“16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:16-18
The Spirit chapter of Romans has revealed a lot of things as we have trudged through it. Romans has proven to be incredibly deep with volumes of information in every verse, and this passage is no different. In this passage, we see that the glory of God revealed in us is imminent. It is going to happen. We can find absolute security in our salvation here in this little compilation of three verses.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he states in chapter 1 this same encouragement.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
This “good work” is our glorification. It is Him fulfilling His purpose in us. Later in chapter 8, Paul says it this way:
“29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
Obviously, we will get to this passage later, but we see really quickly His purpose in verse 29 is to make us more like Him. Then, in verse 30, we see that the process goes way beyond our lifetime. It started in eternity past (predestined), goes through our lifetime (called/ justified), and then ends in the future (glorified). Not one piece of the puzzle is misplaced. If part of it happens, it all happens. They are connected and do not exist independent of each other.
Now, back to our passage. First, we see in verse 16 that we know this process is taking place.
“16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,”
We have talked about the change that takes place inside of us when we are justified. Earlier we learned that it is impossible for justification to occur without the process of sanctification to start. If God is going to conform us more to His image, and make us more and more like Him, then there will be a difference in how we think, act, feel, etc.
That difference comes from the Spirit. Jesus explained it this way:
“7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:7-11)
This convicting of the world comes through the conviction of His people. Part of the sanctification process, a huge part is God writing His law on our hearts. The prophet Jeremiah spoke on this:
“33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)
“40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:40)
We cannot be prepared to spend eternity in His presence unless eternity in His presence becomes our greatest desire. Our “want to” has to change. This want to changes because the Spirit starts to speak in our hearts this change. When that happens, our security is confirmed.
“17… and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
The word “if” is used in this statement twice: “If children” and “if indeed”. This word “if” is not a conditional statement. It translates more as “since”. It is confirmed, it is not still up in the air. You can know that you are God’s child because of what the Spirit is doing inside of you changing your wants and desires, and since that has happened, you can know that you are an heir to God’s Kingdom. Since you are an heir, you will receive the full inheritance of what that entails. God is everything, so His inheritance is everything. This is more than a really cool estate or even a worldly kingship. This inheritance is the keys to the universe that your Father has created. This inheritance brings a different connotation to any one that we have ever seen or experienced, because it comes from the Creator of the Universe and not a part of creation that has only received power and authority through the sovereignty of the One that has allowed it. This inheritance is a big deal.
So far in this passage, we have seen confirmation of our family line and what that means. We are the children of the most-high God, the Creator of the Universe, and we will receive the benefits of that in the future, as we will be brought into His presence for eternity. There is hope, security, and a whole bunch of excitement in that. But, there is another part that we must not overlook; suffering.
“… if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (v. 17b)
As long as there is sin in the world, as long as there is sin in our flesh, suffering will be present. This suffering comes in every shape and form. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc. etc. As long as there is a war being waged, there will be suffering. As long as there is sin in the world, there will be a war being waged. Paul says that this suffering is necessary “so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
This suffering may not take the form of martyrdom or persecution, but it could. I think as a follower of Christ we must be ready for that. Jesus told his disciples:
“10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
“21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21-22)
“18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)
It is apparent that as a follower of Christ, we must be prepared for persecution in any shape or form. I do not think that it means that we should have a death wish, but we also cannot assume that we will be accepted by the world. In fact, if we are accepted, we might need to take a look at the life that we are leading. We probably are not following Christ the way that we need to be, if every one agrees with us. The good news is this should not be taken as a message of doom and gloom. There is nothing that this world can do to take away the joy of the Lord. It was for this joy, our redemption with the Father, that Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
“18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
The glory, promised and soon fulfilled is beyond our comprehension. In cannot be put into human words, even by one of the greatest authors of all time.
“2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” (2 Corinthians 2-4)
But, what we do know about that glory is that it is WAY cooler than anything we have or will experience on this earth. In fact, it is so awesome that it makes the suffering that we endure minuscule in comparison. It also gives us the capacity to appreciate this awesomeness in its fullness. Hope is only found in Christ, but hope is not desired unless one feels a strong need for it. Suffering must play its part in showing us our need for this amazing hope.