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Sermon #85 — Romans Series
Title: The Magnitude
of Our Heavenly Inheritance
Text: Romans 8:18-23
Date: Sunday Morning — April 24, 2016
Subject: The Manifestation of the Sons of God
Reading: Revelation 21:1-22:5
The title of my message is The Magnitude of Our Heavenly Inheritance. Our text will be Romans 8:18-23. — The Magnitude of Our Heavenly Inheritance — (Romans 8:18-23).
“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. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
In this passage, the Apostle Paul, writing by divine inspiration, declares the great privileges and prospects of God’s elect in Christ. As he does, he seems to simply get carried away with the great tide of grace. The greatness of the things he is writing about seems to have simply engulfed him. In verse 17 he said, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God; and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ!”
What an inheritance that must be! We possess the inheritance not by our own rights and merits, but by God’s covenant grace and Christ’s all-sufficient merit as our Substitute. It is true, we must in this world suffer for a season with him and for his sake; but when our earthly woes are over, we shall reign with him and inherit all things with him as the children of God.
In consideration of these things, the apostle says, “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.” — This glory that shall be revealed in us is not the glory that shall be ours as soon as we die and enter into heaven with Christ. This is the glory that shall be ours in the consummation of our salvation at the resurrection. It is something that is indescribable even by one who was inspired by God. Paul seems to search for words to speak of it. — Notice, just in the verses of our text, he calls it four different things.
Š “The Glory which shall be Revealed in Us” (v. 18).
Š “The Manifestation of the Sons of God” (v. 19).
Š “The Glorious Liberty of the Sons of God” (v. 21).
Š “The Redemption of Our Body” (v. 23).
This is that “blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior” spoken of in Titus 2:13, for which we are live in constant expectaion. This is that for which Peter admonishes us to “Gird up the loins of our minds, and be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Proposition: This heavenly inheritance is an inheritance of indescribable, universal greatness and glory.
Divisions: This great inheritance, to which the children of God are all heirs by virtue of our union with Christ, is the subject Paul is dealing with in our text. Let me tell you three things about the magnitude of our heavenly inheritance revealed in this portion of Holy Scripture. — It is an inheritance of such greatness, such glory, and such magnitude that...
1. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to it.
2. It influences and affects the whole creation.
3. Our highest and greatest enjoyments in this world can never satisfy us; but we groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body.
May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher and Guide as I endeavor to show you these three things from our text.
1st — The Glory to be revealed in us is of such greatness and such magnitude that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to it.
(Romans 8:18) “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.”
Paul uses a kind of spiritual arithmetic here. He places these two opposite things in two separate columns. In the one column he places our sufferings in this world, which he acknowledges to be very great. In the second column, he places the glory that is to be revealed in us, and says, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to even be put in the scales with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” I will not spend a lot of time on this, but let me say just three things here.
1st — Without question, the sufferings of this present time are great. — I know that compared to what Christ suffered for us, compared to what so many others have and do suffer in this world, compared to what we deserve, and compared to the glory awaiting us, our sorrows here are but “light afflictions.” But I do not suggest that you try telling a man who has just buried his only child that his affliction is light. The misery of man in this world is often great. Viewed in themselves, our woes are hard to bear, heavy, and painful beyond description.
Illustration: I have not had to do so, but I know some people who carry heavy, heavy burdens.
Yes, God’s saints often carry heavy, heavy burdens in this world. But even the heaviest burdens and woes of this world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.
2nd — Our sufferings are confined to this present time. — The short duration of any agony makes it bearable if we are confident that the agony will be succeeded by a long time of relief and enjoyment.
Illustrations: Jacob’s Service for Rachel (Genesis 29:20). — The Travail of a Woman in Birth. — The Sufferings of Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
3rd — The glory of our heavenly inheritance will be so magnanimously great that it will remove from us every painful memory of sorrow in this world. — Our sorrows here will only add to the glory of the world to come. I cannot tell you how, but I know that when we have entered into our glory, our happiness and glory in eternity will be greater because of our sorrows here (2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
(2 Corinthians 4:17) “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
(1 Peter 1:6-7) “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
“Such will be the joy of the heavenly inheritance that it will efface from our remembrance the few years of sorrow which have preceded it; so efface them, at least, that we shall never think of them with regret, but as a foil to heighten our bliss.” — Andrew Fuller
In the light of these facts, let us learn and ask God for grace ever to remember that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to that glory that shall be revealed in us.
