Proof of Glory
Romans 8:18-30 November 25, 2001
If Paul has convinced us in Romans 8:1-17 that God has rescued us from our self-condemnation as helpless sinners against the law's requirements by giving us new life in the Holy Spirit, then why do we still suffer the agony of sin?
We might be set free from sin's condemnation but we still suffer the curse of its existence.
What person among us has not groaned inwardly at what we see people do to themselves and others through ignorant and willful sin?
These things can be so transparent to us but so invisible to those whom it affects.
ILLUS: Radiologist at the Gideon's Banquet.
The trouble is that each of us is pretty much blind to ourselves even while we see the sins of others.
ILLUS: A drunk criticizing another drunk for drinking.
The point is that all of us still live with the awful results of sin regardless of the fact that we are no longer condemned for it if we are in Christ.
So to reiterate the last message in Rom. 8, Paul gives us the facts of our new life:
How does God rescue us from our self-condemnation in being unable to follow his law in our own strength?
God saves us from self-condemnation by giving us a new law of life in the Spirit. (vv. 1-4)
Our new law of life in the Spirit becomes effective only by faith in Christ.
Our new law of life in the Spirit sets us free from the old law of sin and death.
Our new law of life in the Spirit validates the old law by meeting its requirements.
God saves us from self-condemnation by giving us a new nature of life in the Spirit. (vv. 5-8)
Our new nature of life in the Spirit gives us a new desire.
Our new nature of life in the Spirit gives us a new means of control.
Our new nature of life in the Spirit gives us a new ability to please God.
God saves us from self-condemnation by giving us a new assurance of life in the Spirit. (vv. 9-11)
Our new assurance of life in the Spirit gives us a new sense of belonging.
Our new assurance of life in the Spirit gives us a new sense of righteousness.
Our new assurance of life in the Spirit gives us a new expectation of life eternal.
God saves us from self-condemnation by giving us a new relationship of life in the Spirit. (vv. 12-17)
Our new relationship of life in the Spirit gives us a new obligation as sons of God.
Our new relationship of life in the Spirit gives us a new freedom from fear as sons of God.
Our new relationship of life in the Spirit gives us a new inheritance in Christ as sons of God.
The best news yet is how the good news actually works in giving us a new life by giving us a new power.
It is a new power through a new proposal, a new persuasion, a new peace, a new presence in the Holy Spirit.
But sometimes we need more than just the facts, don't we?
We need proof.
So in our passage today in Romans 8:18-30, Paul gives us proof from four different arenas that we actually have new spiritual life.
Then in the balance of Romans 8, he gives us the application of that new spiritual life.
For all this marvelous truth in Romans 8 to be effective, it must be applied in how we live.
God does what he does for us in order to make a difference in us.
But I am getting ahead of myself just a little.
The verse that leads into our passage this morning (8:17) speaks of suffering – that we are heirs in Christ if indeed we share in his suffering that we might also share in his glory.
What kind of suffering is he talking about here?
As we said, there is a sense in which everyone suffers from the effects of sin.
Now those who are not in Christ do indeed suffer the effects of sin, but it is a suffering that is kind of a bland assumption that it is our present lot beyond which there is nothing else.
It is what we would call ignorant suffering – suffering without hope, a pathetic acceptance of the inevitable.
However, those who are in Christ also suffer the effects of sin, but it is a suffering that is in a sense heightened because of our relationship to Christ.
Although it is a suffering with hope, it causes a tension between the way things are and the way we know they should be, and even will be someday.
So if you are in Christ then you are suffering even now. Let me explain.
Although our hope in Christ does indeed lift us up and we go on in courage because of it, it can also get us down because we begin to see as God sees and know as God knows, and we want it all the more.
Outside of pure persecution in Christ, and continuing to suffer the effects of a sinful world, this can also be a form of suffering for Christ that we endure in this present age.
It is a sort of spiritual or psychological suffering because we are not yet what we know we shall be.
The very presence of the Holy Spirit can cause this form of suffering I am speaking about because we are made aware that the destination of our journey still lies ahead.
It is like the proverbial question that the children ask in the back seat of the car, "Are we there yet?"
They are in agony because their little bodies and minds are limited in their endurance (of time and space and each other) and we have to remind them, "Just a little longer, children."
So the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives not only saves us from the self-condemnation of God's law by giving us a new law, nature, assurance, and relationship of life in the Spirit, but creates a certain tension as well because we don't have it all yet.
We know that we are God's children but we aren't grown up yet.
And so we suffer the agony of limited capability because we are still in process.
We have all these promises, but promises are by definition yet to be fulfilled.
