BLESSED HOPE FOR SUFFERING HUMANITY
"We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now. And not only they but ourselves
also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we groan
within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of our Body."—Ro 8:22,23.
Only for a short time will any thoughtful person question the
declaration of the Apostle—that the human family taken
as a whole is a groaning creation. He does not include the Church
for reasons which we shall see shortly, yet he points out that
the Church also groans under present conditions. As we pass
along the streets, and hear the strains of music which occasionally
come to us from public and private performances on instruments
of music, as we hear the laughter and see the throngs going
to theaters, expositions, ball games etc., we might be inclined
at first to say there is a good share of the creation which
does not groan much. But as we look more closely at the facts
as they come to us in daily course we find that much of the
laughter is hysterical and an offset to tears, that much of
the music is paid for on business principles to cheer and enthuse
others, and some of it indulged in with the desire to drown
Similarly those who attend places of amusement do so, not because
they are happy, but because they are unhappy. Groaning in spirit,
they are seeking something to drive dull care away—to
assuage their disappointments and heartaches. We believe that
the experiences in life will generally agree with us that childhood
is life’s happiest hour, and that with the coming of greater
knowledge and responsibility come cares, disappointments, heartaches
and crosses to the world of mankind in general.
Let us remember, too, that what we know of the world is in many
respects best, most favored and least burdened section—America.
Looking into the Bible we are informed respecting the angels
and the joys of Heaven, and given to understand that no sorrow
enters there, nor any tears, nor any dying. We inquire, Did
not the same God who created man create the angelic hosts? Why
then should there be so wide a distinction, so wide a difference
between the conditions in earth and in Heaven, that our Redeemer
should teach us to pray that ultimately God’s Kingdom
should come to earth and His will be done on earth as it is
done in Heaven? Why does He tell us that the faithful in the
resurrection will be made like unto angels, neither shall they
die any more? Why are we not like the angels now? Why do we
die? Why are we sick? Why are we imperfect in our mental, moral
and physical powers?
Why are we deficient in our physical strength? The answer to
these questions requires superhuman wisdom.
There must be a reason; otherwise the same just, loving, gracious
God would treat His human creatures, His human children, as
kindly, as generously, as His spiritual.
Why is it, that all of our blessings are of hope while all the
blessings of the angels are actual and present?
"GOD LOOKED DOWN AND BEHELD"
Still seeking information we inquire of the Bible respecting
man’s condition, why it is as it is and how it came about.
We note the prophetic declaration that God "looked down
from the height of His sanctuary; from Heaven did the Lord behold
the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those
who are appointed to death." (Ps 102:19-21.) This is in
full conformity with the Apostle’s statement, and adds
the further explanation that the groaning is because man is
a prisoner and under death sentence. But when did he become
a prisoner? When did the death sentence come upon him?
The Scriptures answer that our race was sold under sin—became
the slave of sin—and that the experiences of sorrow, degradation,
imperfection and death are all parts of the wage of this great
taskmaster, Sin. The Apostle declares that "the wages of
sin is death," and personifies Sin and Death, representing
them as the great monarchs that are now ruling the children
of men. He declares that Sin and Death have reigned, and as
a matter of fact we know that the whole race is subject to these
monarchs. (Ro 6:23; 5:14,21.) The tomb, into which both good
and bad go, is the great prisonhouse where all are figuratively
said to sleep, waiting for the Morning of the blessed Millennial
Day when Messiah shall come, shall vanquish Satan, who has the
power of death, and shall deliver the captives from the chains
of sin and from the prisonhouse of death, Sheol, Hades, the
Mark the Redeemer’s words, "I am He that liveth and
was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore and have the keys
of death and of Hades [the grave]." (Re 1:18.) Note again
the prophetic statement along the same line, referring to Messiah
and the work of His gracious Kingdom when it should be established.
We read, "I, Jehovah, have called Thee in righteousness
and will hold Thine hand and will keep Thee and will give Thee
for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles—to
open the, blind eyes to bring out the prisoners from the prison;
and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house."
And again, "The Spirit of Jehovah is upon Me, because Jehovah
hath anointed Me to preach the good tidings unto the meek; He
hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty
to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are
Our Lord personally preached from this text, and declared Himself
to be the One who would fulfil this prophecy—who would
release our race from its slavery to sin and its bondage to
death. The assurance of the Word of the Lord is that we have
Divine sympathy, and that a Savior adequate to all the conditions
has been supplied by the Heavenly Father, and that the world
merely awaits the proper time for Him to act, to strike off
these shackles, to unlock the prison door and to let all the
prisoners go free from this condemnation.
