Romans 8:18 The Incomparable Glory

 

From time to time we will come to thoughts in Scripture that we know we shall never fully understand, at least not until we get to heaven. Glory is one of them. I call it “incomparable,” not only because it resists comparison with anything we know in this life, particularly suffering, which is the contrast found in our text, but because glory is truly beyond our comprehension. At best we only have an intimation of it. And yet, the greatest word for what is in store for God’s people is glory. Our text says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

The first thing the Bible adds to our understanding is that we long for glory because we once enjoyed it. We once enjoyed glory as a race – in Adam. Adam was made “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26-27), which means that man at the beginning had a kind of glory. He was like God, and he may even have been clothed with the splendor of God like a garment. But man today is a disgrace compared to what he once was. He is a fallen being and well described by the biblical name “Ichabod,” meaning “no glory” because “the glory [had] departed from Israel” (1 Sam. 4:21). As far as man is concerned, the glory had departed from his body, his soul, and his spirit.

We enjoyed glory once though, which is why we long for it so much. But it is gone, gone with the wind. What a marvelous thing it is then, when we turn to the Bible, to find that the end of our salvation in Christ is not merely deliverance from sin and evil and their consequences, but glorification. God is restoring to us all that our first parents lost. This is what Paul is beginning to deal with here in Romans, which brings us to our text. But soon as we turn to that text and try to place it in its context, we notice that something greater even than restoration of Adam and Eve’s lost glory is involved. As we read on in Romans 8 we find that we are to have an enjoyment of God and participation in God that surpasses Adam’s.

All this brings us directly to the text. For in Romans 8:18 Paul is comparing the future glory to be enjoyed by God’s people to their present suffering, but saying that the glory far outstrips their suffering. That’s obvious isn’t it? For if the glory we are to enjoy is to exceed even that minimal glory enjoyed by Adam, it is certain that it will exceed the trials we are enduring now.

Finally, if we can appreciate what Paul is saying in this text and get it fixed in our minds, we will find it able to change the way we look at life and the way we live – more than anything else we can imagine. It will provide two things at least: (1) Vision. Focusing on the promise of glory will give us a vision of life in its eternal context, which means that we will begin to see life here as it really is; that is, we need to emerge from the darkness into God’s light. (2) Endurance. Breaking the spell of the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us will give us strength to endure whatever hardships, temptations, persecutions, or physical suffering it pleases God to send us. Suppose there were no glory. Suppose this life really were all there is. If that were the case, I for one would not endure anything, at least nothing I could avoid. But knowing that there is an eternal weight of glory, I will try to do what pleases God and hang on in spite of anything.

Verse 18 has one more word we need to examine; it is the word “consider.” It is the process by which we figure something out. We are dealing with God’s real world, and we are instructed to think this out clearly. Paul writes “I consider that…” meaning that he has thought it through and concluded that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” By using this word he invites us to think it through also. If you are a Christian, I ask, “Isn’t what the apostle says in this verse true? Isn’t the glory to come worth anything you might be asked to face here, however painful or distressing?” If you know that you are part of heaven’s citizenry, you will endure – and say with the hymn writer, “yet how rich is my condition.”

Romans 8:18 Reflection Questions:

What is “the glory that is going to be unveiled for us” depicted in verse 18?

What is it you look towards when you are going through a time of suffering?

When going through suffering do you say “yet how rich is my condition?”

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/20/20

Seed of Faith – My Cup Overflows   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers, and Lovers of GOD:

It is my prayer that as we go through this world-wide pandemic, with it’s shutdowns, slowdowns and stay-at-home times, that we will come to know one thing: our Good Shepherd will never leave nor forsake us. Are you having a difficult day? Pick up your bible and read Psalm 23, turn on a Christian radio station. PRAISING GOD will lift your heart, mind and spirit! In our home I say, “Alexa, play Christian piano music.” It’s the background music for most of my day.

We have been in Psalm 23 for weeks now!  I think it is providential that we are walking with Good Shepherd during this season of life.  Last week, we took a few minutes to look at the first part of verse five. Today we study and learn that our Good Shepherd wants to anoint our heads with oil and have our cup overflow.

Hear the Good News!  Hear or read the promises in the LIVING WORD that God has promised us repeatedly. As I have reflect on this passage, I have asked myself a few so what questions — maybe they are for you too!

Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a great and grand Feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do we hold back? 

Have you ever thought about these things?

Have you ever stopped to ponder this part of verse five?

“You anoint my head with oil.”
I wonder if many of us miss out on the great banquet table of the Lord because we do not know, understand, or are afraid of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “In ancient Israel shepherds used oil for three purposes: to repel insects, to prevent conflicts, and to heal wounds.” Jesus gives us wonderful promises of the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John during the Upper Room Discourse found in chapters 14 through 17.  The promise of the Holy Spirit is that He will anoint us with His power.  The moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the moment you say that you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us to dwell within us.  We are sealed with this anointing.  Have you ever tried to unseal a coat of wax from a freshly sealed floor?  How hard would it be to unseal a freshly heated road of blacktop?  The word (bible) tells us that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. It is this promised Holy Spirit who comes to comfort us, convict us, and guide us into all truth.  The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is a gentleman and anoints us with grace to live in the present, to reconcile our past and to hope for our future. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has come in to dwell within you and will guide you.  My prayer is that each one of us reading this message has been anointed with the gift and the person of the Holy Spirit. If so, you have Spiritual Gifts that are important to the body of Christ. (You may not know what you Spiritual Gifts are! Our website has a FREE Spiritual Gifts test on our website … www.theseedchristianfellowship.com  Go to the website and take your Spiritual Gift test.)

