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Joint Heirs And Sufferers With Christ

Romans 8:17

In verse 17 Paul tells us that in order to be heirs of God, we must become sons through Christ
and then we become joint-heirs with Christ.

Christ is all in all to us.

We are not heirs except with Christ, through Christ, and in Christ.
This sweetens it all.
Fellowship with Jesus is our best portion.
It is our best inheritance.
Jesus insures our inheritance.
He will not lose it.
His title-deed and ours are one and inseparable.
It is a title by us possessed, but by Him it is purchased.
It is called a purchased inheritance because a price was given for it.
It was bought completely by Him.
This reveals and endears His love for us.
That He would make us joint-heirs with Him in all things is love unbounded.

We have nothing apart from Him!

It is with the exalted Christ that we are joint heirs.
Joint heirs means that the children of God enter into the possession of the inheritance,
which was bestowed upon them.
There is not a loftier concept than joint heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
In this life the children of God do not enjoy all the same gifts or possess the same material blessings.

But we are all joint heirs with Christ.
What more could adopted children wish for than to inherit as much as the firstborn?
The key lies in that one word - "if".
If children, then heirs, and all that such heirship with Christ implies.
There is nothing here which does not belong to the believer.
If he has wealth, let him use it in His Master's service for it is His.
If he has poverty, poverty is his to help enable him to be sanctified and to long for his home in heaven.

In Hebrews 1:2 we are told that God has appointed Christ heir of all things.
Then we are heirs of all things conceivable and inconceivable, finite and infinite, human and divine.
Christ's property extends to everything, and we are co-heirs.

Our happiness is to be of the nature as His.
All that He has of transcendent holiness and dignity, authority and power,
and all that His inheritance comprises is also ours.
Our happiness will be realized in the same state, or place, or sphere as His for where He is, we shall be also.

So let us behave as joint heirs of Christ:

At first sight Paul seems to add to the words of our text another condition to those already specified,
when he speaks of suffering with Christ.
Being sons and joint heirs with Christ is the root of the whole matter of suffering with Him.
Suffering with Him is the inevitable result of being joint heirs.

We misunderstand the force of this passage if we think that suffering refers merely to the outward calamities
that we call trials and afflictions which come upon us.
The verse does not merely contain a law for a certain part of life.
It contains a law for the whole of life.

We must never forget that our suffering has no atoning power for ourselves.
And for us to think so is derogatory to Christ's suffering and insults its sufficiency.
There is a vast difference between His suffering and ours.

His suffering was vicarious, while ours is not and cannot ever be.
Our suffering has no atoning power.
Believers do not contribute to the accomplishment of expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption.

So, a word of caution!
It is not the suffering that fits us for the kingdom.
That which fits us for the kingdom is found in Christ, and the suffering only develops us to maturity.

This suffering is not penal.
It comes to us as joint heirs with Christ because we are His.
We live in opposition to the world that hated Christ and His followers, and it still does.
Having the same enemies with Him, we must have the same battles, the same victories, and the same triumphs.

As children of God, let us not be disturbed at the prospect of suffering, nor even be shocked
when we are told that suffering is sure and certain to come.
What are all of the sufferings of our short life here on earth compared with the glory,
which shall soon be ours forever as the heirs of God?

To suffer like Him is to suffer with Him.
We suffer jointly with Him because of our connection with Him. (2 Cor. 4:10; Phil. 4:13; John 15:18)
These are the sufferings that come upon us for Christ's sake,
and not those mentioned in 1 Peter 2:20; 4:15 which are brought on us by our own sins.
Nor are these sufferings the common creature sufferings with which the next section of our chapter deals.
Paul is speaking of the cross we bear (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Gal. 3:12),
and we must not call all our sufferings a cross.

This suffering is the seed that ripens into fruit in glory.
It is almost an axiom of the Gospel that the path to glory is the path of pain. (Mark 10:38; Phil. 2:9)
The same legacy that left us peace also left us tribulation.
No cross, no crown!

There is no meaning to suffering unless it is suffering in the Spirit.

In the Spirit the secret of suffering is no longer a secret. In the Spirit we are enabled
to know the meaning of our life, as it is manifested in suffering.
If a Christian has the life of Christ and is in the Spirit, his life will be molded
by the same Spirit that dwells in his Lord.
A person professing Christ's Christianity, who meets no opposition from the world for Christ's sake,
may well doubt the reality of his profession.
Suffering in Christ confirms that we are children of God.

God allows His children to suffer in different ways and for different reasons:

Such sanctified suffering strips this world of its delusive charms and writes vanity on all that perishes with it.
Such suffering brings down high and haughty looks and proud imaginations,
and it causes the children of God to long for their heavenly home.

Suffering is the necessary prelude to glory.
This happens within us daily as our outward man perishes, and while the inward man is renewed day by day.
Suffering is one of the means that the Spirit uses to renew the "inward man" more and more
until we stand before Him, and there is no more outward man.

The sufferings of Christ are regarded in two points of view:

  1. He suffered as the propitiation for our sins.
  2. His sufferings are to be viewed as the road connecting Him to glory.
In the first, we have no part.
He alone was the sacrifice offered for our salvation.
He alone made satisfaction to the justice of God.
He alone merited the reward for us.

But in the second, He is our life and He must increase within us.

Our sufferings are appointed for us in order that we should not be condemned with the world.
If we could see how beneficial such sanctified suffering in Christ is to us,
it would greatly lighten the burden of our afflictions.
If we could regard them as they are - as a necessary portion of our life in Christ and could be
forewarned of their frequency - then we would stand in readiness in the Spirit.
We would be reconciled in patience to bear all our trials in the strength of our Lord who lives within us.

In our suffering we should be concerned with the power and strength of He who lives within.
We should depend upon His sustaining power and comfort in our sufferings and trials.
As we read verses 18-25 (which are an expansion of verses 3 and 4), we are comforted
with the knowledge of the vastness of the future glory that is ours as joint heirs with Christ.

And we are assured of the Holy Spirit's aid as outlined in verses 26-27.
And we are guaranteed of God's loving control of all things to bring about our ultimate good as in verses 28-30.

So, from the words of this text and of this chapter come a consolation to multitudes of sorrowing,
suffering hearts in all generations, like songs in the night and like cold water to a thirsty soul.
All of us will walk the pathway of suffering and sorrow.
It is a blessed truth to know as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death
that our Saviour has walked the road before us and He will walk it with us.

"He was in all points tempted like as we are," bearing grief for us,
bearing grief with us, and bearing grief like us.
He is with us in the petty problems of life as well as the larger trials of life.

Whether it be a poison sting from one mosquito or a poison bite from a hundred rattlesnakes, we must go to Him,
and He will help us to endure it.
" All mine (joys and sorrows alike) are Thine, and all Thine is mine."
He is with us at all times.
Jesus is always there!

"Sometimes our skies are cloudy and dreary,
Sometimes our hearts are burdened with care;
But we know, what-e're may befall us,
Jesus is always there.

When in the midst of life with its problems,
Bent with our toil and burdens we bear;
Wonderful thought and deep consolation;
Jesus is always there.

When we are walking through the green pastures,
Or over mountains rugged and bare,
Precious the thought and sweet the assurance,
Jesus is always there! Never a burden that He doth not carry,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share;
Whether the days may be sunny or dreary,
Jesus is always there
."

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com