The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) 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. (18) 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.Rom 8:16-18
We have learned that we do not have the spirit of bondage to our flesh, but the spirit of adoption. We are God’s kids. How do we know? Of course we know because God has told us how to be a part of His family in His Word. But we also know because His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, bears witness with our Spirit that we are God’s kids. And look at the implications: If we are God’s kids, then we are heirs to the inheritance that God the Father wants to give to us. If Jesus is God’s Son and we are the sons and daughters of God, then we are joint-heirs with Christ. This does not mean that we are equal with Christ in our person. Jesus Christ is God, and it would be heretical to think that we can be on an even plane with Christ. But God does include us in the inheritance.
Paul continues his thoughts to include sharing in Christ’s suffering. Christ has promised that the world would hate us.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (20) Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (21) But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.John 15:18-21
In following Jesus, His enemies become ours. We were His enemies, but because He adopted us now we are sons. In the proclamation of the Gospel and the furthering of His message there will be suffering. God promises here that those who are called to suffer for Christ will also be glorified with Christ (yet not as Christ) together.
And then he makes one of the most incredible statements. He says that he “reckon’s”. The word translated “reckon” here means “to take an inventory, that is, estimate, conclude”, according to strongs concordance. This is not a casual guess. Paul has done the accounting. What is he accounting? 2 circumstances. The first circumstance referred to is “the suffering of this present time”. The second circumstance is “the glory which shall be revealed in us”.
Paul knew something of the suffering of this present time.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. (25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.2Co 11:23-28
Paul went through much suffering. He eventually gave his life for Christ. This is what makes this statement the more incredible. He says, in effect, that the suffering of this present time is the quarter on the sidewalk next to the Empire State Building of the glory that God will reveal in us. The two heights don’t even compare. Whatever suffering we go through is incomparable to the good that God has in store for His children.
You and I can endure whatever difficulty comes our way because of following Christ because we know that whatever pain we endure doesn’t compare to the glories of heaven. In fact, we know that we must suffer for Christ on this earth if it is required for helping to change eternity for others. For instance, to help a friend here the gospel we must be willing to endure ridicule or social marginalization. When we “reckon” that the possible suffering doesn’t compare to the glory revealed in heaven, we will be encouraged to step out and speak up for Jesus regardless of the cost.
- Take note today of how you may be avoiding suffering for Christ in the way you live.
- Thank God for the promise of eternity with Him.
- Ask God to help you endure suffering for His name.