My first thought, the Glory of God’s presence, is something I can only vaguely describe, and all I understand of heaven boils down to one simple word, peace. So, there truly is no comparison, especially those who sit beside me in church on Sunday, think they are having the roughest time if their finger breaks through the toilet paper.
Romans 8:18 NASB 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.
Sufferings are the Greek word pathēma which means something undergone, such as hardship or pain.
The “Me” in this sentence is Jesus Christ, with our lives centered on our relationship with Him.
The context is divided, but for the moment, we are focused on the sufferings.
So in what ways do we undergo hardship or pain?
Matthew 5:11-12 NASB “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (12) “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
People will insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because you have the life of Christ in you. Sadly, the majority of people are religious people.
Is that all? Hardly, like Paul, who suffered the loss of all things.
Philippians 3:8 NASB More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
Jesus, on the other hand, was beaten beyond recognition and then placed on a cross to die.
An interesting point of view comes from the William’s translation.
Romans 8:18 Williams For I consider all that we suffer in this present life is nothing to be compared with the glory which by-and-by is to be uncovered for us.
Daniel, the Prophet, knew this all too well. He was taken into Babylon’s captivity, from among the best of best of Israel, at a time when he would have been looking forward to being married, educated, and leading his nation. Nebuchadnezzar would have had him castrated. The purpose behind that is to eliminate the sex drive, destroy Daniel’s chance of ever entering a synagogue again, and to have a severe and lasting impact on any thought of you escaping. Did it work? Absolutely.
All of these examples demonstrated that they understood the context; that there is a future hope for those who have placed their life in Christ Jesus. Now, what specifically that future hope comprises is up for debate, but the one thing we know for sure, we get to spend eternity wrapped up in God’s love.
In the case of Jesus, we have Hebrews 12.
Hebrews 12:2 NET. “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus submitted himself to the cross because He knew the joy that would come out of His actions.
Romans 8:19-22 NLT For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. (20) Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, (21) the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. (22) For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Breaking down verses 19-22.
- Verse 19) points out that, “All creation eagerly awaits that future day when God will reveal who His children are.”
This idea of creation should take us back to Genesis; for there, we see creation. The understanding is that all created things: plant life, rocks, the heavens, and all of creation, have longed to see the day of the Lord.
Hosea 2:18 NASB “In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety.
The Psalms speak of this final time of peace.
Psalms 96:10-13 NASB Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” (11) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; (12) Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (13) Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.
Look at this word judge for a moment.
We all seem to have massive, constant, and negative perceptions about the word judge and the actions it potentially represents. Here, in the Old Testament, it is the Hebrew word shâphaṭ and means to pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish.
Isn’t that what any court should do? Vindicate or punish. Since the earth is simply the innocent victim of our human “modernization,” then the context leans heavily toward a vindication of the planet.
For example, All along the Mississippi river industries have dumped deadly pollutants, which permeates the surrounding land and groundwater. My current pastor made us aware of this when he talked about becoming aware that he had moved his family into this deadly area. People all along this stretch, have cancers.
Now, how would God judge the land in this case?
He would judge in favor of the land and demand restitution. Since man cannot fix this mess, He will, and we see this action in prophetic words throughout scripture.
- Verse 20) tells us, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,”
This speaks to the proper judgment that all creation must be subjected to. Everything was unwillingly subjected to destruction through Adam’s actions. It’s funny, but as a study group I was involved in began to consider what Paul wrote,
Romans 5:14 NASB Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
A lady in the small group spoke up and said, why is it any of this stuff about Adam significant? To which I replied, there is nothing in scripture that is insignificant. If you don’t comprehend the ramifications of Adam’s actions, you will never grasp all that Jesus did and will do. Fortunately, for us, Romans 8:18-22 do just that as they begin to spell out a portion of God’s judgment on behalf of the earth.
- Verse 21 NASB) “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Pay attention to the phrase; creation itself also will be set free from its slavery.
