Present Suffering, Future Glory (Romans Sermon 54 of 120)
February 03, 2002 | Andy Davis
Joy in Suffering, God's Purpose for the World, Suffering, Glorification
Will You Die Well?
Please take your Bibles and look with me at Romans 8. We're going to be looking at verses 18-25, and the issue of present suffering and future glory. Recently I've thought much about a particular question. I'm not meaning to be dreary, but the question's been pressed on my mind and that is, "Andy, will you die well?" "Will you die well? Will you die filled with faith? Will you die filled with hope in our Lord Jesus Christ? Will your death be a testimony to those standing around of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Will you die well?" Now that question came to my mind because of reading Pilgrim's Progress, a book I love and I allude to frequently. You know that in that allegory of the Christian life, Christian and Hopeful come to the end of their journey and there is a river, and they have to cross the river, and the river symbolizes death. And they're looking left and right and everywhere for a place or a way to get across that doesn't include going through the river and there is none. And the angel that is there to counsel with them at that time, answers their question, "Is there another way?" And he says, "There is another way, but only two have gotten across there and none since that time.
Only two, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven directly without passing through that river of death. Now we know it's possible the Lord could return in our lifetime, and that we will not have to die. That is a mystery discussed in 1 Corinthians 15. But if He does not, we will have to cross through that river. The question is, will we do it well? Now, when they looked at the river, they wondered how deep it was. Isn't that a natural question? You look and you say, "How deep is the river? Will it overflow me? Will it overwhelm me? Will I suffer? What is it going to be like?" And the angel said, "We don't know. We don't know, it's going to be as deep or as shallow in proportion to your trusting in the King of that place." It's as deep or shallow as your faith makes it. Now, how strong is your faith? Will you be like Hopeful who went across and found it to be like a little stream, a trickle barely that kind of came up to his knees and he went... Started going right across. But then there was Christian who started to suffer and struggle and drown and sputter. And needed all the help that his friend Hopeful could give him.
Is your faith going to be strong at that time? And if not, you need to get ready now. You need to prepare now and how do we get ready? How do we strengthen our faith? How do we become hopeful? By reading the Scripture and believing the promises. The outcome of our text today is Christian hope. That you may have hope as Hopeful did. And ultimately as Christian did as well.
I. Surrounded by Beauty and by Suffering
Now, we live in a world in which we are surrounded by physical beauty. We see around us all the time, the beauty of God's creation, and it is beautiful. We also look at our own bodies and we confess with David that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies are astonishing, and they are amazing and yet there is tremendous suffering. Both in the physical world and even with our own bodies. Recently, I was going up to Duke University Hospital, and actually I was coming out, I visited somebody. And I'll tell you, since I've been pastor, I've never been to a hospital so much as I have in the last three and a half years. And it's made these issues very real to me. It's helped me to realize that I myself someday will be in a hospital bed probably. And that people will be coming and visiting me and that it's going to be me facing my own end. But I've thought about these things.
And so Romans 8:18-25, it's very sweet to me, it's very strong. It's on this that I'm basing my hope and other promises as well. But I was coming out of the hospital and I saw a woman, and she was pushing a stroller. And I caught her eye and our eyes met, and we looked at each other and she looked very, very care warren. And she looked sad and I don't really know why, but I thought going into the hospital, maybe she's visiting somebody who was sick. And then I looked down at her child and the child was too large really to be in a stroller and was completely bald. And I realized then that the child probably had cancer and they were going in for some more treatments and more consultation. Just looking at that symbolized the kind of things that we're talking about in Romans 8:18-25. Namely the physical suffering we see in the world in a sense of where is God in all of this? On September 11th, when those airplanes crashed into those buildings, there were many people questioning God. They were wondering, "Where is God in that physical suffering and all that death?"
Handling Human Suffering Essential to Worldview
It was shocking to people. And so as we come to the issue of suffering in this world, we're coming to what I consider to be one of the number one doorways or portals the church has taken into heresy and false teaching. It's when we get to physical suffering that we start to adjust things in our theology accordingly. And that's the very thing we must not do. We must come to the Scripture instead and say, "You teach me about suffering, help me to understand what death is, help me to understand the things that are going to happen to my body." Now we know that Romans chapter 8 is given for assurance, it's given for comfort, it's given a word of encouragement, and it is a tremendous word. We've seen it right from the very beginning to the very end in verse one it says, "There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And then at the end, "Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." No condemnation all the way through to no separation, a tremendous word of encouragement. But yet in the middle, there's a word about suffering, isn't there? And that's the thing I love about Scripture.
