Pastor Josh preached on Genesis 3 last weekend to kick off our six-week Advent Series: Come, Lord Jesus. One of the devastating consequences of the Fall was that the same creation that God had called Adam and Eve to rule over (Gen. 1:26-28) became something that would cause pain and unsatisfying work (Gen. 3:17-19). In a real sense, the wondrous work of creation became something that would wage war against humanity instead of being something in submission to God's image-bearers. That which was God's gracious gift to humanity to enjoy and find satisfying work in had in an instant become that which brings about blood and stress.
I've been reading through Romans recently and noticing Paul's purposeful treatment of creation. In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul describes how creation has continued to be a problem for man and woman, not because creation itself is the problem, but because sin continues to reign in humans. In Romans 1:25 he summarizes how far man's relationship with creation has been tarnished when he says, "because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." Where Adam was called to have rule and dominion over creation and creatures, now humanity has fallen so low that they have denied the existence of the Creator and chose to worship created things, an insanely ironic act exposing that humans have fooled themselves into thinking they are the Creator. Sadly, it is an attempt to erase God's existence and put humanity on the throne.
Once you get to Romans 8, Paul does a deep dive into creation and our relationship with it. We read that creation's own experience from the Fall expresses itself in a few ways:
Creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God (8:19)
Creation was subjected to unwillingly to futility and the Fall because of Adam and Eve (8:20)
Creation is waiting and longing to be ruled over by God's sons and daughters in a way that it was originally meant to be ruled over.
Creation is groaning under the curse of the Fall as it awaits a type of new birth (8:22).
The reality of all this is that mankind has caused creation to suffer. When God declared his creation as "good," we injected it with the curse because of our sin. Paul's logic in Romans 8 is incredible because he is demonstrating that God wasn't limited to saving our souls in sending his Son, but wanted to redeem creation as well. With redemption in mind, Paul writes this in Romans 8:23: "And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
For Paul, you can't separate the physical and spiritual. In the same way that creation has groaned and longed for redemption since our first parents sinned, so humanity has longed to be redeemed. In a statement of pure doxology, Paul responds to humanity and creation by declaring in 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Then in verses 35-38 he lists all these things in creation that have caused blood and stress, things which we believe can strip us of salvation, and says this remarkable phrase in verse 39: "nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Do you see what Paul is doing there? The same creation that mankind ruined, the same creation that causes blood and stress in our lives, is not powerful enough to put a full and final end to itself nor humanity. No, the Creator rules and reigns and cannot be silenced. No, his loud love for all of his creation is trumpeted most loudly and decisively in the death and resurrection of Christ. As Paul says in verses 32-34, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."
The gospel is the great news that Jesus rose again from the dead as the firstfruits of his new creation (1 Cor. 15:23). If he came a first time, we can put all our bets in on Christ's Second Coming where we will be made completely new, creation's groanings will be transformed into songs of praise, and the entire creation will be made new (Rev. 21-22). This is why we can eagerly expect his return (Heb. 9:28) and cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).