“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us -Romans 8:18

 

Are you groaning under the weight of some difficulty? Christians and unconverted alike, experience trials. But there is one monumental difference. The Christian may groan, but they are bolstered by God’s promised glory. What is that? Read on to find out how to get through trials in the glory of the Lord.

The Glory that Overcomes Groans of Hurt

There is something that God provides that can get us through any difficulty no matter how severe. This provision of God equips saints to endure being stoned, sawn in two, and slain by the sword (Hebrews 11:36-38). Saints of old endured terrible sufferings like being burned alive or countless diabolical tortures. Then there are the pains of our fallen bodies, afflictions of illness and disease, saints historically have endured with a good testimony. How did they do it? How do they do it?

 Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

“Glory” (Greek doxa) refers to dignity, glory(-ious), honor, praise, worship. In the Old Testament the word “glory” (Hebrew kabob) means weightiness, profundity, splendor. We give glory to God as we recognize in worship God’s transcendent magnificence, His omni attributes (e.g., omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, etc.). We give glory to God when we acknowledge Him as the Enabler and Empowerer of all we do (1 Corinthians 3:7; 10:31).

But the idea of glory also involves future prospects. Glory is the basis for hope. Glory points to promise, the promises of God. And when we understand God’s promises, when by faith we see them as true, reliable, and a certain reality, then we can weather any storm of life. When we grasp God’s glorious promises, then with Paul we accept the powerful weightiness of the glorious truth that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Any pain or suffering experienced in this life, if surrendered to God, can be used by God for His glory. Whatever suffering we experience now, whether physical illness, emotionally due to rejection, persecution, prejudice against our faith etc., when we give it all up to God, can and will be used for His glory. God uses our difficulties and how we trust Him in them, as a testimony to others as to who He is and the sustaining power He provides in such difficulties.

A major part of the sustaining power provided by God to endure trials is the hope of the future glory that awaits us. The glorious prospects promised by God, when understood, believed, and relied on, put to shame the cost of sufferings in this temporal life.

A Powerful Reason to Persevere

Life is filled with intermittent periods of hardship and hurt that cause us to groan with pain. How can we overcome and persevere through such groaning times? The Apostle Paul is inspired here to provide a powerful foundation of perseverance in trials for the Christian. The foundational truth here is that PRESENT SUFFERINGS IN THIS LIFE ARE TEMPORARY; FUTURE GLORY IS ETERNAL, AND THAT KNOWLEDGE GETS US THROUGH OUR TRIALS NOW.

Paul spoke from experience about suffering and saw it as a badge of validating His faith, a testimony to the reality of Christ in Him. Paul was inspired to reference his abundant labors, whippings, incarcerations, near death experiences, five times receiving stripes from his persecutors. Paul was beaten with rods three times, stoned, and three times shipwrecked. He spent twenty-four hours in deep waters, journeyed constantly, suffered perils related to waters, robbers, and betrayals of all sorts. This Apostle suffered an exhausting litany of grown producing hardships that included sleepless nights, cold environments, while naked and completely unprotected (except by His Lord). He endured hunger and thirst regularly. On top of all of this, he was constantly preoccupied with his “deep” concern for the churches (cf. 2 Cor. 11:22-33).

All that and much more Paul suffered for Jesus and still he was able to testify, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  That is the product of life in the Spirit.

Life in the Spirit leads to victory over every obstacle in life. Paul always had an eternal perspective on life. He had that perspective because of the Holy Spirit in him. His words in Romans 8 convey this of him.

The Value of Suffering

Paul went on to speak of the value of suffering. He said:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Suffering humbles us. Suffering provides a workplace of life to see the sufficiency of God’s grace. The insight suffering brings made Paul exult and welcome suffering. That should be our perspective too. That is the perspective of those who live life in the Spirit.

There is something about suffering that can bring us close to God. Paul spoke of the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Peter said trials test and prove our faith genuine (1 Peter 1:6-9). Difficulties are necessary to test and build our faith muscles. James went so far as to say we should be joyful for difficulties (James 1:2-4). Yes, suffering and difficulties in their various forms are necessary and if we seek the Lord in them, they become beneficial to our spiritual development.

Jesus Our Example in Suffering

When we look at suffering, we need to see it from Christ’s perspective. What was Jesus’ example in the face of suffering? In Hebrews it states:

Hebrews 12:1-3 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

Jesus endured the suffering of the cross because He had His eyes firmly placed on the joyful end that God would work as a result of His bearing sin on the cross. We often complain and gripe and draw attention to ourselves when we experience pain, discomfort, or disappointment; that is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to endure the pain for the sake of God’s purposes.