If you recall, we went into this idea of slavery, in-depth. Paul used the horrific term, in reference to himself, as he opened his letter to the church in Rome. I spoke of how Paul was writing to a majority Jewish congregation. Therefore the word slavery was a word choice designed to make a monumental impact when they read it, for the Jews were foolish enough to say, “we have never been slaves!” What do you call the slavery they experienced in Egypt, or, how about that 70 years Babylon thing, an adventure? The point was, that slavery, in most cases, was less than a good thing, and always had negative connotations. So for Paul to call himself a slave, was to voluntarily place himself under the total and complete control of Christ Jesus; and, he was calling for all believers to do the same. Now, Paul is pointing out that all of creation was involuntarily brought under the slavery of a new master, corruption, due to Adam’s actions; however, it will all be freed by the glory of Jesus Christ.
- Verses 22, 23) “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
I can’t hear it, and yet sometimes, for brief moments, I see the beauty of creation and wonder where the destruction is in this scenario. Let me give you an example: On several occasions, the family went to Yellowstone National Park. The Park is so big that it crosses through several northern states here in the United States. It is spectacular, and though the super-heated pools and geysers are deadly, they are intensely beautiful.
What else does the verse tell us? It tells us that we ourselves groan within ourselves, as we eagerly await for the redemption of our bodies. I am not sure what that groaning sounds like. My wife might tell you that I groan (in complaint) all the time, but I am not so sure that is what Paul is talking about. Groan is the Greek word stenazō and means to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly: – with grief, groan, grudge, sigh.
Now that I know what the word means, I believe that I am an expert at this groaning thing.
I want to touch on this idea that we “eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
First, my adoption came the day I accepted Christ into my life; this is the same process that happened to you if you accepted Christ (and all that He is.) So I am not sure I understand fully what this adoption process is all about. But that brings me to the second part, the part about the redemption of our bodies.
I get this, I AM BROKEN, but I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and therefore I lean heavily upon them. When I do that, the most amazing things happen, and I get to see smiles on other broken faces. But clearly, there is something more, as this broken body and all its ramifications, will never go away unless something changes them. Fortunately, there is a day coming for the believer when this death associated with the earth, and the body will be done away.
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NASB (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (53) For this, perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
Thank you, Jesus!!!
The peace that often comes when I submit myself to the instruction of the Holy Spirit is, to say the least, peaceful. But it only takes a moment, in some cases, for some self-righteous person to immediately try to admonish me and bring me back to earth. Again, I will explain.
One Sunday evening, several years ago, I went back to the church I grew up in. The pastor speaking that night had played a positive role in my life years ago, and he knows me. When the pastor ended his message that evening, he said, if you have had a miracle in your life, come down front and make yourself available to pray for someone else to have a miracle in their life, and so I did that.
Yes, there is a little timidity when doing things like that, but you have to override the fear knowing that it is the brokenness and the enemy trying to keep you down when that happens. I often see myself as a big grizzly bear, and so I am not surprised that many avoid me, and that was happening this night. As I stood there, I began to scan the room; the Holy Spirit said, that one, go and get them, and so a second later, when the wife made eye contact, I motioned with my finger for them to come down. I laugh now as I think about the rapid chain of events that transpired. She turned to her husband, who looked back at me. A quick conversation ensued, but the hesitation was there. This all transpired in a few seconds, but that is when I heard the Holy Spirit, once again say, go get them, and so I did. At this point, they came rapidly. There must have been three or more; I did not count, as I was listening to the Holy Spirit and I was a little distracted. When we got back to the front again, I told them what I heard the Holy Spirit saying to me, and prayed over the two adults. We laughed, we cried, and it was amazing. I smiled like I couldn’t stop, and shortly they went back to their seats, as did I.
