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Grace to You - Resource

We are studying Romans chapter 8, and just having a wonderful time digging into the Word of God on this great, great chapter.  Romans chapter 8 we've entitled “Life in the Spirit.”  And in this chapter, we're looking at a number of things which the Holy Spirit does for us.  We remember, don't we, that chapter 8 verse 1 begins with that monumental statement, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  There is no condemnation.  Of course, that is because we have been justified by faith through Christ, and we are given the righteousness of Christ.  And, therefore, there is no condemnation.

 

Now, that no-condemnation status is guaranteed to us, confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit.  And this chapter unfolds for us how the Holy Spirit secures our no-condemnation status.  It's the greatest chapter on the security of the believer in the Bible.  But it emphasizes the Holy Spirit's work of securing our no-condemnation status.  Once we have been made righteous before God, once we have been justified, our sins have been forgiven, we enter into a no-condemnation status, and the Spirit of God is the One who confirms that.  We've already seen that He does it by freeing us from sin and death.  He does it by enabling us to fulfill the law through imputed righteousness.  He does it by changing our nature, verses 5 to 11.  He does it by empowering us for victory, verses 12 and 13.  He does it by confirming our adoption into the family of God, verses 14 to 16.

 

And here we come to the...the great middle section of this chapter.  He does it by guaranteeing our glory.  The Holy Spirit guarantees our glory.  As it says in Ephesians chapter 1, He is the down payment.  He is the first installment.  He is the engagement ring.  He is the guarantee of eternal glory.  And that is emphasized from verse 17 down through verse 30.  This is the securing work of the Holy Spirit and defines for us how He guarantees our eternal glory, maintaining our no-condemnation status.  The freedom we enjoy from sin's dominion, the ability to fulfill the law of God, the desire to mind the things of Spirit, the power to overcome the deeds of the flesh, the sense of belonging to God as His own beloved children.  All these are confirmations given us by the work of the Holy Spirit that assure us there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ.

 

And here's the final securing factor.  The Holy Spirit guarantees our glory.  In fact, here is a...a...a broad definition of a truth given in Philippians 1:6 where it says, "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."  That statement says that what the Lord began He will finish, and this particular section tells us how.  He will bring us to glory, guaranteeing our glory by the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit.  And, of course, after that has been fully explained through verse 30, there is that final doxology, that final paean of praise starting in verse 31 and running down to verse 39, the climactic, final, glorious praise to the God who has granted us this no-condemnation status and secured it to us by the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

But the theme of the section we're in, verses 17 to 30, is that matter of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing our future glory.  And, as I said, here is the most important passage in the Bible on the security of the believer, on the perseverance of the saints.  Or to put it in vernacular, here is the best text to look at to show and to prove that what the Lord begins, He finishes.  Or, in other words, once saved, always saved.  And the sum of it is in verse 30.  "Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."  No one slips through His fingers.  From predestination to calling to justification to glorification, He completes the work.

 

And glorification means complete deliverance from sin.  Complete in every sense.  And that occurs when we enter into the presence of the Lord and are made perfect like our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  This is the goal of our salvation.  We are saved for this final glory.  We keep reminding you, and it's important to remind you of that, that our salvation had and has as its purpose our glorification.  And so God's intention for us has not yet been fulfilled and will not be fulfilled in this life.  As I have been saying at a number of funerals lately, those saints who leave this world and enter into the presence of the Lord are simply arriving at the point for which they were chosen in the beginning, because they were chosen to glory.  They were chosen to be finally and ultimately conformed to the image of God's dear Son, as it says in verse 29.

 

So we are learning then in this chapter about all the things the Spirit of God does to confirm our no-condemnation status, and we've now come to the final one - that great and glorious reality that the Holy Spirit secures our glory.  As we begin to look at verses 17 to 30, we're going to break it down into several different sections so that we can grasp the richness that is here.  The first one we're looking at last week and tonight is verses 17 and 18.  In these two verses, we find the incomparable gain of glory, the incomparable gain of glory.

 

Let me read the two verses.  "If children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.  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."

 

And the idea is that there...there is glory to come to which nothing is comparable.  That's why we call it the incomparable gain of glory.  What God has prepared for us, the glory that is to be revealed to us, entering in as heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, being glorified with Him at the end of verse 17, is something without compare.  We have nothing to which we can compare it.  And so we are calling these two verses the incomparable gain of glory.