Like a child who measures his growth against the wall and is assured because of his progress, he returns all the more to re-measure because he wants to be what he is becoming.
So even though we are saved from self-condemnation, we are not yet saved from our yearning toward what we shall be.
We know the past is behind us but we have not yet obtained the future.
And so this is the subject of this morning's message in Romans 8:18-30 as Paul helps us to deal with the rest of our spiritual life in Christ.
He tells us how we can know that Christ's glory will be revealed in us.
He moves us beyond the facts to tangible proof.
What assurance do we have that our future glory in Christ will far surpass our present suffering in Christ?
I. Cycle One
A. Narrative (vv. 18-21)
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIVUS)
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5 NIVUS)
1 ¶ How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2 NIVUS)
17 ¶ To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19 NIVUS)
as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:12 NIVUS)
17 ¶ "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:17-25 NIVUS)
1 ¶ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:1-5 NIVUS)
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13 NIVUS)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because all creation groans for our renewal.
Even if we do suffer for sin, as Christ did, it will still not compare to the glory that will be ours because of him.
What does it mean to share in Christ's suffering? This is all the testimony of he hand or image of God stamped upon his handiwork.
The effect of this groaning is an inner knowledge of his purpose and plan that he is carrying it out.
It is striving in concert with God for re-creation.
It is an inner understanding that all is not as it should be, and that all will someday become as it should be.
The pain we feel at our incompleteness is normal/proper/healthy when we are in concert with God's plans.
It is the person that feels no pain anymore that has no hope and is dead spiritually.
But healthy pain is limited by hope.
And our hope is in the testimony of the Spirit with our spirits in concert with what the Bible says about the course of all creation toward renewal.
The person who feels no pain will writhe in pain in the re-creation.
The person who feels pain now will bask in pleasure in the re-creation.
But God has graciously limited our pain with hope.
What are some of your present sufferings?
What does it mean "not worth comparing?"
It means we should not focus on the temporal (suffering) but on the eternal (glory).
There is evidence of destruction all around us in creation.
God placed man at the head of it.
When man fell, creation fell (Gen. 3:17-19).
Because of our knowledge of God we can see the fallenness of creation and its need for renewal.
The fallenness is a witness to its ultimate restoration to take place by the hand of God.
We can see our own condition mirrored in creation and know that creation also suffers.
If we think he cares not about us we must be mindful of his care for creation.
If we agree to God's care for his creation we must know of his care for us since he placed us over it (2Pet. 3:12).
The renewal of creation is tied to our own.
Our sin cursed creation and God allowed it to fall with us so we could see the effect of sin – but not only the effect but also the hope of renewal.
Creation stands as a witness not only of our sin but of our hope.
God's Word gives us this truth (new heaven/earth, 2Pet. 3:13).
II. Cycle Two
A. Narrative (vv. 22-25)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIVUS)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIVUS)
he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Ephesians 1:5 NIVUS)
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26 NIVUS)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIVUS)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because our own spirits groan for our renewal.
Even so, our own agony is evidence that all is not right with the human soul.
Combine this with a faith in God and you know God will restore it.
This is the inheritance he promised us as sons.
It is the agony we feel that gives us hope (Melissa).
It is actually suffering for sin that brings us to God and begins renewal process.
III. Cycle Three
A. Narrative (vv. 26-27)
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died— more than that, who was raised to life— is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 NIVUS)
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8 NIVUS)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because the Holy Spirit groans for our renewal.
But now even God himself groans within us as he grieves over sin.
And this is another present witness through the Spirit.
And the suffering we cannot even express, he utters in words known only to God.
It is God's will then that the Spirit of renewal is already at work within us.
IV. Cycle Four
A. Narrative (vv. 28-30)
Why would God begin a process he wouldn't complete?
7 ¶ "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9 NIVUS)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because of God's good purpose.
What assurance do we have that our future glory in Christ will far surpass our present suffering in Christ?
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because all creation groans for our renewal. (vv. 18-21)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because our own spirits groan for our renewal. (vv. 22-25)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because the Holy Spirit groans for our renewal. (vv. 26-27)
We are assured of our future glory in Christ because of God's good purpose. (vv. 28-30)
We know that Christ's glory will be revealed in us because of the tension we sense in creation, our own spirits, and in the Holy Spirit until it is all accomplished in us according to God's purpose.
The greater your assurance of being in Christ, the greater your yearning to fully experience the rest of what he has for you.
This can be a kind of "good" suffering. It is the suffering of assurance as yet incomplete in time and space, but fully complete in the mind of God.
Closing Hymn: # 539 O That Will Be Glory