James Smith, 1862
"And if children—then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" Romans 8:17
Our apostle has now fully proved that all that are in
Christ are not only free from condemnation—but are the children of
God—adopted by his grace, constituted his family, led by his Spirit, calling
him Father, and enjoying an inward witness that the privilege
and relationship are theirs. From this he draws a glorious inference, and
says, "And if children—then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with
Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified
together" (Romans 8:17).
The Inference."If children—then heirs." We have the right of inheritance, which flows in the channel of relationship. No feelings, no duties, no desert, can give this right; we must be born to it—OR an act of sovereign and gracious adoption must confer it upon us.
As children, we are certain that we shall inherit, for it belongs to all the redeemed seed. Nothing could deprive us of it but death; but in God's family there is no death, for Jesus says, "Because I live—you shall live also." The inheritance is inalienable. The kingdom was prepared for us from the foundation of the world. It was our Father's good pleasure to give it unto us! It is reserved in heaven for us; and we on earth are kept by the power of God, through faith, until we are put into the possession of it!
If we are God's adopted children—then we are entitled to the inheritance; our possessing it is rendered certain by God's promise and oath; and it never can be alienated from us, for it is family property, thoroughly secured to us. We do not come to it by our desert, or merit, or even by purchase, otherwise there might be some dispute; but we come to it by relationship.
"Heirs of God!" Heirs of his promises: for to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. Every promise, and every promised blessing, belongs to the children of God.
Heirs of his mansions: heaven is our Father's house; there are the many mansions which are being fitted up and prepared for the reception of the heirs as they come of age.
Heirs of his kingdom, which he has promised unto those who love him—the kingdom of grace on earth, and the kingdom of glory in heaven.
Heirs of God himself; for he himself is our inheritance. We have a saving interest in his glorious nature, and in all his sublime perfections. God with all his immense wealth—is ours! With the prophet we may say, "God is my portion; therefore will I hope in him." With the psalmist we may sing, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup; you maintain my lot."
"Joint heirs with Christ!" We have the same life
as Jesus; for Christ lives in us. We fill the same relation as
Jesus; for we are the sons of God. We shall enjoy the same
inheritance as Jesus; for Christ and his people are one. We inherit
in Christ, as the member in the head. We inherit through Christ,
as the wife through her husband. We inherit with Christ, as the
family with the father. God loves us with the same love—as he loves
Jesus! He has given us to each other—us to Christ, and Christ to us. He has
appointed us to share with Christ in his kingdom and glory. Jesus is
appointed heir of all things; and we being joint heirs with him—all
things are ours. This we are to believe at present, and shortly we
shall enjoy it to our hearts' content!
The Proof Or Evidence."If so be that we suffer with him." All the children have to pass through the same experience. We must resemble him in his humiliation, before we do in his glorification. "Though he were a Son—yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Just so must we. We must be prepared to suffer, to part with all, even with life itself, if required: "Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind." Be prepared to suffer, if called to it, even as Christ did.
We are to suffer WITH Christ; in union with him, in his cause, sharing in the sufferings of his people. "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it." As Jesus by sympathy suffers with us, so we by sympathy are required to suffer with him.
We are to suffer FOR Christ—for our love to him, our zeal in his cause, our identification with him. Christ suffered for us, on account of his love to us, his zeal for us, and his identifying himself with us; and so must we.
We are to suffer AS Christ. His was a life of suffering. He suffered from his sympathy with man, and more from his sympathy with God. Therefore he said, "The reproaches of those who reproached you, have fallen upon me." In consequence of the holy sensitiveness of his nature, he could not come in contact with sinners without suffering, both on their account and his own. Their sighs—called forth a sigh from him; and their groans—made his heart groan. He was familiar with grief.
If we were more like Jesus, we would suffer more. To see God dishonored would give us intense pain; and to see our fellow-men hastening to perdition would fill us with grief.
We must suffer together, or in connection with Christ—if we would be "glorified together," or in connection with him. We must suffer through our connection with Christ, not only as Christians—but because we are holy Christians; for "If any man will live godly in Christ Jesus—he shall suffer persecution." It is "through much tribulation that we must enter into the kingdom of God." This is our earthly lot, and is preparatory to our heavenly portion.
"That we may be also glorified together." The Head and the members; the Shepherd and his flock; the Bridegroom and his bride. What a wonderful thought, that we, poor, sinful, unworthy creatures—should be glorified as Christ is! To sit with him on his throne, even as he has sat down with his Father on his throne! to appear with him in glory! to be glorified with him—in the same place, with the same blessedness, from the same unfailing Source! Forever with the Lord!—oh, how blessed!
Glorified for Christ's sake—in honor of what he has done—as a reward for his deep and dreadful sufferings—to his honor and everlasting satisfaction—this was the joy that was set before him, stimulating him to endure the cross, despising the shame.
To be glorified together with Christ, will include entering into the joy of our Lord; sitting down with him at his table in his kingdom; inheriting the kingdom he appoints us; and sharing the glory given him by his Father. "Where I am—there shall also my servant be."
If we are Gods children, we shall be treated as sons—now
as minors, but shortly as of full age. Our heavenly Father now requires us .
to believe Him without questioning,
to obey Him without objecting,
to follow Him without hesitating, and
to submit to Him without murmuring or complaining.
Many things must be left for clearer light, for our heavenly Father will not give account of many of his matters. As God's chosen, adopted, and redeemed children—filial love, filial confidence, and filial obedience, should characterize our lives.
If the Lord treats us as sons, we shall share with Christ, and as Christ. Look at his life, and as in a mirror—you see yours. What Christ WAS—you must be; therefore be not surprised at sorrows. What Jesus IS—you will be; therefore anticipate glory. Our elder Brother trod the road before us, showing that the journey is practicable; he took possession of the inheritance, showing that eternal life is certain.
Union to Christ insures suffering now—and glory in future. We must be like Jesus! We must pass through the same experience. God has predestined it. We pray for it. Our eternal welfare demands it. We must drink of his cup of sorrow—before we drink of his cup of joy. If we are united to Christ, we shall be conformed to Christ—both on earth and in heaven.
We now hold the promises as the title-deeds of our heavenly estate, and we shall soon be invited to take possession of it. No tide-deeds were ever so plainly written, so solemnly confirmed, so legibly signed, or more legally sealed. We may read them every day, examine them as often as we will. Nor can we trust them too implicitly, or rest too well satisfied with them. They have been confirmed by the sacred and solemn oath of God, in order to put an end to all our doubts, fears, and misgivings, and to fill us with strong consolation. Grace ordained our relationship, and relationship brings us heirship.
We owe everything to grace—free grace, sovereign grace! Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption; grace in the Savior effected our redemption; and grace in the Holy Spirit produced our regeneration.
Being the sons of God, both by regeneration and adoption—our heirship is clear and unquestionable. Hence the apostle testifies, "According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Suffering leads to sanctity—and sanctity leads to glory. Suffering alone never sanctifies; but suffering as covenant discipline, and as accompanied with the grace and teaching of the Holy Spirit, does!
Our characters are now being formed for eternity. On earth—we are being trained for heaven. Our afflictions and sufferings as Christians, and for Christ's sake, not only fit and qualify us for glory—but in some mysterious way, according to God's all-wise arrangement, will actually increase it. Therefore we read, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen—but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal—but the things which are not seen are eternal." Glory be to God, for making us, who were children of wrath, and consequently heirs of hell—children of grace, and consequently heirs of heaven!