ETERNALLY SECURE

Romans 8:31-39

The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6).

Behold, the Lord God helps me; who is he who condemns me? (Isaiah 50:9a).

If Romans is Paulís loftiest epistle, then this section is the highest peak of that epistle. Everything that Paul has said in Romans prior to this chapter has led up to this point. Everything that Paul shall say after this shall be a deduction based upon this chapter. William Newell calls this "the mountaintop of the Christian position."

Paul has spent the last eight chapters setting forth the doctrines of justification and sanctification and now, at the end of it all, he breaks out into song. If you are a Christian, if you are one who shares in the salvation that he describes, then you will be able to join with him in this song of celebration.

 

WHO SHALL OPPOSE US?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31).

As we read these words, the image of a courtroom comes to mind. This should not surprise us since Paul has been using legal terminology throughout his epistle.

This is a courtroom scene. At the far end of the court is the judgeís bench. To one side is the witnessís box. On the other side is the table at which the prosecutor sits. In the center is the dock. It is where the accused stands. As you look at his face, you realize with a start that it is a reflection of your own. You are the one on trial. It is your fate that is to be determined. You have been accused.

The word translated "then" is the same word which in Romans 12:1 is translated "therefore." It introduces a conclusion based upon everything that has been said up to this point. On the basis of the doctrines of justification and sanctification which have been presented, Paul asks a question. He asks, "What shall we say to these things?"

What shall we say to the doctrines of salvation which Paul has presented in this book? What shall we say to the fact that God has dealt with guilty and sinful men in such a way that He has provided His own Son as a substitute to die in our place? What shall we say to the gift of salvation which we received through faith and apart from any merit or deservedness? What shall we say to the fact that God has given us His own Spirit to live within us?

The question comes as to what things we are going to believe. Are you going to believe the Lord or are you going to believe the world?

The things of the world

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"These things" that Paul writes

The world says that everything is against you. The world says that it is a game of survival of the fittest and that only the strong survive. The world says that it is a rat race and that you have to be a rat to win.

Paul asks the question, "If God is for us, who is against us?" Even though this is a conditional clause, we are left in no doubt as to its conclusion. In the Greek text, this is known as a first class conditional clause. It assumes the answer is true. This is a rhetorical question. It is actually the first of seven rhetorical questions which Paul shall ask in this passage.

If God is for you, then all opposition is of no account. If God is for you, then no one of any real importance can be against you.

Most people live as though this were a third class condition. Most people would seem to say, "I wonder if God really is for me?"

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, the it is obvious that God IS for you. He has always been for you. It is no accident that this verse comes on the heels of one which spoke about predestination and foreknowledge. The truth is that God has ALWAYS been for you.

You might not FEEL like God is for you. God is going to bring circumstances into your life that will make it feel as though God is not for you at all. And this will bring forth a question. Will you believe God or will you believe your circumstances?

God

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Circumstances

God does this for a purpose. It is for your good. It is to build up your faith. It is that you might learn to trust in Him rather than in your circumstances.

 

WHO SHALL DENY US?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

This verse proves that God is for you as had been supposed in verse 31. It proves it by looking to the past. God has done something in the past which proves that He is for you. He did not spare His own Son. To the contrary, He delivered His own Son.

This is an argument from the lesser to the greater. It goes like this: God has already given us His greatest possession in order to save us. How much more will He give all things for those whom He has already saved?

God did the most for us when we were at enmity with Him. How much more will He do for us now that we are entered into His family? If He has done the greatest things, how much more will He do the lesser things?

I am a big fan of that great American institution known as the "salad bar." I especially like those where you order a main dish (usually some sort of meat) and with it there is the option of either the salad bar or some form of potato or rice or a vegetable or rolls or bread. You pay for the meat and the rest is given freely.

That is the way it is with the blessings of God. The "meat" is justification by faith. And with that justification, God supplies every other need - "all things." They are given freely. But you cannot ask for the extras if you have not ordered the meat. You cannot expect the blessings of God unless you have received His gift of salvation in Christ.

There are some who like their religion "cafeteria style." They would like to pass up the meat, Jesus Christ, and take those blessings of God which fulfill their desires. It cannot be done. God will not allow it. You must seek first Godís kingdom and His righteousness, in Christ, and then all these things will be added (see Matthew 6:33).

How will He not also with Him freely give us all things? What are some of the "things" offered here? Some have thought to make this refer to all sorts of material possessions. This is the teaching of Prosperity Theology. They read this passage to say, "If God has saved you, then how much more will He give you life, love and the pursuit of happiness?" Then if you donít have money or a nice house or a nice job or good health, they put a guilt trip on you, saying that it is because of a lack of faith on your part.

But the context of this chapter does not bear up such an interpretation. When Paul speaks of "all things" he is speaking of the same "things" which he mentioned in the previous verse.

Verse

Comparison

Meaning

8:28

God causes all things to work together...

All sorts of details of this life, both good and bad.

8:31

What then shall we say to these things?

