(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 10/26/03 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Today we come to the final paragraph of Romans 8, which is the climax not only of the previous paragraph, and not only of the past five paragraphs in chapter 8, but really of everything that's been said up to this point, especially since chapter 3. To introduce this passage, I'd like to read some excerpts of some passages in Romans that we've seen up to this point, leading up to the last part of Romans 8. Let's first read Romans 1:16-17:
Romans 1: (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek; (17) for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, "But the just shall live by faith."
Now Romans 2:11-13:
Romans 2: (11) For there is no respect of persons with God. (12) For as many as sinned without Law will also perish without Law. And as many as sinned within Law will be judged through Law. (13) For not the hearers of the Law are just with God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified.
Now Romans 3:19-28:
Romans 3:(19) But we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those within the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be under judgment to God. (20) Because by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him, for through Law [is] full knowledge of sin. (21) But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing; for there is no difference, (23) for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God set forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood, as a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, (26) for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying the [one] that [is] of the faith of Jesus. (27) Then where [is] the boasting? It was excluded. Through what law? Of works? No, but through a Law of faith. (28) Then we conclude a man to be justified by faith without works of Law.
Now Romans 4:1-7:
Romans 4: (1) What then shall we say our father Abraham to have found according to flesh? (2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast, but not with God. (3) For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." (4) Now [to one] working, the reward is not counted according to grace, but according to debt. (5) But to the [one] not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6) Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: (7) "Blessed [are those] whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
Now Romans 4:22-5:11:
Romans 4: (22) Because of this, "it was also counted to him for righteousness." (23) But it was not written for him only, that it was counted to him, (24) but also on account of us, to whom it is about to be counted, to the ones believing on Him who has raised our Lord Jesus from [the] dead, (25) who was delivered because of our deviations, and was raised because of our justification. (5:1) Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out patience, (4) and patience [works out] proven character; and proven character, hope. (5) And the hope does not put [us] to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through [the] Holy Spirit given to us; (6) for we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died for ungodly ones. (7) For with difficulty one will die for a just one, (for perhaps one even dares to die for the sake of the good one), (8) but God commends His love to us in [this], that we being yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being justified now by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him. (10) For if [while] being enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life; (11) and not only [so], but also glorying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now received the reconciliation.
Now Romans 5:18-21:
Romans 5: (18) So then, as through one deviation [it was] toward all men to condemnation, so also through one righteous act toward all men to justification of life. (19) For as through the one man's disobedience the many were constituted sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many shall be constituted righteous. (20) But Law came in besides, that the deviation might abound. But where sin abounded, grace much more abounded, (21) that as sin ruled in death, so also grace might rule through righteousness to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now Romans 6:4-8:
Romans 6: (4) Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that as Christ was raised up from [the] dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [Him], that the body of sin might be nullified, so that we no longer serve sin. (7) For the [one] that died has been justified from sin. (8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that also we shall live with Him,
Now Romans 7:4-6:
Romans 7: (4) So that, my brothers, you also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another's, to [the One] raised from [the] dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. (5) For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the Law for the bearing of fruit unto death. (6) But now we have been set free from the Law, having died [to that] in which we were held, so as [for] us to serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] oldness of letter.
Now for what immediately precedes the climax, which is Romans 8:1-30:
Romans 8: (1) [There is] therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. (2) For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. (3) For the Law [being] powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in [the] likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, (4) so that the righteous demand of the Law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit. (5) For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit [mind] the things of the Spirit. (6) For the mind of the flesh [is] death, but the mind of the Spirit [is] life and peace; (7) because the mind of the flesh [is] enmity towards God; for it is not being subjected to the Law of God, for neither can it [be]. (8) And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. (9) But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since [the] Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not [the] Spirit of Christ, this one is not His. (10) But if Christ [is] in you, the body indeed [is] dead because of sin, but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of the [One] having raised Jesus from [the] dead dwells in you, the [One] having raised the Christ from [the] dead will also make your mortal bodies live through the indwelling of His Spirit in you. (12) So, then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to flesh, (13) for if you live according to flesh, you are going to die. But if by [the] Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live. (14) For as many as are led by [the] Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (15) For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! (16) The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. (17) And if children, also heirs; truly heirs of God, and joint-heirs of Christ, if indeed we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together. (18) For I calculate that the sufferings of the present time [are] not worthy [to compare to] the coming glory to be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but through Him subjecting [it], on hope; (21) that also the creation will be freed from the slavery of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that all the creation groans together and travails together until now. (23) And not only [so], but also we ourselves having the firstfruit of the Spirit, also we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly expecting adoption, the redemption of our body; (24) for we were saved by hope, but hope being seen is not hope; for what anyone sees, why does he also hope? