GROANING FOR THE ADOPTION
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Apostle Paul groaned inwardly, waiting for his adoption as a son of God. He was waiting and hoping for the redemption of his body. Why is such groaning and hoping not true of us today? What has gone astray in Christian teaching and preaching?
GROANING FOR THE ADOPTION
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:23,24—NIV)
The above passage is one of several that point to the goal of redemption, of salvation. The goal of our redemption is not movement to another place, that is, to Heaven in the spirit realm. Rather our goal is the release of our body into the incorruptible resurrection life of the Holy Spirit. It makes a great difference in our Christian walk whether we regard a move to Heaven as our goal, or attaining to eternal life in our body.
It is clear in the New Testament that our goal is not movement to another place but a transformation of what we are in spirit, soul, and finally—at the Lord’s coming—in body. The reason the correct goal is important is that if we view residence in Heaven as our goal, and the forgiveness of our sins as the means of getting to Heaven, then our Christian life may be mediocre as we participate in the Christian religion, waiting to die and go to Heaven.
But if we view salvation as a transformation of what we are, beginning with our inward nature and extending finally to our body, then we will begin today to fight the good fight of faith. We will each day throw off through Christ the chains of corruption that bind our inward nature as we press toward the day when the Spirit of God by which we now live will extend to our physical body.
The traditional Christian life is one of waiting to die and go to Heaven, or for an unscriptural “rapture” to lift us to Heaven, while we try to live an acceptable life.
The true Christian discipleship is one of overcoming worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our self will as we press toward the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to eternal life.
These two approaches to the Christian life are not at all the same. One is correct and the other is incorrect and destructive.
In the beginning chapters of the Book of Romans, Paul teaches us that we can no longer be justified by obeying the commandments of the Law of Moses but must place our faith in the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Chapter Six of Romans, Paul declares that if we as a Christian choose to live an unrighteous life we will die spiritually, but if we choose to be the slave of God and righteousness we will enter eternal life.
In Chapter Seven of Romans, Paul addresses Jews who were clinging to the Law of Moses, telling them the Law made sin more sinful but provided no program of release from the law of sin, the tendencies toward sin that reside in the members of our body.
At the end of Chapter Seven Paul cries out for release from the sin that chained his body, the sin that results in spiritual death.
The purpose of the eighth chapter is to teach those same Jews, and all Christians, how the law of the Spirit of life in Christ sets us free from the sin that binds us, the sin that the Law of Moses defines and emphasizes.
First, Paul tells us, we are without condemnation—marvelous news to an observant Jew who has striven all his life to please God.
Paul immediately informs us that the righteousness of Christ, who kept the Law perfectly, is ascribed to us providing we “do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The righteousness of Christ is not ascribed to us if we continue in our fleshly, sinful nature. This condition is not always preached today, and so the believers have a false understanding of how imputation works. Imputed, ascribed righteousness, is issued to us on the condition that we live according to the Spirit of God and not in the appetites and impulses of our flesh and soul.
Then Paul proceeds, in Chapter Eight, to tell us of the importance of living in the Spirit of God. He says our physical body is dead because of the sin residing in it but our inward nature is alive because the Spirit of God is living in us.
Then Paul goes a step further and speaks of the fact that at the coming of the Lord the same Spirit who now lives in us will make alive our body, thus completing our salvation. All of this is in answer to the question, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)
Because all this is true, we do not owe our dead body anything in the present hour that we should satisfy its demands. It rather is the case that if we, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit, put to death the sinful acts of our body, we will proceed forward to the filling of our body with eternal life. However, if we choose instead to live in the appetites and passions of the flesh, we will not attain the resurrection to eternal life in the body. Paul is repeating what he said previously in Chapter Six.
Moving forward in Chapter Eight, Paul reminds us that the entire material creation, including our body, is groaning in the chains of corruption. God placed this curse on the creation in the hope that one day the creation can be released into the liberty of the children of God, that is, into life lived not in the corruption of flesh and blood but in the incorruptible life of the Holy Spirit.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20,21—NIV)
Can you see that Paul is still answering his own question concerning deliverance from the body of sin and death?
Now we are able to gain a picture of the goal of salvation, what salvation is all about. You may have wondered why some verses of the New Testament speak of salvation as though it is something that will come in the future. The preaching of today, to a great extent, is not balanced in this regard. Salvation is being presented as a one-time experience that a person has and then can look back to. The fact is, salvation begins at a specific point and then we have to work it out in the hope we will receive it at the coming of the Lord.
This is not to say we cannot know if we are “saved.” We can have the assurance in our heart that God has heard us and is pleased with us. Nevertheless it is as I have stated. To present the Christian salvation as a one-time experience we can look back to is not scriptural.
