Salvation is available now and is appropriated to oneself by believing the Word of God as given by God in Romans 10:9-10. The return of Christ is a promised future event that we wait for with earnest expectation but that cannot be attained by any action on our part as it has not yet been made available by God. The hope of Christ's return is that which we look toward as we act with believing upon God's Word.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
The words earnest expectation are the Greek word apokaradokia. Apokaradokia means to look away towards something with the head bent forward. After the fall of man in Genesis the whole creation waited with earnest expectation for the day when salvation would be available.
For the creature [creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
When God promised the coming of the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15, He subjected the creation to hope. Consequently, mankind had to wait with earnest expectation for Christ to redeem him and for it to be available to become sons of God. Only with the coming of Christ could God's creation which was corrupted by the disobedience of Adam be freed.
Because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
The earnest expectation of the hope of Christ's first coming is likened to a woman waiting to give birth. All of God's creation waited with heads bent forward, groaning and travailing as in childbirth for deliverance from the bondage of corruption UNTIL NOW! Now salvation is available. Now Christ has come. Now a person can believe and receive that which God made available with the coming of Jesus Christ by acting upon God's Word as declared in Romans 10:9-10.
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.
For we are saved by [to] 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.
Today we have the spirit from God. Today we have been released from the first hope which God subjected the creation to in Genesis 3:15. But we also have a goal. We hope for the return of Christ at which time we will receive a body like his resurrected body. For that day we wait as a woman in childbirth, with earnest expectation, just as the creation waited for the first coming of Christ.
For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look [with earnest expectation] for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ;
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
The working (energizing action) of that day will not be our believing action but action by the Lord Jesus Christ who has the power to subdue all things unto himself. The whole creation will be ordered under Christ at his second coming. Part of that action will be a new spiritual body for believers. Part of that action will be a gathering together of all things in Christ.
That in the dispensation [administration] of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Subjection [setting in order under] is the defining characteristic of that which is coming. It began with Christ's resurrection, it will continue with our receiving new spiritual bodies at the return of Christ, it will include Christ's reign until all enemies are under his feet and death is destroyed, and it will conclude with Christ himself set under God that God may be all in all.
I Corinthians 15:23-28
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
For he [God] hath put all things under his [Christ's] feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him [Christ], it is manifest that he [God] is excepted, which did put all things under him [Christ].
And when all things shall be subdued unto him [Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [God], that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Our earnest expectation
for which we hope with heads bent forward is that day when Christ shall
return, when we shall be gathered together with new spiritual bodies, when
all shall be put in order under Christ, and when God shall reign over all.
What a day that will be!