Because we have been adopted, verses 14 to 16, because we have become the children of God by adoption in which we can cry, "Abba!  Father," because we belong to Him as the Holy Spirit witnesses to us, as it tells us in verse 16, we have all the rights of children.  We are God's children.  We have been adopted into His family.  We have all the rights and privileges of His true children.  Consequently, remember now, as we enter into verse 17, here are the incomparable gains of glory that come to His children.  First, we are heirs, he says in verse 17.  If we are His children, and we are — We could translate that “since.” — we are also heirs.  Since we are children... That is, in the Greek, A, which indicates a fulfilled condition.  Since we are the children of God, every one of us is a son of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  If we have believed, John 1:12 says, and we have received Him, we have the right to be called the sons of God.  So since we have become His sons, we have, therefore, become His heirs.  And we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.  We looked into that last time.  That...that is just a...a monumental statement.  We are fully adopted into God's family with all the rights and privileges, and with the full inheritance, the full inheritance.

 

Now having identified us as heirs, the apostle Paul then turns from describing us as heirs to our inheritance.  And we saw last time that he begins by talking about the source of our inheritance, back at verse 17.  We are heirs of God.  That is to say, our inheritance comes from God.  He's the one who gives us the inheritance.  He has laid up for us an inheritance which is...which is undefiled and fades not away, and is reserved in heaven for us.  And what is that inheritance?  We will inherit everything that belongs to God.  He will pass on His possessions to us.  It's an incredible thing to think about.  He'll give us His joy.  He'll give us His peace.  He'll give us His power.  He'll even give us likeness to His own Son.  He'll give us access to everything in His entire new heaven and new earth.  And we will have every right to call it our very own.  He will grant us all that belongs to His everlasting and eternal kingdom to be ours forever and ever.  We inherit everything that God possesses.  We even have the privilege, you remember, of sitting on His throne with Him.

 

So we know the source then of our inheritance is God.  The extent of our inheritance is indicated to us further in the statement that we are fellow heirs with Christ.  That is to say we will inherit everything that Christ inherits.  If you read the book of Revelation, you can get a grasp on the meaning of that, because you see in...early in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, as it were, coming out of the throne of God in Revelation chapter 4 and 5.  And Jesus appears.  And in His hand there's a little scroll, and that scroll is the title deed to the universe.  The title deed to the...the entire created universe and even to the eternal infinity of the presence of God.  Christ has the right to possess it.  It's sealed seven times like a Roman will.  And as the book of Revelation opens in chapter 6 and...and the Lord begins to break those seals, all kinds of events take place as He unfolds the title deed to the universe and step by step by step breaking the seven seals which unleash the seven trumpets which unleash the seven bowls.  That describes Christ taking over the universe that belongs to Him.  It is His inheritance.  It is His by right, because He is truly the sovereign and supernatural and divine Son of God.  And everything that He takes as He unrolls the title deed to the universe and takes back the universe and ultimately creates a new heaven and a new earth, everything that He receives, everything that He inherits, we are inheriting, as well, because we are fellow heirs with Christ.

So we are heirs.  We are heirs of God, who is the source of our inheritance.  We are heirs to such a great extent that we will inherit everything in the universe that belongs to Jesus Christ by right.

 

Now there's another thing that I want to draw to your attention here, however, and it's a very practical one.  Before we enter into the fullness of being heirs, before God, as the source, passes down His inheritance and we receive an inheritance at its fullest extent so that it is equal to the inheritance that Christ Himself receives, there is some preparation.  So we go from the heirs to the source to the extent to the preparation.  And this is most important for us.

 

"Since we are children, we are heirs also (verse 17) heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if (or since) indeed (we what?) we suffer with Him, in order that we may also be glorified with Him.  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."  We already know what the glory to be revealed is.  It's to inherit every single thing that God possesses in the entire universe.  It's to reign with Him.  It's to sit on His throne, Revelation 3:21.  It's to inherit a new name and a crown of gold.  It's to bear His image, to be made like His Son.  It's a glorious inheritance.  It's an undefiled, unchanging inheritance.  It's beyond our comprehension.  All of that is promised to us.  All of that is guaranteed to us.

