Feb 17, 2011

Romans 8: 17-25

So to recap what we've gone through in Romans 8 so far. Because of our inherent sinful nature with which we are born, we cannot keep God holy Law. Because of our lawlessness, we are in fact enemies of God. Jesus, however, did keep God's Law. Not only did He keep the Law, but also He did it for the purpose of accrediting us with keeping the Law. In addition, by His blood sacrifice He has paid for the forgiveness of our transgression of the holy Law. Therefore, He saves those who are in Him, and we are included to receive an inheritance with Him, as true children of God. At the end of verse 17 though we see yet another 'if' word.

You know, I think the world would just love it if they could just remove all those annoying 'if' words from the Bible. Oh wait, there are many in the Church who are trying.

Anyways, the verse says this, from Rom 8:16-17; "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him".

"If indeed we suffer with Him..."

Does this mean that we must all be under persecution or we are not really saved?

Unfortunately, there are those who would suggest such things. Which is usually a way in which they justify their weirdo cultist practices or their new understanding of what the Scriptures really say to be true?"

Fortunately, this is not what the verse says. Well, I suppose, as it is written, this is what it says. How should it be understood though?

In order to understand difficult passages, there are a couple of ways in which we go about discerning their meaning.

The first way is context. What do all the verses around this verse say? What is the general point of what is being discussed?

The second way is to interpret Scripture with Scripture (which is how we figure out this verse). We would gather all of what we know, in this case, about salvation and then we determine its meaning from that.

So do we need to suffer so that we might be glorified? I think the answer is both yes and no and here's why.

Jesus said that if you follow Me, they will hate you (Jn 15:18-20). Who is "they"? The world. That doesn't mean that everyone you know should hate you. But James does say that friendship with the world is hostility towards God. (James4:4)

So if you would follow after Jesus Christ, but you receive no flack from the world for doing so, perhaps you need to examine your walk with Christ. Are you emulating Him enough? Jesus said that the world hates Him because He testifies that it's deeds are evil. (Jn 7:7)

Do you speak out against evil, or refuse to take part in it? Do you converse with unbelievers so easily that they have no considerations or feel no embarrassment about how they speak when your with them? Perhaps your trying to hard for them to like you. I would consider the words of our Lord and His apostles.

Certainly this does not mean that you always will or even more often than not will receive "persecution", especially not in the way that the early Church did. At least not in Canada or any other western nation. (In the middle east or the far east they certainly do) What do we get? A little bit of ridicule or mocking? Ooooo.

If we consider that and we say that we must be persecuted or we will not be glorified, then I'm out, and my faith is in vain. That's ridiculous. My salvation is based on God's grace alone, by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. (Eph 2) We need also be careful that we don't think that because we are doing things we are earning our salvation. Jesus said there will be a lot of people who do that. (Matt 7:21-23)

I think though, that it's just because of the Christians new nature that he/she will automatically rub the world the wrong way. Some will receive the ire of the world in different ways. What we need to remember though, is Jesus said that if we love our father or mother, son or daughter more than Him, we are not worthy of Him. (Matt 10:34-38)

So if we don't receive such sufferings as Paul did, or consider them as he did; as unworthy to be compared to what we will receive from Him; an eternal inheritance as His children with Christ, then I would be concerned about whether or not the Spirit of Christ dwells within you. Make sure!! There is nothing more important.

For we are waiting anxiously for His return, it is our hope, and if we hold to this as greater than what the world may throw at us, then with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

So let me just conclude by saying (more to myself then anyone), whatever it is you are going through, ridicule at work or with family, defamation, marital problems, job loss, a tragic loss (perhaps even more so if a loved one was killed for the gospel); None of the pain in any of this can compare to the amount of joy we shall receive as we are glorified.

In fact, Peter tells us to rejoice in all of this (1Pe 1:3), as does James (Jam 1:2-5). James goes on to say that through these various trials, it is the Lord who is testing us, so as to produce endurance in our faith so that we may be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I like the way one of my favourite preachers put it (as far as I know he is the author of said quote), Dr. Walter Martin, speaking about boldly proclaiming the gospel no matter the cost in his sermon “Baptism of Boldness”, “and after you have endured everything count yourself an unprofitable servant as you have endured only that what was asked of you”

Great quote. Easier said than done. May the Spirit of the Lord lead us in mortifying sin within us, and sanctify our hearts, conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

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