Is Life Without End Truly Achievable?
Here's another installment of my Biblical Study Series for 01/25/24 from the Social Gospel Blog, "Where truth, justice and the Bible meet"
Eternal Glory Can Be Ours, But Only Under Certain Conditions
(Romans chapter 8, verses 18-30)
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For today's lesson we will continue in the book of Romans in chapter 8, beginning at verse 18. This part of Romans gives Christians everywhere hope for a blessed future that awaits all true believers. One could call this part of the Bible a pep talk being given by God through the apostle Paul as our heavenly Father takes on the role of a loving dad, teacher and life coach for all his children.
Part One of This Week’s Verses for Study and Memorization
“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. For the creation was subject 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 of decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)
Our Reason For Clinging to Jesus
Our present sufferings in this life are not worthy of comparison when contrasted to the glory that awaits all who truly believe in Jesus. All of creation itself waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed. Creation itself will be freed from bondage and “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God”. For all those who truly believe in Jesus, this is what awaits us when our current life is at its end and we transition into our spiritual life, one that has no end. Try to imagine an eternity of “glorious freedom” in Christ outside the boundaries of space and time. One thing is for certain, it is an excellent reason for everyone to cling to Jesus knowing that all this is what awaits us. I can hardly wait, how about you?
Part Two of This Week’s Study Verses
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8: 22-25)
“First Fruits” Was an Offering for Sin That Dates Back Centuries
In verse 23, the phrase “first-fruits” is taken from the law of Moses in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses is the first 5 books in the Old Testament beginning with Genesis and ending with Deuteronomy. First-fruits had to do with tithing 10% of what one had in the way of crops or livestock to the temple at Jerusalem at the time right after the beginning of the harvest. This was so that it could be offered up in sacrifice as atonement for sin, and this ancient Jewish tradition dates back well over 3,700 years. Notice there was no monetary system back then with printed money like we have today. That's why the entire notion of paying 10% of our paychecks to churches is a distortion of the Scriptures at best, or a deliberate manipulation at worst.
So Good It Will Be Worth the Wait
So if we have the first-fruits of the Spirit of Jesus within us then we have a security deposit from God guaranteeing the eternity that is to come. That is why the very next sentence says that we “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”. Having the first-fruits of the Spirit guarantees our being literally adopted as God's sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. In so doing we become Jewish by adoption just as Jesus was Jewish. And if we are adopted as Jews, we have become God's chosen people with them. “For in this hope we were saved”. This gives us the Spiritual motivation we need to be living as if we have the first-fruits of the Spirit. And yet all along, “we wait for it patiently”, knowing all along that it will be worth the wait.
Part Three of This Week’s Verses
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we are to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” (Romans 8: 26-27)
We Worship Jesus As the Son of God
In the same way as having the first-fruits of the Spirit of Jesus causes us to hope for an adoption that we do not yet have, that same Spirit overcomes our human weaknesses. Our inability to measure up to God's standards set down by and through Jesus Christ is offset by Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection first, and by the first-fruits of the Spirit second. Without the Spirit we wouldn't know what to pray to God for even if we desired it, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” That's why God knows our needs before we even ask Him. The Spirit, in turn, “intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will”. There are times when we don't necessarily know what to pray for, only that we should start praying. This is one of those times. And who are the saints? They are all who worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God in Spirit and in truth, and that means us.
Part Four of This Week’s Verses
“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. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called, those he called, he also justified, those he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
God Loved Us First
That first sentence consists of very reassuring words. “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him”. God is constantly on our side, so there is no need to worry or fret about what the future holds. As the Bible says, and as the apostle Paul wrote elsewhere, “If God can be for us then who can be against us?” God loved us first before any of us loved Him, wrote the apostle John (see 1st John chapter 4, verses 10-11). Now all we have to do is to return that love back to him, and we can start by obeying his commandments. And what are the commandments of Christ? We are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your spirit”, and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” After all, we have all been called according to this very purpose.
The First Born Among Many Brothers and Sisters
Obeying Jesus' commandments is a natural reaction of those who obey these two great commandments of Christ, which “sum up all the law and the prophets”. It is those who answer that call wholeheartedly who will become part of the family of God. That's why the apostle Paul resounds the adoption theme from back in verse 23. Notice that Paul calls those with the first-fruits of the Spirit “those God foreknew”. We are predestined – Paul's word exactly – to be conformed to the “likeness of his Son”. This is done so that Jesus would be the firstborn “among many brothers”. The “many brothers” here signifies the Church, which is the family of God here on earth and the Bride of Christ in the book of Revelation.
An Excellent Way to Spend Eternity
And so now we all know what it is that God has in store for all of us, and it is more than any of us can currently imagine, you can rest assured on that one. All we have to do is to cling to Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to treat others as we would have them treat us. If we will do these things, we will be predestined to an eternal life with God because we are called, and are therefore justified in the eyes of God, and able to stand before Him. The result will be ourselves becoming glorified in our new spiritual bodies. These spiritual bodies, with their inherent immortality, will be the payoff of having the first-fruits of the Spirit. This will be because we have been adopted into the family of God where we will have multitudes of brothers and sisters. I don't know about you, but this sounds like an excellent way to spend eternity. Next week we will finish up Romans chapter eight. Shalom!
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