And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.(Romans 8:17-18)
Romans 8 is based on a series of assumptions, and follows a logical progression. The chapter begins with the assumption that we are “In Christ Jesus”, having believed in the gospel. Therefore now there is no condemnation.
Furthermore, the assumption is that we are consequently “in the Spirit”, having received the indwelling Holy Spirit upon being brought into Christ. We no longer are “in the flesh” living out of the old nature inherited from Adam. We are now “In the Spirit” living out of a new nature. Since we are in the Spirit, we are Sons of God, for the Spirit is filial, ever crying out to God, Abba Father!
Since we are children then we are of necessity heirs, in fact heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. The meek shall inherit the earth… He that overcomes shall inherit all things, we have been born again unto an inheritance kept by the very power of God!
And as a consequence also of our Sonship, it is assumed that we presently “suffer with Him”. Notice verse 17 says “…if so be that we suffer with him…”. This is not a condition of our future glory, it is a given assumption, the Sons of God for the present in some way and in varying degrees share in the suffering of Christ.
The suffering of Christ involves participation in Christ’s resistance to evil, and sin, bearing the reproach of Christ, rejection because of being a Christian, not being ashamed to confess Christ, suffering and rejection for the Word of God, self-denial and renunciation of this world. All true Sons of God share in his suffering.
But we are told that the suffering is only for “this present time”. For now, while we await our share in the full inheritance, we are called to enter into the reproach of Christ.The body is still “dead because of sin”, we are not glorified yet, our salvation is yet incomplete. The world hates us still, because it hated him.
This is not our hour, it is actually the hour of the power of darkness, the time when God allows the rebellion of man to come into full flower of expression. This is the “age ” Paul mentioned when he told the Galatians, that Jesus came to deliver us “from the evils of this present Age.” Our Life is presently hidden with Christ in God(see Colossians 3:1-3).
The Sufferings of this present time, includes temptation,persecution, rejection, decay, weakness, vulnerability, infirmity, and Yet we are “Heirs of God, and Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ”! How do we reconcile this? The key is in the expression, “this present time(Age)”.
Consider the resurrection of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus. When Jesus called him forth from the tomb, he stood in the mouth of the cave. He was fully alive, and yet surrounded by death and decay. He was yet limited in motion by grave-clothes, remember? “Loose Him and let Him go!”commanded Jesus.
The believer in Jesus is in the same position as Lazarus was in the mouth of the tomb; he stands between two worlds. Behind him and all around him for the time being, is the world of death, weakness, decay,sorrow, and mourning. Yet he is alive! But even his clothing, the wrappings of the grave bare yet the stench of death. He can’t fully move, for in one sense he is still bound by the trappings of death.
But before him is the land of the living, fresh air, living relationships, love, company, fellowship, food, Life! And He stands between the two worlds, waiting to be loosed and to be able to move freely ,expressing fully the Life that has been given him.
We stand between two worlds also, for everything behind me is death,decay,sin,alienation,guilt and despair. But Christ has called my name, I am alive, and before me lies glory and beauty, restoration to the intended purpose, healing, a new sinless constitution, true freedom! But I am yet bound in grave-clothes. “If Christ be in you, the body is death because of sin, but the spirit is life, because of righteousness”.(Romans 8:10)
…Are not worthy to be compared to the Glory which shall be revealed in us. The expression literally makes the comparison a matter of weightiness, for the worst sufferings of this Age, are nowhere near as heavy as the glory, in the age to come . All of our sorrows, temptations, rejection born for Jesus, personal struggles against sin, the flesh and the world,seem so heavy and everlasting now, but in the glory of age to come, they will seem as melted snow.
Note also that we are told that it is the glory which shall yet be “revealed in us”. That means it is already there it isn’t manifest yet. Everything you are going through for the sake of Jesus is actually being used to work glory into you. The Age to come will be a revelation of that Glory.
Daniel says that those who lead many to Righteousness shall shine as the stars forever! Paul tells us that the glory to be revealed is as the stars in the variety of their beauty-
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.So also is the resurrection of the dead. ..(I Cor 15:41-42)
Jesus told of that day that ;Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.(Matthew 13:41)
Whatever we really are will burst forth in the Age to come, all that out God has done in us by his special dealings, and our response to Him in temptations, trials, and tribulations, will be manifested in the time when the glory shall be revealed in us.
In the meantime, like Lazarus we stand between the two ages, the passing age of the tomb we were called out of, the age of sin, death and decay, and witness to the coming age of Righteousness, the God appointed time of the regeneration of all things. We are a foretaste of it, for we have been raised from among the dead and now live, but we still wear the grave-clothes with the scent of death and decay, waiting for full liberty.