The things which describe salvation: Foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified (8:29-30)

8:32

How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Having said this, I want to go on record saying that we have ALL THINGS in Christ - we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) so that all things are ours (1 Corinthians 3:22).

 

WHO SHALL CONDEMN US?

Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:33-34).

Now Paul stands in the middle of the courtroom and he issues a challenge: "Who will bring a charge against the one whom God has foreknown and predestined and called and justified and glorified?"

Then he turns to the prosecutorís table. There is no one there. The reason that no one is there is because the Judge Himself has declared us to be righteous. No one can overturn His ruling. There is no appeals court. His is the highest court of heaven - the Supreme Court of the universe. This is the Judge who has declared us to be righteous. And that is what it means to be justified.

This is more than a simple pardon. When a man is pardoned, it means that he has been tried and found to be guilty, but that punishment that he deserved has been put aside.

We have not been merely pardoned. We have been justified. We have been declared to be righteous. How can God do this? How can He point to a sinful man and announce, "I declare you to be righteous!" It is only by crediting the righteousness of Christ to our account.

When Christ died upon the cross, a transaction took place. My sins were reckoned to Him. He was judged in my place as though He were a guilty sinner.

But that is not all. When I come to Him in faith, trusting in Him as my Lord and Savior, another transaction takes place. His perfect righteousness is credited to me. I am reckoned in the eyes of God to be righteous.

And so Paul asks: "Who will bring a charge against Godís elect?" (8:33). This is another rhetorical question. The answer is obvious. It is obvious that God does not bring a charge against His elect. To the contrary, He declares them to be righteous.

If the infinitely righteous God of the universe does not bring a charge against you, then who ever will? Who else has a higher standard of righteousness? There is no one.

God is the one who justifies (8:33). Notice that the word "justifies" is in the present tense. It indicates a present continuing action. While it is true that God declared you to be righteous in a point in time, it is also true that He now continues to declare that you are righteous.

This does not depend upon your day-to-day actions. Even when you have sinned, God declares you to be righteous. He does not hold you to be guilty because He has already judged His own Son as guilty in your place. You have been credited with the infinite righteousness of Christ. He IS your righteousness.

Now I want you to notice something here. This is one of the titles for God.

"Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I shall raise up for David a righteous BRANCH; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.

"In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ĎThe Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.í" Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Did you see it? This is a prophecy of Jesus. He is the righteous Branch of David. But He also has another title: Yahweh tsidkenu. "The Lord our righteousness."

When you are credited with the righteousness of Christ, it is Godís infinite righteousness which is credited to you. God Himself is our righteousness. And for God to condemn you would be for Him to judge and condemn Himself.

Who is the one who condemns? (8:34). Only a judge can condemn. And if we have been justified by the greatest Judge of all, then no one can condemn us. This is what Paul said at the beginning of this chapter.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1).

If you are in Christ, then you share in His righteousness. For God to condemn you, He would first have to condemn Christ.

Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (8:34).

As we return to our image of the courtroom, we look to the table where the defense attorney stands. It is Jesus. He stands and makes intercession for us. He directs the courtís attention to His own hands and feet and the jagged scars which are there. He points to the terrible wound in His side. These are the legal evidence of the blood that was shed as punishment for our sins. Notice the progression mentioned in verse 34.

He died

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He was raised

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He is at the right hand of God

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He intercedes for us

The progression starts at the cross. But it does not stop there. It continues up through the present.

 

WHO SHALL SEPARATE US?

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Just as it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39).

The subject of this section is the Love of Christ. It is mentioned three times (verses 25, 27 and 39). Paul asks the question, "Can anything separate us from that love?"

To go back to the illustration of the courtroom, Paul looks for those prison guards who might come to take the accused from the love of God.

He goes on to suggest seven possibilities. They are a challenge to make you think. Are you going through one of these?

These are all bad things. If you are going through one or more of these things, then you might be inclined to think that God doesnít love you anymore. It isnít true. None of these things can separate you from the love of Christ. None of these things can hurt you because they are a part of all of the things that God causes to work together for good (Romans 8:28).

Just as it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." (8:36).

Paul quotes Psalm 44:22. It pictures Christians who are being persecuted and even killed for their faith. The point is that persecution is nothing new for the people of God.

This is extremely relevant to the recipients of this epistle. Paul is writing to believers in Rome. Many are being persecuted for holding to their faith. They are in danger of being put to death. Before too much longer, it will become popular for the emperor to execute Christians by using them as torches to light up his garden parties.

And yet, this will not be a sign of Godís displeasure against them. They have not been separated from the love of Christ.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (8:37).

In the face of seeming defeat, we are pictured as conquerors. The place of that victory is in Christ. In spite of the difficulties of circumstances, Paul is convinced of the truth that nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ.

Notice the tense of the love of God in this verse. It is past tense. It is the Greek aorist. It looks to a specific point in time. It looks to a time when love was manifested in a special way. It looks to the cross. We are creatures of time. God sent His Son at a certain time and He did for us. God gives you salvation on the basis of something that was accomplished in the past.

If you are tempted to disbelieve the "now of His love, then look back and keep your eyes upon the "then" when He proved His love.


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