Paul's Epistle to the Romans, The Blessing of Love

 (29) The Blessing of Love
Romans 8:31-39


31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Introduction

The Spirit of God makes the love of God real to us. The Father is for us (vv. 31–32), the Son is for us (v. 34), and the Spirit is for us (vv. 26–27). Nothing can separate us from His love. Is there any reason why we should not be “more than conquerors”?


31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

What then shall we say to these things?—Paul now asks a series of four rhetorical questions concerning the eternal purposes of God. In essence, this verse is the conclusion Paul draws to the first eight chapters of Romans. What will our response be to what has been said in those verses?

If God be for us, who can be against us?—This is not one of the four rhetorical questions but rather the answer to the first question. Paul’s only response is that he has complete assurance that the eternal purposes of God will come to fruition because God is God. “Who can be against us?” does not mean that we have no adversaries. Verses 35 and 36 list a great number of adversaries. However, the strength of the adversaries sinks into insignificance in comparison with the strength of God. By this, Paul means that there is no adversary too great to thwart the eternal purposes of God. If Omnipotence is working on our behalf, no lesser power can defeat His program. Moreover, the efforts of our adversaries, since they are under His absolute control, serve only to fulfill His all-wise purposes for us.

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Paul says in effect: “God is for us," therefore, He did not spare His own Son. Surely, that’s the final guarantee that He loves us enough to supply all our needs.”

He who did not spare His own Son,—What marvelous words! We must never allow our familiarity with them to dull their luster or lessen their power to inspire worship. When a world of lost mankind needed to be saved by a sinless Substitute, the great God of the universe did not hold back His heart’s best Treasure, but was pleased to give Him over to a death of shame and loss on our behalf—“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief…” (Isa. 53:10). This is evidence of the fact that God will bring His eternal purposes to their proper conclusion. He loved us so much that He did not spare His own Son in providing atonement for us. This presents the chief point in the proof that God is for us, and it is the greatest exhibition of God’s love for us.

but delivered Him up for us all,—This states the delivering up as being the act of God the Father. In Galatians 2:20, the act is mentioned as the act of the Son Himself: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. The two statements are a clear indication of the oneness of the Son with the Father. The “delivering up” was to “the death of the Cross.” For us all, does not infer limited atonement (the view that Christ died only for the elect), for Christ died for all the sins of all the world—“that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). His death was enough to make salvation possible, however, only for those who call upon the name of the Lord.

how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?—Paul then argues from the greater to the lesser by asking the question, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? If God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up to the cross of Calvary, it is not logical that He would fail to bring to its completed end the purpose for which Christ was sacrificed. That’s why, all the blessings which have been promised to us, even salvation, is ours. Jesus, who is the greatest gift, ensures all the rest. The mention of “all things” includes even those things which are recorded as being opposed to us, but which in point of fact are made a blessing to us. In any case, the term may be taken without limitations. The term “freely give” literally means, “to bestow as a gift of grace.” The logic that flows from this is irresistible. If God has already given us the greatest gift, is there any lesser gift that He will not give? If He has already paid the highest price, will He hesitate to pay any lower price? If He has gone to such lengths to procure our salvation, will He ever let us go?

33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s [1]elect? It is God who justifies.

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?— Paul is issuing a challenge to the universe that if there is any man, any angel, any demon, anyone who can bring forth a charge and lay it at the doorstep of God’s elect, let him do so now. But there is none! How could there be? If God has already justified His elect, who can bring a charge? 

It is God who justifies.—A more literal rendering is “God is the (One) justifying,” i.e., the justifier, with stress upon the word “God.” Since the elect are justified by God, no one will be able to appeal God’s verdict of justification. Every tongue that attempts to do so will be silenced—“He is near who justifies Me; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. Surely the Lord God will help Me; Who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; The moth will eat them up” (Isa. 50:8–9).

It gives clarity to this verse and the following one if we supply the words “No one, because ...” before each answer. Thus this verse would read, Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? No one, because it is God who justifies. If we do not supply these words, it might sound as if God is going to bring a charge against His elect, the very thing that Paul is denying!

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the 19th century, wrote this concerning God’s elect: “Every sin of the elect was laid upon the great Champion of our salvation, and by the atonement carried away. There is no sin in God’s book against his people…they are justified in Christ for ever.”

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Who is he who condemns?—This is the fourth rhetorical question.

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen,—Christ is the one to whom all judgment is committed—“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man”  (John 5:22, 27). His death has secured our justification and in His resurrection life, He is altogether for us.

Today, Jesus is the Savior; tomorrow, He will be the Judge. Even death cannot keep lost sinners from the judgment, for He will raise them from the dead. There is no escape, except through faith in Jesus Christ. Only the Lord God could devise a plan in which the only person in the universe, who can condemn us, is the very person who died for us.

who is even at the right hand of God,—In ancient times, to set at the right hand of the King brought honor to that person and gave him participation in the royal power and governing the people. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who today sets at God’s right hand. This is a position of dignity, power, and authority, a position that is His right as the One who has perfectly fulfilled the will of God, and has met the claims of Divine righteousness. From this exalted position, He participates in governing the universe.

