We have seen in part one of this rapture series the earnestness the rest of creature have concerning the manifestation of the sons of God, and we encouraged there that the believer, the centre of everything as far as the rapture is concerned, should be even more earnest in his looking up or anticipation of the rapture. In part two we considered the groans of the rest of creature and how they relate to the subject matter of the rapture or catching away of the saints into eternal glory with God. We saw that the creature groans to be free from the curse that came with the sins of man that hugely rub off on it preventing it from performing optimally. It groans to be free from its abuse by men. It groans to return to its purpose of creation. And we noted that the rapture of the saints is the first sign of it (creation or nature) achieving that hope, for God will not make all things new without first redeeming or catching away the crown of His creation: man, with whom also He returns to govern His restored creation. So, creation groans!
And if the ‘creature’ or all creation of God groan, as we have seen already, should not the primary and special segment of that creation, now called the redeemed or saints; the segment that the redemption or freedom of all other segments of creation hangs, groan and even much more? We saw in the concluding part of the previous work what Paul said by the Holy Spirit in Roman Chapter 8: 23: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” This is groaning of the saints in connection with the rapture or final salvation of the saints.
Not only they, we also Groan!
For better grasp we shall take again, as we did in the two previous parts, all the verses of Romans 8: 18-30 but presently we shall read from only The New Living Translation version: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children,* including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together* for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory”.
“And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us”. This is how this version of the Bible puts verse 23. The subject matter of the rapture must have filled the hearts and thoughts of the saints then. Paul came out with this same revealing truth again elsewhere in Scripture (2 Corinthians 5: 1-5): “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”
Don’t miss out the two phrases that we have been dealing with so far in this series visited here again. Verse Two: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven”. We groan! Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven! That is, our new bodies incorruptible. That takes place during the rapture.
In our age the rapture is taken for granted too much. We are too careless about it. Marry Romans 8: 18-30 and 2 Corinthians 5: 1-5 and you must say with Scriptures that: Let every man (and all ‘modern’ preachers of our day) be lie but God be true. God is coming for a few: Those living their lives for Him; the ones eagerly waiting for Him; the ones earnestly expecting the manifestation of the sons of God and desirously want to be among them though few they may be; the ones that groan – as a result. They groan to live right for Him, to serve Him alright and acceptably, to be found faithful at His coming, and they groan for the world’s salvation and the coming Kingdom of the Coming King; the King of Kings. And how many of us are living right and really praying consistently, and earnestly so, about the coming Kingdom (because we are requested to pray for it) and will not know groaning by the Hand of the Holy Spirit from time to time?
God is searching for men who by the Holy Spirit would groan, like deadly wounded men groan; men who will agonize when they remember the unrighteousness in our world and community. But they too must be living right, and agonizing to remain so. I tell you: GOD IS LOOKING FOR THEM!
Groan: What does it really mean?
There are many words in the Greek translated groan or its derivatives in our English Bible. Generally, the word ‘groan’ comes from the Greek word stenazo, meaning to sigh deeply, to bewail. Then ‘groanings’ as used in Romans 8: 26 is the word stenagmos; which means unutterable gushings of the heart. And then in John 11: 33 we see the word embrimaomai involved: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled”. The word embrimaomai, means to “snort as a horse does from fear or anger; be very angry, moved with indignation (John 11:33, 38; Matthew 9:30; Mark 1:43; Mark 14:5). What He was moved against here was no doubt the satanic powers that had Lazarus in their grip (Hebrews 2:14-15). He became troubled, (Greek: tarasso (GSN-5015), to stir or agitate) in mind. He faced a conflict with Satan, the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). See the use of this word in Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:50;
Luke 1:12; John 5:4, 7; John 12:27; John 14:1. Something unusual caused the agitation in each one of these instances” – Finis Jennings Dake.
To groan therefore connotes all of the above. In other words, ‘groaning’ is not only involved when we are in a praying mood or in understandable praying posture. It can take the mood of righteous indignation expressed in moans or low sound expressing pains say because of satanic powers and their works that k
eep men in bondage or the unabashed wickedness of men against God. We groan, and there are a thousand and one reasons why we must groan if the rapture we want to make. So important, we shall see in our next work how the Spirit of God even comes to help us in groaning in this matter of the rapture and things perfectly joined to it.
The rapture is not a milk and honey issue. It is the most serious matter on earth. It is the most demanding issue we can ever imagine. So, let not the misinterpretations of grace by some mislead anyone out there. We are expected to give up all for Him; and live for Him and walk with Him. It is expectedly demanding but eternally rewarding. It was John H. Sammis (1846-1919) who by grace gave the Church of Christ the classic hymn, “Trust and Obey”. We take one stanza:
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss,
Not a frown nor a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
There are burdens, sorrow, and toil, and grief, frown, cross and much more we have to be impregnated with, carry and deliver at the feet of Jesus. It is a crucial part of this Christianity. We groan. These are not necessarily what come upon us as a result of our sins or transgressions. But they are things that come upon us as a result of being His acceptable vessels in His vineyard and walking according to His will and working towards the expansion of His Kingdom. This is the burden, sorrow, toil, grief, frown and cross saints of old and now share with Him. And how can you detach groaning from all that! And, indeed, can you say groaning is not related to each of them: burden, sorrow, toil, grief, frown, and cross!
