Summary: An Exposititory Message on Romans 8:16-18 Concerning How The Christian Can Be Certain Of Future Glory Despite Present Suffering..
Romans Series # 37 May 08, 2002
Title: Suffering And Glory
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. We are currently in Chapter 8 of Romans as we continue with message #37 of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Romans.
Read Romans 8:16-25
Last week I shared with you from Romans 8:12-15, which emphasizes the Christians status as children of God. As children of God we can now approach God with confidence and enter into a close relationship with Him. Also as children of God we are justified in having high expectations of the benefits that come form being in His family. In much the same sense as the children of Bill Gates or President George Bush might reasonably expect some great benefits as a result of being their children.
In this passage the Apostle Paul assures the Christian that as a child of God such high expectations are not in vain for we will receive some out-of-this-world benefits. Paul uses the terms “inheritance” and “glory” to express these benefits. He wants us to know that these things are certain but that suffering of various sorts also precedes them.
This suffering, which the Roman Christians were currently going through, was an enigma to the early Christians. It was confusing to them because it seemed that children of God shouldn’t suffer. Paul straightens out this misunderstanding, which still exists today, of the present Christian life. The Bible reveals that the Christian life includes suffering in the present, but it also reveals to us that we should be hopeful, not discouraged or despondent, because our future is certain and wonderful. I believe the main message this passage is communicating to Believers today can be summarized as follows:
1. The Christian Can Be Certain Of Future Glory Despite Present Suffering.
As we go through this passage verse by verse we will see the practical impact an understanding of this spiritual truth should have on the Christian’s everyday life, actions, and above all – attitude!
Read Verse 16
This verse actually would have fit better with last week’s message from Romans that dealt with the subject of knowing with certainty that you are God’s child. Last week I noted that the Bible teaches that we can know we are God’s children by our new life direction. (Romans 8:12-15) In this verse Paul continues this emphasis. In essence Paul shares with the Believer that the they can know that they are God’s child because they have the witness or testimony of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the witness of their own spirit.
Although in our inner man (our spirit) we may feel that we are God’s children, we wouldn’t want to rely on that inner feeling or testimony alone, since we could be deceiving ourselves. The good news is that we don’t have to rely on the uncertainty of our own spirit’s witness because the Holy Spirit of God also testifies reliably “with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
The Holy Spirit gives evidence or testimony to the fact that we are God’s children by the inner change and new life direction that we talked about last week. In a sense, Christians have two witnesses, which Roman law required in the cases of adoption, that we are truly God’s children. We have the subjective evidence of our own spirit’s testimony in which we “feel” that we are God’s children and we have the objective evidence of the Holy Spirit’s leading and life-changing power. This latter objective evidence is where the Bible places most of the emphasis when it comes to how and why Christians can have certainty about their status as children of God.
Having established this certainty, Paul now begins to elaborate on what being a child of God means for the present and future.
Read Verse 17
“Now if we are children of God (an established fact) then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” As Christians we have a reasonable right to have high expectations since we are in the family and therefore we are in the will. We have an inheritance from God! Who could be better? Now this inheritance from God doesn’t work like an inheritance today, which requires the death of the giver of the inheritance. The word “inheritance” in the Bible can refer to a family gift that is given at anytime. The prodigal son is an example of this practice. God has an inheritance for His people. Our inheritance as children of God is not something that we currently possess or can expect to possess in this life. It is a future hope we hold in faith while we endure the current tribulations of living in this fallen world.
What is this inheritance? Paul isn’t specific in revealing the fullness of it but he does share that it includes the redemption of our bodies (Vs. 23), sharing of Christ’s glory (Vs. 17), full benefits of adoption (Vs. 23), and glorious freedom (Vs. 21). I will explain the details of these aspects of our inheritance as we get to the pertinent verses in our study. Keep in mind that whatever understanding we gain of our inheritance is going to be limited. Words could never convey our inheritance from God. For this reason Paul prays that the Spirit of God would open our spiritual eyes to a better understanding of “His glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18) No matter how limited our understanding, we do know that it is wonderful! Peter describes our inheritance as one which “can never perish, spoil, or fade (which is) kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)