  And He made that man in His own image, morally free [Genesis 1:26-31, 2:15-25, 3:1-24].  And when He did, God laid Himself open to an infinite hurt.  As long as what is on the outside is kept on the outside, it’ll never bother you, never bother you.  A star, whatever that star is or isn’t, all of those created works of God, they were outside of God’s heart.  They were outside of God’s soul and His love.  He just created them, and they were on the outside. 

But when the Lord God made a man, the man could love God and God could love the man.  And the Lord God took the man into His heart and loved him and gave Himself to him, and the Lord God looked upon the man as someone who could respond.  And when He did that, God laid Himself open to an infinite, unbelievable and indescribable hurt. 

You see, to create, He could do it by fiat – just say the word; but to redeem, He had to suffer and to die because He loved the man [Romans 5:28, 6:23].  And Christ died for the man, and Christ is God in the flesh [John 1:14] – God dying, God suffering for the man that He made and created [1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 3:16, 4:10].  But you can’t redeem without suffering [Hebrews 9:22].  As long as it’s on the outside of it, it’s nothing.  When it gets on the inside, it suffers; and God suffered [Isaiah 53; John 3:16; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:21-24]. 

And in that infinite plan, suffering had an infinite part.  Christ suffered, and out of His suffering came the cross, came the gospel, came our redemption.  And out of the suffering of His apostles came this New Testament.  And the Lord Jesus received His suffering as from the hand of God.  "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?  The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?  My Father gave it to Me" [John 18:11]. 

Why, men mixed that terrible draft; men put that terrible poison in that cup.  "No, God did it," says Jesus.  "God did it" [Matthew 26:39, 42; Mark 14:35-36; Luke 22:41-42].

The apostle Paul’s attitude was the same.  "Men put that chain on Paul’s arm."  "No, sir," Paul says, "God put that chain on my arm.  That’s God’s chain."  "Caesar put you in prison."  "No, sir," says Paul, "I’m the prisoner of the Lord.  It’s   God’s world, and I’m suffering as from the hands of God" [2 Corinthians 1:5-11; Ephesians 3:1, 4:1; Philippians 1:12-21, 2:17; Colossians 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 1:8, 12; 2:8-10; Philemon 1:1, 9]. 

Now in this creation, in this new world, God has a place for us.  One of the most unusual passages in the Bible is in the first Colossian letter in the twenty-fourth verse: "We now rejoice in sufferings . . . and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" [Colossians 1:24]. 

In the redemption of this world, suffering has a part in the infinite plan of God.  Christ suffered, Paul suffered, the apostles suffered, and we have a part in that trial of our faith and that groaning of our soul and that suffering in our lives [Matthew 5:11, 44; Luke 21:12-19; John 15:18-21; Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 12:26; Galatians 3:4; Philippians 1:27-30; 2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Peter 2:13-25, 3:14-17; 4:19].  We have a part in it too. 

We are to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ; that is, Christ suffered completely for our salvation, and our atonement is done and finished, but in the plan of God there are many, many other sufferings that Christ does not bear.  You bear them.  You pay that price.  And in the created order of God, we have a part; and that part is a glorious part. 

In 1 Peter, Peter says, "The trial, the tribulation, the burden of your faith is precious though it be tried by fire" [1 Peter 1:6-7].  In another passage in the fourth of [Second] Corinthians, Paul says: "For our afflictions, which is but for a season, worketh for us a far more eternal and exceeding weight of glory" [2 Corinthians 4:17].  And in the text here, in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans: "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" [Romans 8:18]. 

Our trial, our tribulation, our groaning, our burden of spirit and of life – all of these things are but God’s way of making the new heaven and the new earth and fitting us for a more glorious citizenship than any we’ve ever known here below. 

Our trials have a part.  They are from God.  They are from His hand.  He planned them in an infinite, all-wise, gracious love into a mystery which I cannot understand, but they’re from His hands.  They shape us [James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:1-10].

Have you been out to the fair?  I’m glad you don’t go on Sunday.  Glad you’re here, but I think all of us ought to go to the fair during the week and not any of us go to the fair on Sunday.   So we’ll go to the fair on the days of the week, and all of us ought to.  Many of these visitors who’ve been with us the last two Sundays, they’ve come from afar to visit the fair and our glorious church.  You’ve been a blessing to us.   

When you go out to the fair, by all means, I think you ought to see the Winston Diamond of New York and all of those glorious diamonds that are possessed by Winston.  You’ll see the Hope Diamond out there – the most historic and colorful and dramatic of all the jewels of the world.  You’ll see the Brazilian Diamond out there.  You’ll see many others.  They are wonderful things to behold.  Never could buy one; wouldn’t have it if somebody gave it to me.  I’d be afraid somebody would knock me in the head if I walked down the street with it.  I’m glad they have it and I don’t, but it’s a glorious thing to see.  Now when you go out there, you’ll see a man; and he’s grinding diamonds.  He’s polishing diamonds.  He’s taking those little old ugly, dirty-looking, off-colored, discolored, sorry-looking, worthless little rocks, and he’s grinding them out there; and he’s making out of them those beautiful, beautiful gems that so beautifully are graced by you glorious girls.  I didn’t say they graced you.  You grace them. 