We would never want a comforter who you call up that person, maybe a woman or a man who just cares about you and you start to say some situation that's come up. Maybe you received a medical report or maybe some other issues come up in your life. And they immediately cut you off and say, "It'll be fine." "It'll be okay, everything's going to work out alright." See, we haven't even heard my problem yet. You haven't felt the weight of what I'm dealing with yet. You don't feel the weight of the issues. How can you tell me it's going to be fine if you don't deal with what really is facing me? Romans 8 doesn't do that, does it? It's not singing a few of your favorite things that's going to get you through this. Rain drops and roses, and pink satin sashes. I don't know the rest of it, but you know the song I'm singing. Singing a song like that is not going to get you through this kind of suffering. You need solid meat, you need doctrine. You need teaching that will get you through this. If you want to be a mighty Redwood, that's going to survive all of the storms and trials of life and not a little sapling that's going to get blown over when things come, you need to take in the word of God.
Take in Romans chapter 8 and understand. Now, we have seen the context of Romans 8, he's speaking a word of assurance and comfort, but only to a certain category of person. He's speaking it to Christians. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." You see that? It's for those who are in Christ. And he's very careful to delineate what that means. You're not controlled any longer by the flesh, your mind is not controlled any longer by the sinful nature. Rather it's controlled by the Spirit. You are in the Spirit, you're not in the flesh any longer. You've been rescued, you've been transferred, you're a new person in Christ, and therefore you can have this comfort and this assurance. And in the first half of this chapter, the focus has been on the indwelling Holy Spirit. The work, the energetic work of the Holy Spirit within you, a great sense of assurance and comfort to you as a Christian. But then at the end here in Verse 17, he strikes a dark final cord.
Look what it says in verse 17, "If we are children…" To be a child of God, what a title? We've talked about that for two weeks, to be a child of God. Oh my goodness, the privileges and the joys of being a child of God. "But if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." Boil it down at the end, no suffering, no glory. You will go through suffering. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world." Therefore, what is before us here is, what is the nature? What is the origin? What is the purpose of this suffering? And how can we as Christians, as children of God face it?
III. Past: Creation, Subjection and Curse
Now, in order to answer this question, we have to look back... We have to look back in time to the origins of creation itself, and what has gotten us into this present situation. We have to look back in the Bible. Now, the physical universe itself was created perfect by God. Now, this is contrary to the way that other religions or philosophical systems deal with the problem of evil. What they do... Like Greek philosophy, some types of Greek philosophy or Buddhism say that the physical world is intrinsically evil. And you're going to have evil as long as you are in the physical world. You understand that. So what you need to do is get away from the physical world, deny all physical things, become hyper spiritual, not physical, and in this way, you will be free from suffering. This is not what the Bible teaches, not at all. Rather, the Bible teaches that the physical world was created perfectly good. God created the world in six days, and at the end of it, He declared all that He had made to be good. And so the world is a good place, and much of that goodness is still around us, isn't it? It's a delightful thing to see. The cosmos, the Heavens declare the glory of God. Do they not? The sun, the moon and the stars. They just declare the brightness and the glory, the beauty of God and His creation.
Lofty mountains, rolling hills, sweeping planes, deep valleys, hot deserts, grasslands, savannas, swamps, ice lands, all of them together sing the praise of God. Don't they? Just the variety on this earth, and they are delightful. The clouds, oceans, seas, rivers, springs, all of them trickling down ultimately to the ocean. They declare the glory of God and the goodness of God. It is a good world that He's made. And the variety of plants, Palm Trees, Oaks, Maples, Rhododendron, Roses. All of these things declare the glory of God. How much more the physical, the birds, and the animals, and the fish that He's made, and all the variety there? And then all the way up to human beings created in the image of God, male and female, created in the image of God. And when God saw all that He had made, He declared it what? He declared it good. It is a good physical world that He's made it. And if you don't understand that, you will not understand what God is doing in redemption. He's bringing us back to, actually even better, a perfect physical creation, a new heaven and a new earth. That's where we're heading. God is restoring and renewing, actually, even surpassing what He originally made.