The death of the Lord Jesus on our behalf would accomplish very little if it were not followed by His resurrection. He is now sitting at the right hand of God where He is highly exalted in glory and sovereignty.

He, who was once despised and rejected of men, now occupies the honorable position of a beloved and honored Son. The right hand of God is the place of majesty and favor.

Who is he who condemns? How could anyone condemn those who are in Jesus at the right hand of God? Christ has removed all condemnation, and the believer is secure because of the fourfold work of Christ:
1. Christ died for us—He was delivered for our offences.
2. Christ was raised from the dead, raised for our justification.
3. He is on the right hand of God. He is up there right now. He is the living Christ.
4. He makes intersession for us. Did you pray for yourself this morning? You should have. However, if you missed praying; He didn’t. He prayed for you. Isn’t that wonderful?

This fourfold work of Christ is the reason nobody can make a charge against God’s elect.

It is true that our archenemy Satan accuses us before God day and night—but we don’t need to fear Satan. We need to fear God, because God in Christ defeated Satan and conquered everything Satan hurled at Him. Therefore, Satan is unable to bring anything new against us. God knows all the tricks of Satan, and it is God who justifies us in Christ Jesus, when we accept Him by faith as our personal Savior.

who also makes intercession for us—The same thing was said about the Holy Spirit in verse 27. If the Lord Jesus, to whom all judgment has been committed, does not pass sentence on us but rather prays for us, then there is no one else who could have a valid reason for condemning us. By the authority, which is inherent to His deity, the Lord Jesus makes intercession for us to God the Father. By His victorious death, His victorious resurrection, His victorious ascension into heaven, and His victorious intercession for us, the Lord Jesus has accomplished the eternal purpose of God. In the whole universe, there is nothing that can provide greater assurance than the finished work of Christ.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?—It is not our love for Christ that Paul is talking about; rather it is His love for us—“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1). The day before the crucifixion, the Lord Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to die, to rise again, and to go back to heaven. He had loved His own, that is, those who were true believers. He loved them to the end of His earthly ministry, and will continue to love them throughout eternity. But He also loved them to an infinite degree, as He was about to demonstrate.

To be separated from the love of Christ is death. Death involves separation. The body, when separated from the spirit is dead. The believer, when separated from the love of Christ would be spiritually dead. However, this is impossible, according to the Lord’s own statement in John 10:28-29—“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  Christ gives eternal life to His sheep. This means life that will last forever. It is not life that is conditional on their behavior. It is eternal life, and that means everlasting. But eternal life is also a quality of life. It is the life of the Lord Jesus Himself. A life that is capable of enjoying the things of God down here, and a life that will be equally suitable to our heavenly home. Note these next words carefully. Jesus said, “They shall never perish.” If any sheep of Christ ever perished, then the Lord Jesus would have been guilty of failing to keep a promise, and this is not possible. Jesus Christ is God, and He cannot fail. He has promised in this verse that no sheep of His will ever spend eternity in hell.

Does this mean then that a person may be saved and then live the way he pleases? Can he be saved and then carry on in the sinful pleasures of this world? No, he no longer desires to do these things. He wants to follow the Shepherd. We do not live the Christian life in order to become a Christian or in order to retain our salvation. We live a Christian life because we are Christians. We desire to live a holy life, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of gratitude to the One who died for us. The doctrine of eternal security does not encourage careless living, but rather is a strong motive for holy living.

No one is able to snatch a believer out of Christ’s hand. His hand is almighty. It created the world; and it even now sustains the world. There is no power that can snatch a sheep from His grasp.

Not only is the believer in the hand of Christ; he is in the Father’s hand as well. This is a twofold guarantee of safety. God the Father is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch a believer out of the Father’s hand.

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Paul has asked, “Is there anyone here who can banish the justified from the love of Christ? Paul then amplifies the question by asking if it is possible that our lives can undo what Christ has accomplished on our behalf at the cross. The apostle experienced all of these adversaries; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword—the threshing flail of tribulation, with its steady pounding of distress and affliction; the monster of anguish, bringing extreme pain to mind and body; the brutality of persecution, inflicting suffering and death on those who dare to differ; the gaunt specter of famine, gnawing, racking, and wasting down to the skeleton; nakedness, with all it means in the way of privation, exposure, and defenselessness; peril, the threat of imminent and awful danger; and the sword, cold, hard, and death-dealing—and in one respect or another they have been the common plight of all believers. They are in various ways the instruments of deceitful human hatred, but they cannot interrupt the love of Christ toward us.

This is one of the great verses on eternal security, the doctrine that once saved, a believer is always saved (see John 10:27–29; Rom. 8:35–39; Phil. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:5), derived from Calvin and his doctrine of unconditional predestination. It states that salvation cannot be lost as a result of human actions because he who saves is also able to keep.

