We Must Share Messiah’s Sufferings So That We Might Share His Glory; God Has Graced Us In Many Ways So We Can Endure Our Sufferings With Grace And Patience
God has done so much for us; is doing so much for us; will do so much for us. He has saved us. He has redeemed us. He has forgiven all of our sins. He has killed our old nature. He has removed us from the control of our old, horrible master, sin. He has freed us from the law of sin and death. He has given us a new nature. He has give us new life. He has given us His Spirit who lives in us, who does so many good things for us. He has promised to resurrect our bodies and give us eternal life and a great inheritance. He has done all of this by His grace, which means that we deserved none of it. We earned none of it.
When someone has done, is doing and will do so many good things for you that you don’t deserve; when someone saves your life and enriches your life to such an amazing degree – you owe him. You are indebted to him. In our case, we have an obligation to serve God – the way He wants to be served – with holy living.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. We have an obligation to God which is to be expressed in a negative way by not living according to the flesh – the old, sinful nature, which is characterized by wrong beliefs, evil desires and bad actions. We have an obligation to God which is to be expressed in a positive way by living according to the Spirit – which is characterized by right beliefs, right thinking, right actions – holy living, righteous living; godly living.
Talk is cheap. Even actions can be cheap. It’s easy to “pray a prayer of salvation.” It’s easy to go to church, sing some songs, listen to a sermon and give some money. Actions can be cheap. If we are genuine sons and daughters of the King of Kings, a very specific kind of action must be taking place. We must be led by the Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
I used to think that being led by the Spirit meant that I needed to be sensitive to the Spirit, so that I could sense what He wanted me to do, and He could direct me to do this or that; go this way or that way; engage in a conversation with this person or that. While that is part of being led by the Spirit, now I understand that being led by the Spirit also means to be led into righteous living, holy living; to be led away from unrighteous living, unholy living; to be led by the Spirit so that my life is characterized by serving God, and not serving self and sin. Those who are led by the Spirit of God – into holy living, righteous living, avoiding-sin-kind-of-living, living-to-serve-God kind of living are true children of God. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
While it is true that we had an old master – sin, and we have a new master – God – God wants our relationship to Him to be much more than a slave/master relationship. He wants it to be a father/child relationship. In general, slaves want to be free. Slaves want to live for themselves, not their master. Slaves have to be forced to serve their master. The force that is used to make slaves serve their master is the fear of being punished. The father/children relationship is different from the master/slave relationship. It operates by a different motivation – not fear of punishment but the love the father has for his children, and the love the children have for their father. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
When the Spirit of God lives in us, and gives us a new nature, it is God’s nature that is given to us. The giving of God’s nature is like a human father giving life to a human child. That human child shares his father’s human nature. The Spirit God living in us and giving us a new nature results in us sharing God’s nature. We become His true sons and daughters.
And the Spirit of the Father, who lives in us and is very close to us, helps us sense our sonship at a very deep level – that God indeed is our Father and we are His children; and that He is our not just our Father, but our Abba, our daddy, that we have a close, personal relationship with Him like a little child has with his father.
We are able to sense our sonship even when we fall short, miss the mark – when we sin. Just as baby who is learning how to walk repeatedly falls, and his father picks him up and encourages him to try again – so our Heavenly Father does for us. He knows that we are immature, ignorant, foolish and will make mistakes. When we sin, He forgives us and encourages us to do better the next time; and the Spirit of God whispers to us in His still small voice that we are still God’s sons and daughters.
Those who receive the Spirit of God become the sons and daughters of God. And, just as human children who have a good relationship to their earthly father can expect to receive an inheritance from him, so the sons and daughters of God can expect to receive an inheritance from our Heavenly Father. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Messiah Yeshua is the Son of God and the Father’s primary heir. But, Messiah is willing to share the glorious inheritance the Father will give Him, with us. We become Messiah’s co-heirs. Who would not want to be one of the heirs of the One who created all things? Who would not want to be a co-heir with Messiah, to whom the Father will give all things? But, there is condition to the inheritance: Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Knowing that we are God’s heirs and co-heirs with Messiah, and will receive a glorious inheritance, is meant to motivate us to remain faithful by enduring our sufferings.
Again, if we are united to Yeshua because of our faith, not only are we united to Yeshua Himself, we are also united to the great things that happened to Him. We are united to His death. We are united to His resurrection. We are united to His new life. And we are united to His sufferings. He was persecuted and suffered, so if we are joined to Him because of our faith, we will be persecuted and will suffer. If we refuse to participate in Messiah sufferings – by refusing to stand for the Three-In-One God of Israel; by refusing to stand for the Gospel; by refusing to stand for the truth and for what is right; by going along with the majority – we should not expect to share Messiah’s glory and inheritance. No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown. No suffering, no reward. Makes me want to suffer – or at least be willing to suffer. How about you?
