by Clint Byars - Forward Ministries
"Now 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."
This is such an amazing promise! But, I have seen this passage create confusion for people. You may have heard this passage taught from the perspective that we have to suffer the things that Jesus suffered in this life to be worthy to share in His glory.
The phrase “share in his sufferings” is the Greek word, sympaschō. It’s only used twice in entire Bible. The other place is in 1 Corinthians 12:26 where it refers to the idea that if one member of the body of Christ suffers then we all suffer. In other words, if one person goes through something, we all share in what they’re going through.
For this application of the word “sufferings,” you have to understand the meaning to be “you feel what the other person is feeling.” You sympathize/empathize with them because you identify with them. We do this all the time when we’re watching a movie. We feel what the characters are feeling, we put ourself in their place and wonder what we would do.
This is what we are to do with Jesus. You are to identify with His sufferings because He did it for you. Your deliverance and salvation was gained by what He did for you so you get to share in the glory that He obtained through the suffering of death, burial and resurrection.
The Old Covenant sacrificial system included a type of sharing in the sufferings of a sacrifice. When you brought your animal to the priest for the sacrificial atonement for your sin, you were supposed to look at that sacrifice as its blood was spilled and say, “that should have been me.” You were expected to get your heart involved and identity with what this sacrifice was going through for you. You were to personalize or identify with the suffering of that sacrifice for your benefit.
God doesn’t need you to experience difficulty to experience His glory, Jesus suffered for you so you could be a partaker of his divine nature and be qualified for all His promises. We don’t gain an aspect of spiritual salvation by suffering something in our flesh. If we did then we’d have something to boast about. But we are to boast in Jesus’ finished work. We participate in and benefit from His glory on this side of the cross.
Yes, you may experience suffering but it’s never from God. The only references to suffering under the New Covenant come as a result of you standing up for your faith and being persecuted for doing so. That kind of suffering doesn’t make you holy or qualify you to share in his glory, it just means you’re willing to lay your life down because you're in Christ.
Jesus suffered the death you deserved so He could give you the life that He deserves. Take some time to meditate on what He experienced on the cross, in His death and in His resurrection. See yourself in His suffering because it should have been you. See yourself in His victory because it is you. See yourself and feel what it means to be a child of the most high, loving Father who lavishes good gifts on the ones He loves. Your Father God knows you can gain not one ounce of favor by anything you do in your flesh so He makes it all available in Jesus.
Awaken to righteousness and allow your Father to glory Himself in you by establishing His promises through you. You, as a believer, are truly qualified for everything that Jesus inherited from His Father because you trust in Him!
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