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11—NIV)
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)
Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5—NIV)
What we are speaking of now is the salvation that is to appear with the appearing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:23,24—NIV)
When Paul says we have the “firstfruits of the Spirit” he means we have the Holy Spirit in advance of the remainder of the creation, for one day the earth will be filled with the Spirit of God. Human life—true human life—is not the life of flesh and blood. The life of flesh and blood was always meant to be temporary. True life is life lived in the eternal Spirit of God.
We are not alive as yet. We presently are in the dark womb of the program of creation. We will not begin true life until the Lord returns and fill our body with His Holy Spirit.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)
Have you ever noticed the many times the New Testament warns Christians of the result of living in the flesh? The result is not specified as residence in Hell or the Lake of Fire, it is death, corruption, destruction. This is because if we, having commenced in Christ, then choose to live in the flesh we die spiritually in our inward nature. Also, there is no eternal life waiting to make alive our body in the day of resurrection. We have not attained life! We have not been found worthy of eternal life! What a fearful prospect!
But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. ((Luke 20:35,36—NIV)
There is an incongruity here and it appears in other places also.
In John, Jesus said all would hear His voice and come forth from the grave.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)
It sounds to me in the above passage that every person who has died shall be resurrected. Yet, in Luke (above), it speaks of being worthy to take part in the resurrection from the dead.
I would say, from this incongruity, that the rising to be condemned of John 5:29 is not a resurrection to life and so, in this sense, not a true resurrection at all.
I cannot think of any more important message to the Christians of today than this: We are in a fight to obtain eternal life. If we look to the Lord Jesus He will help every one of us to turn away from the things of the world and the flesh and seek to do God’s will.
If we in this manner sow to the Spirit of God each day, then, in the Day of Resurrection, we will reap eternal life in the Kingdom of God. But if we choose instead to continue in our fleshly life, we are not going to be raised to life. This is the unchangeable Kingdom law of sowing and reaping and it is not affected by grace or mercy. Grace and mercy help us now to turn away from sin and serve the Lord. But grace and mercy do not in any manner alter the law of sowing and reaping, of cause and effect.
The present program offered by “the four steps of salvation” provides an entrance into the process of redemption. But to view these four steps as a ticket to Heaven is to miss entirely the Divine redemption. We remain in Egypt rather than moving forward to the land of promise, the rest of God, which is life lived in the fullness of the Spirit of God.
One day the whole world will be filled with the Spirit of God, for this is how God intends for people to live. The present world is a testing ground, especially for God’s future rulers, to see if they are worthy to wear the crown of eternal life.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)
God’s elect have been given the Spirit of God in advance of the rest of the physical world. But as yet we have the Spirit only in our inward nature. So now we are groaning along with the rest of the world, waiting to be adopted. The redemption of our physical body is our adoption as a son of God. The redemption of our body is the filling of it with the eternal, incorruptible Life of the Spirit of God.
Our inward nature is born of God, of the Divine Nature. But our body must be adopted. Paul said he was waiting eagerly for the redemption of his body so he would be free from the sin and death of the present body and could worship and serve God in a body filled with God’s Life. What a wonderful hope!
Why don’t we hear more about this today? Have we gotten off course in our preaching? Are we teaching and preaching “another gospel”?
Let us think for a moment. What kind of future is being preached in our day? What is now the “blessed hope” of the Church?
At some point in the first century the hope of the redemption of the body changed to the hope of going to Heaven to live forever. Obviously these are not the same thing. The redemption of the body is a change of what we are. Going to Heaven is a change of where we are.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is not our residence on the earth but physical death. Going to Heaven is never presented in the Scriptures as being an act of salvation, of redemption. But the resurrection is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
We do not need a redeemed body to live in the spirit Heaven. But we indeed do need a redeemed body to live in the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The purpose of salvation is to change what we are so we can be restored to eternal life in Paradise on the earth. If God were to bring the Christian people in their present condition into Paradise, whether Paradise in the spirit realm as in the present hour or on the earth when the Lord returns, Paradise no longer would be a pleasant place to live. It would be filled with hatred, anger, slander, and covetousness as are numerous Christian churches today. Death does not change what we are and entering the spirit realm does not change what we are.
So how did our hope of a redeemed body change into residence in the spirit realm, in the realm where sin began? Probably from the influence on Christian thinking of Gnosticism and other philosophies and religions.
To make matters worse, an unscriptural “rapture” has been added to the unscriptural hope of living forever in Heaven.
This thinking must come from Satan. Satan regards the material realm as his own possession—even our physical body. Satan desires that we forget about the conduct of our body and concentrate on leaving the earth and remaining in the spirit realm. Satan wants the earth to himself.
But the earth and its nations are the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs. Our land of promise includes life on the earth in an incorruptible body. So it is only reasonable that Satan would work to change our goal from overcoming sin to leaving the earth and living forever in the spirit realm.
Does this make sense to you?