It’s true: You have been anointed by the Spirit of God. I love to think of the Holy Spirit as the spiritual identical twin of Jesus, that is comforting to me.  May this holy anointing help you to repel the enemies of your soul.  May this holy anointing help you to prevent conflicts in your life.  May this holy anointing heal your wounds.  A simple prayer you can pray every morning or at any time … “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your love. Guide me and teach me. Give me wisdom and understanding for today.  Amen”

Let us look at this portion of this verse in Psalm 23,  “my cup overflows.”
Not only is the table spread for us in the presence of our enemies, not only does the Holy Spirit anoint us with the oil of gladness to guide us, comfort us and convict us but the final promise of verse five is that we will be blessed with an overflowing cup.  In the Sacrament of Communion, we are reminded of the cup of redemption that was poured out in the blood of Christ during his crucifixion. “This cup is the cup of the new covenant poured out in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.”

Did you hear it, can I comprehend this?

This overflowing cup is the cup of forgiveness!

We are told to remember this every time we drink from the cup. We are made one (that is atonement—at one-ment) with God through the sacrifice of the Great Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life.  This atonement (our at one-ment) takes care of our past, present, and future sin.  I believe that if you could grasp, comprehend, come to understand the idea that our cup of life is full and overflowing, that your life would change. May your cup overflow this day.

Maybe the so what question today is “How do you see your cup?” Is your cup half full or half empty!  Is your cup overflowing so much that you are drinking from the saucer? Truth is: your cup of life is overflowing with forgiveness.  Forgiveness of sin!  Forgiveness that will overflow into the lives of our enemies as we forgive them as Christ has forgiven us. I believe if we learn to live in the forgiveness of the overflowing cup for us then we will learn to become more and more forgiving of others, and we will learn to live as forgiven people.

Our cup overflows with unfailing, unending, and everlasting love.  God has loved us before we were created, and God will continue to love us throughout all eternity.  God’s love never end. and never fails. My prayer today that you will come to comprehend and, hold deeply in your heart, this overflowing cup that the Good Shepherd offers you.  If we would see this overflowing cup extended into our lives, we would be totally and radically changed. We would live our lives with a fresh kingdom view. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been made ONE with God.  Christ’s blood has filled our cup to overflowing.

So What?
So what do these ancient words written over two thousand years ago have do with us today?  Since we didn’t grow up in ancient Israel, and since most of us didn’t grow up on a sheep farm, we really don’t know much about sheep. We don’t understand about being a shepherd.   My guess is that we know a lot about computers, engineering, and education, but not about sheep.  The idea of sharing a meal is largely lost in our western culture.  In the day of David and Jesus when you were invited to share a meal, it was an invitation to dinner.  Their saying was “mikdash me-at” which literally translates intocome into my miniature sanctuary, my dining room and we will celebrate the most beautiful experience that life affords — it is called friendship.”[ii]  The invitation from the Great Shepherd is for each one of us to become friends, to come into the miniature sanctuary and sit at the banquet table prepared for us.  It is the wedding feast of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and this Great Shepherd anoints us with the power, comfort, and grace of the Holy Spirit. Best of all, there is a chair reserved just for you with your name written on it!

I am reminded of my little grandson so many years ago who wanted to play in the dog’s bowl.  Friends, we have so much more prepared for us.  Our Great Shepherd has painstakingly prepared a banquet table for each one us in the presence of our enemies.  Will you come to the table each day and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you?  Our cup will surely overflow with forgiveness—for Christ has nailed our sin to His cross. Our debt is paid and we are forgiven. It is our turn now to begin living as a forgiven person.

There is an old hymn called “Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us”.  It is my prayer that we will allow our shepherd to lead us through the valleys of our life to the banquet table, the mikdash me-at, the miniature sanctuary of friendship with God.  God has provided for us in our past.  God is providing for us today and God will provide for us in the future.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

My closing prayer is verse two of our closing hymn.
“Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse us, and power to free us:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee.” [iii]

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online service, you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message (hint) on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I have a friend who always tells me, “I’m so blessed, Dave, that I’m drinking from my saucer.” That, my friend, is my prayer for YOU!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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Romans 8:17 The Inheritance of God’s Saints

 

Romans 8:17 introduces us to two important biblical ideas: suffering and glory. The verse begins with the glory, talks about suffering, and ends with glory again. The first statement is that children of God are God’s heirs and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. What a marvelous thing this is, to be an heir of God Himself!