ORIGIN OF MAN’S SLAVERY TO SIN
A matter which is so general as to include every member of the
race in this slavery to sin-and-death conditions is very noteworthy,
and it is profitable that we hearken carefully to the Word of
God for all explanation for it.
The Apostle gives the explanation, saying, "By one man’s
disobedience sin entered into the world and death as the result
of sin, and thus death passed upon all men because all are sinners."
Turning back to Genesis we find the Apostle’s words abundantly
supported by the history of Adam and his deflection from obedience
to God and his rejection from Divine fellowship, including his
expulsion from Eden, that he might be thus subjected to dying
conditions because of his disobedience, his sin. There the slavery
began; there the groaning and dying of our race had its start.
The Creator’s words were, "Thorns and thistles shall
the earth bring forth to thee; in the sweat of thy face shalt
thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of
it wast thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou
Nothing could be plainer, simpler, more easy of comprehension
to those who had no human philosophy and smoke of the Dark Ages
to becloud their vision. It is most evident that the groaning
began with Father Adam, and that it has continued ever since,
as his posterity has lost more and more the perfection of the
image and likeness of God in which Adam was created, and has
become more and more depraved mentally, morally and physically,
until now "there is none righteous, no, not one";
none perfect either in word or deed. (Ro 3:10.) To
will aright may be present with us, as the Apostle suggests,
but how to perform all that we will is another matter. As he
again declared, "Ye can not do the things that ye would."
(Ga 5:17.) The difficulty is that the dying conditions have
left us imbeciles as respects absolute good, and weakened as
respects resistance of the temptations of the Adversary. The
explanation is sufficient, as no human speculation on the subject
is. Thank God that with the explanation the Bible holds out
before us the hope referred to—the hope of the deliverance
of our race from this bondage of the prison-house.
Our context notes these facts, saying, "The creature [humanity]
was subject to vanity [frailty, imperfection, weakness], not
of its own will but by reason of him that subjected it [by reason
of Adam’s transgression]."
Nevertheless, we read that this subjection to frailty was not
without hope, a good hope, a great hope, a blessed hope, and
this in the Bible is called
"THE HOPE SET BEFORE US IN THE GOSPEL"
We note the context which declares that although the creature,
mankind, was subjected to sorrow, imperfection, dying, through
another, through Father Adam, he is not without hope; for "the
creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption [death] into the glorious liberty of the sons of
God." (V. 21.) This is a remarkable declaration, for be
it noted that it is not referring to the Church, the Elect,
the Little Flock, but to the creation, the world in general.
Do other Scriptures support this declaration that God proposes
ultimately to deliver the human family from bondage to sin and
death—from bondage to corruption? Yes, we reply. This
was the very statement of the angels promulgated at the time
of the announcement of our Savior’s birth, "We bring
you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people."—Lu
Moreover, the Scriptures give us a philosophical explanation
not only of why the reign of Sin and Death has been permitted,
but of how and where their reign shall be annulled and humanity
be delivered. The declaration is that the Lord Jesus paid the
penalty for Adam, and that this works not only a release of
Adam himself from Divine condemnation to death, but works also
the release of all those who came under Divine condemnation
through Adam’s sin—the entire groaning creation.
All the Scriptures, in speaking of the deliverance of the groaning
creation, point to Messiah as the Divine Agency in effecting
this deliverance. We have already quoted the declaration of
Jesus and the prophets to the effect that He shall open the
prison doors and set the prisoners at liberty. We remember also
the words of the angels on the subject of good tidings of great
joy which shall be unto all people, that it was because a Savior
had been born—the anointed Lord, Messiah. Thus all through
the Scriptures every hope of the race as respects deliverance
from sin and degradation to eternal life is based upon Messiah
and His work—His sacrificial work finished at Calvary
and His work of glory during the Millennial Age, which will
be begun at His Second Advent.
"THE LIBERTY OF THE SONS OF GOD"
In the context which I have quoted the Apostle declares that
the groaning creation shall yet be delivered from its bondage
to corruption into the liberty of the sons of God. The meaning
of this is clear. The corruption came upon all through Adam,
the deliverance from that corruption is to come to all through
the second Adam.
All are to be delivered from such bondage, however they may
use the deliverance, or the privileges of liberty.