Over there in Siam, I went to a gem factory.  That man was a Dutchman.  He came from Holland.  He was grinding diamonds up there, and he went down there to Bangkok in Siam where they mine, oh, many jewels in India and in Malaya – and especially Zircons.  He had two thousand girls working in that gem factory, and they would take those dirty-looking stones – sorry lack-luster things – and they grind, and grind, and grind them; and pretty soon they would come out like a piece of God’s heaven. 

And as I went with him and looked all through that wonderful place and then finally to his office, and he opened up those great safes where he has those jewels by the buckets full, shovels full.  He had more than I ever saw than what was in the world. 

He looked at several of them and showed them to me.  And then he took his hand and picked them up and let them fall like that, and they would sparkle under that glorious sun.  It looked like they belonged to heaven itself.  It looked like it came out of glory.  As he did that, he smiled and turned to me.  He said, "Fellow, who would ever have guessed that these beautiful gems would come from those dirty-looking little stones that you saw a moment ago?"

What makes them shine?  What makes them glorious?  What makes them full of the splendor and the light of Almighty God?  You know what?  It’s the grinding, and the grinding, and the grinding, and the grinding.  Without the grinding and the grinding, they look like dirty little rocks to me.  They look like sorry little pebbles to me.  They don’t shine.  They’re not pretty.  They don’t have any color.  They’re not anything.  And a diamond, or a jewel, or an emerald, or a ruby, or a zircon – and they’re all nothing, nothing.  It looks like just another rock.  But they take it and they grind, and they grind, and they grind, and they liberate the splendor and the fire that God put in its soul. 

That’s you.  That’s you.  The grinding and the grinding, and the toil and the groaning, and the burden and the trial – what is it?  It’s the liberation of the splendor of God in your soul.  He’s getting a ruby with a citizenship of the new created world that is to come.  "Not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" [Romans 8:18].

Well, I ought to quit.  To tell you the truth, I’ve just gotten started good – just got started good.  Well, I’m going to quit, but I’m not going to do it until I’ve brought this along.

The key to a Christian’s soul will be found in his attitude toward death.   You’re going to get sick; you’re going to die [Psalm 90:10; Hebrews 9:27].  And it doesn’t even take getting sick and to die.  We don’t have any markets on any tomorrow [James 4:13-15].  We’re not promised any certain bit of time.  It can come in any way; doesn’t take a railroad train to run over you.  Doesn’t take an airplane to fall down. A little sporule – a little infinitesimal spore can do it.  A little lesion that a doctor couldn’t see under a microscope – that can do it; anything can do it. 

All right.  As we face the inevitable, how do you do it?  He ate, drank, laughed, loved, lived, and liked life well.  Then came – who knows?  Some gust of jungle wind, a stumble on the path, a taint of a tank, a snake’s nip, half a span of angry steel, a chill, a fishbone, or a falling tile, and life is over.  And the man is dead, and that’s it; and that’s it. 

What does a Christian say?  "I know it’s coming – the snake’s nip, half a span of angry steel, the jungle wind, a stumble on the path, a chill, a tile.  I know it’s coming. Or the little malformation in my flesh, the little malignant lesion, or age and senility – I know it’s coming.  We all suffer.  In one way or another, we all suffer. I know it."  Then what? Then what? 

This what:  we’re just getting ready for the glorious triumph that is to come. Age and death, suffering, separation, and sorrow – these are just God’s infinite goodnesses and kindnesses by which He is shaping us for the wonderful victories that are yet to come.  And death, death, death – death is the richest inheritance that the Christian could ever know [2 Corinthians 5:28; Philippians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8] or possess!  It’s our day of final triumph for they blow the trumpets, and we cross the river and are welcomed to the other side.  That’s the Christian.  That’s the Christian.  The sorrows of life are but the shaping of our souls, and the final end of death is but the triumphal entry into the glorious world that is to come [2 Corinthians 12:9; James 1:2-4].  That’s what it is to be a Christian living in the hope.  We are saved into a state of hope [1 Peter 1:3-5, 13; 3:15] looking to Jesus, trusting in Him, taking as from His hand all of these things – good and evil – that come in our life [Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 1:1-10, 4:13-16].

Now we’re going to sing our song, and while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody, you, give your heart to the Lord.  Step into that aisle and down here to the front and stand by this pastor:  "Pastor, here I come, and here I am."  Somebody, you, come into the fellowship of our church by letter – promise of letter – by baptism.  However God leads the way, says the word; this is His – not mine – His world, His heaven.  It’s His gift.  This is His church, and we’re His people.  I’m just a voice saying the words for Him while we sing and while we make appeal.  Down here to the front, would you give me your hand?  "Pastor, giving my heart to God; here I am trusting Him as a Savior" or into the fellowship of His church.  Would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?     

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