 

But there is a preliminary preparation for that, and the preparation is suffering.  This, too, is part of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Let's go back to that phrase in verse 17, "If (or since) indeed we suffer with Him."  Literally, this is a key term.  Eiper means “inasmuch” or “since.”  It is used of that which is assumed to be a reality, and I wish it were translated that way.  We are fellow heirs with Christ since, indeed, we suffer with Him. Now that could be talking about our being united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, but that's not the intent here.  Verse 18 makes it clear that he's talking about sufferings of this present time.  He's talking about issues of life, sufferings of life, and we, who will be glorified, will also suffer.  As early as the twelth century, Chrysostom translated this word, "Since indeed we suffer with Him."  Suffering is a necessary part of our preparation for glory.

You remember in John's gospel when the disciples were worried all the time about suffering and suffering and suffering, and worried that the Lord wasn't going to establish His kingdom.  And, finally, when He went to the cross, they were in a state of disarray because they really had very little anticipation of suffering.  Even though Jesus had explicitly outlined for them in John 15 and 16 that they would suffer.  He had outlined it to them from the very beginning.  "Don't expect to be any...treated any differently than I've been treated.  If they have treated Me this way, they'll treat you this way." In spite of all the warnings of Jesus, in spite of the very words of Jesus, "In this world you will suffer tribulation,  the die...the time will come when they'll put you out of the synagogue and when they'll even take your life, put you in prison."  He had warned them and warned them and warned them.  And, yet, it seems as though they were oblivious to that reality of inevitability of suffering.

 

James and John, you remember, sent their mother to Jesus to ask if they could please be granted the right to sit on His right hand and His left hand in the kingdom.  And Jesus answered, "It's not for me to give.  It's for the Father to give, but I'll tell you what the criteria is.  It's for that one who suffers the most."  And Jesus was telling us that greater glory in eternity is related to suffering in this life.  It's not related to achievement, human achievement, or even church achievement, I guess we could say.  It's related to suffering.  Suffering is a necessary part of the preparation for glory.

 

And by suffering, listen carefully, we do not mean physical suffering, necessarily.  Nor do we mean persecution, necessarily, of some kind of overt form which ends up in...in prison or maiming or even martyrdom.  We're talking about all manner of suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes it's in the family. Sometimes it's...it's in the family where that intense alienation comes.  I talked to a young man tonight before the service who comes out of a Jewish family who’s been utterly and totally alienated from his family because he's embraced Jesus Christ.

 

It may...may not even be beyond that, but it may involve the workplace.  It may involve your relationships at work or at school.  It may involve a number of alienations relationally in life.  And, for some, it does involve even more stern things.  Christians all over the world, as we know today, are suffering greatly at the hands of anti-Christ people who are in power.

 

But suffering is a necessary part of the preparation for glory, and the...the...the degree of glory is somehow related...he...to the degree of suffering here.  In 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 11, “It is a trustworthy statement: If we died with Him, we'll also live with Him.  If we endure, we'll also reign with Him."  I mean that's...that's the basic idea.  "If we died with Him, we'll live with Him.  If we endure, we'll reign with Him."  There...there's going to be a...there's going to be a road of suffering here, for some even death.

 

In 2 Timothy 3:12 is the most notable verse.  "And, indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  All...all...there will be a level of alienation.  There will be a measure of hostility if you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  Don't look at it as a negative.  It's really a positive, because it's part of the preparation for your glory.  In 1 Peter 5:10, "And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."  In other words, you want to look at your suffering and...and look at that alienation and that ostracization and even, in some cases, that persecution.  You want to look at that as the path to glory.  The more faithful you are here, the more bold you are here, the more you pursue godliness here, the greater will be the hostility of those around you who reject the truth and, consequently, the greater will be your capacity for glory in heaven.

 

Paul, you remember, rejoiced in his suffering, because when he was weak, he was strong.  In other words, when he came to the end of himself, then he was at the beginning of God's power.  When...when he had nothing to offer but could throw himself only on the power of God, that's when he was most useful to God.  But there was more to it than even that.  Paul was willing to suffer, not only in this life, he was willing to be weak, not only in this life, because it released the power of God, but because it also gained for him a greater weight of glory in the life to come. He was willing.

