Monday, August 28, 2023

2023.08.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:18

Read Romans 8:18

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things from Romans 8:17 does Romans 8:18 now set against each other? To what time does suffering belong? To what time does believers’ glory belong? Where (in whom!) will this glory be revealed? 

What can make our present suffering "light and momentary" to us? Romans 8:18 looks forward to the midweek sermon. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our present sufferings become light and momentary by consideration of Christ's own suffering for us and coming glory in us. 

Infinite suffering at the cross. Our own experienced suffering (Romans 8:18a) is not the infinite suffering. The Lord Jesus endured that suffering on the cross, a suffering as great as God’s glory (cf. Romans 1:18, Romans 1:23; Romans 3:23, Romans 3:25). It is His giving Himself to be united to us through our faith in Him that makes His suffering the propitiation of the glory-sized wrath that was against us. And it is our union with Him that means that He continues to suffer with us (cf. Romans 8:17).

Dear Christian, let the phrase “of this present time” (Romans 8:18a) take your thoughts back to the precious suffering of a former time. It was the glory of God that you had despised (cf. Romans 1:23) and of which you had fallen short (cf. Romans 3:23). Only one as great as God’s glory could suffer as greatly as your sin required (cf. Romans 3:25). How great was Jesus’s suffering! How great is His glory! Your sufferings are too great for you, but bring them and stand them next to His suffering, that you may enjoy the encouragement of seeing them dwarfed.

Finite, present suffering. By comparison to Christ’s suffering at the cross, the suffering that we experience is finite/light and momentary (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17a). And it is further lightened and sweetened by the fact that we do it together with Him (Romans 8:17). 

There was a time when you did not believe in the Lord Jesus. Even then, He helped you. Even then, He sustained you. But the sufferings of that time did not have the sweetness of knowing His sharing in the suffering by virtue of your union with Him. Now, the sufferings “of the present time” come with the sweetness of a present life that is shared with Christ. This has lightened the sufferings that belong to the “present time” (Romans 8:18a) for believers. And in "the future time," there is no suffering at all for us!

But there is one more thing that makes us see it as small: comparing it to the glory that will be revealed in us.

Eternal, weighty glory. Christ’s glory will be revealed to all of the creation on the last day. But Romans 8:17 has just said an amazing thing: we will be glorified together with Him! His glory will be revealed not only in Himself, but also in us (Romans 8:18b). In us, who had been made like Him in our souls at death. In us, who will then have been made like Him in our bodies at the resurrection. In us, who share this glory not just for a moment, but for unending ages. 

What a glory will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18b)! How very worth it are the momentary sufferings, which are themselves even sweetened by going through them together with Him!

What are you suffering right now? To Whose suffering is your suffering incomparably small? How can you make use of the greatness of Christ’s suffering in the past, and Christ’s sharing His life with you in the present, to help you see your suffering in a better light? How are you using your future glory with Him to help think this way?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for so joining us to Christ that we suffer together with Him and will be glorified together with Him. Grant unto us the ministry of Your Spirit to convince us of the lightness of our suffering and the eternal weightiness of our glory to come in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, From the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

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