God is For Us! Part 1 – Romans 8:31-34
Pastor Mark Hardy January 27, 2013
F.B. Meyer, a Baptist pastor and evangelist in England, was a greatly loved preacher of his day. When teaching on eternal security, he liked to use the illustration about two German mountaineers who wanted to climb the Matterhorn, one of the highest and deadliest peaks in the Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
These two men hired three guides and began their ascent up the mountain at the steepest and most slippery part. The men were roped together in the following order: guide, German, guide, German, guide. They had gone only a little ways when the last guide lost his footing and slipped, but he was held up temporarily by the other four since each had a toehold in the niches they had cut in the ice. But then one of the German’s slipped, and he pulled down the two above him. The only one to stand firm was the first guide, who had driven a spike deep into the ice. Because he held his ground, all the men beneath him were able to regain their footing.
Meyer concluded his story by saying, “I am like one of those men who slipped. But thank God, I am bound in a living partnership to Jesus Christ. And because He stands, I will never perish.” And the same is true with all of us who are born-again Christians. This is what we are going to look at this morning.
Having given the promise in Romans 8:28 that God sovereignly orchestrates all things—both the good and the bad—to work together for our good as believers, Paul then explained and supported this by giving in vv. 29-30 God’s unbreakable “golden chain of salvation” that began in eternity past; comes into present time, space, and history; and ends in eternity future.
But now as we come to vv. 31-39, Paul applies all of these truths to show that absolutely no one and nothing can either challenge God’s advocacy for us as His people (vv. 31-34) or change His agape love for us (vv. 35-39). Romans 8:31-39 is a literary masterpiece on the eternal security of the believer not only because of its beautiful and profound content, but also because of its magnificent and exalted style. Turn in your Bible to Romans 8.
In Romans 8:31-39 we see a series of six key questions that drive home the truth that every believer’s salvation is eternally secure in Jesus Christ. This morning we will look at the first five in vv. 31-34.
The first key question is this:
I. How Should believers Respond to God’s Blessings?
A. Look at the first part of v. 31: What then shall we say to these things?
1. In this introductory question Paul is calling all believers (“we”) to consider how they will respond to “these things.” Now scholars differ on whether “these things” (tauta) refer to the immediate context of vv. 28-30, the larger context of vv. 18-30, encompass 5:1-8:30, or summarize the whole discussion of the gospel of God from 1:16-8:30.
2. But however far back Paul intends “these things” to reach, he is talking about all of the blessings we as believers have received from God by being united with Jesus Christ through saving faith in Him. Think for a moment about everything we have received in our past justification, present sanctification, and future glorification.
3. How should we respond to God’s blessings? Obviously, we should not take these things lightly, but stand in utter amazement of God’s grace and wholeheartedly praise Him constantly for all He has done for us in Christ.
4. Is that your response? Paul wants it to be, and so he answers his own question by asking five rhetorical questions, each expecting a negative answer, to emphasize that our salvation is completely secure in God’s hands.
5. This brings us to the second key question, which is this:
II. Can Those who Oppose believers be Successful?
A. Look at the last part of v. 31: If God is for us, who is against us?
1. The word “If” here does not imply doubt but rather confidence, meaning “if and it’s true” or “since.” Therefore, Paul is saying, “Since God is for us, who is against us?”
2. The word “us” (emon), used eight times in vv. 31-39 in our English Bibles, refers to true believers. It speaks of “those who love God” and “those who are called” in v. 28; to those whom God “foreknew,” “predestined,” “called,” “justified,” and “glorified” in vv. 29-30; and to “God’s elect” in v. 33.
3. The gospel is all about God being “for us.” The word “for” (uper) speaks of God being “on our side” as our Advocate.
4. Beloved, the Sovereign, all-powerful God is for us! What a position of security!
5. Never forget that God alone is a majority and in having Him on our side we have everything. For absolutely no one and nothing is greater than our God!
B. Now since God is for us, Paul asks the rhetorical question “…who is against us?” The obvious answer is “No One!”
1. This doesn’t mean that we as believers don’t have any adversaries or opponents. Paul had many in his own life.
2. Those who are “against us” include: the unbelieving world (1 Cor. 16:9), our indwelling sinful flesh, Satan and his demonic host (1 Cor. 15:26; Eph. 6:11-13; 1 Pet. 5:8; Heb. 2:14), and sad to say, sometimes even fellow believers and those we love the most.
3. But Paul’s point is that since God is for us, no opponent can ever ultimately be successful in prevailing over us. This is because no matter how big and powerful they may be, they are not more powerful than God, and therefore, cannot thwart His purposes in our lives.
4. As we saw in v. 28, God will sovereignly orchestrate and use even them in our lives to bring about our greatest good and His highest glory. This is why David could say in Psalm 3:5-6, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.”
5. He confidently proclaimed in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”
6. And in Psalm 56:9, “Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.” (Verse 11) “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
7. In Psalm 118:6 another psalmist declared, “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
8. Do you know that God is for you this morning? Are you choosing to believe it and put your trust in Him? For only then will it make no difference “who is against you” and you will not be afraid.