 

Second Corinthians, as we know, chapter 4, "To be afflicted in every way, but never crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed."  He was indomitable.  You could bend him, but you couldn't break him.  You could pound on him, but you could crush him, because his resilience was built into the fact that he knew that when he was at the end of his own resources, he was at the beginning of total commitment to God.  And he also knew that, when he was without strength, and when he was being most severely maligned and assaulted and persecuted, he was therein attaining a greater weight of glory. He knew that.  He understood that.

 

He could say, in verse 17 of that same chapter, "Momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." I mean he knew that his light affliction in this world was producing for him a great, heavy weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.  And that's...that's the thing he looked at.  That's what motivated him.

 

In 1 Peter 1, "In this you rejoice greatly (verse 6) even though now for a little while, if necessary, you've been distressed by various trials, that the proof your faith being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  That is just a great passage.

 

So you have a little trouble in this life.  Do you?  You're misunderstood.  You're hassled because of your faith.  You're maligned.  You're rejected.  You're alienated.  You've been distressed by these various trials.  And these trials have tested your faith.  And, therefore, they're more precious than gold which perishes, because these things tested by fire won't perish, but will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus comes.

 

Now, this suffering, this suffering is connected to your union with Jesus Christ.  You don't want to come up with the idea that any suffering at all is somehow gaining you a greater way to glory.  When you suffer for your own stupidity or your own sin, that doesn't count.  That has no spiritual benefit.  This suffering is related to your union with Christ.  It's...it's not just simply earthly pain.  You say, "Oh, I have such a hard life.  My husband doesn’t...doesn't understand me.  My kids are a trauma to me most of the time.  Life is really hard.  We...we can't make ends meet.  Etc., etc., etc.  And...and I've got an illness or a disease or whatever."  That...that isn't really what it's talking about.  I mean life delivers trouble to everybody, and everybody dies, and so everybody gets something.  And everybody deals with the lack of fulfillment, and everybody deals with the...the difficulty of relationships at the most intimate level.  We all understand that.

 

But what kind of suffering we're talking about, and Paul is talking about, is that kind that's related to the reproach of Christ.  He's talking specifically about that.  I mean you...you...you may think that because someone suffers for...for years and years in this life with some debilitating disease or debilitating illness, somebody suffers from a malady of some kind, or somebody has terrible suffering from cancer or whatever it might be, that somehow just that pure physical suffering is gaining them an eternal weight of glory, that's not the case.  What Paul is talking about is that suffering which is ours because of our oneness with Jesus Christ.  That is the issue.  It's because we identify with Jesus that we suffer, that we feel reproached, that we feel the alienation, that we are ostracized.

 

And it's not that we go through life miserable about that, because we have on the other side the tremendously rich and fulfilling and invigorating and enjoyable and comforting and encouraging fellowship of believers to offset that hostility.

 

But, remember, John 15:18, "If the world hates you, you know that it's hated Me before it hated you.  If you are of the world, the world would love its own.  But because you're not of the world, and I choose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you."  You should be expected to be resented by the world.  I can't, for the life of me, understand how Christians ever got the idea that the idea of the church or that the plan of the church was to get the whole world to like them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And if we do what we're supposed to do in confronting the ungodly world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, either they believe or they become antagonized.

 

But that's where you lose your life.  That's where it doesn't matter. And the more you lose your life here, the more you find the fullness of glory there.  And this is a...this is a short time to gain an eternal weight of glory. Any...any cruelties, any mockeries, any hostilities, any misrepresentations and misunderstandings, any sufferings of Christ, as Paul calls them in 2 Corinthians 1:5, which were so abundant in His life.  Any of these things that we endure at the hands of unbelievers who reject our Christ and reject our message, any of these experiences which Paul calls the fellowship of His sufferings, any of those things which Paul in Colossians 1:24 identifies as filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.  In other words, they can't...they can't harm Christ.  He's not here, so they harm those who are Christ's.  Any of those kinds of things which we endure, any of those kinds of things which we suffer should cause us, 1 Peter 4:13, "to keep on rejoicing," because we share the sufferings of Christ.  And someday we will receive glory from Him.

