“And if children of God, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:17-18)
Three blessed privileges have been held forth thus far – no condemnation, life and adoption. But its not over yet. His gifts just keep coming! Here is the fourth wonderful benefit to those that are in Christ – inheritance! “If children of God, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ….”
“Heaven is an inheritance that all the saints are heirs to. They do not come to it by any merit of their own; but as heirs, purely by the act of God. Their present state is a state of education and preparation for the inheritance” (Matthew Henry). While we wait we are learning about and being made ready for and anxiously anticipating what lies ahead.
Two things are pointed out.
1. We are “heirs of God”. “The Lord Himself is the portion of the saints’ inheritance.” What more could we ask for? What more could we need? He is all. He is everything. "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup” (Ps 16:5). “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth” (Ps 73:25).
2. We are “joint-heirs with Christ.” All that Christ has received will be ours in heaven. “Those that now partake of the Spirit of Christ, as His brethren, shall partake of His glory.” He is the bread of life – we will be fully fed and fully satisfied. He is the living water – our thirst will be slaked and we will be refreshed. Can we even begin to comprehend what all this implies? No, we can not!
Paul then turns to the issue of suffering and he looks at it in the light of eternity. “…if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” “The state of the church in this world is always an afflicted state. He tells them that they suffered with Christ, and that they shall be glorified with Him. Though we may appear as losers for Him in this world, we shall not be losers by Him in the end.” This world seems so full of sadness and sorrow. Yet, place it in the scale of eternity and see that there is no comparison between what lies in the past and what lies at the present when weighed against what lies in our eternal future. “For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Note that our sufferings are in “this present time.” They are momentary and last for only a fleeting moment. Later on, in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul refers to our very serious trials as being “momentary and light.” How can he say that? Because he is weighing them by the eternal scale not the temporal. Stack your sufferings next to you glorification in Christ and see that your glorification is an “exceeding and eternal weight.”
Present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with “the glory that is to be revealed to us.” I turn again to Henry, “In our present state we come short, not only in the enjoyment, but in the knowledge of that glory: it shall be revealed. It surpasses all that we have yet seen and known. There is something to come, something behind the curtain, that will outshine all.”
Amazingly it will not only be revealed to us that we might know it but it will be revealed in us that we might own it. It will be ours to enjoy.
As we suffer may we have eternal vision. Our sufferings don’t compare to the glory that is to be revealed. “The sufferings are small and short, and concern the body only; but the glory is rich and great, and concerns the soul, and is eternal! This he reckons as an arithmetician that is balancing an account. He first sums up what is disbursed for Christ in the suffering of this present time, and finds they come to very little; he then sums up with is secured to us by Christ in the glory that shall be revealed, and this he finds to be an infinite sum. And who would be afraid then to suffer for Christ, who as He is beforehand with us in suffering, so He will not be behind-hand with us in recompense?” (Matthew Henry)
Forget what lies behind, fear not what faces me now – look ahead, press on, fix your eyes on the prize. I can’t help but think of the book of 1 Peter, that glorious epistle on suffering. In the first chapter we are pointed to the living hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Christ was resurrected and has caused us to be born again “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God, through faith for a salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
O LORD my God – Make me to look forward to what You have secured for me and make me to live for a little while, if necessary, as a sufferer who brings praise and glory and honor to you. Grant me eternal eyes in every ordeal that Your divine wisdom ordains for me to face.
An heir of the eternal,