TODAY’S READING: ROMANS 8-10
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17
More and more with each passing day I am convinced that there is one thing that I must truly know and apply in my life.
It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.
Jesus’ entire life and ministry was driven toward the hour that he would suffer and rise from the dead.
The necessity of his suffering and rising from the dead is the sum total of everything Jesus taught his disciples during the time between his resurrection and ascension.
Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
The necessity of the Christ suffering and rising from the dead was the word that Paul was occupied with and completely consumed by. (See “What Was Paul Occupied With?“) It is this single word that incredibly changed Paul from a persecutor of the church, and therefore Jesus, to, arguably, the greatest sufferer for the sake of the church, and therefore Jesus, in history.
The Bereans searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul preached to them – the necessity of the Christ’s rising and rising from the dead – was really true. (See “Why Were the Bereans Examining the Scriptures Daily?“)
While Romans is the first of Paul’s letters in the Bible, it was actually the last of the letters in the Bible that we wrote. Consequently, Romans contains Paul’s most complete understanding of God and Jesus. It is Paul’s magnum opus.
And, if Paul was occupied with, consumed by, the necessity of the Christ’s suffering and rising from the dead, then surely this letter to the Romans would have been inspired by this single word.
Therefore, if we want to truly understand what Paul is writing to the Roman church, then we must read every statement he makes through the fact that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead.
This morning I could have read Romans 8 over and over again, meditating on each word as it relates to the necessity of the Christ suffering and rising from the dead.
Paul says that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. God is our father and we are his sons and daughters.
Now, if you are a son or daughter of a man, then you are his heir. Therefore, because the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God, then indeed we are heirs of God. More than that, we are heirs together of Christ.
The Holy Spirit speaks this truth to us if one other thing is true.
“Provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
We are children of God and heirs of God “provided we suffer with him.”
We are children of God and heirs of God
- not because we have a large and growing ministry
- not because we are a great preacher
- not because you are a worship leader with an awesome music minsitry
- not because we have led many people to salvation
- not because we have great political influence
- not because we are rich and famous
- not because we are healthy, wealthy, and wise
- not because we are living our best life now
- not because we have found our purpose and calling
- not because we tithe
- not because we pray the right way
- not because we strictly maintain specific rules, laws, and moral codes
but because “we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
While it’s not a major issues, I would argue that this should be translated “if we really suffer together in order that we may be glorified together.”
The Greek word translated “suffer with him” is sympascho. It is used only one other time in the Bible, and the one other use was also by Paul.
First Corinthians 12:24-26 says, “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together [sympascho]; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Our suffering together, for one another, shows that we truly know and understand who God and Jesus Christ are. For, it was necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead.
Where did Paul get this idea?
In Matthew 5:9, at the beginning of the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
The sons of God are peacemakers.
How do you make peace?
The world tries to make peace through war, violence, domination, and oppression. The world tries to make by inflicting suffering.
The night before he suffered, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)
Unlike the world, Jesus makes peace by suffering and dying. God makes peace, not by causing suffering, but by suffering himself. God makes peace not with violence but by being violated.
So, the sons of God are peacemakers in the same way that Jesus was a peacemaker.
For the rest of his sermon, Jesus tells us what it looks like to make peace through suffering.
“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
“If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
“Give to the one who begs from you.”
“Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is heaven.”
“When you pray…pray then like this…”
“If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
“You cannot serve God and money.”
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
“First take the log out of your own eye.”
“Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
So, Jesus says those that make peace are the sons of God. Then, he tells us the actions, the suffering, that makes peace.
In Romans 8, Paul has told what makes us a child of God. We suffer together. This is how we make peace. This is how “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)
And, after Paul tells us that we are children of God by making peace, even for the whole creation, he gives us his understanding, his retelling, of the sermon on the mount.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves.” (Romans 12:9-19)
This is how we suffer together.
This is how we make peace.
This is how we know that we are children and heirs of God.