The Rabbi gives us another reason why we should be willing to suffer with grace and patience. Our suffering during our time on Earth is insignificant compared to the glorious creatures we will become. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Those who are united to Messiah will become like Messiah. We will have new, glorious bodies. We will be free from sin; from pain; from sorrow; from death. We will have new minds with much greater wisdom and understanding. We will be fabulously glorious and healthy and wealthy and happy and powerful. We will be kings and queens, rulers of the new heavens and new Earth. That is the glory that will be revealed in us.
God made Adam and Eve in His image and made them the lords of Earth. The lords of Earth were so important, so connected to all of creation, that when the lords of the Earth fell – by joining the rebellion of the fallen angels, their fall affected not only this world but the entire universe. When the lords of Earth sinned, the world was cursed; and the entire universe was affected. Just as Adam and Eve’s fall caused all of creation to fall with them, the rise of the new humanity will cause a suffering creation to rise with us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 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 freedom and glory of the children of God.
The universe is fallen, subject to death and decay – which is reflected in the second law of thermodynamics – that everything is running down, not up; toward ever-increasing levels of disorder, not order. Entropy. There is a sadness, an unhappiness, an alienation, a groaning that pervades creation. Things are not right. People are broken and unhappy. Animals kill other animals. Everything dies. Everything wears out. Even great rock formations are worn down.
What happens to humanity affects the universe. When the sons and daughters of God are transformed into glorious creatures, all of creation will experience a similar transformation. No more deterioration, degeneration, decline, degradation, decomposition, decay. No more pain, suffering, death. Only wholeness and health and well-being and life. What great hope we have!
The Rabbi informed the Christians and Messianic Jews of Rome that they would suffer in this world; and that they needed to endure their sufferings with patience and grace; that they should understand that their sufferings would turn out to be insignificant compared to their future blessings; that humanity is connected to the rest of creation, and what happens to us happens to creation; that the new humanity is suffering. But our suffering is a hopeful kind of suffering. Our suffering will end and be replaced by a glorious wholeness and happiness. Just as the new humanity is suffering, all of creation is suffering too. But, just like our suffering is a hopeful suffering, the suffering of creation is a hopeful suffering. The Rabbi compares the suffering creation to the suffering of a woman who is about to give birth. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Like the pains of childbirth, and which come to an end and result in an amazing new life, the present sufferings of creation will result in a glorious new creation where suffering is unknown.
Christians and Messianic Jews are expected to suffer, but our suffering should not lead to depression or despair or turning away from God. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. God has so much blessedness in store for us. The Spirit of God living in us, doing so much good for us in so many ways, is just the beginning of all the good things He will do for us.
Our suffering will come to an end. We will be transformed into the glorious sons and daughters of God with new bodies that are free from harm, pain or death, the inheritors of all things. Until that happens, we need to wait eagerly. We need to endure our trials with grace and patience.
God has saved us with a great salvation – now, in the present, the moment we understand who Yeshua is and make a serious commitment to follow Him and transfer our loyalties to Him and His Father. We are fully saved right now, but in another sense, we are not fully saved right now. What I mean is that there is a future aspect to our salvation, which includes the transformation of our bodies. When we are resurrected, when we have been transformed and living in our glorious new bodies with much greater wisdom and understanding, then we will be fully saved. That future full and complete salvation is our hope. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Hope is related to faith. Hope means having faith that something that God has promised will happen, will happen. God has promised us that we will be transformed into His glorious sons and daughters. But that transformation hasn’t happened yet. Until it happens, we trust God that He will fulfill that promise. That’s hope. And our hope enables us to endure our trials with a good attitude – with grace and patience.
Just as our hope for the fulness of our salvation sustains us through our times of suffering, the Spirit of God helps us with our weakness. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Even though we are the sons and daughters of the Almighty God – right now, we are still very weak. We are weak physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. Thanks be to God that the Spirit of the Almighty is living in us and is able and willing to strengthen us. The closer we are to God, the more full of His Spirit we are and the stronger we become.
One area of weakness that the Rabbi highlights is our weakness in prayer. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Notice that the Spirit has a mind – “the mind of the Spirit.” The Spirit is not an impersonal force, but a person who has a mind.
Sometimes we know what to pray for, but there are times when we don’t know what we should pray for. Our inability to know what to pray for is part of our weakness. There may be times when we are overwhelmed by suffering that affects us or others. There may be times when there are no words to express what we are feeling, no words to ask for God’s help. The good news is that the Spirit of God understands those wordless feelings and desires and is able to put them into words and prayers that align with the will of God.