Physical Universe Cursed Because of Humanity
The physical world, therefore, is not intrinsically evil because it's physical. That's a wrong way of thinking. Well then what happened? Well, the physical universe was subjected to humanity. God took the physical world, this Earth and everything in it, and subjected it to the human race. Remember what it said in Genesis 1:28 and following, it said, "God, blessed them and said to them, male and female, be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule over the fish and the sea, and the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground." So the earth and everything in it was subjected to man. Now, the cosmos was not subjected in the same way, but still, we read in scripture that when human history ends in this earth, the cosmos history will end as well. The stars, the sun, the moon, all of them will cease, and God will make a new Heavens as well as a new earth. And so even they focus on what's happening on the earth. So what's happening with the human race has a tremendous impact on the physical universe. And so, the creation in all of its glory was wrapped up and subjected in one sense to the human race. That's an important step, because what happened next? The human race sinned in Adam.
We fell, we sinned. And so as a result of that sin, God cursed the physical universe. Do you see that? The physical universe was put under our dominion and therefore, God just sees it that way and curses the physical universe under Adam and Eve. You remember that curse in Genesis 3:17, and following to Adam, He said, "Cursed is the ground because of you." Do you hear that? Cursed is the ground because of you. And so the ground was cursed and therefore, it would produce thorns and thistles for him rather than the abundant harvest that God originally intended. And death entered the world as a result through one man.
The first record we have of death was of the animal that was killed in Genesis 3 to make the skin for covering for Adam and Eve. And so death enters because of sin, as a result of sin. Now sin spread and multiplied and God had to judge it in Genesis chapter 6. There's a worldwide flood. Does that not establish also the connection between the human race and the physical world? What perished in the flood? Everything that breathed the life through its nostrils, all the animals died, except those that were on the ark. And so there is a bond, a link between what happens with human beings, and God and the physical universe. The physical universe, therefore, has been subjected, it says, to futility.
Now, this bond is going to be even clearer at the end of the world. Some of you think, well, I hope that we are the final generation and I don't have to die. Well, have you not read what the final generation is going to have to go through? It's an amazing thing. Now, I know we can talk about the pre-tribulation rapture. That's another topic, but the fact of the matter is the world is not going to end easily. It's going to be a very, very difficult end. And so we're going to see very plainly, again, the bonding or the uniting between the physical universe and what's happening with the human race. Earthquakes are going to rend the surface of the earth. Stars are going to fall to the Earth like ripe figs from a tree. Rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are going to be poisoned.
Every living thing in the sea will die. Trees, grass burned up. Therefore it makes sense that redemption, namely the death of Jesus Christ, will have a physical effect on the universe. Do you see that? And so what happened on the day that Jesus died, you remember from the sixth hour until the ninth hour what happened? Darkness came over the entire Earth. Do you remember that? Over that entire area there was darkness. Some think it was an eclipse. It doesn't say. It just says there was darkness for that period of three hours. And the moment Jesus died, we already had eluded Bill mentioned about the curtain being torn in two from top to bottom, but what else happened? The earth shook and the rocks were split.
That's a little foretaste of the effect of the cross of Jesus Christ on the physical world. There is a connection, therefore, between redemption and the future. Now look down at verse 19-22. This is clearly described in the verses we're looking at today. It says, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons 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 will be itself, will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time." And so creation is waiting, it's waiting, waiting for what? Waiting for us to finish, waiting for the children of God to be revealed, to be finished.
Creation is waiting and groaning, it's been subjected to it, says "futility." The word means vanity or emptiness. A sense of purposelessness. You get the same thing in the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 1:2-8, "‘Vanity! Vanity!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utter vanity. Everything is vanity.’ What does man gain from all this labor, at which he toils under the sun. Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north, round and round it goes ever returning on its course. All the streams flow into the sea and yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from there, they return again. All things are wearisome more than one can say."
That is a poetic representation of what Paul says here in Romans eight. That everything physically has been subjected to vanity or frustration, futility, and therefore we see the Principal of death and decay ruling everything under the sun, right? Everything under the sun. Look at verses 20-21 again. "The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay." Now, the word decay means, corruption, and anybody who knows anything about biology knows that everything's breaking down all the time. There's a principle of rotting and breaking apart all the time. Things are not getting more and more complex. They're always breaking down. Water attacks things and makes it rust. Sunlight affects, and destroys things so that your cells... Even the cells in your own body, because of radiation don't replicate perfectly. And so we rightly can say, we begin to die the moment that we're born, and that's because of this curse that everything physical is under. Well, that's the past, and that's why we're in what we're in now.