So what does our inheritance consist? What will believers actually possess in heaven? There are a number of things that can be called “lesser items,” and then there is the greatest prize of all. (1) A heavenly home. The first thing that comes to mind here is the promise of a heavenly home that Jesus made to His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion (John 14:1-3). This is a place prepared especially for all believers, and it is guaranteed by no less an authority than the Lord of glory Himself, Jesus Christ. (2) A heavenly banquet. In several of His parables Jesus spoke of a heavenly banquet to which His own are invited (see Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13, Luke 14:15-24; 15:11-32). These stories present our inheritance as joy and secure fellowship. (3) Rule with Christ. Another feature of our inheritance is that we will rule with Jesus in His kingdom. (4) Likeness to Christ. One of the promised blessings is that we will be made like Jesus Himself. John writes about it in his first letter (1 John 3:1-2). It’s hard to imagine a greater inheritance than to be made like the Lord Jesus Christ in all His attributes.

So why would we call those four items “lesser”? It’s because of the amazing and infinitely greater blessing that awaits us as “heirs of God.” Paul speaks of our being “co-heirs with Christ” in verse 17. That is, we inherit whatever we do inherit along with Him. But as soon as we ask, “What does Jesus inherit?” all items mentioned earlier don’t seem to fit. The only thing that can properly be said to be His inheritance is the Father. This is what He had in mind in His great prayer just before His crucifixion (John 17:4-5). Christ’s inheritance is the glory of God, which means the vision or, participation in, and enjoyment of God Himself. This is exactly the flow of thought in Romans 8:17. For having spoken of our being heirs and having reminded us that we must enter into our possession by the gate of suffering, Paul ends us again with glory, reminding us that “we may also share in His [Christ’s] glory,” which is the glory of God.

You may ask yourself; why does Paul drag the subject of suffering in at this point? Paul was a realist, more than that, as an evangelist and a pastor, he knew that the people to whom he was writing were suffering. The early ministers of the gospel began to suffer for the gospel as soon as they began to obey Christ’s Great Commission. In fact if we were to read the New Testament with suffering in mind, you would be startled to discover how extensively it is mentioned. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33b). Most of the New Testament epistles have important discussions about suffering.

Suffering is as common to God’s people today as in New Testament times. We need to understand that. It’s true that most of us do not experience that special kind of suffering we call persecution, though our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world do. But we know suffering. We suffer when we lose a spouse or other family member through death. We groan under pain, trauma, and sickness. We are hurt by prejudice, poverty, or sometimes a lack of rewarding work. The list is endless. Realism and pastoral concern undoubtedly caused the apostle to introduce this subject. Honesty didn’t allow him to talk about our inheritance without at the same time acknowledging that the path to glory involves a cross.

This brings us to the value of suffering according to a right theological framework or life-view. It has several important values, and the first is the chief reason Paul mentions it in Romans: He has been talking of Christians being son and daughters of God; now he speaks of suffering as proof of that relationship, though the suffering may be in any of three different forms, each with a particular purpose. (1) Persecution: Some suffering is in the form of persecution and one value of persecution is that it proves to us that we really are children of God. Jesus taught this many times (Matt. 5:11-12; John 15:18-20). (2) Purification: Not all suffering is in the form of persecution, however. Some of it is from God and is for no other reason than to produce growth and holiness. (3) Training: A third kind of suffering also has value for Christians and can be likened to the suffering endured when a soldier is trained for combat by his commanding officer, or for that matter, the suffering endured in the battle itself.

The second value of suffering is that our witness to Christ is empowered by it. This means that the witness of Christians carries particular weight when it is given under duress, when it is evident to everyone that it would be easier and apparently more rational to back off from one’s witness or even, as Job was advised by his wife, to “curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).

The final thing we need to say about the value of suffering is that it is the ordained path to glory. Paul says this explicitly in verse 17; he also says this in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. There are two basic things to remember about suffering. First, suffering is necessary. Jesus taught that it was necessary for Himself when He said to the Emmaus disciples, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” (Luke 24:26).Then He proved that this was necessary by showing it to them in the Scriptures. Jesus taught that suffering is necessary for us when He said, “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20b) and “In the world you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33a).

Second, although suffering is necessary (and has value), suffering is not the end of the story for Christians. Glory is. Since it’s not the end, since suffering is the path to glory, Christianity is a religion of genuine hope and effective consolation. The Christian who needs to worry about suffering is not the one who is suffering, particularly if it is for the sake of Jesus Christ. The person who should worry is the one who is not suffering, since suffering is a proof of our sonship, a means for the spreading the gospel, and the path to glory.

So let’s hang in there! And let’s encourage one another as we run the race and fight the long battles. We need each other, but we have each other. That is what we are given to each other for. Thus by the grace of God, we may actually come to the end of the warfare and be able to say as Paul did to young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8) May it be so for all God’s people!

Romans 8:17 Reflection Questions:

Paul begins this section (vv. 12-17) by saying that we are in debt, no to the “flesh” but to God. We have to live in a particular way, a way which anticipates the “glory,” the rule over creation, which we will eventually share with the Messiah. How can you live this week in the specific knowledge of being in debt to God?

Sit in silence, giving thanks and praise for being in debt not to sin and death but too God. Then offer short prayers of thanksgiving, giving glory to God for adopting us as His children.