9. Paul then gives the most conclusive proof that “God is for us” in the third key question, which is this:
III. Are Lesser things Withheld after giving Christ?
A. Look at v. 32: He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
1. The word “He” refers to God the Father. And the phrase “His own Son” speaks of the Father’s one and only, dearest, and most precious Son from all eternity, Jesus Christ, the God-Man—100% God, 100% man.
2. Although believers are God’s sons and daughters by adoption (8:14-16), Jesus Christ is the Father’s own peculiar Son, in a sense that neither angels (Heb. 1:5) nor people can be so called.
3. Now notice that God the Father “did not spare His own Son.” This phrase is reminiscent of the offering of Isaac by his father Abraham in the Old Testament.
4. To show his loyal love for God, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac in obedience to God’s test (Gen. 22:1-12). But stopping him and providing a ram in Isaac’s place (v. 13), God said to Abraham in Genesis 22:12, “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
5. But whereas God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, out of supreme love for us, God “did not spare His own Son” from being sacrificed to provide atonement for us. There was no lessening of the horrific judgment that was poured out upon Him (Isa. 53:4-6, 10, 12).
6. C.E.B. Cranfield accurately stated, “Isaac was rescued by divine intervention (Gen. 22:11-13), but for Jesus there was no such intervention, no other lamb could take the place of the Lamb of God; and the delivering up meant making to drink to the very dregs the cup of wrath.” (pg. 436)
7. Notice again in v. 32 that “He…delivered Him over for us all.” Here we see that it was the Father who “delivered over” (paredoken) His beloved Son (Rom. 4:25), which entailed receiving: the wrath and abandonment of God that sin merited; being mocked, spit upon, scourged, and crucified by hateful, ungodly men; and the vengeance of Satan and his demonic hosts (Lk. 22:53).
8. This “delivering over” is what Paul meant elsewhere when he said that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21) and that He had “…become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’” (Gal. 3:13).
9. As our Substitute on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the holy wrath of God against our sin and paid in full the penalty for sin that we deserved. If ever God could be accused of injustice it would never be with us but with His Son, for the righteous died for the unrighteous.
10. This same word is also used of Jesus who “delivered” or gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:2; 1 Tim. 2:6; Tit. 2:14). And it is used of Judas (Matt. 10:4; 26:2, 15; Jn. 18:5), of the chief priests and elders (Matt. 27:2; Mk. 15:10, 15), of the people of Jerusalem (Acts 3:13), and of Pilate (Mk. 15:15) who all “delivered Him over” to death.
11. Although all of these godless people were fully responsible for what they did, Acts 2:23 tells us that ultimately Jesus was “…delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 4:27-28)
12. Octavius Winslow said it best, “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy;—but the Father, for love.” (Murray pg. 324)
13. And for whom did the Father lovingly deliver Jesus over to death? Paul says “for us all.”
14. Now Paul is not teaching “Universalism,” whereby everyone is saved in the end. But in this context, “us all” refers to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord by faith.
15. The most conclusive proof that “God is for us” is seen in the agony and shame of Calvary that was endured for you and me. What amazing love!
B. Now in view of this supreme act of God’s love, Paul asks the rhetorical question, “…how will He (i.e. the Father) not also with Him (i.e. Christ) freely give us all things? The obvious answer is “He Won’t!”
1. Here Paul argues from the greater to the lesser (5:8-10, 15, 17; 11:12:24). In other words, since the Father has already given us the greatest and costliest gift of all, the indescribable gift of His Son (2 Cor. 9:15) while we were yet sinners (5:8), He will not withhold the lesser things now that we are His children!
2. John Murray said, “So great is that gift, so marvelous are its implications, so far-reaching its consequences that all graces of lesser proportion are certain of free bestowment.” (pg. 326)
3. The gift of Christ includes all other gifts. In having Him we have everything we need.
4. Peter proclaimed in 2 Peter 1:2-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
5. Now what is the scope of the “all things” that God “freely gives” (charisetai) or graciously bestowed upon us? I believe Douglas Moo is correct when he states, “Certainly Paul’s focus is on those things necessary for our salvation; but, as with ‘the good’ in v. 28, we should not restrict the meaning to salvation as such but include all those blessings—spiritual and material—that we require on the path toward that final salvation.” (pg. 541)
6. Having first revealed how “God is for us,” Paul goes on to show what it means to be “against us” in the next two questions. The fourth key question is this:
IV. Can Accusations against Believers continue to Stand?
A. Look at v. 33: Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
1. This question and the next use legal language and the scene is God’s courtroom where “charges” (egkalesie) or accusations are being brought against “God’s elect” or chosen ones.
2. Woodrow Kroll describes this well, saying, “Paul is issuing a challenge to the universe that if there is any man or woman, any angel or demon, anyone or anything at all who can make a charge against God’s elect that can stick, let him do so now.” (pg. 147)
3. Paul isn’t saying that believers won’t be accused of things. He had many human enemies who delighted in pointing an accusing finger at him (Acts 19:38, 40; 23:29, 35; 26:2, 7).