IV. Present Suffering, Future Promises
The present suffering, therefore unfolds as a result. Look at verse 18, it says in the NIV, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing..." That's not really a good translation. I like it better this way. "I consider that the sufferings of this present age are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." This is a time of physical suffering and you can't escape. There's no way to escape it. God has not promised that to you. It's part of the age, the era, the time that we're in now, and he will not remove it. He enables us to bear up under it, but he will not remove it. And so we have present suffering. The physical universe groans and labors, (verse 22) we know that.
The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time. It's not just the physical creation that's groaning. Human beings groan as well. Infants die in the Third World from malnutrition, and from poor medical care. Infants die in America from accidents and from other problems. Loved ones die. They face terrible sufferings and death. Malaria, and pneumonia, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart disease. And from that hospital bed comes a lamentable cry of suffering, and you say, "What is going to free us from this?" There's a sense of groaning. If you're in the medical community, you know what I'm talking about. There's a sense of groaning and you wonder, "What is God doing? Where is God in all of this?" Surprisingly, given the joy of this chapter, Children of God suffer too, don't we? We groan as well. Look at verse 23, "Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit we groan inwardly as we await eagerly our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." How can it be that we are exalted by the title, Children of God, and yet we groan and die the way that beast die. Really? How can that be? And so we groan inwardly. Well how do we respond? What is the answer? Well, the answer is words. Words from God. Promises that tend to actually run contrary to what we see and hear and experience in our lives.
Promises of God. That if you believe, alleviate the suffering we go through. We have two here, future promise, number one, namely our glorification. We have an aspect to our salvation presently today. And we have an aspect to our salvation that we haven't received yet. There's an already and there's a not yet. And actually much of it, we haven't gotten yet. The best is yet to come. The best is yet to come. And so, we have a future salvation and future promises. It says in this text we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit now. If you don't have the Holy Spirit now you're not a Christian. We already learned that in Romans 8. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ, verse 9. And so, we must have the indwelling Spirit, that's just however the first fruits of the Spirit. We have an experience with God based on the indwelling Spirit that's called the first fruits. What does that mean? Full harvest later. We get the rest of it later on. Ephesians 1 says the Holy Spirit is given us a down payment or deposit guaranteeing the final inheritance. So we get most of it later. Right now, we get the indwelling Spirit. He testifies that we're children of God, helps us when we pray. Talk about that next time, God willing. He does all these things. He leads us and guides us, helps us to put sin to death.
That's what we get now, but that's just the foretaste. That's just part of it. That's just the first fruits of the Spirit. We have a future glory, yet to come. More than that, we have been raised from the dead, spiritually. Look at verse 10 again, this is by way of review, but we've already talked about it. "If Christ is in you, [look at what it says] your body is dead because of sin and yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." Physical death is already at work in you and nothing will stop that. But your spirit is a new creation entity. It exists at the Word of God. God spoke it into existence. Let there be light, He said, in your soul and you got a new creation spirit. If anyone is in Christ, therefore he is what? A new creation. The old is gone, everything's become new. That new creation spirit, that person you are in Christ, can never die.
Amen. It can never die, it will survive the inoperable tumor statement from the doctor. It will survive hospice. It will survive your last fleeting breaths as you lay on your back. It will survive any accidents you face in this world. That new creation entity cannot be killed. And that is glorious good news. You have been raised from the dead spiritually and you cannot die, again. You're alive with Christ, and you have the first fruit of the Spirit. But you have something better promised. Future physical bodily resurrection is promised here in this text. And why? Because Jesus received a physical body. If you don't believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, I don't think you're a Christian. I don't know how you could be. If Christ has not been raised, then we're still in our sins. But Christ has been raised what, the first fruits from the dead. What does that mean? He's not the only one that's going to get a resurrection body. Now that resurrection body that was special, wasn't it? It could appear and disappear, remember the road to Emmaus? He's eating with the disciples, and then after He gives thanks, their eyes are open, they realize who He is. And then what happened? Boom. He's gone. Resurrection body. Remember? On the night of the resurrection the doors were shut and locked for fear of the Jews and Jesus came and stood amongst them.
