Sermons on Romans 8

 


The Hope of Glory
by Ted Schroder

“Glory” is a biblical word. It describes a state, a condition of life that reflects the presence of a pure and holy God. In Isaiah’s vision in the temple, when he saw the Lord seated on a throne, he heard the angels calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) This is the indescribable splendor of God, beautiful, overflowing with goodness, power, and purity.

Glory is presented in the New Testament as the hope of the Christian believer. Jesus prayed to the Father that we might see his glory: “the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24) Just as Jesus had to suffer before he was glorified, so also must we. As St. Paul puts it, “We share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Roman 8:18) But the presence of Christ within us enables us anticipate the future with real hope. The message of the gospel gives us hope for the glory that is to come. “The glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

The word ‘glory’ carries with it associations of visible light and splendor – moral brilliance – as in the Transfiguration (“His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Matt.17:2), and on the Damascus Road (“I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me” Acts 26:13). The radiance was recognized as a symbol for spiritual glory – the thin place between heaven and earth denoting the presence of God. We need spiritual cataract surgery in order to see the earth filled with glory and the hope in heaven that it anticipates.

St. Paul writes, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV) “That you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realize how great is the hope to which he is calling you – the magnificence and splendor of the inheritance promised to Christians.” (JBP)

Humanity was originally designed to live in the presence of God. But “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Without God, we are bound to fall short of his glory; but in Christ it is attained; and to be engaged in fulfilling such a destiny by suffering ‘in Christ’ is a glorious thing (Eph.3:13, cf. Rom.8:18,21) The wealth of glory found in Christ is the ground for the Christian’s confidence in a glorious destiny to come.

“We were never meant to ‘come short of the glory of God,’ but it has happened to us as the result of sin. Such is the truth about all of us born into this world. Man is not what he is meant to be. This is basic biblical teaching. Man has lost the glory that he originally possessed, and tends to demonstrate his loss in every aspect of his behavior. This is the essential tragedy of man; this is the real problem of mankind. It is the only way of understanding the world as it is today. Man still has a kind of memory and recollection of what he once was, and he is always trying to return to it and to persuade himself that he is succeeding. But failure dogs his steps. Hence his frustration. Now that is the key to the understanding of the whole of human history, the explanation of all the intense effort which man puts forth as he seeks the glory which he feels belongs to him. But he can never get it, he cannot find it. Here we find the explanation of men’s restlessness and unhappiness…What causes this restlessness? The fact is that no one is satisfied with what he has. The world is full of ambition, rivalry, jealousy and pride. Why? It is just this matter of trying to be what we feel deep within us we were meant to be, and ought to be….Because man lacks understanding of this truth he is always bringing forward schemes, always making his proposals, always confident and assured, always believing that he is about to arrive. Suddenly, everything crashes again; and he is back where he was before, or even further back. The history of mankind illustrates this principle of cycles. There is no steady advance; for a while we seem to be progressing well; then suddenly we begin to experience set-backs. Events, we find, proceed in cycles, civilizations rise and fall after the same manner. But, rise or fall, man retains the feeling that he is meant for glory.” (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans 8:17,18, pp.4-6)

We are meant for glory! Just as, in this life, we share in the Christ’s sufferings, in the life to come we will surely share in his glory. This is the Christian hope. That is why we can endure the sufferings of this life. St. Paul’s puts them in perspective with what is to come. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) Our sufferings are temporary, while our glory is eternal.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Our focus is to be on the future hope of glory, not on the sufferings of this present life.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart.” This speaks to our condition. What makes us ‘lose heart?’ What discourages us, depresses us? We get preoccupied with our present difficulties, our present sufferings, our present challenges, our present anxieties and fears. We fall short of God’s glory. We feel defeated. We don’t have the get up and go we used to have. Life is more difficult that it used to be. The old remedies don’t work. We lose heart. What is God’s solution for us? Look forward to the glory that is in store for you in Christ. Keep your eyes upon heaven. Stay in the Word each day. Let the Scriptures educate your perspective and fill your mind. Pray at all times for the protection and guidance of the Spirit.

“So we’re not giving up. How could we. Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The Message)

Helen Keller, although deaf and blind in this life, looked forward to the hope of glory in the life to come. “For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works; deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to – a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.” 

You are meant for glory. Do not fall short of it. When we make room for Christ in our lives, make him our priority, and seek first his will we find that we enjoy the hope of glory.

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