Principle for Bible Reading
Knowing that the whole creation, including us, is suffering because of the corruption of sin, what hope can we have that things will get better? In this lab, John Piper talks about the tensions we feel as we strive to believe God’s promises while sometimes suffering greatly.
Birth Pains, Not Death Pains (00:51–05:14)
- The creation will be freed into the glory of the redeemed children of God. (Romans 8:19–21)
- The creation is groaning in birth pains, not death pains. (Romans 8:22, cf. Mark 13:8)
- Not only the creation groans, but believers suffer now, as well, until we (including our bodies) are fully redeemed and made new. (Romans 8:23)
Present Pain, Future Hope (05:14–08:31)
- There is a tension in these verses between the already of our salvation (our hope for the future) and the not-yet of our salvation (our pain in the present). (Romans 8:23)
- We are the “firstfruits” (Romans 8:23). The harvest has begun, but it is not yet complete.
- Yes, we groan now, but wait “eagerly” (Romans 8:23) for the redemption that is to come.
- We are adopted (Romans 8:15), but we have not experienced our adoption fully yet (Romans 8:23).
- The hope we have is real, but it not a hope we can see. That is, the world we see around us does not confirm our hope. (Romans 8:24–25)
- Paul is pleading with Christians to be patient and endure suffering in this life so that they might be glorified with Christ. (Romans 8:17–25; cf. Romans 2:7)
Suffering and the Prosperity Gospel (08:31–09:52)
The not-yet of our salvation in these verses is the great corrective to the prosperity gospel. We wait and suffer in the pains of childbirth, all the while having great hope in our sovereign purposes of God. We know that these bodies will be redeemed.
- Why would Paul describe suffering in this world as birth pains in Romans 8:22?
- From Romans 8:22–25, describe the tensions between the already aspects of our salvation and the not-yet aspects. What is already true of us in Christ? What are we still waiting for?
- What do the truths in Romans 8:22–25 mean for the prosperity gospel? Drawing on these verses, how would you talk to someone whose faith in God gospel is undone by suffering or evil in this life?
Piper: “The ‘not-yet’ realities in Romans 8 are the great corrective to the prosperity gospel.”
‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series
This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.