36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Before Paul answers his question, he gives a verbatim quote from Psalm 44:22. This quote is introduced to indicate that God’s people shall endure affliction even as the faithful did in the Old Testament. However, the persecution and tribulation that enter our lives, which have been featured so prominently in this chapter, are not sufficient to separate us from God’s love, as demonstrated at the cross of Christ.

God’s children, down through the ages, have been hated and despised by the world—by the enemies of God, by the children of the devil. But whenever such persecution has come upon the children of God, when they are “accounted as sheep for the slaughter,” when they are butchered by the sword, fed to lions, or burned at the stake, there has been an increase in the devotion and faithfulness of the saints. Such persecutions have served to only deepen their love for God and the things of Christ.

Suffering for Christ’s sake places the believer into the fellowship of His sufferings, and it transforms the affliction into joy and victory, enabling the suffering saint to glory in tribulation. The gospel does not deliver us from misfortunes; it enables us to find in them a blessing, not a curse.

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Instead of separating us from Christ’s love, these things only succeed in drawing us closer to Him. We are not only conquerors, but also more than conquerors.  It is not simply that we triumph over these formidable forces, but that in doing so we bring glory to God, blessing to others, and good to ourselves. We make slaves out of our enemies and stepping stones out of our roadblocks. However, all of this is not through our own strength, but only through Him who loved us. Only the power of Christ can bring sweetness out of bitterness, strength out of weakness, triumph out of tragedy, and blessing out of heartbreak. We do not merely hold our own in the face of testing, but through suffering, we are drawn closer to Christ and become more conformed to His image. So, what does it mean to be more than a conqueror? It means to have assistance from Another, who gets the victory for us, who never lets us be defeated. The victory belongs to Christ; not us. The victorious life is not our life. It is His life. Personal heroism and inner strength are not contributors to success in the Christian life. As we owe our justification to Him and our sanctification to Him, we also owe our assurance to Him. All we have, we owe to Him.

Christians are said to be super victorious, since our adversaries are deprived of the power to snap the bond of the love of Christ, and their opposition is turned around and made a credit to our account, thereby enhancing the power of our victory through Christ. He expressed His love for us by dieing for us. Today He is interceding for us, and that conveys the fact that His love is timeless and unchallengeable.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor [2]principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Surely, these words were spoken under the inspiration of God. God dictated these words to Paul through the Holy Ghost, and Paul wrote them down.

Paul searches the entire universe to see if there is anything that can possibly separate us from the eternal presence of God. He goes first to the realm of death and finds nothing there. Then he turns to the realm of life and again finds nothing. He looks to the angels and they have no power to separate us. He turns to principalities, which, in this case, may refer to the angelic hosts representing Satan. There is nothing there. He proceeds to examine things present and finds nothing. He explores the future and in the things to come, there is nothing that can separate us. Nothing can happen now nor in the future, which can remove the love of God from us or us from His eternal security.

Paul does not stop here for next he searches the entire universe and nothing in the expanses of space, height (above us), nor depth (below us) can be found to prohibit the presence of God from us. But, just in case he has missed something, Paul then says that there is no other creature or creation of God that is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nowhere can the apostle find anything in the whole universe of God, which can sever the relationship that the children of God have with their Father’s love. This great assurance comes to those who are “the called” in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For Paul, it is not fate, the stars, angelic powers, nor heaven or hell that determines the lives of believers; rather, the faithfulness of Jesus does. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born, of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” Paul has completed this great chapter in the same way he began it. Paul is persuaded that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. All these wonderful promises belong to us because we belong to Him.


Summary

We can have assurance of salvation—the conviction of believers that now and in the future they are in an unbreakable and covenantal fellowship with God. Assurance of salvation (eternal security) is the central theme of Protestant doctrine and is an offshoot of trust in the faithfulness of God and the inerrancy of the Bible as well as the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:38–39; 2 Cor. 1:18–20; 2 Tim. 2:13); and it is based on God’s past actions (vv. 31, 32) and His present actions on their behalf (vv. 33, 34). Christ continually intercedes for believers in a courtroom where deliverance replaces condemnation (v. 28). Christ, the One who could condemn believers, is in reality pleading their cases (see John 2:1–21).Theologically, assurance is grounded on the character of God and the finality of his revelation in Jesus Christ.

          __________________________passage notes_____________________________

[1]elect— Justified sinners. A person or group chosen by God for special favor and for the rendering of special service to Him. In the Old Testament the Hebrew people were described as God’s elect. The New Testament speaks of Christ as God’s Chosen One (1 Pet. 2:4, 6) and of the church as God’s new chosen people (2 John 1, 13).

[2]principality—a powerful ruler, or the rule of someone in authority. The word (often found in the plural) may refer to human rulers (Titus 3:1, KJV), demonic spirits (Rom. 8:38; Eph. 6:12; Col. 2:15), angels and demons in general (Eph. 3:10; Col. 1:16), or (especially when used in the singular) any type of rule other than God Himself (Eph. 1:21; Col. 2:10). While Christians must often wrestle against evil principalities (Eph. 6:12), they can be victorious because Christ defeated all wicked spirits (Col. 2:15).

 

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