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.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Romans 8:15-17 - The inheritance of believers

Paul now highlights that God’s people are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus, the royal Son. Obviously this sounds a wonderful experience, but what does it involve? Paul will say something about the spatial nature of the inheritance in the next few verses of this chapter, but he mentions three other aspects of it here that we can note briefly.

First, there is only one inheritance, which means that it is a shared inheritance. Obviously Jesus shares it with his people, which is an act of amazing grace on his part because they do not deserve it. Yet we can easily deduce that sharing the full inheritance should cause them to love now those with whom they will share it and to delight to be with those now with whom they will share it then.

Second, the experience of the full inheritance is described as glorified with Christ. Whatever this will mean, we can say that it will be sublime and satisfying. All of them are going to be like Jesus. Often we think of eternity and wonder what it will be like to be sinless. But the eternal experience is not just the absence of what is wrong and ugly, it is also the presence of what is right and beautiful. Since we are going to be like Jesus then, we should be becoming increasingly like him now.

Third, how do we recognise the joint-heirs with Jesus now? Paul says that they are suffering with Jesus. Prepositions can carry a lot of meaning. Paul could have described the joint-heirs as those who suffer for Jesus and that would have been a true description of them. But in addition to suffering for Jesus, they also suffer with Jesus. He is there to help, comfort and guide them by his Spirit as they make their way to the inheritance. Their earthly suffering received heavenly sympathy and identification.

Suffering here does include illness, but it also includes suffering because of serving Jesus. This would have meant a great deal to those Roman Christians a few years later when Nero inflicted great suffering on them. But their sufferings became the road from which they exited into the presence of the Saviour and now they are waiting in heaven to receive the fullness of the inheritance.

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