4. Satan especially, “the accuser of the brethren. . . .before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10; Zech. 3:1) never ceases to press charges against us, pointing out the discrepancy between our Christian profession and our Christian walk.
B. However, can accusations against believers continue to stand?
The obvious answer is “No Way!”
1. Why not? Because “God is the one who justifies” us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 3:24; 5:1).
2. We have already seen in Romans that at the moment of our salvation, God “justifies” (dikaion) us, in that, we as believing sinners are declared righteous by God, placed in a position of being right or acceptable before Him, and clothed in the very righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
3. Therefore, every charge and accusation against us is thrown out of God’s Supreme Court because He has already declared us eternally “Not Guilty” in Christ since He paid in full the penalty for our sin. And absolutely no one can call His irrevocable verdict into question.
5. Every tongue that attempts to do so will be silenced (Isa. 54:17), for God is our Advocate and Vindicator not our prosecutor.
6. Paul is surely echoing the words of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 50:8-9 where the Messiah declares, “He who vindicates Me is near; who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; who is he who condemns Me?”
7. And since “God is for us” and has justified us in Christ, we as believers can humbly and confidently say the same thing!
8. The fifth key question is this:
V. Can Believers be Condemned for their Sins?
A. Look at v. 34: who is the one who condemns? (Stop there)
1. The word “condemns” here is far more than mere “charges” or accusations being brought against us. This has to do with the fact of a crime, what is actually true.
2. Satan and others don’t always have to make “false accusations” against us. Sometimes all they need to do is just tell the truth.
3. Therefore, to “condemn” (katakrinon) means “to give judgment against, to pass sentence upon.” And this judgment refers to the last judgment of eternal condemnation.
4. So Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Who is the one who condemns?” In other words, can believers be condemned for their sins? The obvious answer is “Absolutely Not!”
5. Although anyone can press charges and bring accusations, there is only one Person who has the authority to condemn. And that is Jesus Christ, who is God’s appointed Judge.
6. Jesus said in John 5:22, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:27; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10)
7. And yet, the sinless Christ who alone can condemn us to eternal hell for our sin has promised never to do so!
B. And we see why in the four ascending realities at the end of v. 34. Paul says: Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
1. The first reality is that “Christ Jesus. . . .died.” Jesus atoning death on the cross for our sins satisfied the justice of God and the demands of the Law (3:21-26; 4:25; 5:8-11; 6:4-10; 8:3-4).
2. William Newell said, “Satan may accuse us in our consciences; but the day of our condemnation was past forever—when Christ our Substitute ‘bore our sins in His own body on the tree!’” (pg. 338)
3. Jesus alone removed our condemnation because He has forgiven all of our sins—past, present, and future. This is why we are told in Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
4. The second reality is that Christ “was raised” from the dead. Jesus’ death was strategic but without the resurrection it accomplished nothing, because He would be no different than any other sinful religious leader who has died (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
5. The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only proved that He was indeed God, but also that the Father had accepted His once for all sacrifice for sin.
6. The third reality is that Christ “is at the right hand of God.” Forty days after His resurrection, the glorified Christ ascended to heaven to this exalted position (Acts 1:9; Phil. 2:9-11), which is the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1.
7. Christ’s exalted position is seen repeatedly in the New Testament. For example, in Hebrews 10:11-12 we read, “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.” (Matt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69; Acts 2:33; 3:13; 5:31; 7:55-56; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 2:9; 8:1; 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:21; 3:22; Rev. 5:12).
8. The “right hand of God” is the place of supreme honor, power, and authority over the entire universe. And the posture of sitting down signifies the finished work of Christ.
9. What an encouragement to know that He who has saved us also has the supreme power to keep us saved!
10. The fourth reality is that Christ “also intercedes for us.” As our intercessor before the throne of God, Jesus acts as both our heavenly High Priest and our Advocate.
11. As our great High Priest, He is always available to give us the grace we need to overcome temptation and defeat the enemy. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
12. And Hebrews 7:25 states, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
13. And as our Advocate, He continually defends us before God against Satan, others, even our own sins that bring charges against us. According to 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
14. And John says in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
15. Do you know Jesus Christ as your High Priest and Advocate? You can if you have received Him as your personal Savior and Lord.
In closing, every believer’s salvation is eternally secure and it is the living and exalted Christ, as well as, our loving heavenly Father who secures it. Because God is for us absolutely no opponent can ever ultimately be successful in prevailing over us; no one can level a charge against us that stands; no one can ever condemn us to eternal hell, not even Christ; and God will never withhold lesser things from us having given us His greatest gift, Christ.
Therefore, this passage is the Mount Everest of eternal security in Christ for the genuine believer. Because He stands, we will never perish! May our response to God be one of wholehearted praise to Him for all He has done for us to make us eternally secure in Jesus Christ! And wholehearted service to Him with our lives because of it!