Today, I would like to take up a very interesting passage in Romans 8 as we continue our study on Rom. 6-8, under the theme “Overcoming Faith” And I’m referring to the Christian’s “Glorious Future! Yes, you heard it right. You and I who have placed our faith out trust in Jesus Christ secures ourselves with a “Glorious Future!”
Background/Context. As we look at the previous verse, we will see that Paul was talking about the children of God as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. “Tayo raw ay taga-pagmana” .
Mapalad ang may mamanahin pero marami sa atin WALA! ( Translation- those who are positioned to inherit something from their ancestors are fortunate, but most of us are not in that position )
But if you are in Christ or a disciple of Christ you are going to inherit something from God! Paul says in v. 17,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
But Paul tells us here that this future glory is tied up to our present situation today particularly our suffering as believers. Paul continues in v. 18,
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
This means that we can never separate our present pain/suffering from the inheritance or future glory that awaits us in Christ and that it is nothing compared to our future glory.
From the next verses, let me now share to you three insights into this future glory that Paul is talking about here. The first is this…
A. We now have a “groaning” life.
As we have seen in verse 18, our future glory could never be divorced from our present pain/sufferings as believers of the Lord Jesus. And Paul in the succeeding verses will tell us the reasons why this is so.
1) Because the healing of our bodies is not yet fully completed (v. 23).
The first reason is found in verse 23. Because the full healing of our bodies is not yet fully completed. Just this morning Dinna and I were talking about our aging bodies…We know that this full completion will take place when our Lord Jesus returns and takes over as Lord of lords and King of kings. But now the Bible teaches that we are being changed into the likeness or character of Jesus. This is the function of pain/sufferings and troubles in this life. In fact, God uses and allows these things to happen to mold and transform us. The great apostle Paul is a good and classic example of all. He is a very godly man and yet he was not exempted from trouble or suffering. In fact, he had what he called a “thorn in the flesh,” a messenger of Satan which can be a physical defect or an oppressive emotional or spiritual disease. Listen to his personal confession:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
What is your “thorn in the flesh’? It is a reminder that we need the grace of God daily in our life!
2) Because the hope of our calling is not yet fully realized (vv. 24-25).
Another reason is in verse 25. Because the hope of our calling is not yet fully realized. We live in hope today. To hope is to wait or long for something to be realized or to be seen or experienced. And Paul teaches us to wait confidently and patiently for it.
I practically know this concept of hope because now that I’m on leave I committed to fetch my wife, Dinna from her office every day. Ate the end of the day, I would wait at McDonalds or in front of their office, or wherever else we agreed to I would wait for her. I am confident that she would come and arrive soon because she told me so and I know by experience that she would always come. By as many times as I wait, there is always that anxious feeling that comes to your mind “what if she does not come” or “bakit and tagal naman lumabas” or that feeling of restlessness or worry. Ganun talaga.
So, I would always fix my eyes and attention to the main door of their office and expect that any moment she would appear and my hoping or waiting will be fully realized. There were times that she would be delayed so I would worry or be restless. Bat wala pa. So I would turn my attention to other things: music stereo. Look at the people passing, read my Bible, my notes or even pray… And most important of all remind myself that she will come because she said so and I believe her. So my heart is looking forward to her appearance on that door. And when she finally comes out and appear in that door, there is that sigh of release, a feeling of joy and happiness because Now my waiting has become a reality. This is what I believe Christian hope is. We are waiting for that day when our bodies will be fully glorified/perfected. Our faith will become a reality. For we will see God face to face – that’s what the Bible says!
In other words, there’s a struggle as we live our Christian life. Because we are still in these corrupt and decaying bodies of ours and we are in that stage of hoping and waiting in which we are subject to many anxieties, trials, and temptations. But the good news is that we have good company!
Verse 23 says that we have the Holy Spirit as a deposit for that future glory that awaits us. This leads me to my second insight…
B. We also have now have a gracious helper/intercessor.
God knows our situation that He gifted us the Holy Spirit to be our gracious Helper and Intercessor! Paul here shares to us at least two important things that he does for believers.
1) The Holy Spirit teaches us what to pray and how to pray effectively (v. 26).
Now, note verses 23 and 26b. Verse 23 tells us that we are the ones groaning while verse 26 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the One groaning interceding for our prayers. In other words, The Holy Spirit acts as a sort of Quality Control. He filters our prayers. He teaches us what to pray and how to pray effectively. So, the next time you are stuck in prayer. Pray something like this: “Holy Spirit, teach me to pray!” Just like what the apostles did when they were with Jesus!
2) The Holy Spirit teaches us the will of God to ensure answered prayers (v. 27).
Another thing that the Spirit teaches us is the Will of God. Now, this is important because God answers prayer not in our terms but in His terms. So, He answers prayers that give glory and honor to His Name. Prayers that are consistent with His nature and character. Listen to what John said:
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him” (1 Jn. 3:21-22).
While James reminds us that we receive not because of our wrong motives.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (Jas. 4:3). While Matthew exhorts us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
C. And we will have a glorious future!
Finally, the third insight is this- We will have a glorious future! The passage tells us that even creation is looks forward to it!
1) God’s creation looks forward to it! (vv. 19-22).
The Bible teaches us that creation has been put into curse or bondage when our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned against the Lord. Genesis teaches that their sin did not only damaged their relationship with God and one another (fellow human beings) but also against nature. Genesis tells us that as a consequence of their sin:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field” (Gen. 3:17,18)
So, here Paul compared God’s creation to a woman in labor or giving birth. This tells us that nature is also in pain/suffering. This reminds of what was recorded now as the worst environmental disaster in the US, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by the British company BC. Of Ondoy. We are now reaping what we have sown. But the text teaches us that creation’s total freedom from sin’s bondage and decay can only happen when God’s people first experience total freedom from sin and death – our complete and full glorification as God’s children! And as to what it is – no one knows!
2) God’s children long for it! (v. 23).
Paul echoes what all of us in Christ has been longing for –the complete revelation of our inheritance as children of God. This includes the full glorification of our bodies, eternal life, our eternal rewards, what heaven be like, what are we going to do there, who we are going to fellowship with, what are we going to do as citizens of heaven, etc, etc, etc, etc…
From these passages we learn that—
There is no blessing apart from suffering.
No crucifixion, no coronation.
No pain, no glory.
No obedience, no reward.
No faith in Jesus, No heaven and no glorious future for YOU!
This message was delivered by Dr. Valentino P. Natcher at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati City, Philippines last June 13, 2010