Those who use it rightly will come into harmony with the Redeemer
and with the Heavenly Kingdom, and will be blessed eventually
with eternal life. Those who reject it after they come to understand
fully, and comprehend its lengths and breadths, will thus be
choosing for themselves the Second Death. The liberty of the
sons of God, their freedom from corruption, death, is here distinctly
The angels are not subject to, not bound by, such corruption,
such dying conditions. They as sons of God are free from corruption,
from death. Adam, in his original perfection, was a son of God,
as the Scriptures declare (Lu 3:38), but he lost his sonship
for himself and for all of his race and received instead degradation
and bondage to corruption. The hope for Adam and for his race,
then, in Christ is deliverance from the power of sin and death
into the liberty proper to them as sons of God. The entire Millennial
Age, as the Scriptures show us, will be devoted to this work
of setting free the human family from the various bondages of
ignorance, superstition, weakness, heredity, and of bringing
back all who will by restitution processes to the original image
and likeness of God, and making them again human sons of God
like unto Father Adam before he sinned, plus a large and valuable
experience gained during the six thousand years of the fall
and also through the one thousand years of the raising up—the
Millennial Age, the Resurrection Age.
Note the Apostle’s argument on this subject in a preceding
chapter leading up to our text. After telling that sin entered
by one man’s disobedience and that it was communicated
to all of the race, he declares, "For as by the transgression
of one many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift
by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto many.
For if by the transgression of one, death reigned through the
one, much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of righteousness, reign in life through the
one, even Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression
the sentence came upon all men to condemnation, even so through
the one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men
to justification of life. For as by the disobedience of one
man many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall
many be made righteous."—Ro 5:12,15,17-19, R.V.
How beautifully clear is this statement by the Apostle!
We wonder how it was that we so long overlooked the true import
of these words. We perceive that our eyes were holden and blinded
by the unscriptural theory that when the Church, the "little
flock," the saints, should be selected, all the remainder
of mankind would be condemned to an eternity of torture! Since
we have gotten rid of that delusion, our eyes are opening more
and more to behold the lengths and breadths and heights and
depths of God’s great plan of salvation, which first deals
with the Church during this Gospel Age and subsequently will
deal with all of the redeemed—all of the children of Adam
condemned for Adam’s disobedience and bought with the
precious blood of Christ, and to be justified for their condemnation
and set at liberty by the great Redeemer when he shall in due
time take unto Himself His great power and reign.—Re 11:15-19.
WHY SO LONG DELAY
The question is frequently asked, Why should God so long delay
to bring these blessings to the world? If God’s Plan indeed
be higher and nobler than any of the plans and theories of men,
why has it not yet been demonstrated?
Why are there not yet evidences? Why has He permitted the world
to remain so long in its slavery to sin and death—4,000
years and more before He sent the Redeemer—nearly 2,000
years since that Redeemer has purchased the world, and yet only
a mere handful of the race has as yet even heard of the only
name given under Heaven and amongst men whereby we must be saved?
Why the delay? Does it not contradict God’s claims of
love and sympathy and power? If He has the love which longs
to help the world, does He lack the power? Is He unable to accomplish
His good purposes? Or if He has the power, does He lack the
love, the will?
The Scriptures assure us that the love of God is boundless,
and that He has already accomplished for mankind a redemptive
work at the cost of the life of our Lord
Jesus. They assure us, too, that God’s Love is the same
today that it was eighteen centuries ago, that Divine Power
is almighty, and that it only waits for the proper time to come
to exercise itself for the full accomplishment of the Divine
will and for the full blessing of all the families of the earth,
through the Messiah, the Redeemer.
The explanation of the delay is fully given in the Scriptures,
which assure us that before the Divine Plan shall extend to
the world for its blessing and uplift, another work must first
be accomplished; that God’s purpose to bless Adam and
his race is a restitution promise, and that the Millennial Age
will be "times" or years of restitution, uplifting
mankind from the mental, moral and physical degradation into
which it was plunged during the six thousand years of the reign
of Sin and Death.
It will also be a time for blessing the physical earth, and
making it the proper home for the perfect race, the footstool
of God, filled with the glory of God. But before doing this
God purposed a work, if possible still more wonderful, namely,
the selecting of the Little Flock, the elect Church, who, instead
of being restored to human perfection, will prove her loyalty
to the Lord by her self-sacrifice, even unto death, and be granted
a share with Christ in the First Resurrection—a change
from earthly nature to Heavenly nature—far above angels,
principalities and powers, like unto her glorified Redeemer
and Head. This work of selecting the Church has been an important
one, and has occupied a long period; and those who now have
the privilege of becoming members of this elect Church and joint-heirs
with the Redeemer cannot esteem the privilege too highly, but
should with the Apostle count that any loss or sacrifice would
be as dross in comparison with the excellency of the blessings
"WE OURSELVES ALSO GROAN"
Turn again to our text and context. Note again how the Apostle
differentiates between the Church and the world and the groanings
of each. Of the Church he says, "We ourselves also groan
within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance
of our Body." The world, without God and without hope,
groans in doubt and despair, but the Church—having a good
hope as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast, entering
into that which is within the veil—cannot groan after
the same manner as the world.
