We have spent a great deal of time in Romans chapter 8. This is my ninth sermon on this grand chapter. Yet, I believe we are still only skimming the surface of this grand declaration of God’s grace and love.
This is a chapter of hope. There is no message that is more important for God’s people to grasp. At this time when hostility towards faith seems to be rising, we must remember these great declarations of the Apostle Paul. Let’s look back at what Paul has told us in this chapter,
- There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
- v. 9 you no longer have to be controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit
- V. 14 those who are led by the Spirit of God are Sons of God
- v. 16 the Spirit assures us that we are God’s Children and heirs of His rich blessing
- V. 18 Our present suffering is nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.
- v. 23 we look forward to Heaven where our full adoption as Sons will be completed
- v. 26 the Spirit is given by God to help us when we have trouble praying
- V. 28 in every circumstance God is working for the good of those who love God
- V. 29 The believer is foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified
In verse 31 Paul asks, “What shall we say in response to this?” In response to what? In response to these great declarations in chapter 8 and especially what He has just declared in verses 29,30. The words that follow take this declaration to new heights. Often, when a Pastor declares God’s absolute sovereignty in our salvation (something most Pastors just avoid) it is met with howls of protest and anger. Many refuse to even consider the Biblical evidence. Some after examining the Biblical evidence accept the truth of the text but do so grudgingly. Paul’s response is much different. He seems almost giddy in his enthusiasm. He suggests that such truths should lead us to overwhelming confidence.
In these final verses of Romans 8 Paul asks, or better declares, what John Stott calls, five unanswerable questions. These are rhetorical questions designed to drive home his point. We are going to look at the first four questions this week and the last question as we wrap up our study in Romans 8.
QUESTION ONE: If God is on our side, who can be against us?
Paul asks, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v.31) It is important to read this question correctly. If Paul had asked, “Who can be against us?” The answer would be, “lot’s of people!”
- People of other religions
- The secular media
- Friends and classmates
- Some Family members who think we have gone off the deep end
- And most certainly Satan and his army
But Paul’s question is, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” In other words, who can really fight against us, who can defeat us, if God is on our side?
When I was growing up we used to play football and basketball in the alley behind our home. There was a group of us who were around the same age . . .and then there was Scott. Scott was several years older, several inches taller and had a good 50 pounds on all of us. We were still trying to gain coordination and he already had it. When we chose sides we always knew that if Scott was on our side we were going to win. He was an unmatched advantage.
Think about the United States at the end of World War II. Once President Truman gave the order to drop the atomic bomb our enemies had to fold, “With the A-bomb on their side, who can defeat the Americans?” For a while we had a great advantage. When other countries developed the same weapons we were neutralized.
Dr. Boice wrote,
It is as if Paul is challenging us to place all the possible enemies we can think of on one-half of an old-fashioned balance scale, as if we were weighing peanuts. Then, when we have all the peanuts assembled on the scale, he throws an anvil onto the other side of the balance. That side comes crashing down, and the peanuts are scattered. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The answer is nobody.
No one can ever match the power of the Creator of the Universe. When Almighty God is on your side, there is no enemy that can stand against us! Victory is sure.
QUESTION TWO: Is there any chance that God will abandon us?
When I was first married I used to worry that my wife would see the real me, find someone better, and leave me. There is a sense in which we often feel the same way about our relationship with Christ. We make a commitment to Him and then become afraid that God will leave us on our own and we know we won’t survive.
Paul argues from the greater to the lesser. He says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (v. 32) There are two parts to this argument.
God has already given us the greatest gift He can give. God has already invested heavily in us by giving us His Son. Paul said God “did not spare his own son”. He could have spared his son. He could have called down a host of angels. He could have struck down the Lord’s opponents. But He didn’t do so, because He knew it was the only way for you and me to be saved.
I can’t conceive of a love that could lead me to give up my child. God’s love for me is deeper than any love I have known or experienced. God is deeply committed to us. He has met our greatest need for salvation and new life and did so at a great personal cost.
Because of the love God has already shown we know God will provide what we need. God has already demonstrated His commitment. He has already invested deeply in us and isn’t about to abandon us now. The lyrics of a song say, “He didn’t bring us this far, to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us, to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.” God will not desert us, He will not abandon us, but He will give us what we need.
The Lord will provide a friend when we need it. He will bring peace in the midst of the storm. He will give us guidance when we are confused. He will provide comfort in times of loss. He will give us the strength to begin again after we have failed. Our Lord is with us to the finish.
QUESTION THREE: Who Will Bring Any Charge Against Those Whom God Has Chosen?
The third question is, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (v. 33) Most every parent will tell you, you can criticize me; you can attack me; but don’t go after my children! Paul calls us “the chosen”. We are those who are specially loved by God. Notice three things.
There will be charges made against us One of the dangers of writing books, being on the radio, and having your teaching available on the web is that you become a target for the critics. I receive e-mails on occasion that are filled with hatred. There are people who question my salvation, my intelligence, and my concern for the lost. I know that it comes with the territory. If you attempt to preach what the Word of God says, people are going to criticize you. I learned a long time ago that my job was to preach to an audience of One.
People will criticize us. People will call us narrow-minded and judgmental. Others will call us hypocrites and phonies. There will be those who tell us that we are wrong in our beliefs and depraved in our actions. And let’s not forget Satan who is known as the Accuser. He will be quick to point out our sins and underscore our struggles. Satan frequently attacks God’s children with the words, “How could someone who loves Jesus act this way?”