In Hebrews it goes on to state:

Hebrews 12:4 – “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

Jesus resisted to death, we (for the most part) have not. And even if we are called upon to give our lives for the gospel, we can and should rejoice to be used in such a way to prove and glorify God. If we keep the cross of Christ in view, our own personal trials will be put in proper perspective. When we look to Jesus, we find strength, encouragement, meaning and hope; that will get us through anything.

The Sufferings of Creation

Romans 8:19-23 – “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” 

Creation

Paul says, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” (8:19). Notice in this section how Paul speaks of “creation,” as opposed to evolution. We were created by God, not evolved. Our bodies are part of the creation of God.

Viewing our universe as created rather than evolved is essential for life. I am not speaking of the micro evolutionary characteristics of adaptation God has built into His creation, e.g., thicker fur for animals living in cold climates. I am speaking of the macro evolutionary idea that something, everything, came from nothing. If you buy into the fallacy that you are a product of nothing and at death you return to nothing, well, that is nothing to be hopeful about. God our Creator has so much more than that for us.

Paul personifies creation here to give it a heartbeat and link us to a universal awareness that something is wrong and out of kilter and only God can fix it. Therefore, it is unnatural to “think” of reality in an empty evolutionary way. Refusing to acknowledge God as our Creator brings us back to the depravity described by Paul in Romans 1.

In the end of time, God will burn up the present old heavens and earth and renew or regenerate them making a New Heavens and New Earth (cf. Revelation 21-22). Indeed, in the end God proclaims with glorious words:

Revelation 21:5 (NKJV) – Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Creation itself has a glorious hope of glory.

The Emptiness of Humanity

Paul says, “For the creation was subjected to futility,” (8:20a).   The word “futility,” here is translated from the Greek term MATAIOTES which means, “transientness; vanity” [1] “emptiness as to results.” [2] Sin has made the Creation, which God called “good” (Genesis 1:31) to be a Creation that now groans.

This emptiness was introduced as a consequence of Adam’s sin. We saw this in Romans 5 (Roman’s 5:18-19). Paul elaborates here on the extensiveness of Adam’s sin; it has even affected nature, the physical realm. This idea is conveyed by the word “subjected” (Greek hypotasso) which means to subordinate; reflexively, to obey: — be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto. The creation God intended for us to subdue and produce fruitfulness from has now been corrupted by humanity’s sin. Humanity is subdued under creation by the trials and hardship it often causes by aging, disease, and natural disaster.

Since humanity is part of creation, inherent within sinful humanity is a sense of EMPTINESS. Humanity is constantly seeking to fill a void that God has placed in them. We are searching for our Creator who we have been separated from due to sin (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2).

God’s Hopeful Purpose

Paul says, “not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope” (8:20b). By God’s sovereign decision, our natural bodies, part of creation, were subjected to the effects of planetary sin. Personal sin is that sin involving human volition and consequence. Planetary sin is an effect separate from any choice of humanity but is a consequence of original sin, nonetheless. In every person is an inherent emptiness and a seeking for fulfillment that can only be found in a saving relationship with God in Christ. When sinful humanity persists in their personal sin it exacerbates this emptiness. Persistent sin leads to a deadening of spiritual sensitivity and the capacity to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). The person who persists in their sin can get to a point where they “could not believe (John 12:39). Disbelief in Jesus as Savior is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and the one unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31-32).

God as sovereign over all has implemented this consequence of emptiness connected with sin. God has subjected humanity to this emptiness in the hope that the seeking will lead them to Him. In Ecclesiastes it states:

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

God has created humanity with an inherent need and desire for fellowship with the Eternal God. Nothing else can fill that need. When that desire and need are not fulfilled a person feels void, empty, lost. When other things are called upon to try and fill that need for God, like pieces to a different wrong puzzle they just don’t fit. God’s hope in all of this is that in humanities’ search for the missing piece to their life puzzle, they will come to God, the only true and right fit to complete their lives.

The word “hope” is translated from the Greek term ELPIS meaning “to anticipate (usually with pleasure); expectation; confidence; faith, hope.” [3] What hope is God directing us toward?

Solomon was the wisest man of all, and he tried to fill his void with all the world had to offer. His response to it all was:

Ecclesiastes 12:8,11-14 – “Vanity [i.e., “emptiness; vapor”] of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” . . . 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.”

