28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 29 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Being a Christian does not make us immune from life’s challenges and struggles. We have the same illnesses, the same pain, and the same heartbreak, regardless of whether we’re people of faith or not. We all live in the same fallen world and we all face many of the same circumstances as others. Quite naturally, we are often discouraged by some of the circumstances in our lives, and our faith and trust in God is tested at these times.
The apostle Paul, just like us, was no stranger to suffering, and neither was the Roman Church that he was writing to. What he did in his letter was to give them encouragement, and we’re able to take the same kind of encouragement they received. Our lives are completely different to the lives our Christian brothers and sisters lived in the first century, but we have a lot in common too, so we need to be reminded of the promises of God.
Paul presented his encouragement to the Roman Church by asking four rhetorical questions, and then providing the answers to them.
His first question is in verse 31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The way that the question is phrased assumes that God is already for us, and in fact a more accurate way of translating his question would be ‘Since God is for us,’ rather than ‘if God is for us.’ God is on our side, and if we believe this to be true, shouldn’t this be a tremendous encouragement to us? Just think about that for a moment. What these words mean is that we have the Creator and Lord of the entire universe standing for us and with us. And how do we know that God is for us? How can we say this with certainty? Look at verse 32. “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”
God is for us because He didn’t spare His own Son. The Lord sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world. Jesus was the only perfect person who ever lived. He healed many people and touched many lives, but even more than that, Jesus was the express image of God. He was God in the flesh - He is Emmanuel, “God with us.” This “God with us,” this perfect, sinless person, died on the cross. God didn’t spare His Son, but instead carried out His perfect plan of salvation, a plan that included Jesus dying.
Why did Jesus come to die? There is a crucial two word phrase in verse 32. “For us.” For whom did God not spare His only Son? For whom did He deliver Him up to that cross? For us. Jesus died for us. Just over a week ago we were reminded on Good Friday of the mystery of the cross of Calvary. It’s a story we know so well, but when we stop and try to wrap our minds around what God actually did for us there, it continues to amaze us. I like the idea that I cannot fully comprehend what Jesus did for me, because that forces me to stop and think about just what He did. God sent His Son to die on that cross so we might have forgiveness. He delivered Jesus to the cross to die so we can live. This is how we can know with absolute certainty that God is for us. All we have to do is look to the cross. In Romans 5:8 Paul writes, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What this means is that God was for us before we were ever for Him. And if God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, before we ever trusted in Him, how much more is He for us now…
How does this truth apply to our lives today? There will be people who come against us. We will and we do face the challenges of illnesses, heartache and pain that come against us. But they will not break us, for the simple reason that God is for us. He is on our side. When the load seems too heavy we have a God who is there for us. Jesus says at the end of Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What an amazing promise, and you need to remember those words when you feel that things are just spiralling out of control. Remember that God is for you, because He proved it at the cross.
The second rhetorical question Paul asks is in verse 33: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?”
We live in a world where people will walk all over you to get one step ahead. There are some who think nothing of stepping on others to get what they want. And Christians in particular are targeted. When we stand up for what is right, we will be targets. One of the most common accusations against Christians is that we preach hate because we’re so intolerant. In a world where everyone is free to believe what they like, how dare we say that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation? They conveniently ignore the fact that we are merely proclaiming what Jesus Himself said, but that doesn’t stop them. We’re not the ones who decided that Jesus is the only means of salvation, but they make all these charges against us and justify their charges by saying we’re intolerant. But God is the one who justifies. The world may make all kinds of charges against us as Christians, but they can’t make the judgment. God is the one who justifies, and we’ve already been justified by our faith in Jesus Christ. The world can try and destroy us and destroy our Churches, but we’re already whole and complete in Jesus Christ. Don’t let the world get you down. In the early days of the Christian Church the first apostles faced a tremendous amount of persecution for proclaiming the Gospel. They were consistently attacked, beaten and imprisoned. And how did they react? Acts 5:41 says, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” We should also remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
We are to be salt and light in this world. But we shouldn’t allow the world to discourage us. Whatever they throw against us or accuse us of, they have no power of judgment over us, because God is the both the judge and the justifier. It doesn’t matter what the world says – they will never change God’s mind about us. There are no charges this world can make that will change His mind. After all, who can bring a charge against us when the Judge has already pronounced us not guilty? Jesus said it is finished. Court is adjourned, and the world cannot accuse us any longer.
Paul’s third question is in verse 34: “Who is he that condemns?”