This is why we seldom hear Christians talking about groaning inwardly as they wait eagerly for their adoption as sons, the redemption of their bodies. In fact, the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection of the human body has been removed from Christian thinking along with the doctrine of the coming to the earth of the Kingdom of God. These two doctrines are terribly threatening to Satan and so they have been removed from our thinking.
Today God is restoring to us the original doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Then Paul talks about hope, how we are saved by hope
For in this hope we were saved. But hope is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:24—NIV)
We are saved in the hope of the making alive of the mortal body. Why and how are we saved in this hope? We are saved in the hope that one day, if we continue to patiently sow to the Spirit of God, the Lord will return and validate our salvation with the desired change in our body.
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:25—NIV)
All the promises of God are fulfilled in the same manner:
- We have to know what God has promised. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
- We have to choose to believe what God has promised.
- We have to wait patiently for the promise to be fulfilled no matter how long it takes.
- We are saved by patiently hoping and waiting for the fulfillment.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The righteous live by patiently hoping and waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises, in the meanwhile obeying the many commandments given by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
The redemption of our body will take place in the twinkling of an eye, Paul tells us. But the redemption of our inward nature must occur in advance. One cannot pursue a fleshly, self-willed life and then be changed into incorruptibility at the last minute.
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:52,53—NIV)
There are two aspects of the preparation for attaining the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection to incorruptible life in Christ. Both aspects are described by the Apostle Paul.
The first aspect has to do with our moral transformation. The second aspect has to do with our house, or robe, from Heaven.
Our moral nature has been corrupted in three dimensions. The first dimension is love for the world and trust in the world for security and survival.
The second dimension comprises the various lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul.
The third dimension is our fierce desire to maintain our own way, to preserve our own identity apart from rest in the Father’s Person and will.
Until we have experienced moral transformation in these three areas our inward nature is still abiding in corruption and cannot be clothed with incorruption. This is what Paul means when he says that if we live in the flesh we will die. We will seriously if not fatally impair the nature of our resurrection.
We are changed from looking to the world spirit for survival and security by presenting our body a living sacrifice to God and being transformed by the renewing of our mind.
We are delivered from the various lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul as we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness and cleansing. Then we are to draw near to God and resist the devil.
We are brought from self-will and self-love, the fierce desire to preserve what we are, into union with God’s Person and will as we endure the suffering into which we are led. We must remain in the prison in which we are placed and not try to break out. It is always correct to tell God the desires of our heart, but we are not to seize our desires when to do so breaks God’s laws or injures other people. This is true no matter how fervent or “righteous” our desires seem to be. It is through prolonged denial of our desires that our self-love is destroyed and we are set free to dwell in the Presence of God. Believers who refuse to deny themselves what they desire, who always save their life when God is calling for them to lay down their life, are not candidates for the redemption of the body. They are wandering stars in the universe.
This is what Paul meant by forgetting all that is behind, all his attainments, that he might gain Christ. Paul left all that he might grasp the resurrection Life of Christ.
We have to be transformed in these three areas if we hope to participate in the first resurrection from among the dead, the redemption of the body.
We said there are two aspects of the preparation for attaining the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection to incorruptible life in Christ. The first aspect has to do with our moral transformation. The second aspect has to do with our house, or robe, from Heaven.
We have just described the first aspect, our moral transformation in three dimensions of our personality.
The second aspect has to do with our house from Heaven.
We have a robe in Heaven. That robe reflects in itself what our personality is becoming. The robe is termed by Paul “an eternal weight of glory.”
As we confess our sins, turning away from them, turning away from involvement in the world spirit, taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus, our house in Heaven is modified accordingly. We keep our robe clean by turning away from that which displeases the Lord, by keeping His commandments.
Every day we add to that body in Heaven. We are adding to that body iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father, a compassionate, merciful nature, courage, faithfulness, trust in God. Or we are adding bitterness, unbelief, impatience, hatred, lust, rebellion, covetousness, pride, unforgiveness.
At some point in the future the voice of Christ will call forth from the graves the bodies of all who have died. Then their inward nature will be joined with their body, returning from wherever their inward nature, their soul and spirit, was placed after death.
Now the dead will be standing on the earth in their resurrected flesh and bones. The power that will raise and animate them is not necessarily the Spirit of incorruptible life but the power by which God operates the universe.
Then each individual will receive the robe from Heaven that has been constructed from his behavior. This is the reward the Lord will bring with Him. Here is the perfect justice of God. Mercy and grace do not modify the clothing of the resurrected body with what has been sown.
Mercy and grace may possibly modify where the individual is placed, but not what he or she has become in personality. The Kingdom law of sowing and reaping cannot be altered.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8—NIV)
If we could sow unrighteousness and reap eternal life we would be mocking God!