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, through patience we wait eagerly. (26) And likewise the Spirit also joins in to help our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with groanings that cannot be uttered. (27) But the [One] searching the hearts knows what [is the] mind of the Spirit, because He petitions on behalf of [the] saints according to God. (28) But we know that [to] the [ones] loving God all things work together for good, [to] those being called according to purpose; (29) because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be [the] First-born among many brothers. (30) But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
And now for the climactic conclusion, which starts with verse 31 and goes through the end of the chapter:
Romans 8: (31) What then shall we say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? (32) Truly [He] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up on behalf of us all, how will He not freely give all things to us with Him? (33) Who will bring any charge against God's elect? God [is] the [One] justifying! (34) Who [is he] condemning? [It is] Christ who has died, but rather also [is] raised, who also is at [the] right [hand] of God, who also makes intercession on our behalf. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (36) Even as it has been written, "For Your sake we are killed all the day; we are counted as sheep of slaughter." (37) But in all these things we more than conquer through Him loving us. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Let's go sentence-by-sentence through this final paragraph. The first thing Paul says is, "What then shall we say to these things?" In other words, "In light of these doctrines that have been propounded, what should we conclude?" And we find in the answer the strongest consolation, the most compelling words of comfort, the most powerful assurance. It is an expansion of what we saw in Romans 8:1. Our salvation is ABSOLUTELY SURE AND CERTAIN based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. In Romans 7, Paul described himself and all other believers as fleshly, having been sold under sin, being taken captive by the law of sin in our members, serving the law of sin in our flesh, doing what we hate, not doing the good we desire, doing the evil we do not desire, wretched men, people who disobey God's Law, and people who do not meet up to the standard of God's Law in our own character and conduct. In Romans 8, Paul says that we are persecuted by the world and cannot put into words the petitions related to our groaning within ourselves in expectation of final glory as we go through the sufferings of the present time. We are buffeted by our own indwelling sin and by our persecutors. Yet, through all this, we can be SURE that NONE of this will IN ANY WAY affect our standing with God and the blessings of salvation He has given us through Christ. Our sin on the inside and our enemies on the outside may torment us, but GOD is FOR US. In the second half of verse 31, Paul asks the rhetorical question, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The answer is a resounding NO ONE and NO THING can be against us if God is for us. But didn't I just say that our flesh and our enemies are against us? What this rhetorical question is actually saying is that since God is for us, nothing can PREVAIL against us. Nothing can DEFEAT us. Nothing can BRING US BACK UNDER CONDEMNATION. Nothing can UNDO our salvation. As it says in Psalm 121 and in Jude, God keeps us from falling. There are certainly strong forces that come against us, but NO ONE and NO THING can prevail.
How can we be so sure that no one and no thing can prevail against God's people? Well, the first thing we see is that GOD IS FOR US. How can anything prevail AGAINST us if God is FOR us? As we saw in verse 28, God is the SOVEREIGN CONTROLLER of the universe who works all things according to His own will, and He also shows only love, mercy, and grace to His people; thus, He sovereignly works ALL THINGS for the GOOD of His people. How can anything prevail against us if the sovereign God works all things for our good? He is always FOR us and thus always WORKS all things FOR us. If anyone or anything prevailed against us, then either God is not really for us or God is for us but is unable to work all things for our good. Those who believe that believers can lose their salvation do NOT believe in a SOVEREIGN God who is FOR His people. They deny both the doctrine of God's SOVEREIGNTY and the doctrine that God MUST ALWAYS be FOR His people based on what we're about to see in the next verse.
On to verse 32:
Romans 8: (32) Truly [He] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up on behalf of us all, how will He not freely give all things to us with Him?
Here's another rhetorical question. If God didn't hold back His Son from dying for us, if God poured out His wrath on His own Son for our sins, how would He then hold back any of the blessings of salvation from us? God gave us the ultimate gift in His Son; how then would He not give us all the blessings of salvation that Christ merited for us? OF COURSE God will give us everything that Christ merited for us! If God would withhold even ONE blessing from those for whom Christ died, He would not be a just and righteous God. Christ's sacrifice DEMANDED and thus ENSURED that His people be given ALL the blessings of salvation. Now tie this in with verse 31. God MUST be for us because of what CHRIST has DONE for us. God CANNOT be AGAINST those for whom He gave up His Son. This is denied not only by those who believe that believers can lose their salvation but also by those who believe in universal atonement. They believe that there are MULTITUDES of people for whom Christ died who will end up in hell. Now hell is the ULTIMATE in God's being AGAINST someone, isn't it? Would He ever send someone to hell whom He is FOR? Yet the conditional salvation heretics will say that even though God gave up Jesus Christ on behalf of everyone without exception, this does NOT mean that everyone without exception will be freely given all the blessings of salvation. In the end, God will be either be AGAINST some of those for whom Christ shed His blood, or He will be eternally disappointed that some of those whom He was FOR are in hell. Either way, it's damnable blasphemy that treats the blood of Christ as nothing.
But this is not what the true people of God believe. The true people of God are comforted in the truths that God is SOVEREIGN, that God only LOVES His people because of what Jesus Christ has done for them, that God MUST be FOR everyone for whom Christ died, that Christ's blood ENTITLES all for whom He died to ALL the blessings of salvation, and that NO ONE and NO THING can cause what Christ has done to go for naught. EVERYONE for whom Christ lived and died WILL be freely given ALL THINGS to us with Him, GUARANTEED.
