In the book of Acts we see that Paul had many open heaven experiences. In Romans, he shows us that God has made His glory available to every believer, no matter how sinful we were when we first came to Christ.
Romans 1. Many turn to this chapter for its list of sins that cause God’s wrath to turn against the earth. But verses 20-23 identify one key sin that is at the root of all the others:
“They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…” Then verse 25 restates the problem: they “worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
In my own walk with God, I don’t take these verses smugly. Yes, I believe in God; yes , I have repented of the sins of my youth. But we can deceive ourselves by developing a form of godliness that shuts the Creator out. Which do we love more: the creation, or God’s glory.
Romans 2. Verses 7-10 distinguish between two groups. The first seeks glory, honor, and immortality. The second is self-seeking.
If we seek glory, we can expect to find it because Jesus taught that if we seek, we will find.
But if we are self-seeking, we are loving the creation more than the Creator, like the people of Romans 1. We have chosen to run after corruptible man instead of the glory of God.
Romans 3. Verse 23 says all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. Notice the verb tenses. All have sinned – that is, we all have sinned already. All fall short of God’s glory. That is, even if we have been saved and our sins have been washed away, we still fall short of God’s glory.
If the blood of Jesus provides for us to be washed from our sins, does it also provide a path to our being restored to God’s glory?
Romans 5. The first few verses speak of our glorying in trials; verse 3 notes that by faith we have access to grace, and then we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Trials and glory are linked in scripture, and hope is a key word when we approach glory. We’ll see these themes again later in Romans.
Romans 6. This chapter deals with sin and never mentions glory. But it shows that when Christ died, we died to sin; when He rose from the dead, we rose to righteousness. Paul leaves us with a hint about how to access the open heavens and he develops the hint elsewhere. See Ephesians 2:1-10 and Colossians 3:1-3.
Romans 8. This chapter wraps up our victory over sin in Christ, and then talks about glory. Verses 12-18 note that we are sons of God and have an inheritance in Him – glory. Then verse 29 says that He has foreknown us, justified us — which is what we would call “getting saved” –, and He has glorified us. In other words, the glory of God is in us already if we have invited Christ to come into our hearts. For many of us the glory is hidden, but make no mistake: it’s there, and it’s part of your inheritance in Christ.
Romans 9. In verses 3-5, Paul identifies several things the gentile Christians can inherit as we are grafted into the heritage of the Israelites: the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the promises, and more.
Romans 16. Verses 25-27 indicate that Paul was in the habit of preaching not just matters of personal salvation, but also the mystery that had been hidden in Christ from before the foundation of the world. What is this mystery? See Colossians 1:27 –
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Finally. Thank God for the revelation of salvation in Christ, and for His gift of forgiveness and righteousness! If He had given us nothing more than that, we would have reason to rejoice forever.
But salvation, forgiveness, and righteousness are only our first steps into the mystery. God wants to lead us further, into the awareness of the glory He has hidden within us with the indwelling Christ. As Romans 8:30 says, He has called you, saved you, and glorified you.