Romans 8:18-28- Future Glory
Explanation- One of the assurances that we as believers have is that we will surely suffer while we make our pilgrimage on this earth. Paul tells of his own sufferings in his second epistle to the Corinthians:
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Cor. 11:24-28).
What is amazing about Paul’s sufferings (and countless others who have come after him), is that they would have ceased if only he would have compromised in certain areas of his Gospel. If he would have only claimed Jesus to be ‘a’ way, then he would have avoided his imprisonments. If he had kept the Gospel out of the Jew’s synagogues, he would have avoided the beatings; if he had remained in one place without the burden of carrying the message of Christ to the world, he would have avoided all forms of danger, shipwreck, and hunger. Why then did Paul risk his life, health, freedom, and comfort with full knowledge of the consequences that awaited him? The reason was that he was being held captive by the glory of God. In light of this glory, he was able to count these sufferings as but a little thing. In light of this glory, he was able to press on and face whatever hatred the world would spew. In light of this glory, Paul counted his own life as nothing for the sake of making Christ known. As he says in 2 Corinthians 4:17, ‘…this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…’ Paul understood that to live in this world will surely promote trials of various kinds, but he held fast to the hope that these sufferings were both momentary in duration and light in measure.
In reality, the entire creation groans with anticipation, waiting for the final consummation of all things. When Adam fell, it was not only the human race that was affected, but the entire created order was subject to futility and corruption. In the same way that we groan under our sufferings and wait for the final redemption of God when He ushers in the new era, so creation eagerly awaits this reality as well. In this hope, we have found salvation. It is hope that rests in the future glory and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hope that places its faith in that which is unseen at this current time and believes that God’s word is true.
Even with this hope that we possess, we still carry around this body of death, which hinders us from being, believing, and doing what we ought. God has provided a remedy for this as well. In the giving of the Spirit, God has provided a helper for us who intercedes in our times of weakness. As we seek to be in communion with God, we are unable to see as He sees and search as He searches, but through the intercession of the Spirit on our behalf there is constant reassurance that God is working in us that which is of most benefit for us, as well as receiving from us that which is necessary for a life of faith. We do not have a perfect understanding of God’s will, but the Spirit of God who is within us does, and He intercedes for us according to God’s will, even when we are not fully aware of it. We know then that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. As has been said by many, all means literally all! There is not a single detail in the believer’s life that is not working toward God’s good purpose. It could be said that Romans 8:28 is the Jeremiah 29:11 of the New Testament. Whereas the latter had specific fulfillment in mind for the people of Israel under captivity in Babylon, the former indicates the inclusion of all those who are in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application- It may be of some benefit to comment here on the place of the Spirit’s intercession in the life of the believer. There are those of more of a charismatic persuasion that would seek to use this verse as a proof text for speaking in tongues. It is not my intention to discuss at this time the concept of cessationism vs. continuation, but to point out that, regardless of one’s beliefs on the topic, the verse here in Romans eight is not speaking of the gift of tongues, but is revealing to us the literal, hidden reality of the Spirit’s intercession for the believer. Jesus said that the Spirit would come as our helper and would reveal the truth of Christ’s teachings. Not only would the Spirit be a Helper in this way, but He is also, like Christ, interceding on our behalf before the Father. The Spirit searches the mind of God and knows God’s will (for He Himself is God). The Spirit also searches the mind of the believer and knows what is in him as well. The Spirit holds the same omniscience as the Father and does His work based on the same plan that was set forth before time began. This plan includes God’s people, and it involves conforming to the image of the Son. As stated earlier, we are unable to know the Father’s will perfectly. Our finite minds are unable to grasp the infinite. As a result, we are unable to pray as we ought because of our limitations. Part of the Spirit’s work is to intercede for us in these areas where we are unable to intercede for ourselves. This is by no means an excuse for us not to pray, but in all truth should encourage us to pray with more fervency. Our desire is to know God and to know His will; in our limitations, we are unable to do this entirely. That does not mean that there is still not much knowledge and revelation of His will we are able to receive. Throughout our time on this earth, we will always be going through the process of sanctification and will be maturing into Christ’s likeness. But no matter how far we progress, there will always be those things which we do not know. Thus, the Spirit’s work is never entirely finished in us. We must continually depend on Him for those things that we cannot do ourselves (which, in reality, is everything).