We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12) Please open your Bible at Hebrews 6. This...
“And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”
Romans 8:30 (NIV)
When God completes the work he has begun in your life, a unique reflection of the glory of Jesus Christ will be seen in you. The Bible calls this “glorification,” and in many ways this is the most astonishing doctrine in the Bible.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (v18-19).
The sons of God are going to be revealed. That’s us! Paul says that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (v14), so he is talking about ordinary Christian people here.
How do you feel about being revealed? Your first reaction might be to think, “I don’t like the sound of this. If people knew who I really am, they wouldn’t like me. So, I don’t want people knowing who I really am. I don’t want to be revealed.”
Maybe you feel that if you get down to the deepest level of your life, you are fundamentally rotten, and you would not want your life to be revealed. That’s a very natural reaction. After all, by nature we are all rotten at the core.
The sons of God will be revealed
But is that true of a person in Christ? Of course not! If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). There may be many rotten things in your life, but if you are in Christ, you are a new person at the core, and one day what you really are in Jesus Christ will be revealed.
That’s why Paul says “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). It’s not just that Christ’s glory will be revealed to us, it is that Christ’s glory will be revealed in us! When we see him, we will be like him. Not only will you be in glory but glory will be in you.
You can’t see this glory yet. It is by faith that you know you are a new creation. The world doesn’t see glory in you. The world sees your flaws and your failures. My guess is that even the angels can’t see this glory in you yet. They long to look into our salvation; they cannot comprehend it. But the day is coming when who you are in Christ will be revealed. You will see it and you’ll be overwhelmed by it. The angels will see it, and all of heaven will rejoice in it.
C S Lewis said that if you could see the glory that will one day be revealed in the believer next to you, you would be severely tempted right now to fall down before them in worship.
One day, that glory will be revealed in you! And Paul says your “present sufferings are not worth comparing” with this glory (v18). Whatever it costs you to live with integrity, however hard your struggle against sin, whatever the pressure in your life because you are following Christ—that’s nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed in you.
Next to knowing who God is, the most important insight you need for living wisely is to know who you are. You can boil down who you are, according to the Bible, into two very simple statements:
By nature, I was rotten at the core
That’s why you came to Christ. Why would you need a Savior if you were already good? God gives us his law to make our rottenness obvious to us, and when you see it, you will come to Christ.
In Christ, I am a new creation
You need to know who you are in Christ—you are a new person. The sinful nature is not who you are, it is what you are fighting against. If you believe that you are a loser, you will live like a loser. When you see and believe that you are a new creation in Christ, you will begin to live like a new creation. The Christian life is all about being who you are in Christ. And one day, Christ’s glory will be revealed in you!
“The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v21).
We thank God for our freedom. We enjoy the blessing of freedom in many ways, but not in all ways. We experience the frustration of bondage to decay in our flesh: Decaying teeth, high cholesterol, loss of muscle tone, aching bones, wrinkled skin. An old man once said:
My back is all sore, and my knees are all bent
My get up and go has got up and went!
We are not yet free from sin, or failure, or sickness, or disabilities, or accidents, or suffering or pain or sorrow, or enemies, or danger, or disasters or death.
“The glorious freedom of the children of God” (v21).
Jesus Christ promises a greater freedom than we can ever experience in this life. We’re talking about freedom from sin, sickness and suffering—freedom from fear, failure, and frustration—freedom from dangers, disasters and death.
The promise of Jesus Christ is that you will enjoy this freedom in your soul and in your resurrection body. Paul says, “We… groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (v23).
God’s rescue is more than saving your soul; it is redeeming your life—body, soul and spirit. And it will be complete on the last day when you meet Jesus Christ. Everything that you are will be redeemed, made perfect, adapted for eternity, and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Paul says, “In this hope we were saved” (v24).
It is very interesting that God tells us about our new bodies. I turned 50 earlier this year. A few friends threw a surprise party. It was a wonderful evening. God could have kept this amazing gift of the resurrection body as a surprise.
If he had done that, we would still have the joy of knowing that our souls would be with Christ in heaven. When Christ comes, he will bring the souls of those who have already died with him, and we will be caught up with them in the air—at that moment he could say “Surprise!” and clothe us with the resurrection body. But he does not leave it as a surprise. He tells us about the resurrection body now.
Why? Because He wants you to know that your future life will not be less than you can experience in your body, it will be more. Many Christians have difficulty anticipating the after-life because they have the idea that what Christ has prepared for us in heaven is a kind of half-life, a compensation for those who became too old or who died too young and did not have the strength to continue in this world.
But, the glorious freedom of the children of God is not a compensation for missing out on life here. It is the fulfillment of the purpose for which you were created and redeemed. And God wants you to know this hope so that you can live in it now, no matter what your losses are in this life.
Karen and I have a niece who was born on the 4th of July. Megan is a great joy to her parents and to all of us in the family. She has cerebral palsy, and she is seven years old.
Megan lives a full life, but she cannot speak. When she was born the doctors wondered if she would be able to support the weight of her head. But she has made amazing progress. Now she can walk, and even run in her own kind of way, but she can’t skip, she can’t coordinate her movement and she knows that she is different.