Jesus told the woman at the well:

John 4:13-14 – “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Any alternative to salvation in Jesus will leave you thirsting again. Goals, relationships, earthly purposes and any and all alternatives to Jesus will leave you still empty. Only through Jesus can your emptiness be filled.

The Bondage of Corruption

Paul goes on to say, “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (8:21). Humanity searches to fill the void in many areas.

“Corruption” here refers to the decaying degenerating state of the world under the effects of planetary sin. This Greek term (“corruption” phthora) means decay, i.e., ruin; corruption, destroy, perish.[4] Creation (including our human bodies) will one day be liberated from the decaying effects of sin.

The bondage of corruption therefore refers to the limitations or hindrances our fallen physical bodies pose to our spirits. Jesus summed it up when He said of the disciples, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Therefore, we find ourselves sleeping when we ought to be awake and limited though our spirit wants to serve the Lord.

Addictions

The inherent emptiness inhumanity is at the root of the bondage of addictions. People inherently seek to fill the emptiness they feel with drugs and physical stimulation, but inevitably realize that what they are trying to fill their void with is inadequate and not right. Addiction only leads to more emptiness in failing to be filled.

This emptiness creates a sense of failure that further creates the impression of not measuring up or not being right or missing something. Addiction and emptiness create desires of fulfillment that are always just beyond our grasp. An addiction is addictive because the first indulgence is the most intense and all subsequent indulgences in the addictive practice fall short of the first. The addiction by nature is grasping at and attempting to reach the initial pleasure level only to be frustrated and fall short. Addiction is a web of frustration, failure, and falling short. It’s a terrible trap that many fall into.

Closely connected with this situation is a sense of guilt at not being right. Falling short leads to introspection about why one falls short of expectations. Self-blame at falling into the addictive trap and not being able to escape it leads to self-loathing, frustration, and ultimately futility. The addict gives up and gives in to their addiction. They lose hope.

There is something about humans that cannot stand the presence of guilt. People need to find relief for their sense of guilt. God has built that desire for relief of guilt into humanity in the hope that humanity would seek fulfillment in Him. People try to deal with guilt in various ways. Oftentimes deal try to deal with guilt by doing self-destructive things that bring pain in order to punish themselves for what they know is wrong in them. Like the child who is punished and then feels relieved because they have paid the price, the person does things to punish himself or herself in an attempt to find relief from guilt. Therefore, at times people will pursue self-destructive behavior in a twisted attempt to punish themselves to find relief from their guilt. People also try to deaden the pain by using drugs of one kind or another. They try all manner of things to fill their emptiness, and nothing works. The problem is that there is no permanent relief from guilt with such pursuits and people become addicted and bound to the perceived temporary relief they find in the things of this world. The only way to escape the bondage of addictive corruption and frustration inherent in us due to sin, is through experiencing the liberating relationship with God in Christ.

Personal and Planetary Sin

Paul continues, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (8:22). Not only our physical bodies groan, but all nature, all creation is groaning over the present planetary sinful state. The yearning within humanity is God’s way of drawing us to Himself. Someone has said, “Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.” As humanity tries to fill the void with the things of this world and fails time and time again, God uses this failure to cancel out the non-fitting pieces of the puzzle of life’s meaning. Only Jesus is the right-fitting piece to humanities fulfillment-in-life puzzle.

Sin has a twofold effect. Sin is viewed on a PERSONAL level in that it has direct consequence on the one actively sinning. But sin is also viewed on a PLANETARY level in terms of how it affects the entire world separate from active sinning. Nature has been infected with sin and thrown off balance (8:19-20). This planetary sin effect is why there is disease, sickness, and natural upheaval in the weather in the world. This planetary sin condition includes our physical bodies. Furthermore, our flesh that produces this imbalanced warlike sinful condition within us is the product of this sin. Therefore, we groan along with the creation for the full redemption and renewal of our bodies and nature by God (8:21-23).

The Redemption of Our Body

Paul says, “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (8:23). The Spirit in us gives a taste of eternity and once you’ve tasted eternity, nothing temporal will satisfy again. Once we taste eternity in the Spirit, we look forward to the time when we can be completely His, body, mind, and spirit. Now He has our spirit; someday soon He will also take our temporal bodies and minds and renew them to eternal bodies and minds.

In Christ we have a promise of the redemption of our bodies, that we will be given eternal bodies that are free from the limitations of our earthly bodies. The promise of this is testified to by the presence of the Spirit in us.