There are many things that make us feel as if we’re condemned. We face hard times in our lives, and sometimes it feels like there’s no escape. News from the doctor may make us feel like we’re condemned. One look at our bank statement may make us feel like we’re condemned. Working in a dead-end job with no prospect of improvement or promotion may feel like condemnation. The heartaches we experience in life may feel like a death sentence. There are countless things in life that threaten to rob us of our joy and distract us from who we are in Christ, but we will never be condemned with Jesus Christ. We’re reminded in Romans 8 that the only one who has the power to condemn is Jesus. And what did He do for us? He died for us, so how can He then possibly condemn us? His death frees us from condemnation. He died so we’re now able to escape the condemnation that comes with sin. He rose again for us, and His resurrection means that death is no longer condemnation. He conquered death and in doing so He gave conclusive proof that death no longer has a grip on us. Our greatest fear is defeated. In the KJV translation of 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul asks, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
Jesus has proven and promised us that death is not the end, but only the beginning. This is why a Christian’s funeral is a victory, and not a defeat. Death is not the end. Jesus is interceding for us right now. He didn’t ascend into heaven just to wait to come back. He is, right now, sitting at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, pleading His case for us on our behalf. He is there praying for you right now. You have legal representation in heaven, right now, in Jesus Christ.
So with Jesus standing for us, how can we be condemned? That bad news from the doctor, that bank statement, that job or that heartache will not stop Jesus standing for you. Paul puts it very simply in Romans 8:1 – “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s fourth rhetorical question is asked in verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
If we’re honest, we all have to admit that there are times in our lives when we think God may have forgotten us, but we know this is not true. Paul lists events and circumstances that may cause us to think that God has abandoned us. In the NLT verse 35 says, “ Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” The struggles we face in our lives are very real, and we all feel like we’re about to reach breaking point at times. We all know what it’s like to feel like we’re creaking under heavy loads and we wonder how much longer we can carry on. And yes, at those times we wonder if God is really there. Our circumstances, our sin, the sins of others all seem to conspire against us, and we feel all alone and abandoned. We’ve all been there. Some of us may be there right now. We feel like the whole world is against us and we have no help.
None of us go through life without facing these very real struggles, but does this mean that we’ve somehow lost God’s love for us? Paul’s answer to all of this in the NLT again says, “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We are never separated from the love of Christ. Death and life cannot separate us from God’s love. Spiritual beings cannot separate us from the love of God. Our emotions, our weaknesses, our issues and our hang-ups cannot separate us from God’s love. Not even sin can separate us from His love because of the cross. We are forever loved and forever in the hands of God. Nothing can keep God from loving you. You are secure in the love of God. Your salvation is secure, and there is nothing that anything or anybody can do to separate you from the love of God.
The next time you feel that life is just too much, go and read Romans chapter 8. Read those questions that Paul asks, as well as his answers.
So where do we stand today? What does all of this mean to us?
Verse 37 has the answer: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
We are more than conquerors. A conqueror is someone who can no longer be defeated. A conqueror has the power to stand strong in the face of danger. A conqueror is someone who overcomes every obstacle they face, and that is what the Word of God says we are.
Nearly a hundred years ago William MacDonald in his commentary on the end of Romans 8 wrote, “Only the power of Christ can bring sweetness out of bitterness, strength out of weakness, triumph out of tragedy, and blessing out of heartbreak. The apostle ransacks the universe for something that might conceivably separate us from God’s love, then dismisses the possibilities one by one - death with all its terrors; life with all its allurements; angels nor principalities, supernatural in power and knowledge; powers, whether human tyrants or angelic adversaries; things present, crashing in upon us; things to come, arousing fearful forebodings; height nor depth, those things that are in the realm of dimension or space, including occult forces. Then, to make sure that he is not missing anything, Paul adds: nor any other created thing.
The outcome of Paul’s search is that he can find nothing that can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. No wonder these words of triumph have been the song of those who have died martyr’s deaths and the rhapsody of those who have lived martyr’s lives!”
We are not conquerors because of who we are. We’re conquerors because of who Jesus is. We’re conquerors because of the God who loves us with an eternal, everlasting love. With God on our side, nothing can or will ever defeat us. We are His!
Homegroup Study Notes
Wikipedia defines a rhetorical question as “a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point, rather than to elicit an answer. Though a rhetorical question does not require a direct answer, in many cases it may be intended to start a discussion or at least draw an acknowledgement that the listener understands the intended message.”
Read Romans 8:27-39
Paul asks 4 rhetorical questions, in verses 31, 33, 34 and 35. He then goes on to answer each question for the benefit of his readers in the Church in Rome, and also to all Christians of all ages.
Discuss each of these questions and answers in your group.
How have you felt challenged by worldly situations and your own circumstances, and how have you taken encouragement from the promises of God?
In which ways have you struggled to hold onto His promises, and how have you experienced His reassurance during these times?
The original Greek text for ‘more than conquerors’ in verse 37 can be loosely translated as ‘over-conquerors’, and makes the point that the victory we have in Christ is all-conquering to the extent that the challenges listed in verse 35 cannot separate us from the love of God.
In which ways have you been more than a conqueror over life’s challenges?
In which ways have you struggled to overcome?
Close by praying that the Lord would remind us that we are more than conquerors in and through Christ.