Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Romans 5:1-2 – Rejoicing in the present about the future

What is the effect of knowing about the certainty and permanence of God’s salvation? The answer is that it enables each believer to consider the future with joy. Most people are apprehensive about the future, mainly because of the uncertainty that marks it. Obviously there is a sense in which each Christian’s future is uncertain as far as the things of this life are concerned. A Christian is not guaranteed health or riches, or a long life with no troubles. Instead he or she may have many problems. The future to which divine justification points the believer is beyond this life.
Paul defines this forward-looking attitude as hope. In contrast to the way we commonly use the word hope to indicate a possibility of getting something we wish for, hope in the Bible is a word that anticipates with certainty that our future lies with God and that it is guaranteed to the justified by his many, great promises.
The range of features in the Christian hope is very large and Paul only mentions one of them here, the glory of God. What does he mean by glory of God? The apostle could be referring to the environment in which God’s people will live eternally surrounded by the glory of God (an illustration could be that of how the sun surrounds all the people that live within its light and affects them). Their eternal dwelling place is in the presence of the beautiful, gracious God. Or the apostle could mean that they are going to experience the glory of God to a degree that is not possible in this life.
Another way of describing the glory of God in this sense is to consider all the attributes or abilities and affections of God. In this life, we experience them in smaller degrees than we will in the eternal world. Nevertheless, the prospect of them creates great joy in our hearts.

This raises the question as to how believers obtain lasting joy in circumstances that normally would not include it such as persecution, ill health, and disappointments. The answer is that joy is a consequence of focussing on what God will give when all the justified are in his presence. As they think about it, the Holy Spirit within them gives assurance through his Word that it is coming, and therefore they have joy.

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