Paul wrote of this redeemed body in his letter to the Corinthians church (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:40-48). This is God’s promise for us! We groan in these earthly bodies because the down payment or seal of the Spirit in us causes us to yearn and desire to be with the Lord in our eternal heavenly bodies.

The eternal heavenly body will not deteriorate, it is eternal. The eternal body will have a mind that doesn’t forget. There’s no Alzheimer’s in heaven! And there are a lot of other things that make our eternal bodies far superior to the temporary earthly bodies we live in now. O how blessed it will be when Jesus transforms us!

Some people cling to this life as though there were no other life. They try to prolong the image of youth with plastic surgery. They try to resculpt the wrinkles and skin sags of age away. They create “life support” systems to prolong their life and the life of a loved one. Those fearful of age and death turn to a kind of Frankenstein syndrome where they futilely try to put off the inevitability of age with artificial body parts. Transhumanism is on the rise.

But if the person is a believer, wouldn’t it be better, a greater blessing to just let go and pass on to the Lord and receive a heavenly eternal perfect body? Whatever happened to the concept of aging gracefully? Turn to Jesus and entrust your body to Him. The life to come for the believer is far better than the one they have now. The believer needs not fear death. Death for the believer is a blessed thing in many ways. We should look forward to death with expectations of great transformation. We have hope for eternity and that hope includes the prospect of new perfect eternal bodies. But when will we get these new heavenly bodies?

When Will This Happen?

When do we get these new eternal heavenly bodies? The Bible teaches us that when believers die, they go into the presence of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). When a believer in Christ dies, they are instantaneously brought to the presence of the Lord. The Bible makes no mention of limbo or Purgatory. People are given one life, one chance to choose the Lord and upon death an initial judgment is made by God of the person as to whether or not they are saved by having accepted Jesus as Savior by His grace through faith (Hebrews 9:27). Now is the day, the time for you to accept Jesus as your Savior, once you die it will be too late for such a decision to be made (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Hebrews 2-3). But when is our physical body changed to a heavenly one?

The Rapture – A Time of Transformation. The Bible tells us that this earth is not our home, and we have a tremendously transforming experience to look forward to that will free us from the limits of our earthly state. Paul wrote:

Philippians 3:20-21 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

It appears from this verse that the transformation of the physical earthly body to a heavenly eternal body is closely linked to the return of Jesus.

It is at the point of Jesus return to the clouds to receive His body of true believers in the Rapture (which precedes the seven-year period of Tribulation – Revelation 6-19) that earthly bodies will be transformed (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

That material bodies cannot inherit or go one into heavenly places is clear by what Paul was inspired to write in 1 Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-53). When a believer dies, they go instantaneously into the presence of the Lord in spirit, but their bodies remain here on earth buried. At the point of the rapture, our bodies are miraculously transformed from the dust and ash and decomposed particles to heavenly bodies. This isn’t hard for the Lord since He created humanity from the dust of the ground in the first place (Genesis 2:7). Believers whether they have died before the Rapture or are alive at the Rapture, if you are a believer, you will have a spiritual eternal heavenly body when Jesus comes at the Rapture.

John tells us that when we meet Jesus at the Rapture, we will become like Him or be given spiritual bodies. He will transform us as we are taken to be with Him. John writes:

1 John 3:1-3 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

If you want to know what these heavenly bodies will be like just look at the resurrection accounts of Jesus because we will be like Him (see Matthew 28; Mark Luke 24; John 20-21). When we look at the resurrected state of Jesus, we see that Jesus was recognizable, He was not so different in His resurrected body that He was not identifiable to those who had known Him. Those who did not immediately recognize the risen Lord had their “eyes restrained” (Luke 24:16). Jesus in His risen state could communicate with people (Luke 24:13-35). It appears that in His risen state Jesus was able to materialize in the midst of people (Luke 24:36-37). Jesus was possibly able to pass through the material walls where the disciples were gathered. Jesus in His risen state was touchable and able to eat a meal with people (Luke 24:38-43). I can’t wait to hear Jesus say, “Come and eat breakfast” (John 21:12).

From what we see in Jesus therefore, we can say that when we are given our incorruptible resurrection bodies, they will be personal and similar enough that we will be identifiable to those who know us. We will not be cloned and identical to each other but will be given bodies that are a perfect rendition of our earthly bodies. It’s not likely (although this is speculation) that our incorruptible glorified bodies will suffer from any of the limitations and sinful effects of our earthly bodies such as obesity, baldness, ugliness, or any other unfavorable trait. Our resurrection bodies will be well suited to living eternally with Jesus. We’ll have no regrets when we receive these glorious bodies, for they will be the perfectly healthy and satisfying vessels to function and flourish in heavenly bliss with our Lord.