How did He do that? I don't know. But He did. And Jesus made us a promise, "Because I live, you also will live." "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." Jesus is the resurrection and because of His resurrection, we have a promise of future glory. Now, here's the beauty of it. Look at verse 18 again, "I consider that the sufferings of this present age are not even worth considering to be equal to the glory that will be revealed in us." Now, I love the NASB, but I think they have it wrong here. The venerable NASB has it wrong. It's not glory that will be revealed to us. What does that mean? Well, we get to see it. We'll get to see the streets of gold. We'll get to see the new Heaven and new Earth. We'll get to see Jesus. All of that is true.
We Shall Not Only See Glory, but We Shall Also Be Glory
But this says more than that, it says that the glory will be revealed in us. How do I know that? Well, look what it says next in verse 19, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." You see that? The sons of God are going to be revealed, the children of God are going to be put on display. The word revealed is “apokalupsis.” We're going to be unveiled, we're going to be revealed. What does that mean we'll be revealed? In some sense now we're concealed. What we are has not been made known. And so the world doesn't recognize us, it doesn't see us the way it should. 1 John 3, it says very plainly. It says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
So, the world doesn't see us right. The World sees us as people like in this jar of clay, but that's not who we really are, is it? It's not who we really are, we're going to be revealed. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that it's all surpassing powers from God, not from us." What is this treasure? It's your new creation person, that new creation spirit is stuck in a jar of clay. It's stuck there, do you feel it? I'm stuck in this body and I'm dragging it around day after day and it doesn't want to go where I want to go. It doesn't want to do the things I want to do. I want to pray longer, I want to witness boldly, I want to give more, I want to serve, serve, serve, serve, but this body holds me back. What a wretched thing it is, but it's there and so we rely on God, we've got to stick with God, we got to trust Him and follow the Spirit and put sin to death and beat our body and make it our slave so that it can serve Christ. But that's where we are, we're stuck in this jar of clay.
And so meanwhile, we groan, Paul says, we want to be out, we want to be out, we want to be free, and we want that resurrection body. So we're not only going to see glory, we are going to be glory. Do you understand the significance of that? You are going to shine. Look at verses 29-30. We're going to get to these God willing in two weeks, but I've got to look at them now. Verses 29-30, it says, "Those God foreknew He also predestined," look, predestined for what? "To be conformed to the likeness of His Son." Do you know what that means? You're going to be like Jesus top to bottom. Perfect in your spirit, perfect in your body as well. He has a perfectly whole Spirit, Holy Spirit, and He has a perfectly glorified body, and you're going to be like Him. You are predestined to be like Jesus. You're going to end up like Jesus, perfect like Him. "And those He predestined, He also called and those He called, He also justified, and those He justified…" What? "He also glorified." You're going to be glorious, just like you were justified and you were called and you were chosen. All of these things were done to you, so also will glory be done to you. You'll become glorious for the resurrection body. Perfectly conformed to the body of Christ. And so, Jesus says in Matthew 13:43, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." You're going to shine like the sun if you're a Christian.
The Redemption of the Universe
Wow, that's the first promise. What about the second promise? Promise number two. Well, the perfection of the physical universe, the universe is going to get its day too. It's groaning now, but someday it's going to be free. It's going to be free from its bondage to decay, it's going to come into... It says the glorious freedom of the children of God, it's going to be a perfect place. Well, what's the process? Well, it's got to die first, just like us, right? And so, the universe, the physical universe has to go through death, a kind of a death. Hebrews 1:10 and following says, "In the beginning oh Lord, you laid the foundation of the Earth and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but You remain. They will all wear out like a garment, You will roll them up and throw them away." Why? So that He can make a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. He's going to roll up this place and throw it away, so don't invest in this place.
It's not just Enron, don't invest in this place. Enron is just a picture of what's going to happen to everything physical, it's going to go away, but the spiritual realm will last forever, 2 Peter 3 says, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire and the Earth and everything in it will be laid bare." Don't invest in this world, that's application come later. Don't invest, the point is it's all going to go away. There's going to be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, 2nd Peter 3:13. Revelation 21:1, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." Future promise number two, a beautiful physical creation that God can look over and say, it is very good.
V. Application: Suffering in Hope
So how do we face suffering? What is our application? I want to bring it down to just a four letter word, the word "hope." The word hope. We end in hope. Look what it says in verse 24-25, "For in this hope we were saved." What does it mean? The hope I've been talking about, the hope that someday you will be perfect like Jesus physically and spiritually, and that someday the physical universe will be reclaimed and made perfect, in this hope you were saved. A hope that is seen is no hope at all, who hope through what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have we do what? We wait for it patiently. We wait for it patiently.