 

Now I want to stop at this point and say something very important.  These sufferings are not efficacious.  They are not in themselves virtuous. They are not some human means of earning things.  They are God-appointed, and when we respond rightly to them, they are preparations for eternal glory.  They follow the path of the Messiah, actually.  It...it was Jesus, you know, who set the standard.  Luke 24:26, Jesus said, "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory?"  Philippians 2 talks about the...the incarnation, Christ making Himself a servant, taking on the form of a man, being obedient unto death.  And then it says, "Wherefore, God has highly (what?) exalted Him," lifted Him up, given Him a name which is above every name.  That was the very path which our Lord Himself was on.

 

Peter in 1 Peter 1:11 talks about the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It's just a matter of being willing to live your Christian life in a sinful world.  It's just a matter of not being ashamed, and speaking the truth in love. You should look at that as a great opportunity to secure not only the honor of Christ, but the joy that comes in eternal glory when you receive your reward.

 

Listen to Luke 6:20.  Jesus says, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you and cast insults at you and spurn your name as evil for the sake of the Son of Man.”  How should you respond?  Be glad in that day and leap for joy.  What? Yes, for your reward is great in heaven.  There is a corollary between suffering here and being glorified there.  That is all in the economy of God to unfold to us when we enter into His presence.

 

How far is this, folks, from the health-wealth doctrine?  The health-wealth viewpoint says the whole idea of the Christian life is comfort and riches here and now. What lies.  Christianity is not escapism.  Christianity is not materialism.  Christianity is not selfish indulgence.  And such Christians who pursue that kind of stuff limit their potential for eternally reflecting the glory of God.

 

So Paul shows us our inheritance.  We have seen the heirs.  That's us, all who have been adopted into the family of God.  We have seen the source, God, who gives us this inheritance.  We've seen the extent, the extent of our inheritance is equal to the inheritance of Christ, who inherits all that God possesses.  And we've the preparation for inheritance, which is suffering.  And, beloved, just to sum up what I've been saying to you, your eternal glory will be, in some way, related to your willingness to suffer the reproach of Christ in this life.

 

And then, finally, in these two verses, and that's as far as we're going to go tonight.  We'll save the next section for next Lord's Day.  Finally, there's a climactic statement at the end.  We'll call it the comparison.  The heirs, the source, the extent, the preparation, and the comparison with regard to glory.  Verse 18, Paul really knew what it was to set his affections on things above and not on things on the earth.  He really knew what it was to live with heaven in view.  He could say, "For, to me, to live as Christ and die is gain,” far better to depart and be with Christ.  If the Lord wants me to stay, I'll stay.  But if I had my choice, I'd get out of here."  He was really heavenly-minded.  He really looked to the afterlife.  He really got a grip on eternity.  He was not all wrapped up in time.  This wasn't everything for him.  This was really a...a minor detail.  He was on his way to glory and couldn't wait to get there.  And because of that, he says, "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."

 

And one of the things we've learned in our study of 2 Corinthians is that he chronicles over and over and over again the...the measure of the suffering which he endured.  He talked about it in chapter 1. Almost the whole first chapter of 2 Corinthians is about his suffering.  He talked about it in chapter 2.  He talked about it at...at great length in chapter 4.  He talked about it again in chapter 6.  He talked about it again in chapter 7.  He talked about it again in chapter 10.  He...he made a major statement about his suffering in chapter 11.  It was so much a part of his life.  And he suffered so immensely, so...so greatly going from prison to prison to prison everywhere he went, generating immense hostility and having to escape for his life.  Knowing that every day could be his last day.  Any day the plots of the Jews or the hostilities of the Gentiles could erupt, and he could be executed.  He ran from riots here, there, and everywhere.  On one occasion, he was stoned and left for dead in a dump, and God was gracious to him and revived him, and he went from there on to preach.

 

Paul knew what it was to suffer.  He knew the physical suffering of...of all of those who hated Christ and wanted to inflict it on Christ, but couldn't get to Christ, 'cause He wasn't here, and so they got to His main agent, who was Paul. He knew that. So when he says in verse 18, "I consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared," he is speaking from large and broad experience. He's really saying, "I don't think our present sufferings for Christ are at all surprising.  Nor are they at all inconsistent with our being sons of God.  If you think that when you become a son of God, you just go breezing through the rest of life, you've got it all wrong."  All wrong.