Here is where self-righteous altar policewoman kicked into action. She came barreling across the front of the church and said to me, “who gave you the right to come down here and pray for people?” Can you imagine all the rapid-fire gut reactions I felt? I hesitated, it is often the best thing you can do in a pressure moment, and it will save your hide because your flesh will get you thrown in jail if you give it control. I said to her, he did, and I pointed at the pastor. She replied, well, you have to go through down front prayer training to do this! I glared back, and in a second, she walked away frustrated.
What we are looking for is what we call and consider our HOPE.
- “We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
If you don’t know my Lord, you have no idea what you are missing, inexpressible Glory.
Romans 8:26-30 NASB In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (27) and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Pertaining to Romans 8:26-30
Recently, somehow, the man-cave discussion turned to the Holy Spirit. The leader spoke about how he grew up in the Assemblies of God and how it was a mandate to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that is true, and there was a definite push. Our experiences were similar, and we both let out some babble that we mimicked just to get some church lady off our backs.
Looking back, that was not the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? Because there was no power, and for another eight years, I remained powerless and fear-filled. The enemy continued for years to tell me that this prayer language stuff was nothing more than nonsense. I have learned to ignore that ugly voice, for I now know without a doubt that when I pray in the Spirit I am doing battle in the Spirit.
P.S. The leader of the man-cave told us, that in time, while out walking the dog around the neighborhood, he received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Our resident cusser merely continued to rant about how unnecessary and how bizarre the Holy Spirit is. I believe that we, the church, are the ones who made it bizarre by denying the power of the Holy Spirit.
- “In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness;”Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Jude 1:20b. NASB building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 6:18a. KJV Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
2 Corinthians 5:4a. NET. For we groan while we are in this tent since we are weighed down,
John 11:38a. AMP Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb.
[Most translations indicate that he groaned.]
Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
- “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,”
1 Corinthians 2:10 NASB (10) For to us, God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
Revelation 2:23b. MKJV And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts,
Hebrews 4:13 MKJV Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Acts 15:8 NASB “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; [They were surprised, as they thought the Holy Spirit was only for the Jews.]
Romans 8:28 NASB “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
- “ God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”
Joseph, now second in command in Egypt, speaks to his brothers.
Genesis 50:19-20 NASB But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? (20) “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Psalms 119:71 NASB It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
2 Corinthians 4:15 NASB (15) For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Romans 8:29 NASB For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
- “ For those whom He foreknew,”
This verse seems to make many lose sleep, as they consider the possibility that God might not have chosen them.
What if I told you that God chose everyone. John 3:16 bears that thought out.
John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Does everyone that God poured out His life for believe in Him?
No, they don’t. God knew this would happen and yet, projecting hope, put His Son on the cross anyway.
Psalms 1:6 NASB For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
They only perish because they choose to. Psalms 31:7 seems to indicate that God knows every little thing that is coming your way.
Psalms 31:7 NASB I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul,
- “He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,”
2 Peter 1:3 NASB seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him
He has given us everything so that we stay conformed to the image of His Son.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB (18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
“of His Son,” The light of the good news is the glory of Christ. He is the Word and has been from the very beginning of time.
2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The Apostle Paul, though we don’t focus on it very much, went through a tremendous amount of abuse, almost all of it at the hands of religious zealots who were trying to protect their traditions. We, here in the United States, have no clue as to what suffering looks like. Here it is mere days away from Christmas of 2019, and I have learned that over a thousand have died at the hands of religious zealots in Nigeria, but no one talks of this. Why not? Because someone is trying to protect their traditions and status quo.
But what does Paul say?
Romans 8:18 NASB 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.
Somewhere down the road, and I do not believe it is that far away, we will see this glory that Paul speaks of. Who can obtain this glory? Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for them. Paul ends this study with these words from Romans 8:29, 30.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 NASB)
It sounds like one could easily get left out of God’s mercy, but that is not the case, as we were all predestined to be conformed. Sadly, many of us choose not to follow. I prefer to conform to His image.