Romans 8:18-25 & The Weight of Glory

Our future glory is not light, ethereal, and floaty, but weighty, massive, and solid. It’s as weighty as the earth in multiple ways. Too many Christians have far more in common with Plato than Paul in their conception of heaven. It was the Greeks, not Jesus or Paul, who sought to be liberated from their bodies and the physical. Paul and Jesus spoke of their redemption and resurrection. The earth is both literally and figuratively tilted, eagerly awaiting our revealing (8:19), knowing that because it is our inheritance (Matthew 5:5), it will be caught up in our freedom and redemption (8:21). Where does the power for such cosmic resurrection come from? This Big Bang occurred 2000 years ago in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just how weighty is this future glory? So weighty that it renders our present sufferings as nothing in comparison (8:18). Paul here is not making light of our sufferings, but much of the our future glory. Give suffering is full weight and credit, don’t minimize it in any way; then think of your greatest sufferings and imagine experiencing a joy so great that when the two are place on the scales it is as if you are comparing a speck of pollen to an anvil.

But we have not yet even begun to imagine the weight Paul is calculating here. Paul is not saying that there is a glory so substantial that it outweighs your sufferings as an individual, but that it outweighs all of our collective sufferings (8:18). So gather all the tears and pains of all the saints, pile them on the scale and see it hit the ground with such a thud that it causes a fissure in the earth. Then imagine a future glory so massive that it topples and crushes the scales making all of our sufferings in comparison as particulate floating in the light of His majesty.

It isn’t that our sufferings are so small, but that this glory is so big. The future world, the new heavens and the new earth will be far more solid than this one, far more weighty.

Romans 3:21-25 & “All” of “Us”

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Romans 3:23 – doesn’t it seem out of place?

To see why you must understand that from Romans 1-3 there are at least 4 different things that are said to be revealed. The first is the “righteousness of God”, that is the righteousness God credits to us through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the revelation, the “manifestation” that Paul is returning to in 1:21. He is returning to it because up to this point he has emphasized two other revelations. In 1:18 Paul says “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” This wrath is being manifest against man because man has rejected yet another revelation – the revelation of God’s attributes communicated to man by creation (1:19-20). The fourth revelation is that in God’s providing and manifesting this gospel righteousness He was also “showing” His righteousness that He might be “just and the justifier (3:25b-26).” He wasn’t just providing a righteousness, He was magnifying Himself as righteousness. He doesn’t pass over sins, He deals with them.

So up to 3:21 Paul has been emphasizing our depravity which evokes the wrath of God. “But now” then introduces the gospel, it introduces good news. In light of this doesn’t 3:23 seem like a retrogression? It isn’t that I don’t believe that it is true, but isn’t it out of place? Shouldn’t it come before the “but now,” not after? Why is 3:23 here and not there? The answer lies in understanding who “all” is. Romans 3:23 by itself is true of all humanity, but that isn’t who “all” is in 3:23. The “all” who are sinners are said to be justified in 3:24. The “all” in 3:23 is the same “all” of 3:22 – they are believers. All of us who believe and are justified are sinners, that is why “there is no distinction (3:22).”

If you have grown up in church and “done” everything, you bring nothing more to the table than the most repulsive sinner. The only thing any of us bring to the table is pure grotesque sin. You don’t add one ounce to the megatons of righteousness that are yours in Christ alone. You are not more accepted or loved by God because of your prayers, church attendance, denominational affiliation, offerings, ministry, good deeds, walking an isle, being baptized, partaking of communion, going to church camp, listening to and singing the right kind of music, attending a small group, being accountability or avoiding certain sins. There is no distinction! If you appear just before God it is wholly because of an alien righteousness which you graciously receive through faith in Jesus Christ. The righteousness you have before God, magnifies Him, not you. It is a righteousness you have before God and from God.

Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, sola Deo Gloria!

By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, tot eh glory of God alone!