We groan: suffer, wait patiently, sigh deeply and bewail the foolish way of the world. Concerning the works of Satan we are moved with holy indignation and pain that comes out in inexpressible words. And, of course, once we sense we have said/unsaid or done/undone anything that could take us off the path that leads to eternal life with God we must quickly be grieved for grieving the Spirit, and may the Holy Spirit help us here in Jesus Name! We groan that we make it at last. We groan in service.
Two Helpful Scenes
In Ezekiel Chapter 9: 1-6 we see a helpful scene. We take verse 4: “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Brethren: Do we still need to groan today?
Where are the messages in our churches today that emphasize seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and its righteousness; fleeing sin and all appearance of evil; presenting our bodies living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God; consecration and self-denial, condescending to men of low estate; earnestly contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints; striving to enter in through the strait gate et cetera? Do we need to groan!
Is there any cause to groan when fleshly, carnal and mammon messages have saturated our so-called churches? Do we need to groan when there is hardly any difference between the church and the world as it is in many places today? Do we need to groan that the Sacrifice of Jesus is being made of no effect in many ‘Christian’ circles today? Do we groan that the easiest way to make money today is to become a ‘man of God’! Do we groan that the cults are putting out church signboards everywhere? Do we groan that ‘prosperity messages’ and books of this past thirty years may well be more than all of other Christian ages put together? Do we need to groan that certain men have crept in unawares, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness? Do we need to groan that through covetousness men are feigning words and making merchandise of ‘church people’? Do we groan when there are many Balaams in the Church “which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray…who loved the wages of unrighteousness”? We think we should groan.
What has happened to the greatest miracle of genuine salvation of the soul from Satan and sin! What has happened to the great miracle of being restored to the Maker and having intimate relationship with Him? What has happened to giving our all to Christ, laying our treasures in Heaven and so planting our hearts there? What has happened to living with eternity in view as saints of old lived? What has happened to being light of the world, and salt of the earth? What has happened to Bible Doctrines! We think we should groan.
What happened to “SEEK YOU FIRST the KINGDOOM OF GOD and ITS RIGHTEOUSNESS and all these things shall be added unto you”? Emphases are mine. Do we need to groan when men in the church have changed the order of things, and that is because of the flesh? And do we need to groan that all of that is posing as a stumbling block on the path of the world making it difficult to genuinely find the Savior of their souls? Do we need to groan that the world can hardly find a compass that will properly lead it to the Savior in the matter of the salvation of the soul, sweet fellowship with Him, proper living for Him and eternal habitation with Him? Do we need to groan that the world is roaming because of this and that Satan is taking undue advantage of this? And do we need to groan that iniquity is abounding therefore! Yes, we need to groan.
We will groan because seducing spirits are working hard to deceive many in the church with lying spirits (1Kings 22: 22-23); lying vanities (Psalm 31: 6; Jonah 2: 8); lying tongues (Proverbs 12: 19; 21: 16); lying divinations (Ezekiel 13: 6-7); and lying wonders (2Thessalonians 2: 9). There is too much abomination going on caused by this ‘another gospel, which is really not another’, that our fathers, those holy saints of old, did not give us.
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Those that are living right and groaning about all the abominations in our midst and churches are candidates for the rapture. They are sealed!
And then another helpful scene: The Old Testament closes with this great thought in the last but one chapter of Malachi: “And they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not” – Malachi 3: 16-18.
In verse 16 of Malachi three we see that they feared the LORD and spoke often with one another. When you marry both phrases together you may not fail to see that they were mirroring their lives in the light of scriptures and eternity, and sighing and groaning in prayers unto God accordingly; drawing attention to sundry evils men engage in that breaks the heart of God with a view to agonizing in intercessory prayers for God’s mercy and hand of deliverance upon the people; talking about the mind, purpose and will of God on all things in their walk with Him and committing same to God in serious prayers; prayers that in most times cannot even be uttered, and with often great resolve to serve the Lord acceptably and to always commit such service to God in agonizing prayers.
It is no surprising therefore that theirs is the promise of the rapture in verse 17: “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him
.” In verse 16, you did not see the word ‘service’ that you see in 17; but it is buried in the two phrases: feared the LORD and spoke often with one another! And the word ‘righteous’ that you find later in verse 18 is not seen in verse 16 either. But read properly; it is buried in those two phrases: feared the LORD and spoke often with one another! When we marry both phrases what we get is righteous living and holy service. That is what guarantees our place in the rapture, in the ‘manifestation of the sons of God’; ‘the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body’ that Paul speaks of in Romans 8: 23!
In Romans 8: 24-25 Paul gave further insight on our supposed disposition to the rapture and how to wait for it. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” We are hoping for the rapture. It is a hope, and for hope to be hope it must be continuous; and with outstretched bodies, that denies distractions even for a moment because we know not when He comes. And Paul counsels that with patience must we wait. To ask for a patient waiting suggests that there are distractions, obstacles, devices, discouragements and what have you that may want to sniff off that hope.
And so Paul did not merely now returned to the very necessary subject matter of groaning but actually took it further up. He told us the place and the concern of the Holy Spirit, Who helps us with groaning in the matter of the rapture or manifestation of the sons of God. We shall take that next.