The recent weeks have been so fully-packed that I haven’t been able to get this final post written to wrap-up our study of Romans chapter 8. But now that I am self-isolating, and many of the things that occupied my time are now cancelled, I figure it’s the perfect time to reflect on God being for me in the face of everything that is arrayed against me.
Paul asks in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things?” What are “these things” to which Paul seeks an answer? In broad terms they are everything that Paul has written in the letter to this point pertaining to what God has done for us in Christ. But more specifically he is pointing toward the immediate context of what he has just written—that before the creation of the world, God himself set his love upon us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ. To this end even now he is orchestrating all things to work together for our good, which ultimately is to bear Christ’s image perfectly. And then, in time, God called, justified, and glorified all those whom he so predestined (8:28-30).
What, indeed, can we say to these things? God himself has done all these things is for us! And if he—the Omnipotent Creator of all that ever was, is, and will be—is for us, then who can be against us?
Well, all the spiritual forces of darkness and all those in this world who hate God’s light, that’s who. But don’t you see, beloved child of God, that these must inevitably fail? From the halls of eternity when God set his love upon us our glorification was guaranteed. Though the forces arrayed against us may appear to harm us, our God is in perfect sovereign control of them all and working them for our good. Paul’s next question carries his argument forward by throwing a spotlight on the very highest good that came out of the very deepest evil. By the cross, God proved for all time not only his sovereign control, but his astonishing love for us and his commitment to our salvation.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (8:32)
It’s easy to read past this and say, “well, of course”. . . But slow down and read it again. God did not spare his own Son. We know that Jesus Christ came to die, and that it was the will of his Father that he do so. We know that God gave Jesus up for our sins. But Jesus didn’t merely die on the cross. On that cross, Jesus bore the awful weight of all our sins: every lustful and murderous thought, every hateful deed, every blasphemy, every sin. And then the wrath that every single one of those sins deserved—the righteous wrath of an infinitely Holy God against our infinitely offensive sins—was poured out upon his Holy Son. God didn’t hold back—he did not spare his Son a single lash of the whip or a single burning drop of wrath.
And now, beloved child, if God did all that in order to save you from your past, present, and future sins and eternal punishment, how will he not also, together with Christ, give you all things?
Note the phrase, “with him.” What we are given is a joint gift from the Father and his Son. Together they graciously—gladly and freely—give us all things. On one hand, Paul is arguing from the greater to the lesser. The greatest gift God has to give is his Son, Jesus Christ. The greatness of what he has done for us in Christ by removing our sins as far as the East is from the West is immeasurable. And so, of course he will give us all things that we need here and now. As Peter writes, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). In this passing, temporary life, all that we need in order to live a godly life is surely a small gift in light of the greatness of the cost of our salvation.
And yet, the gift is eternal in scope. Hear and rejoice as Peter describes the gift so graciously given by our Father and his Son:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. — 1 Peter 1:3–7
Considering this, the argument Paul makes is from “the greater” to that which is “inexpressible and filled with glory!” And the answer to Paul’s question, that ought to ring in the heart of every believer, is, “Of course he will give us all things!” If God has already given his most precious gift, and Jesus freely laid down his life for us, they will certainly not withhold the rest.
Paul’s questions continue. “Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?” (8:33) The answer is that God is the only one who has a charge to bring, and he has already justified us, so the case against us is closed. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (8:34). Jesus is the reason that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in him (8:1)! We can be assured that we are free from condemnation because of Christ’s death, his resurrection, his enthronement, and his continuing intercession for us.
Paul emphasizes Jesus’s death and resurrection because these are the ground of our salvation. He made full payment for our sins, and we need assurance of this in moments when our faith wavers, when we sin again and wonder if we are saved, when the accuser steps in and whispers his lies in our ears, when our failures haunt us. We must know that Jesus paid it all. That his sacrifice on our behalf was acceptable to God was verified by his ascension to God’s right hand (Rom. 4:25). Because of Christ’s finished work and God’s judgement of our sins in his Son, no one is able to level an accusation against us that will lead to condemnation, for Christ took all our condemnation upon himself.
And there, at the Father’s right hand, Jesus is interceding for his Bride. You cannot have a need to which he is indifferent. You will never have a problem to which he will turn a deaf ear. You don’t have a single concern which he is not willing to bring to his Father on your behalf.
I’d like to share a paragraph from Donald Grey Barnhouse on the intercession of Christ which touches me deeply:
You do not have a problem too great for the power of Christ. You do not have a problem too complicated for the wisdom of Christ. You do not have a problem too small for the love of Christ. You do not have a sin too deep for the atoning blood of Christ. One of the most wonderful phrases ever spoken about Jesus is that which is found on several occasions in the gospels. It is that, “Jesus was moved with compassion.” He loved men and women. He loves you. [Do] you have a problem? He can meet it, it does not matter what it is. The moment that the problem comes into your life, he knows all about it. . . . If there is a fear in your heart, it is immediately known to him. If there is a sorrow in your heart, it is immediately a sorrow to his heart. If there is a grief in your heart, it is immediately a grief to his heart. If there is a bereavement in your life or any other emotion that comes to any child of God, the same sorrow, grief, or bereavement is immediately written on the heart of Christ. We find written in the Word of God, “In all their afflictions, he was afflicted” (Is. 63:9).
As Paul will continue to make clear, we are surrounded by hostile forces which are continually at war against our souls. But take heart, dear one, our Risen Savior has conquered death and the grave and is interceding on your behalf with his Omnipotent Father, the only wise God.
I’ll cover the rest of our lesson in another post, as this has already gone on long enough. There is much good news here on which you may meditate and in which you may rejoice. I could have trimmed it, but it’s all so encouraging, I wanted to share it all with you.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.