Now here’s the hope of the gospel for Megan. Here’s what God’s rescue in Christ looks like for her: One day Megan will not only walk, she will skip and dance. She will reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ uniquely, in a way that is distinct from the rest of us, in her resurrected body as well as in her redeemed soul.
Maybe you have a loved one who has special challenges in life, or a loved one who died early in life. You feel that they missed out on so much. No, they didn’t! You wonder what age will they be in Christ’s new creation? I don’t know that, but I know this: Your son, your daughter, your friends, your loved one—will enjoy the full life in Christ for which he or she was created and redeemed.
That’s the promise of God to all who are in Jesus Christ. And he does not keep this as a surprise. He wants you to know it now, through the tears and in the frustration that you may have hope! Not a half-life afterwards, but glorious freedom in the presence of Christ.
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v20-21).
The creation was subjected to frustration when God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). When man sinned, the creation came under the curse. We’re reminded of that every time there is a natural disaster. That’s why the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
Martyn Lloyd Jones, points out that nature is always trying to renew itself, and it never succeeds:
Every year, nature comes out of the death of winter, promises new life in spring, but then spring leads to summer, summer gives way to the fall, and the fall leads to winter.
Poor nature! Its keeps trying, but it never succeeds.
At Easter we bring out the lilies and daffodils, but here’s the problem: Within a few weeks the daffodils and lilies are in a brown paper bag in the dumpster. Nature is subject to frustration, but the day is coming when it will be freed from it.
The good news of the resurrection is that death has no hold on Jesus Christ. He lives in the power of an endless life. He shares that life with his children, and the whole creation will be brought into it.
When God wraps up human history, He will make a new heaven and a new earth. Not a different earth, but this same planet made new, perfectly adapted as the home of righteousness forever.
Christ will rescue the planet
“The creation will be… brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v21).
This creation will be rescued from its bondage to decay. The planet will not be replaced, it will be renewed—brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. God’s plan for your eternal future is “heaven on earth”—a resurrection body, a new heaven and a new earth, and all the joys of life—more, not less.
Many Christians have the idea that we will spend eternity floating around in some other world. But it has to be better than that. Here’s why: Before Satan brought his rebellion to the human race and messed up the planet, Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect life in this world. They were able to see God, and they walked with him in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8).
If Satan is to be defeated absolutely and comprehensively, God must make everything at least as good as it was before Satan’s rebellion. That means paradise restored… at least! If the joys of eternity were 1% less than the joys of life in the Garden of Eden, Satan would have accomplished something in his rebellion against God.
Before the beginning of time, Satan determined to eclipse God’s glory. He recruited the man, and the woman, into his great rebellion. He has pursued his dark objective relentlessly throughout human history.
God knew what he was doing when he created a world in which men would rebel and find themselves hopelessly lost. He knew what he was doing when he sent his son as a sin offering, redeeming us by his blood. God knew what he was doing when he justified us, sanctified us, adopted us in Christ.
God knew that a redeemed creation would reflect his glory infinitely more than an innocent one ever could. God’s redeemed children will be singing “Worthy is the lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12). A slain lamb will be at the center of worship because it is the height of glory.
Satan’s hell will be to know that everything he did accomplished exactly the opposite of what he intended. And at the end of all his activity, reflections of God’s glory are bursting our everywhere: His glory is revealed in us and his new creation. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33).
“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
Christians experience two kinds of groaning: There is groaning that comes from the pains and burdens of this life, but that is not what Paul is talking about here. This is the groaning of those who know that what God has prepared is so good that we can hardly wait to get there—“We… who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait…” (v23).
Karen was talking to a young lad who is gone this week on a family vacation to Hilton Head. He had been there before, seen it, and so he was pretty excited.
Karen asked him “Are you looking forward to your vacation?”
To which he said “What time is it?”
“Half past nine,” she said.
“Its 42 hours and 30 minutes till we leave,” he said.
That’s eagerly awaiting! That’s the groaning of anticipation.
What God has planned for you is not just better than life at its worst, it is better than life at its best. Better than dating, or marriage, better than kids. Better than sports. Better than a vacation in Hawaii. Better than golf, or travel, or retirement. Better than money, better than sex. Better than any joy you can imagine in this world.
David wrote these words “Your love is better than life!” (Psalm 63:3).
David was the king: He had all the power and money and women you could imagine. So, he is not talking about life at its worst. He’s talking about life at its best. And he says “Your love is better than life!”
The aim of our series is that you should savor all that is yours in Jesus Christ, and if you are not yet a Christian, all that can be yours in Jesus Christ: Justification—your sins can be forgiven today, by the shed blood of Jesus. Sanctification—the power of sin can be broken in your life today by the Spirit of Jesus. Adoption—you can be brought into God’s family today and enjoy His love forever. Glorification—you can know today that all the joys of life in a new heaven and a new earth will be yours. All this can be yours in Jesus Christ.
That’s some rescue. And Jesus Christ is the rescuer. He is the Savior. I want to invite you to believe, trust him, turn to him, call on him. Ask him to begin his rescue in your life today.
 Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Exposition of chapter 8:17-39, p. 59, 60.
 See 2 Corinthians 5:4