Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
An experienced Christian worker troubled on occasions by a lack of assurance concerning his salvation, recited the above text to me one day, adding, ‘When I feel a lack of assurance, I tell myself and the devil that “Christ died for me and is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God and makes intercession for me”’! He personalised the verse and quoted it freely and the basic facts in the verse reassured him he was accepted by the holy God. That was proof sufficient for him.
This statement builds on the previous verse in eliminating doubts that a Christian can come under condemnation. The additional explanation is necessary because Christians struggling with a lack of assurance may agree that God acquits believers of their guilt and reckons Christ’s righteousness to them but a nagging thought may remain. What will happen at the Final Judgement? As God the Father ‘has committed all judgement to the Son’ (John 5:22), is it possible for the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to condemn a Christian at the end? Paul’s answer is emphatic. Neither the Father, nor the Son will ever condemn a Christian. And the answer contains four major facts forming the basis of our salvation and of being accepted by God the Father and God the Son.
The four statements in the verse constitute the big picture of our Lord’s work as Saviour – his death for us, resurrection, ascension to the right hand of God where he has absolute power, and his on-going praying for believers. These are all facts of the greatest importance and summarise the Lord’s work on our behalf. Will the Lord Jesus Christ ever condemn us, even at the Final Judgement? That is impossible for the reasons given by Paul in this verse. Today we’ll consider the first glorious fact.
‘Christ who died’
Are we like children in a Sunday School being taught the gospel and answering questions about Calvary, often without appreciating what it means to say that ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3)? Like Isaac Watts, we need to ‘survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died’
On one occasion while serving as a pastor, the church surprised us by arranging for my family to have a week’s holiday in a small hotel in North West Wales. It was a memorable week, and I remember it well. On the Friday morning during breakfast, guests received their invoices and afterwards paid for their holiday at the reception desk. I felt nervous as I had not received an invoice and had no money to pay for our week’s holiday. The family shared my concern and doubts. I approached the manager and asked about an invoice: ‘It has all been paid for you’, he replied confidently, ‘There is nothing for you to pay.’ I could have wept for joy as I saw not only the love of Christians for us but especially God’s infinite love in Christ.
‘It has all been paid for you’.
That is God’s glorious message to all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Who paid the price for our reconciliation with God? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. He humbled himself, leaving heaven in order ‘to give His life a ransom for many‘ (Matthew 20:28). Did he deserve to die? No, for he was without sin and had always pleased God the Father. How did he pay for our salvation? The wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23) but on the cross God the Father laid on his dearly beloved Son all our sins and thereby paid the penalty we deserved. The price for our salvation has been paid fully by the Lord Jesus. Yes, ‘Christ died....’ but we all need to survey that wondrous cross more closely and marvel at the enormous price paid for our acceptance with the Holy God. There is no sin which will ever condemn us now or in the future for all the sins of believers were punished when Christ died’.
Like C. T. Studd, we should respond in love and sacrificial service: ‘If Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him’.
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)