 

There are a lot of Christians today who think that somehow our society ought to recognize Christians and treat them in a manner that they deserve to be treated.  Well, the fact of the matter is that's not going to happen, because all the ungodly in the world belong to the kingdom of darkness, which is totally hostile to Christ, and it is Satan himself who generates cultural norms.  His hostilities are passed through society.  Sometimes that's mitigated by Christian influence.  It was in our past.  It isn't in our present.  I don't think our present sufferings for Christ are inconsistent with being sons of God.  They're not inconsistent with living in an ungodly, Christ-rejecting world.  I expect that hostility.  I expect hostility from all those who reject the gospel.  I expect hostility from all those who reject the categories of sin, which the Bible so clearly defines.  I expect that kind of hostility from all those who resist Jesus Christ's claim on their life and who resist the Word of God.  I expect that.

 

Now, the word “sufferings” here is the word pathēma.  And it's a term for suffering used particularly of persecution and of the sufferings of Christ.  In Hebrews 2:10, it's used of the sufferings of Christ; 1 Peter 5:9, it's used of persecution.  It talks about hostilities against the gospel, hostilities against Christ. We expect it in this present age.  We expect it. It's not abnormal.  It's not unusual, and the idea that somehow we can get the world to treat all Christians kindly is folly. The more a society resists the gospel, the more it's going to resist the people who represent that gospel.  And the gospel is a severe offense. And, in fact, if you, as a church or as a minister or as a Christian, decide that you're going to try to make friends with the whole world, you will destroy the gospel.  Once you've taken the offense out, you don't have the gospel. It doesn't mean that we're supposed to alienate people by having a...an ugly personality.  Quite the contrary; we speak the truth in love, but we speak the truth.

 

The comfort of the children of God is not because they're loved by everybody in the world.  The comfort of the children of God is not because they're treated the way they ought to be treated or the...the way they think they ought to be treated by the society they live in.  The comfort of the children of God in the darkest hour of pain in the midst of trial and persecution, the comfort of Christians has always been the hope of eternal glory.

 

Why do you think the blacks in the South, during the years of slavery, wrote so many songs about heaven?  Swing low, what?  Sweet chariot, coming for to get me out of here; I mean the way life was going, they just wanted out.  That's why I told you, when I went to Kazakhstan and I was teaching on the church, and after three days, they said, "When are you going to get to the good part?"  I said, "What do you mean the good part?"  They said, "We want to hear about heaven.  We've really had enough of this."

 

The comfort of the children of God in the darkest hour of pain and trial and persecution has been the hope of glory.  Christians are being persecuted today all around the world.  They're being persecuted in this country, and the...that persecution will continue to escalate.  And Christians are reacting by demanding that the society make them comfortable here and now instead of hanging on with the hope of eternal glory.

Our Lord suffered in this world undeservedly, really undeservedly, because He was sinless, but He committed Himself to a righteous God and entrusted Himself to God.  And God lifted Him up to glory and gave Him a name which is above every name.  So verse 18, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

 

Paul says, "Look, I consider,” verse 18, “I reckon."  Logizomai refers to a conclusion, logic, an absolute deduction from the facts, clear, resolute, conviction that results from reasoning with the truth.  I'm telling you, nothing that happens to you in this world for the cause of Christ, no difficulty, no suffering, no persecution in this life should even be compared to what is to come and the glory which shall be revealed to us, perhaps better, in us, in us.

 

When the world suffers, you understand that when the world suffers, there is no hope, absolutely no hope.  When they suffer, when...when...when somebody suffers unrequited love, when somebody suffers the dissolution of a marriage, when somebody suffers from the infidelity of a marital partner, when somebody suffers the delinquency of a child, the death of a child, when somebody suffers a...a literally devastating disease, they find out they have terminal heart disease or terminal cancer or whatever it might be.  When...when somebody suffers the loss of everything that's dear to them, the death of their beloved, whatever it is, a child, a spouse, a mother or father.  There's no hope.  There...there's nowhere to go.  That's all they get.

