Romans 8: God is Our Portion

Romans 8: God is Our Portion

All of our suffering ceases to be meaningless. All of our suffering has divine purpose wrapped up into it so that we know, we can be assured, that what we are going through is meant to bring about our future glory. It must be so! In Christ we have become inheritors of God, redeemed sinners who will know God and be with God forevermore as his children, enjoying him as our Father. Therefore, every little bit of suffering we go through is just another step closer to glory. 

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:16-17

Paul has been moving us from one degree of glory to another as his argument in Romans 8 progresses. Beginning in verse 1 with some of the most comforting words in all of Scripture, that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, he has brought us to what is some of the most encouraging words in Scripture, that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God… [For] the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:1416).

His whole purpose here is to encourage Christians that they are indeed recipients of grace. Consider how Paul, inspired by the Spirit Himself, is actually writing into our hearts an assurance of faith. These verses are real promises given to us, which means, these words should be read and reread by us continually; we ought to be meditating on these verses precisely because through them we’re strengthened in our faith. Paul will later tell us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17) and Romans 8 contains some of the most beautiful, faith-producing words of Christ! Read and hear and be filled, friends – what we’re reading here is some of our Lord’s richest food and finest wine all meant to nourish our souls.

Now, in verse 17, Paul elaborates upon the truth that we are children of God by reminding us that we are also heirs of God and, indeed, fellow heirs with Christ! The early church father and preacher John Chrysostom wonderfully points out how Paul is “enhancing the Gifts of God little by little, for since it is possible to be children, and yet not become heirs (for not all children are heirs), he adds this – that we are heirs!”[1] Paul is adding grace to grace as he shows us not just our adoption by God in Christ but that we’re also heirs of God in Christ. To be an heir is to be a recipient of all that a father has. It’s a curious statement though since an heir receives his inheritance only upon the death of the parent. But here it is absurd to conceive of the death of God the Father. Instead, we’ve become heirs of God the Father through the death of the Son! And so now, insofar as God is eternal and we, by the Spirit, are bound up in the resurrection of Christ, we become eternal heirs of God, inheritors of life eternal in God.

I think John Stott is right to ask the question, “is it possible… that the inheritance Paul has in mind is not something God intends to bestow on us but God himself?”[2]  This certainly is in keeping with Paul’s major emphasis in Romans 8 on our union in and with Christ. Receiving the blessings of salvation (our justification, our sanctification, our adoption, and glorification) means becoming one with the Son of God in whom all those blessings are found. And insofar as we become one with the Son, we also become one with God the Father. This was Jesus’ prayer in John 17, when he asked the Father that all “those who will believe in me… that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us… I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:20-23).

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