30 Nov Nothing
Read: Romans 8:31-39
Last Sunday, we learned from Romans 8:28-30 that God is using all things to conform his children to the image of Christ and share in his glory. This Sunday, we will consider the confidence and freedom that stem from this glorious truth, as Pastor Ken preaches from Romans 8:31-39. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Tim Keller move you to meditate deeply on our security in Christ.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this?” Paul asks (v 31). Here is the attitude of the Christian who knows the truths of verses 26-30. Paul asks five questions:
- v 31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” If the God who has purposed our glory is all-powerful, why are we afraid of any opposition at all?
- v 32: “He who did not spare his own Son . . . how will he not also . . . give us all things?” If the God who has purposed our glory is willing to give up his most precious possession, his Son, why worry about our needs?
- v 33: “Who will bring any charge …? It is God who justifies.” If the God who has purposed our glory has declared us righteous, why ever feel guilty or unforgiven?
- v 34: “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died … was raised … is also interceding for us.” If the Christ who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death is standing before the Father on our behalf, why ever feel guilty or unforgiven?
- v 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” This is the last question because all the other questions were really just other versions of this one. The only thing that we would really have to fear, that would really harm us, is to be separated from the love of Christ.
So, the central question of the Christian life—the one that prompts all our doubts and worries and tensions—is this: Is there anyone or anything that can separate me from Christ’s love for me? And as Paul’s first readers, and his readers today, look around, we see many things that would seem to. Trouble, hardship and persecution come to all Christians. Famine, nakedness, danger and sword come to many. The experience of God’s people through the ages has very often been—in the words of Psalm 44:22, quoted by Paul in Romans 8:36—to face death daily. There are many obstacles and much opposition, and surely any one of them could detach us from Christ’s love?
No, says Paul— and in fact, even in these worst of circumstances, “we are more than conquerors” (v 37). None can break the chain of verse 30. Christians triumph through and over the worst that life brings. Why? Because God does not lose any of “those [he] foreknew.” God is always working for the good of those who love him. He is in loving, sovereign control of every aspect of human history. And so Paul is “convinced” (v 38) that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v 39). Nothing in human experience (“neither death nor life,” v 38); in the spiritual realm (“neither angels nor demons”); in time (“neither the present nor the future”); in anything that opposes God’s people (“any powers”); in space (“neither height nor depth,” v 39); nothing “in all creation.” Nothing! Nothing can separate us from Christ’s love! Why? Because God loves us simply because of his choice, not because of anything in us (which may change), nor anything around us (which may change). He loves us because he loves us.
At this point in our walk through Romans, many questions about predestination may arise. Romans 9 – 11 deal more fully with these issues—for the moment remember that Paul’s main point is not to raise the old determinism vs. free will controversy, which is a philosophical problem. Rather, he is stating firmly that we must face life—not only troubles but even our own sin—with a towering, infallible confidence! The Almighty God of the universe has purposed to make us perfectly holy and gloriously happy (these two things are inseparably linked), and literally nothing can thwart God’s purpose for us!
Consider how practical Paul is being. He is saying: Friend, have you been called? Have you found the gospel coming home to your soul with power? Have you asked God to justify you? Fine! Now realize this—that would not and could not have happened unless the great God of heaven had set his love upon you in the depths of eternity before time, and is now infallibly working out his plan to live with you forever in his family.
The purpose of the questions is to almost beat us out of our disbelief that we are saved totally by grace and are therefore completely safe to face life without fear. It is incredible, relentless, intense logic—it is what Lloyd-Jones called logic on fire! Paul is saying: Think! Are you afraid (8:31)? You aren’t thinking! Are you worried (v 32)? You aren’t thinking! Are you feeling guilty (v 33)? You aren’t thinking! See the logic of free grace and justification! These aren’t dry doctrines; they are life itself. And if you are not living with overwhelming assurance and power, you haven’t really fully understood them. The remedy is to read, re-read, deeply ponder and learn to live out of the truths of verses 18-30!
Excerpt from Romans 8-16 For You, by Tim Keller
Song List for Sunday
1. “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” Arr. by Daniel Renstrom
2. “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee,” Arr. by Aaron Tucker
3. “Praise the King,” Arr. by Shane & Shane
4. “Sovereign Over Us,” Arr. by Shane & Shane
5. “Scandal of Grace,” Arr. by Shane & Shane