Romans 5:2b-5a say, “[We] rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed.” Life has tribulations in it, which proceed from the sin curse on the world. Those having peace with God and a standing in God’s grace through justification by faith also have a hope of glory that takes them through tribulations. With hope of the glory of God, tribulations take on a purpose. They strengthen us in the sanctification process that brings patience or endurance. The more believers endure through tribulations with the hope of glory, they gain experience, and all of this brings more hope. More hope brings greater strength in tribulations to endure and then even greater experience, which results in even greater hope. It is a cycle that guarantees that we will conform to the image of Jesus Christ by the power of His grace, fulfilling God’s promise.
Whatever goal we might see for the earth, it will be limited by certain realities. In the beginning, God said to subdue His creation and have dominion over it, expanded upon by his instruction to Adam, to dress it and keep it. We’re still doing those things, but with the new reality of sin, that curses this earth. We can’t succeed at God’s mandate without the gospel, first for ourselves and then for others. We can’t do what God directed without others and others can’t fulfill their part without the gospel either. Hence, we must evangelize. Evangelism then becomes part of the work. Man can’t obey God as a lifestyle without conversion. The other reality is that this planet isn’t going to survive as it is. Every man who will complete God’s plan will do it in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. No one enters that kingdom without salvation. Except a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God. It’s our goal then to build the kingdom to accomplish God’s plan.
In Romans 6:3, Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” He was writing about sanctification. When someone has been justified by faith, God saves Him from the power of sin. Verse 1 says he is “dead indeed unto sin.” He cannot live any longer therein. His lifestyle changes. In 2 Corinthians Paul said he is a “new creature,” “old things passed away, all things become new” (5:17). This death to sin is pictured in baptism. When someone is baptized, he is baptized “into” Jesus’ death. “Into,” the Greek preposition eis, shows identification. Later in Colossians 2:12, Paul writes, “Buried with him in baptism.” Water baptism pictures the old man, the former person being buried, so that all can see. When we receive Jesus Christ, we receive His sacrifice for our sins. By receiving Him, we die to ourselves. It is not longer our righteousness, but His. Like He raised from the dead, we are too raised unto new life.
After Jesus was born, His parents brought Him to God’s house. It is obvious when you read the text of scripture that they kept bringing Him to God’s house every year as prescribed by the Old Testament. Before Jesus was born, He dwelt in the heavenly house of God with His Father. The house on earth was a shadow of the reality of the heavenly house. When Jesus was twelve years of age, on another occasion of His parents bringing Him to the house of His Father in Jerusalem, they left Him behind there. When they came back to find Him there, He said He was going about to do His Father’s business, which was in His Father’s house. When Jesus began His ministry, He cleansed His Father’s house, indignant that it had been made into a den of thieves. In 1 Timothy 3:15, the Apostle Paul calls the church, the house of the living God. We begin 2017 in the house of God, where Jesus still abides (Mt 18:18, Rev 1:19-2:1). When Jesus returns, He will welcome His own into His own house, where they will be with Him forever.
Romans 8:28-30 read, “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” All things, both bad and good things, work together for good to believers, who are those who love God. Why? As you read through those three verses, you see that the ones whom God foreknew before the foundation of the world—because He is omniscient and timeless—He called, justified, and will glorify. It says they were glorified, as they are as good as already glorified to God. However, those very people, He predestinated to conform to the image of His Son. God only predestinates those who He calls and justifies. Believers, therefore, will conform to Jesus Christ. How will they conform? By God working all things together for their good. Their “good” is conforming to the image of the Son, and since that is God’s goal, He will do what it takes to do that. That is a guarantee. Whatever He uses to do that, for that we can be thankful. When the bad things come, we know He is using them for our good.