But notwithstanding all our hopes, all our joys in the Lord,
all our fellowship one with the other, we that are in this Tabernacle
do groan, being burdened. All of our joyful anticipations of
the future, and our realization of the present that all evil
things even are working together for our good and preparing
us for the glory to come—all these do not hinder us at
times from feeling a measure of the trouble, sadness and discouragement
of our earthly environment. Our physical, mental and moral weaknesses
at times assert themselves so strongly that we cannot as New
Creatures do as we would; we cannot exult in tribulation even
though in our hearts we may rejoice.
As the Apostle suggests, we are at times "in heaviness
through manifold temptations." (1Pe 1:6.) But ours is not
an outward groaning, or should not be. As our text suggests,
we "groan within ourselves." It is a subdued groan,
a modified one, because of the offset of our glorious hopes.
Note again that the Apostle shows that while both the world
and the Church groan, they are waiting for different things.
We are waiting for the deliverance of our Body (not bodies,
in the plural); we are waiting for the deliverance of the Church
as a whole. Some of the members have gone before, but finally
the entire Body of Christ, which is the Church, will be completed.
Then we shall see our Lord and will be with Him and share His
glory, a united Church, a united Body of Christ, beyond the
veil. For this we wait, we hope, we pray.
But the world, the groaning creation, knows not of the Divine
Plan. Its groaning is of a hopeless character; but we may know
what God has provided for mankind even though the world be blind
and in ignorance of this.
We know that through The Christ, during the Millennial reign,
all the families of the earth will be blessed with recovery
from death, and with enlightenment and restitution assistances
to righteousness and eternal life, and that only the incorrigible
will die the Second Death.
And so the Apostle says that the groaning creation is "waiting
for the manifestation of the sons of God." We are the sons
of God. As the Apostle says, "Now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [how glorious];
but we know that when Christ shall be revealed, we shall be
like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1Jo 3:2.) We
see then that the world’s hope is in the glorified Church,
whose glorious Head is the Redeemer Himself. When this Church
shall be exalted in Millennial glory the world’s time
of blessing will begin. Then all the groaning creation shall
be liberated and have the opportunity of coming out of the corruption
of death, mental, moral and physical, and into liberty and perfection
of life as the sons of God, all of which privileges have been
secured for them through the merit of the precious blood.
How glad we are that in this dawning time of the New Dispensation
the true light is shining from the Divine Word, as well as throughout
the realm of nature! How glad we are that we no longer must
think of the Church alone as the subjects of salvation and the
world as a whole the subjects of condemnation and eternal torture!
How just, how reasonable, how loving, are the Divine arrangements!
To see these things should draw our hearts near to the Lord
in appreciative love, and we should worship with the greatest
devotion One whom we thus see worthy of praise and adoration.
We are not, however, to expect the world to be able to realize
these things. It is not the Divine purpose that they should
grasp the Plan. As the Master said to the faithful disciples
of old and still says to us, "To you it is given to know
the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to outsiders all these
things are spoken in parables and dark sayings, that hearing
they might hear and not understand."
They will both hear and understand in due time, but now is the
time for the calling out of the Elect, the perfecting of the
saints, etc. Let us whose ears and eyes have been blessed of
the Lord respond with all gratitude and humility, not merely
with outward praise of our lips, but also with our hearts let
us confess His loving kindness and tender mercy; and let this
appreciation more and more sanctify our hearts and separate
us from the world, its aims, its selfishness.
Let us fight a good fight against sin, especially in our own
mortal bodies; for even though the imperfections of the flesh
be not counted against this New Creation, begotten of the Spirit,
nevertheless the fact that we possess the Spirit of the Lord
should lead us more and more to desire that perfection which
is most pleasing and acceptable to Him, and to strive, therefore,
to the extent of our ability; not trusting to the attainment
of that perfection, but relying upon the merit of that great
Atonement Sacrifice, offered once for all and sufficient for
the sins of the whole world.