Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for January 12

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for January 12

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By Dr. Jim Barnette
Professor, Samford University
Senior Pastor, Brookwood Baptist Church

Why Does Suffering Exist?
Genesis 3:16–19; Romans 8:18–25

One of the consequences of our sinful state is hardship and pain. (Gen. 3:16–19)

Although Adam does not himself receive a curse, the ground from which he was formed does. 

Human beings will continue to need food from the plants of the field, but the thorns and thistles that emerge from the ground will make the food more difficult to acquire.  

Furthermore, “travail” will now characterize humanity’s bloodline and the reinstituted marriage relationship will be disturbed by sinful inclinations.  

In the earlier account of creation, God formed man “from the dust of the ground” (see Gen. 2:7). Now because of his sin, God says to Adam, “to dust you shall return.” 

Because the ground entered into the composition of humanity, the curse on the ground became a contributing power to human mortality. 

Death, formerly present in nature and in subservience to humanity, will now terrorize sinful, covenant-breaking humanity as the wages of their sin. 

All of creation suffers because of humanity’s fallen state. (Rom. 8:18–22)

“I consider” is a bookkeeping metaphor that Paul used in Romans 3:28 and 6:11. This is not merely a feeling or a personal opinion. It is something Paul has carefully and prayerfully thought through. 

The glory that will burst upon broken believers will far outweigh the sufferings that have to be endured in the present. Creation is pictured eagerly anticipating when the glorious future of Christ followers is realized. 

In his classic paraphrase of verse 19, J.B. Phillips declares, “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.” 

The present state of the world with its evil is accepted as real, but it is not the Creator’s last word. 

The physical universe was frustrated by Adam’s sin, but there is hope. The day is coming when the created order will be set free from its bondage to decay. 

This is not merely Paul’s speculation but a firm assurance of biblical hope. Christians pray this assurance frequently when they recite the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth.” 

Currently, however, the universe struggles as if it were enduring the pains of a birth. As in childbirth the pain is not meaningless but rather leads to a new creation — or in this case, an entirely new cosmos. 

As sin brought the curse of death to the physical universe, the day is coming when a new heaven and a new earth will be fully established. They will take their place with the children of God in the perfect freedom of a sinless universe. 

In Christ, we will experience the full redemption of our bodies from this life of suffering. (Rom. 8:23–25)

As creatures in God’s world, believers sigh along with all creation, longing for God’s future victory. As the first fruits of the coming age, the Spirit within and among them is already a foretaste and a guarantee of God’s new world that has dawned in the living Christ.  

The phrase “in hope we are saved” is unique among Paul’s letters, as “saved” is used in the past tense and is inseparably attached to future hope. 

Hope does not mean pious wishing as in “we hope we win the game” or “I hope I get a raise next year.” Hope is the complete confidence in the future reality of God’s kingdom. 

Blessed are those who have yet to see but believe. This quality of faith in the future calls for patience among God’s people. 

Patience is not mere solemn passing of the time. The word Paul uses for “wait” connotes eagerness and excited expectation. 

And so we hope with excitement as God the Creator brings all things into perfect newness.