 

The suffering here would only be a little, tiny, small dose of what they will endure forever in hell.  But the little bit of suffering that we have here for the cause of Christ is all we'll ever have. And that worst shouldn't even be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.

 

You see, when the world suffers, there's no hope.  There is no hope.  There's no hope of a better life.  Oh, Satan tells them lies about the fact that someday they'll die, and they'll go down a tunnel and there'll be light at the other end of the tunnel, and they'll be in a land of euphoria where music plays, and they'll run through a meadow, and the breeze and...

 

But the truth of the matter is, there's nothing in the future that they know for sure.  There is nothing to look forward to.  And so suffering here is oppressive.  It's devastating, because they haven't got any hope.  And if in this world only you have hope, you're of all men most what?  Miserable.  If all the hope you have is here, if you can't fix here, you're stuck.  If this is all you've got, and you...you wanted a good relationship, and you wanted it right in your marriage, and you wanted it right with your kids, and...and you wanted to fulfill all your dreams and ambitions and desires, and...and you wanted to go over here and do that and live over there and...and do that, and have this experience and that experience, and you wanted your children to grow up and...and bring you joy instead of sadness, and it didn't work out that way, you have nowhere to go.  You have nothing to look forward to.  You have no hope.

 

What a terrible way to live, because life is full of trouble.  But for Christians, we can take even the physical suffering of this world, because we know it's temporary and someday we'll enter into a world where there is no sorrow and no tears and no crying and no death.  That's called heaven.  And we gladly will bear the reproach of Christ and suffer for His name because, whatever we suffer here will be returned to us in a greater weight of glory, which we will enjoy forever and ever and ever and ever as part of our eternal reward.

 

It'll be manifest, not to us, but in us and through us. We...we can hope for that glory in the midst of our suffering.  We can rejoice no matter what happens. So we considered two things.  Our suffering comes at the hands of men.  Our glory comes from God.  And whatever we may suffer at the hands of men will be rewarded eternally from God.  Our suffering is brief.  Our glory is eternal.  Our suffering is earthly.  Our glory is heavenly.  Our suffering is a light affliction.  Our glory is a heavy weight of glory.  Our suffering is in this body.  Our glory is in a body like unto His glorious body.  No comparison.  No comparison.

 

So when we consider the sufferings of this life, we have to consider them in the light of eternal glory and face gladly the reproach of Jesus Christ.  If somebody rejects us for our faith in Jesus Christ, mark it; God promises that secures glory in the life to come.  It will enrich your fellowship with Christ here and now.  It will break the back of your self-confidence and make you most useful to Him.  And it will bring to you the pledge and the promise of eternal glory.  That's how we as Christians view suffering.

 

Listen to what Paul said, and this kind of sums it up in 2 Timothy 1:12.  "For this reason,” he said, “I also suffer these things."  What's your reason, Paul?  "I'm not ashamed.  I suffer, and I'm not ashamed."  You might say, "Well, Paul, look, you suffer all the time.  Why don't you just shut up and quit preaching in public?  Why don't you cool your heels a little bit, and don't be so bold."  No.  "No, I suffer these things, and I'm not ashamed, because I know whom I believed, and I'm convinced that He's able to guard what I've entrusted to Him until that day.”  I don't mind the suffering, because I'm waiting for the day when I see Him face to face.

 

We long for that incomparable glory.  There's nothing in this world that's going to last.  There's nothing in this world that ultimately will satisfy.  We're looking for the glory to be revealed yet in us.  Do you really love His appearing?  That's the way Paul defined it, as loving His appearing.  Are you really seeing your commitment to Jesus Christ in terms of willingness to suffer reproach for His name because it produces an eternal weight of glory? That's the issue.

 

The average Christian, certainly in...in our modern times, thinks that Jesus is a ticket to a happy life.  He is, only it doesn't start until you die. I mean this one is happier than it would be without Him, but it isn't completely happy, is it?  You live with a lot of disappointment.  And it always amazes me how many Christians have such sour dispositions because they've got too much stake in this world. And if you're trying to fix this world, you will be an upset person.