And there is a perfect relationship between God and His Spirit, and perfect understanding and communication so that God perfectly understands what the Spirit of God is thinking, so that God is able to answer those prayers that the Spirit formulates from our wordless groans. Our wordless groans are positive. They are productive. Knowing that the Spirit is translating our wordless groans into prayers that God hears and answers, should help us endure our times of suffering, when don’t know how to pray.
What a great Ally and Friend and Intercessor and Helper we have in the Holy Spirit! What a great advantage to have this supremely great Person living in us, helping us with all of our weaknesses, especially helping us pray when we are unable to express our deepest longings in words!
Christians and Messianic Jews should expect to suffer. We need to endure our suffering. To help us endure, the Rabbi informs us that God is able to use all things that happen to us, good and bad, to benefit us. As Joseph said to his brothers: What you meant for evil, God meant for good. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God is so great and so wise that He is able to use our suffering to our advantage. Knowing that helps us endure.
A man who lived in a village had a horse and a son, and one day the horse escaped. “Your horse escaped. That’s bad” his neighbor said to him. “How do you know it’s bad?” the man asked. The next day the horse returned, accompanied by a wild stallion. The man captured the stallion and now he had two horses instead of one. The neighbor heard the news. “Now you have two horses. That’s good.” The man responded, “How do you know that’s good?” The next day his son, while trying to tame the stallion, was thrown off the horse and broke his leg. The neighbor said to the man: “Your son broke his leg. That’s very bad!” The man answered, “How do you know it’s very bad?” The next day the king’s officials came to the village and forced all the able-bodied young men to come with them. They were forced to serve in the army, and sent to fight in the king’s war, and in a battle, all were killed. None of them returned to the village. But the son was spared because of his broken leg. The moral of the story: What seems good to us – success, money, riches, can turn out to be bad for us. What seems bad for us – suffering, trials, hardships, disappointments, God can turn into a blessing. So trust God in all your circumstances, good and bad, knowing that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
God is like a Master Weaver and our life is like a tapestry. The Master Weaver uses bright colored threads of good things that happen to us, along with the dark colored threads of suffering to form the tapestry of our life. Right now we can’t see the finished tapestry. Only when we are able look back from eternity will we be able to see how the various threads – the bright ones and the dark ones, came together to form a beautiful tapestry fit to be displayed on the walls of the Master Weaver’s home. Knowing that in all things God works for the good of those who love him should bring us a deep sense of peace and security, and enable us to endure the suffering we may experience with grace and patience.
We can endure our sufferings knowing that, in spite of our sufferings, we are part of a great plan of salvation that spans eternity past to eternity future. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Before the universe began, God had a plan to create beings made in His image, who would be born into this fallen world, be redeemed and live with Him forever. They would be like His Son – glorious and wise and good and holy and eternal – fit companions for the glorious and wise God. Those whom the Lord chose in eternity past; those He marked out for Himself; those whom He determined would be with Him forever, He called to Himself. He invited them to receive His salvation. Those who were invited to become His children were graced with the ability to respond to the Good News and were made righteous. Those who were made righteous will be glorified. They will be brought to their full potential as the glorious sons and daughters of God. Everyone who was chosen by God in eternity past will be glorified in eternity future – in spite of all the suffering, all the obstacles, all the forces arrayed against them. Knowing this helps us endure with grace and patience.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No one. The Almighty God is in control and is protecting us. No one can overcome Him or resist His will. We are safe. So be encouraged. And endure.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Yes, He will. So don’t throw away your inheritance by turning away from God when you are suffering. Endure.
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? No one. God is the judge and will throw out all charges against us. It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one, since no one is able to overturn God’s declaration of “not guilty.” So don’t turn away from God because you think God will reject you on the Day of Judgment. He won’t. So endure.
Messiah Yeshua who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. The Son of God, who loved us so much that He was willing to die for us, is risen and in the position of supreme authority, and is helping us so that we will overcome all hardships. So endure.
Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? No one. Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness. No, No trial. No hardship. No suffering. Not even death! As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” So endure.
God loves us and will use everything, good things and bad things, to bring us to our full potential. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Even though you might not be feeling like a winner, the truth is that you are a winner. You are more than a conqueror. So, don’t turn away from God if you feel like you are losing. You are not losing. You cannot lose.
No one, nothing can separate you from God and His love for you. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. Knowing that God the Father and our Lord Yeshua the Messiah love us and are supreme over all things, all forces, all circumstances and all times, gives us confidence to endure.
During the Second World War, Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth, as well as to speak to the students. When he was invited to give a speech, Churchill stood before the students and said: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” It was a short speech, but a very powerful one; a very memorable one.
Rabbi Paul is saying the same thing to us: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Endure. Endure. Endure. And endure! And endure!