Many of the charges made against us will be true. Some of the things Satan will say about us will be true. Some of the things others say about us will be true. Some of the most pointed accusations against us will actually come from within us. There will be times when we see our own struggle and we accuse ourselves. We see our inconsistencies, we know the pollution in our own minds and often we may conclude that anyone who lives the way we do, can’t possibly be a child of God.
Paul declares, the verdict is already in: God has declared us not guilty The word he uses for “charge” means to make a formal accusation in court or to “press charges”. What Paul seems to be saying is, “Who can make a charge against us and HAVE IT STICK?”
In our country, once the court has set you free you cannot be charged for that crime again. It is called double jeopardy. In the devotional Our Daily Bread there was this piece,
There was a man who confessed to a Wisconsin judge that 2 years earlier in the same court he had been charged with murder and was found innocent. “But I was guilty,” he admitted. The judge quickly conferred with the district attorney to see if the man could be brought to trial for murder. They discovered, however, that because of the principle of double jeopardy the man could not be tried again for that crime. Although he was a murderer, he could not be punished for it.
According to God’s justice, we who are “in Christ” were as guilty as that man before we were converted, but now we are just as unpunishable. Why? Not because of a legal technicality. Rather, it’s because any and every sin we’ve ever committed or will commit has been fully prosecuted in Christ on the cross. And once is all that the law demands. There are still consequences when we do wrong, even as believers. But as far as the penalty of the law is concerned, Jesus’ death places us in a wonderful position of being exempt from eternal punishment. Thank God for His principle of “double jeopardy”! [Our Daily Bread Oct. 29, 2000)
Do we fail? Yes. Is some condemnation deserved? Absolutely. Are there times when our relationship with God will be strained because of our sin? Yes. Can these things invalidate our salvation? Never! Our sin has been paid for. God has already justified us or declared us “not guilty”.
QUESTION FOUR: Who is He Who Condemns?
Just in case we don’t get his point, Paul asks his fourth question, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (v. 34) Paul gives several reasons why no one can condemn us.
Jesus died for our sin, He rose to prove that this payment was sufficient and acceptable to God and now our Savior is at the right hand of God and he is interceding for us. This word “intercede” has the idea of someone who comes to our defense. Though some may want to condemn us, Jesus is always at the right hand of the Father to remind Him that He was condemned in our place. The Savior rises to our defense.
Suppose you pay a certain bill but the owner of the company comes to you and threatens legal action if you don’t pay. What do you do? You produce the receipt or the cancelled check to show that you did indeed pay your bill. The receipt settles the issue. In a sense every time someone makes a charge against us, Jesus produces the receipt. He paid the debt on our behalf.
In Zechariah 3:1-5 there is a wonderful picture of what has happened to every child of God.
Then the angel showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. Satan was there at the angel’s right hand, accusing Joshua of many things. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from a fire.” 3 Joshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. 4 So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Joshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” (NLT)
We, like Joshua are like a stick that has been snatched from the fires of Hell. Our Savior defends us from those who would condemn and He makes us new.
As we ponder these four questions there are a couple of conclusions. First, it is important that we remember that these promises are only for believers. These affirmations are not for those who go to church, for those who try to be good, or for those who are well-respected. These affirmations apply ONLY to those who, having recognized their own sin and rebellion, have turned to Christ alone for their salvation. These promises are only for those who put their entire hope in Him.
I wonder; do you feel abandoned today? Do you feel the sting of accusation? Are you so overwhelmed by your own failure that you not only feel that others condemn you, but you feel God condemns you as well?
My friend, Jesus died for those very things that haunt you. He paid for the crimes you committed. If you will turn to Him, receive Him, and trust Him for salvation and new life, the voices of condemnation will never be able to hurt you again. There will still be those who take every opportunity to remind you of your failures (those people are NOT your friends) but because of your faith in Christ you can know that even though some of the charges are true, they will not stick in the court of God. You have been set free, declared innocent, and made new. I encourage you to come to Him today.
Second, these questions are not meant to be an academic exercise, they are meant to infuse us with confidence. Our salvation is sure. Those who trust Christ will never be cast away. We will have our critics, we will have times when we stumble and fall, but God’s love will remain sure. His promise of salvation is sure for anyone who believes.
We don’t have to be afraid or tentative any longer. We don’t have to worry that somehow we are going to make that horrible mistake that will get us kicked out of the Kingdom. God has invested deeply in everyone who believes. He did not lift us up to let us down. So, live boldly for the Savior. Dare to share your faith. Be bold in your attempts to serve him. Let nothing discourage you.
When learning how to type our tendency is naturally to look at our fingers on the keyboard. If you want to be a good typist, you must learn to stop looking at your hands and keep your eyes on the paper, the computer screen, or the document you are copying.
Walking with Christ is very similar. We must stop looking at how we are doing spending all our time congratulating ourselves for any good deed or being paralyzed by our mistakes. Instead we must learn to keep our eyes focused on His promise. If God is for us, no one can stand against us. No one can make a charge against us that can stick. No one can condemn us because of the law of double jeopardy. God will never abandon His children. We are His and He will bring us home. If we can keep these truths in our hearts we can start living with confidence and serving the Lord with boldness and joy.