On to verse 33:
Romans 8: (33) Who will bring any charge against God's elect? God [is] the [One] justifying!
Another rhetorical question with an "after all" sentence following. "Who will bring any charge against God's elect? After all, it is God who is justifying!" Or, in the form of one of the previous rhetorical questions, "Since God is the One justifying, who will bring any charge against God's elect?" Now "bring a charge" here means "to incriminate" "to accuse"or "to implicate." It is a legal term for someone who is charged with a crime. The answer to this question is an emphatic, "NO ONE and NO THING can legitimately bring EVEN A SINGLE CHARGE against God's elect, because it is GOD who justifies the elect." We've defined the word "justify" in our last sermon and in previous sermons. It means "to declare righteous" or "to declare not guilty." Now if God has declared His people righteous - not guilty - who can bring a legitimate charge against them? They are NOT EVEN CHARGEABLE! Some religionists will say that believers are chargeable even though they're justified. But this passage shows without a shadow of a doubt that God's people are NOT EVEN CHARGEABLE. God has DECLARED THEM RIGHTEOUS based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, so that there can be NO CHARGE AGAINST THEM.
Now does not being chargeable mean that believers are sinless? Does it mean that believers do not commit acts of unrighteousness? Obviously not. God says in 1 John 1:8 and 10 that if we say we have no sin or if we say we have not sinned, we are not believers. We have not been totally cleansed from the filth of the flesh. What it DOES mean is that in the eyes of God's law and justice, God's people are seen as TOTALLY, 100% RIGHTEOUS. They are clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ, so to bring a charge against one of God's elect would be like bringing a charge against Christ. God has JUSTIFIED us, DECLARED us NOT GUILTY, based on the work of Christ alone. Now if justification were by works, then could charges be brought against God's elect? They sure could. They would be TOTALLY CHARGEABLE. Even our BEST efforts don't meet up to the standard of perfect righteousness that God requires. So if justification were by works, we would be justly charged as GUILTY for falling short of the righteousness of God. God says in Romans 2:13 that "not the HEARERS of the Law are just with God, but the DOERS of the Law shall be justified." How many of God's people are perfect DOERS of the Law? Thus, God says in Romans 3:20 that "by works of Law NOT ONE of all flesh will be justified before Him." And in Galatians 3:10, God says, "For as many as are out of works of Law, these are under a curse. For it has been written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL THINGS having been written in the book of the Law, to do them." So it could NOT be asked rhetorically, "Who will bring any charge against God's elect?" if God did not justify based on the work of Christ alone. Yet we who are believers KNOW that no charge can be brought against us, that we are CLEAN in the eyes of God's law and justice, that we are ASSURED of our continued salvation and final glory based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
I'm going to have to split this last paragraph in Romans 8 into two sermons. We'll stop here for now. The next time, the Lord willing, we'll pick up with verse 34. Let's close with two passages from the Old Testament that show us that God is for us and no one can accuse us because we are declared righteous based on the work of Christ alone. First, let's turn to Zechariah 3 and read the entire chapter:
Zechariah 3: (1) And he made me see Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. (2) And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah rebuke you, Satan! And, Jehovah who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! [Is] this not a brand plucked out of the fire? (3) And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and he stood before the Angel. (4) And He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And He said to him, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with ceremonial robes. (5) And I said, Let them set a clean turban on his head. And they set a clean turban on his head and clothed him with clothing. And the Angel of Jehovah stood by. (6) And the Angel of Jehovah charged Joshua, saying, (7) So says Jehovah of Hosts: If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My charge, then you shall also judge My house, and shall also keep My courts, and I will give you room to walk among these who stand by. (8) Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your associates who are sitting before you; for they [are] men of symbol. (9) For, behold, I will bring forth My Servant, the BRANCH. For behold, the stone which I have given before Joshua, on [the] one stone [are] seven eyes. I will engrave its engraving, says Jehovah of Hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. (10) In that day, says Jehovah of Hosts, you shall call [each] man to his neighbor to sit under the vine and under the fig tree.
Lastly, let's read Isaiah 27:1-6:
Isaiah 27: (1) In that day Jehovah shall visit the sea monster, the darting serpent, with His great and fierce and strong sword; even on the sea monster, the twisting serpent; and He shall slay the monster that is in the sea. (2) In that day sing to it, A vineyard of desire; (3) I, Jehovah, keep it; I will water it every moment, that no one punish it; I will guard it night and day. (4) Fury [is] not in Me. Who will give Me briers [and] thorns in the battle? I will step through it; I would burn it at once. (5) Or will he lay hold of My strength that he may make peace with Me? Let him make peace with Me. (6) Those coming in shall take root; Jacob shall blossom and Israel shall bud, and they will fill the face of the world [with] fruit.