This is our hope, a hope that will not fail, and a hope that gets us through. This is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). We look forward to the return of Jesus and this great change we will undergo. So great is this hopeful prospect that Paul says any suffering we experience now just doesn’t compare to what lies ahead for us. With this hope in mind and heart, we can weather any storm of life experienced in this world. Mark Twain once cynically stated of Christians that they were so heavenly minded they were no earthly good. I think that a truer statement would be that unless you are heavenly minded with the hope we have in Jesus, you will be no earthly good. Fix your eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of your faith and he will get you through (Hebrews 12:1-4; 13:5).

Our Hope in God

Romans 8:24-25 – “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” 

Our salvation is based on this “hope” or eager expectation of benefit from God. Hope is an expression of faith in God, that He is able to do what He has promised to do. Hope is what carries us from promise made to promise fulfilled. The wait actually is required for hope to be hope. Hope is not merely a dream; it is a CONFIDENT EXPECTATION of the fulfillment of promise and good.

HOPE IS THE BRIDGE BETWEEN EXPECTATION AND REALIZATION. We hope to experience what God has promised and this hope helps us persevere in our walk with Him until we actual receive what He has promised. Paul says, “we were saved in this hope,” meaning that such hope is essential to our salvation, to getting us from our present state to the finish line with God.

What do we hope for? The context would lead us to understand our hope being that God will someday redeem our earthly bodies replacing them with the heavenly bodies that are free from the limitations of the earthly bodies. But our hope is more than that; OUR HOPE IS TO DWELL FOREVER WITH OUR LORD. Our hope is in the word of God and what He has promised us. This is what the child of God looks forward to and what sustains them in this life. How can we get this hope?

Hope from the Spirit and the Word

Later in Romans Paul states:

Romans 15:4,13 – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. . . 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Where can we get the hope that can get us through hard times? God gave us the Bible to give us hope. As we prayerfully read God’s word, we see how throughout history He has faithfully been true to His word and sustained His children and therefore we can hope that He will do the same in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who brings this hope to bear in us, who communicates and creates this hope in the believer. It is the Spirit who helps the believer to rest assured and secure in the hope of God. HOPE IS A WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN US AND THE SPIRIT WORKS IT IN US BY THE WORD OF GOD.

The Need for the Right Perspective – THE CROSS AND THE CROWN

When Jesus began to speak of the cross, His popularity waned. It’s easy to follow Jesus when all we speak of and depend upon is a present blessing, but what about when suffering comes our way? Will we follow Jesus through suffering?

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He prayed that His followers would share in His glory (John 17:22-24). Sharing in Christ’s glory is fine and good, but we need to remember that Jesus was glorified because He went to the cross. We need to remember the profound principle bound up in the cross of Christ – NO CROSS, NO CROWN.

The crowning prospect of eternity and all its blessings inevitably comes with crosses to bear. This is not a back door works righteousness. This is the reality of life. Life is filled hardships that culminate with the deterioration that accompanies aging. The cross Jesus invites, no, demands we pick up in order to follow Him, is our calling to live for Him in whatever way He elects for us. We are to pick up and carry our cross even as we encounter planetary sin and its brokenness. Remember, Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38-39 (NKJV) 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

We may be called upon or given opportunity to suffer as Jesus did (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12), but we need to keep in mind that we will also share in His glory. What that means defies comprehension by our puny brains. (See 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:10).

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:11-12 – “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The disciples of Acts counted it a blessing to suffer for Jesus:

Acts 5:41 – “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Add to this the suffering that planetary sin brings, and we might be tempted to throw in the towel. But we see no such attitude in the New Testament followers of Jesus. They held fast to the cross of Christ no matter what, and they did so joyously. How did they do that? What was their secret to perseverance? Their secret was living in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who assures and steadies us with the hope of glory.

The Apostle Paul, who experienced such terrible hardships and trials in life, described the attitude and assurance that gets the Christian through to glory:

Colossians 1:24-29 (NKJV) – 24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

” Christ in you the hope of glory.” That is the solemn and sustaining message of the Holy Spirit which can get us through anything in life.

When we have the proper perspective, even suffering can be a source of joy as we see the superior greatness of our future glory. God’s promise of future glory, our hope, gets us through times of suffering in this life.

 

[1]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[2]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[3]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

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