‘…If God be for us, who can be against us?’
Please read Romans 8 verses 18-39
In this final meditation in Romans chapter 8 I am reminding you of what we have reflected on during the past weeks and months. We are often helped by having a panoramic view of verses in the Bible, so today we will look back briefly over these verses, noting five major themes in the big plan of God’s salvation.
The Prospect of glory (verses 18-25)
Suffering, problems, and difficulties are real and painful for us all as Paul knew only too well (read his astonishing list of hardships and suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 or earlier in chapter 1 where he ‘despaired even of life’ (vs 5,8)). He was a realist, but he tells us that the prospect of the renewal of creation and the resurrection of the body far outweighed the sufferings he experienced. He anticipated with eagerness future glory (vs. 24-25), just as a woman groans with birth pangs before her baby is delivered so Christians along with creation ‘groan… eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body’ (v. 23). Glory lies ahead for us, and this prospect of future glory sustains Christians here and now in various trials. Is this true for you?
Prayer (verses 26-27).
In his famous book on prayer, Ole Hallesby defines it as ‘an attitude of helplessness’ – I wonder how you react to this? His definition certainly describes a basic attitude in prayer – many of us have ‘infirmities’ in struggling to pray, even in desiring to pray and knowing what to pray about. There is therefore great comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit ‘helps’ us in our weaknesses. The sighs, longings, fears and hopes within us which may be too deep for us to articulate are understood by the Holy Spirit. Are you taking advantage of our divine ‘Helper’ in prayer?
Providence (verse 28)
Like many of you, I have struggled often to understand what God was doing in a situation. Why the obstacles? Where are the answers to prayer? Why is there inadequate money to feed the family or pay a mortgage? What is ‘good’ about these difficulties? Admittedly, there was rebellion in my heart prompting such questions – God’s providence searches and humbles us. Though He controls events and people, and even problems are under his complete control yet for Christians the Lord is always lovingly seeking our ‘good’ as he humbles and makes us rely on him more, often giving us a deeper knowledge and experience of his grace and presence. Do we trust that God has a good purpose in all our circumstances?
Purpose (verses 29-30)
Can you imagine a period when nothing else existed but God? Yes, God the Father was alone in solitary glory with his Son the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Love and joy flowed between them in deep unity in their intra-trinitarian relationship. In that vast expanse of eternity, God the Father in counsel with the Son and Holy Spirit planned redemption in detail, including the choice of a vast number of people to be saved. All this was planned before we ourselves or the world existed. God who ‘foreknew’ and ‘predestined’ his elect would in time call them by the gospel, justify them on the sole basis of Christ’s death for our sin then in the future will also glorify his people when Christ returns in glory. That is the scope and nature of God’s eternal, sovereign purpose for his people, but also notice the purpose of God’s predestinating love, namely, that we should be ‘conformed to the image of His Son…’. Here is a vital aspect of God’s purpose which can easily be played down by us in a society where God’s standards for humans are rejected and where evil is regarded as good and enjoyable. Christians can easily compromise in this culture and become unlike Christ in behaviour and values.
In his sermon on this text, Spurgeon said:
‘God was so well pleased with His Son, and saw such beauties in Him, that He determined to multiply His image. The face of Jesus is more lovely to God than all the worlds; therefore doth the Father will to have His Son’s beauty reflected in ten thousand mirrors in saints made like to Him. Conclusion: Keep your model before you. You see what you are predestinated to be; aim at it every day. Above all, commune much with Christ. Communion is the fountain of conformity… If we take our nutriment from the world, we shall be worldly; but, if we live upon Christ and dwell in Him, our conformity with Him shall be accomplished, and we shall be recognised as brethren of that blessed family of which Jesus Christ is the firstborn ‘.
Perseverance (verses 31-39)
It is not our perseverance which provides our security but God’s perseverance with his people through all the different phases of our lives. He loved us sacrificially in delivering his Son to die for us; his love is one of great generosity towards his people. Because Christ died, the holy God declares us righteous so we can never be condemned for our sin and the Saviour actually prays for us too.
With a note of bold defiance, Paul declares that, despite all the hardships and dangers we face, Christians ‘are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ (v.37) and nothing ‘shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (v. 39).
Nothing and no one can ever separate a Christian from God’s love in Christ!
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)