We yearn for it and we wait. We don't have it yet, we have some things already, but much of it we don't have yet, and so, we wait patiently. Well, what do we do while we're waiting? What should we do while we're waiting? Well, number one, I'd like you to consider the promises. We've had a short time together so far, a little over half an hour to consider the promises. You can do this all week long. Take Romans 8 and read over these things. Look again at verse 18, "I consider that the sufferings of this present age aren't worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed." What does consider mean? It's a weighing out. I don't think it's worth comparing. I've reckoned it, I've accounted... And like an accountant, I've accounted it, and it's lightweight compared to what we're going to get. It is nothing, but he has to do the thinking. It's not like singing the song A Few of My Favorite Things. We don't have Ostrich Assurance, do we? What is Ostrich Assurance? Stick your head in the ground and pretend that everything's wonderful, and then you can be assured. Not at all, get your head out of the ground and face it. Look at it. Look it square in the face.
I am going to die, physically. Praise God for that, because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God anyway. So yes, let's pray for each other when we're sick, but pray even more for what God's doing through it. Pray for His spiritual work through it, but do your considerations. See, I don't even think it's worth comparing.
Secondly, believe the Word. Do you know that all that I've done here is just speak words? And if you don't have faith in Jesus Christ, this means nothing. If you're not a believer in Jesus Christ, you've been listening to what I've said, none of these things matter to you. There is no comfort therefore. And so, you're left to face death without any hope. Please come to Christ. Don't walk out of this place without having given your life to Jesus Christ. Without having trusted that His death was your death, that His resurrection may be, also, your resurrection. Believe the Word. And if you're a Christian, believe the Word. And have a strong hope in God. Don't use the word hope the way we usually do, like, "I hope it doesn't rain on our picnic," or "I hope that our team wins the city championship," or "I hope that my kids come visit me when I'm in the nursing home." That's the way we use hope. That's not the hope we're talking about here. This is a hope that's as secure as the truthfulness and faithfulness of God. He's made us some promises. Has He ever broken His word? These things will happen. This is our hope. This kind of hope we have. Not a weak and feeble earthly hope.
Then persevere and suffering, wait patiently and persevere. Remember Romans 5:3-5, "Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit." Let the trials do their work on you. Let your diseases do their work on you. Let the suffering of you and of your loved ones do its good work in your soul. Trust in God and realize that these are small problems, temporary, and this is spoken by a man who got beaten more times than he could count. Who was shipwrecked and who suffered. 2 Corinthians 13:12 talks about it. Suffering was part of Paul's everyday life, he says, it's not even worth comparing the future glory. Meanwhile, I know that this isn't an a joyful application, but groan. Don't pretend it doesn't hurt. Don't pretend it doesn't hurt when your loved one dies. Don't act that way. Of course it hurts when you don't have that person around anymore. Of course it hurts. Paul said, "Meanwhile, we groan." We go through it with our eyes open, and we do mourn with those who mourn, as though it were something we were going through. Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb. We do mourn, and we hurt, and we go through it.
And finally, love the children of God. How can you look at each other just like people anymore? Don't you realize that, if you're looking at a child of God, someday he or she is going to be so glorious that you'd want to worship them, if you didn't know better? Just like John wanted to worship the angel that brought him revelation. You'd want to get down and worship them, because they're just so stunning and glorious. But we won't, because we'll be stunning and glorious too, and so, it should affect the way we treat each other. And everything you do, every interaction you have with another person, you're either helping them along toward Heaven or toward Hell, one or the other.
C.S. Lewis brought this out in a sermon, Weight of Glory. It says it may be possible for each of us to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter, but it is hardly possible for him to think too often, or too deeply, about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy, that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities that we should conduct all our dealings with one another. All friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. Do you understand that? There are no ordinary people. You've never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization, these are mortal, and their life to ours is like the life of a gnat, compared to us. Do you realize that? You'll spend eternity somewhere, but it is immortals with whom we joke, and work, and marry, and snub and exploit. Immortal horrors or everlasting splendors, said CS Lewis. We can't see each other the same way ever again. We are dealing with people who will someday be glorious, or someday, be under the wrath of God, eternally. We have to deal with these things with a weight that they deserve.