Glory and Creation
2nd — So great and magnanimous is the glory to be revealed in us at the resurrection that it influences and affects the whole of God’s creation.
(Romans 8:19-22) “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
The creature, that is to say, the whole creation of God was brought into bondage by the sin and fall of our father Adam. — Adam’s sin reached beyond the human race. It affected the whole earth. The whole creation was brought into the bondage of corruption, not willingly, but in consequence of Adam’s transgression.
Š The ground itself was cursed.
Š Adam’s house cat became a roaring lion and his dog a ravening wolf.
This subjection of the creation to the bondage of corruption was by the hand of God, but it was not to be permanent. God “subjected the same in hope.” — That simply means that when we are delivered from the curse of sin God’s creation shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption. The redemption of our bodies in the resurrection will be the birthday of a new creation. By sin everything in God’s earthly creation has become in some way subservient to evil. But God will not allow that to continue. He will, when he completes our redemption, completely restore his creation to himself, so that everything shall serve and praise him. There is a day appointed when there shall be a restitution of all things to God (Acts 3:21; Ephesians 1:9-10).
(Acts 3:18-21) “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (21) Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
(Ephesians 1:8-12) “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
When the Lord God created the heavens and the earth everything, according to its nature and capacity, displayed his glory. To a very great extent they still do. Therefore, we read in Psalms 19:1-4…
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. (2) Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. (3) There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (4) Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.”
This was the natural order of things by God’s design. Either consciously or unconsciously, everything furnished its tribute of praise to him who is over all God blessed forever!
But the entrance of sin into the world changed everything. Everything God created for the comfort of man has been abused by man. Everything God gave us to use in serving him and honoring him, we have sacrificed to Baal (Hosea 2:8).
(Hosea 2:8) “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”
Š Everything in the world has been sacrificed to some imaginary deity, or upon the altar of our own lusts.
Š Every benefit of creation has been employed by us to serve and gratify our lusts — (Greed — Adultery — Fornication — Sodomy).
Š The creation itself has been turned into a god to be worshipped!
We worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator! — The earth is called “Mother Earth!” Nature is called “Mother Nature!” Even time is worshipped as “Father Time!” — Nature, with fallen man, occupies the place of God.
Though the creatures have no reason or intelligence, yet there is, as it were, such an instinctive tendency in God’s creation to oppose man that the whole of creation is at war with fallen man. Were that not the case, there would be no reason for a covenant to be made on our behalf with the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the creeping things of the earth, and the very stones of the ground (Hosea 2:18).
(Hosea 2:18) “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.”
But, blessed be his holy name, this bondage of God’s creation is only temporary. — God, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit to subject the creation to the bondage of corruption for a season. But it is specifically said to be a subjection “in hope” because there is a time set by God when he will deliver his creation from the bondage of corruption. The redemption of our bodies from the grave will be for us the destruction of our last enemy and the termination of all the effects of sin. It will also be the termination of bondage and corruption, of all the corrupting effects of sin upon God’s creation. It is for this that the whole creation groans and travails.
Now, notice the threefold description Paul gives of our heavenly inheritance. — As we look at these descriptions of glory, remember that Paul is talking about the perfecting and completing of our salvation through the death of Christ, which is the greatest possible display of the glory of God. This will be the last of that great series of events that God has been performing from the beginning of time. This is the thing for which all things were made and to which all things are subjected.
Š The Goal of Predestination
Š The Object of Providence (Romans 8:28-30)
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
First, it is called — “The Glory that Shall be Revealed in Us.” — This refers to the manifestation of God’s glory that shall be revealed in our consummate salvation (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; 2:7).