 

We need to understand that this world is going to be filled with trouble.  It's the nature of a fallen world, fallen people.  And if we're going to be bold and live for Jesus Christ and live godly, we will suffer persecution to...to one degree or another.  How in the world can Christians not understand this?  And look at some suffering or some privation or look at some hostility from somebody else as some kind of breach of their rights.  And even Christians today appear to be sort of preoccupied with the desire for a happy life.  Fix my life.  Make it more comfortable, more happy, more fulfilling, more satisfying.  Frankly, all that stuff is pretty trivial.  Being preoccupied with creature comforts is the main reason why moan...many Christians, if not most, live lethargic Christian lives, spiritually listless, spiritually indifferent.

 

Slumber for them is sweeter than toil, as the Orientals used to say.  And they refuse to be aroused.  Nothing, really, to me is...is more sad than spiritual apathy. They...those people who just want to be comfortable, they miss the whole point of eternity.  I don't want to be comfortable.  I want to be useful.  I don't want to be comfortable.  I want to be effective.  I don't want to be comfortable.  I want to confront an ungodly word, and if word...and if persecution comes, that's fine, too, because that's not a negative.  It produces dependence on God.  It brings me to the end of my resources and unleashes His and produces for me a far greater weight of glory.  And if my perspective is heavenly then I can see the blessing of that.

 

If you are seeking to be comfortable in this world, you've missed the whole point.  A godly life will be invariably persecuted to one degree or another.  It may be your own family that are hostile to you.  It's always sad and painful, and you may be branded with the marks of Jesus, as Paul said he was in Galatians 6:17.  And some people will even be martyred, but even that is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be someday revealed in us.

 

Ask yourself if you're willing to be bold, faithful, clear in your Christian testimony, so that no one at all is in the dark about where you stand; willing to speak the truth of Jesus Christ in love.  And, if need be, suffer humiliation and hostility and alienation and not be bothered by it at all, but rather embrace it as the purpose of God is unfolding, which will yield for you an eternal weight of glory.  What a tremendous truth.

 

That was Paul's view.  He said, "Look, you want me to define my life?  I fought the good fight.  The whole deal was a fight.  I ran the race.  I finished the course.  And that's okay.  I don't mind running a race.  I don't mind the discipline.  I don't mind the exertion.  I don't mind fighting the fight.  I don't mind the hostility. I don't mind engaging the enemy because there's laid up for me a crown of righteousness."  And he always had that heavenly view.  He pressed toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

So the Holy Spirit guarantees to us our eternal glory, but the path to that glory, that wonderful inheritance from God equal to the inheritance of Jesus Christ.  We'll be joint heirs with Him.  That wonderful inheritance laid away for us, in its full expression, will be defined by our willingness to bear the reproach of Christ in this world.  And if we truly are Christ’s, we will suffer, and we will suffer, and by that suffering, gain by the grace of God, glory.  What a promise.

 

Learning to live in this comfortable society in the light of eternity is very, very difficult, much easier in much poorer cultures, much more deprived cultures.  And we who have been so greatly blessed, while we enjoy those creature comforts, realize that they are very seductive.  And we can get very lethargic and very indifferent and consumed with our own comfort, rather than consumed with the proclamation of the glory of Jesus Christ in the few years we have here, whatever that may bring of hostility and alienation.  But if you have the eternal view, you'll make the commitment.

 

Well, we'll go on with this great section next time.  Let's bow in prayer together.

Father, these moments go so fast by, and we feel like we have barely begun to comprehend and grasp Your great truth.  And...and, yet, Lord, even a little bit that we take hold of in our minds is...is captivating and overwhelming.  We thank You that Your Word is so clear to us. But, Lord, at the same time, it...it bears upon us a great weight. It presses against our disobedience.  It confronts our apathy and our lethargy and our indifference and our preoccupation with ourselves.  It produces guilt about our loving this world and being caught up in the trivialities of life. Lord, may the Word do its work in our hearts, and give us a new and a fresh vision of eternal glory and a willingness to follow the path our Savior took, the path to glory through suffering.  And may we desire to live godly, willing to suffer whatever comes.  Whatever comes by way of the reproach of Christ, because any small suffering in this world is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Help us to set our affections on that eternal glory, that we might, indeed, bring You honor.  And we'll thank You for this great privilege and for Your great promise.  In the Savior's name.  Amen.

 

 

This sermon series includes the following messages:

Grace to You
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time

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