The Perspective of Romans Eight
By Al Stoner
"As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Rom. 8:36). Oftentimes life's experiences can prove to be grievously perplexing, and even adversarial. As with Jacob of old, the temptation often is to reason: “all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). How can it be that the ones destined for eternal glory are presently accounted as sheep for the slaughter? How does suffering in the present time possibly relate to being glorified together with Christ in the ages to come? What is the connection of Christ's love with rebuke and chastening?
There is, indeed, a connection that only faith is able to perceive. If you find yourself from time to time to be so accounted, then give thanks to the Lord that He has been mindful of you, and seek grace from Him to hold on your way, and to cleave unto Him with purpose of heart, and He will bring you safely to your desired haven. He will bring you to eternal glory by Christ Jesus! The Captain of our salvation is presently bringing many sons unto glory. But He is bringing them by the way of suffering, yea, even crucifixion. He is bringing them, one by one, through troublesome waters and howling deserts where trusting in Him is the only alternative. “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Pet. 4:19). The well doing of reference here is primarily that of continuing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart, even in the face of hard trials.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I Jn. 5:4-5). By virtue of the new birth and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, men are enabled to overcome the world and its prince. With their affection firmly set on the things which are above (see Col. 3:1-3), they have been given grace to continually say "no" to the paltry offerings of "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," which are "not of the Father," but are "of the world" (I Jn 2:16).
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). From the earth's perspective, it appears that believers in Christ are being conquered. Now it appears that those who are being prepared for a rule and dominion in the world to come are the least likely candidates for such a dominion, being oftentimes the tail, and not the head. They are "troubled on every side, yet not distressed;" they "are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (II Cor. 4:8-9).
From the standpoint of experience, it appears that they are continually being "emptied from vessel to vessel" (Jer. 48:11). They are in heaviness through manifold temptations. All the assaults of the evil one are being directed against them (Rev. 12:17). "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." But from the perspective of faith, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!
Let us resolve to ever keep in our possession the long view with regard to God's purpose in salvation, though we are constantly tempted to take the short view. The long view looks ahead to the time of final triumph and victory through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The short view looks no farther than one's present circumstances and conditions and says, woe is me, for I am undone. But the faith of Christ possesses a sanctified optimism that refuses temporal satisfaction and deliverance. It ever looks and hopes unto the end for the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.