Paul said at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the things done in the body. Notice how this is portrayed in the following passage:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)
Can you see from the above that the Bride of the Lamb is clothed in her own behavior?
Other translations are even more forceful and say the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints; not stands for but actually is!
Nothing could be more just and fair than this. What we are as a person we may be able to conceal from our friends and relatives. But in the Day of the Lord our body will reveal what we truly are.
Our response to this fact should be to go to the Lord and ask Him to prepare us for His coming and the day of resurrection. Don’t you agree? To put off such preparation because of our notion that we are saved by grace and everything will be fine is to ignore the clear warnings of the Scripture. Paul tells us several times that those believers who continue to live according to their fleshly appetites and impulses will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I think of all the messages the American churches need to hear, the most important has to do with the resurrection from the dead. There will come a point in time when you and I come forth from wherever we have been interred. It does not matter if we have been buried, cremated, or blown to bits by a bomb.
The first man was made from the ground. The first woman was made from a piece of the man. God will have no trouble assembling our elements wherever they are located. We shall come forth and stand before Christ in our flesh and bones.
But this is not the issue, for every person who has been born will be raised and stand on his or her feet.
The issue is, what happens next!
What happens next is that the consequences of our behavior will clothe our flesh and bones. Brother, Sister, this is the beginning of eternity. It is no laughing matter. The present teaching that we will be “raptured” without being resurrected and clothed with our behavior is utterly false, misleading, and destructive. No such event will take place. The order of events will be that our flesh and bones will be raised and then clothed with the consequences of our behavior.
Where we go after that depends on what we are suited for.
Those who have overcome the evil of the world through the Lord Jesus will be caught up to meet Him in the air in preparation for His descent to attack the armies of wickedness.
The foolish virgins will not go to meet him. The man who buried his talent will be sent to the outer darkness with others of his kind.
What ridiculous fables we have been taught!
Picture yourself. You have died and been waiting somewhere in the spirit world. Suddenly the trumpet of the Lord sounds and you find yourself standing in your body on the earth. How do you think you will feel at that time, for it surely will come to you?
If you have lived a victorious life in Jesus the angels will come and clothe your flesh and bones with a body of unbelievable glory and power. Your exultation will know no bounds.
But if you have not lived a victorious life in Jesus the angels will come and clothe your flesh and bones with a robe that shows in itself the kind of life you have lived. This is what Paul means when he says if we choose to live in the flesh we will reap corruption.
How ashamed you will be in the Presence of Christ, His holy angels, and the victorious saints! It would not be necessary for Jesus to tell you that you cannot enter among the victorious saints; you yourself would choose to slink away into the darkness in order to escape the observation of those who are filled with Divine Glory.
I know from the Scripture that the response of some of those who are clothed with their own behavior will be anger, because the Scripture states there will be gnashing of teeth. The response of such always has been unreasoning anger when they are not pleased with events. The saints have borne patiently with them, putting up with their selfishness and laziness. But no more. They will be placed with others of their kind.
All shall be placed with their kind in that day: the righteous with the righteous, the wicked with the wicked.
But won’t all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus be saved? Yes, if they then do what He commands. But if they do not obey His commandments, how could they be saved? They shall be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ, and thrown into the fire, according to the Gospel of John.
Our entire future existence depends on what we experience after our flesh and bones are called up from where they have been disposed of. We then will face the consequences of our actions on the earth. Every idle word will be judged, unless we have confessed it as sin and have turned away from idle speech.
I cannot stress too much that the American Christian churches are greatly deceived concerning the “blessed hope” of the Church. The blessed hope of the Church is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to grant immortality in the body to those who have prepared themselves, as did the wise virgins and the men who gained profit from their talents. Then they will enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God under the approving eye of their Savior.
But so many today in America are living worldly lives, counting on grace to carry them up to Paradise in an unscriptural “rapture” so they will not be called on to suffer any inconvenience, leaving it to the Jews to put up with Antichrist. What unbelievable nonsense is being preached in the name of Jesus Christ.
Unless I am mistaken, war and other catastrophes are ahead for us in America. God is not pleased that we have turned away from Him. We have become a nation of the scornful.
I do not believe God has given up on America. We yet shall have righteous government at all levels. There is coming great revival but it will be in the midst of great trouble. Those who faithfully serve God will be protected along with their loved ones. But those who have lived the comfortable, fleshly American lustful existence will enter terror, even though they profess to be “born again.”
And most assuredly there will be no “rapture” to save us from the judgment that is coming on our nation.
There. I have prophesied to you. If what I have portrayed to you does not take place you will know I am not hearing from the Lord.
But in any case, the Bible commands us to obey the commandments given by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. So prophecy or no, we must build our house on the rock that we may be able to stand in victory, just in case the “rapture” is late.
Can you say Amen?
(“Groaning For the Adoption”, 4072-1)