(Ephesians 1:3-14) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
(Ephesians 2:1-7) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Second, the completion of God’s work of grace is called — “The Manifestation of the Sons of God.” — Here, God’s saints are little known, hardly noticed, except when derided by the wicked. But this will be the day of our manifestation (1 John 3:1-2)
(1 John 3:1-3) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
Third, our ultimate salvation is described as — “The Glorious Liberty of The Sons of God.” — This will be our happy jubilee!
Š We have been freed from the penalty and dominion of sin.
Š At death, we shall be delivered from the presence and being f sin.
Š But when Christ comes, when the jubilee trumpet sounds, we shall be delivered from all the consequences of sin.
We will sing the song of triumph and victory as we look back upon our empty graves. — “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Groaning for Glory
3rd — Such is the magnitude, greatness, grandeur, and glory of our heavenly inheritance that our highest and greatest enjoyments in this world can never satisfy us; but we groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body.
(Romans 8:23) “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
First, the apostle says that we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan within ourselves. — These are the groanings spoken of in verse 26. Firstfruits are delightful, but never satisfying. We groan for the full harvest (Romans 7:24).
(Romans 7:24) “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Second, Paul speaks of us waiting for our adoption. — We were adopted into the family of God by divine decree in eternal election (Ephesians 1:3-6).
Š We were experimentally adopted into the family of God in regeneration, when we received the Spirit of adoption (Galatians 4:6-7; 1 John 3:1-3).
Š We shall enter into the full enjoyment of our adoption in the resurrection (Romans 8:23).
Third, the apostle describes our resurrection, our entrance into heavenly our inheritance with Christ as “the redemption of our body.” — “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption!” — Christ is made Redemption unto us in this three ways.
1. We were redeemed from the curse of the law and penalty of sin by the ransom price of Christ’s shed blood, when he died at Calvary as our Substitute (Galatians 3:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
2. We were redeemed from the rule and dominion of sin by the power of God’s grace in regeneration (Romans 6:18).
3. We shall be redeemed from all the consequences of sin in the resurrection.
Illustrations: The Robin’s Eggshell
The Two Blackbirds
What a glorious hope is set before us! Let us set our hearts upon it (Colossians 3:1-3; Jude 21).
(Colossians 3:1-3) “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
(Jude 1:21) “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Oh, that God the Holy Ghost would enable us to live for eternity, constantly “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life!”
The only condition upon which we have a right to claim this inheritance as ours is our union with Christ. — Be sure that you are united to him.
This great, glorious, indescribably magnanimous inheritance shall the glorious consummation of Christ’s reign as our King (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
(1 Corinthians 15:24-28) “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (25) For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (27) For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (28) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
 Here is the story of Christopher Love’s Martyrdom and the communication between him and his wife. She writes:
“My Heavenly Dear, I call thee so, because God hath put heaven into thee, before he hath taken thee to Heaven. O lift up thy Heart with Joy, when thou layest thy dear head on the block . . . that thou art laying thy head to rest in thy Father’s bosom . . . Now, My Dear, I desire willingly and cheerfully to resign my right in thee to thy Father and my Father.”
On the day of his execution Love writes: “My Most Gracious Beloved, I am now going from a prison to a Palace . . . I am going to Heaven, where are two of my children, and leaving thee on earth where there are three of my babes; those two above need not my care, but the three below need thine . . . I know thou art a woman of a sorrowful spirit . . . yet be comforted, though thy sorrow be great for thy husband’s going out of the world; yet thy pains shall be the less in bringing thy child into the world; thou shalt be a joyful mother though thou be a sad widow.”
He closes with eight paragraphs of “practical counsels”:
“Mr. Love was brought from the tower . . . to the scaffold on Tower Hill about two o’clock in the afternoon” accompanied by the Ministers Ash, Calamy and Manton, personal friends. He asked for liberty to speak and pray, which was given. He made a long exculpatory speech, which makes seven pages quarto, and prayed. “When he was preparing to lay his head upon the block Mr. Ashe said to him, dear brother, how dost thou find thy heart?” Mr. Love: I bless God, sir, I am as full of joy and comfort as ever my heart can hold. The last words he was heard to speak were these: ‘Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.’”
“Then he laid himself down upon the Scaffold with his head over the block, and when he stretched out his hands, the executioner severed his head from his body at one blow.”