Suffering 7 – The Victory of God

Posted: June 17, 2013 by J in Bible, Pastoral issues, Theology

What sort of change does the gospel have to offer? Let’s hear it the way Jesus tells it in the incredibly compact prayer he taught his disciples:

may your kingdom come:
may your will be done on earth,
do not lead us into testing (and leave us there),the way it is in heaven…
but deliver us from evil.

That’s the whole story right there. The sovereignty of God over his world is currently incomplete: resisted, threatened or compromised in some way by the forces of evil and sin. The kingdoms of this world are not yet the kingdom of God. In particular, God’s will is not done here the way it is in heaven. The world is in a state of rebellion, it has been hijacked from its proper course, its citizens held hostage by dark powers. Under these powers we suffer and die.

But in this situation, a promise is made to us, a promise of change. Not an explanation: the word that comes to us does not say,  ‘Actually, behind all that, God is already controlling everything. He is absolutely sovereign even when the world rebels. So you can relax about your suffering.’

No, the gospel brings us a promise: it tells a story in which God’s kingdom does finally arrive and his sovereignty over the whole creation is perfected and established forever; the story in which his will prevails at last on earth, in which the powers of evil are routed and the captives (us) set free from them, released from suffering into peace. It’s the great story of the Scriptures, the story Israel always told: the story of God’s victory over the dark powers, on behalf of his suffering creation:

for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.     Romans 8:20-21

The Gospel’s take on evil is not, then, to explain it, but to promise victory over itAnd the Christian response? Hope. We pray and wait for the story to take place, for the promise to be fulfilled in time:

and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.            Romans 8:23-25

Tomorrow: Jesus the sufferer

  1. Charlie Ellis says:

    This is very helpful Jono.

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