Monday, April 11, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 8:32-39

Paul has been teaching that the Christian’s right standing with God (justification) and eventual transformation by God into an eternal, perfect being (glorification) is a done deal. Once we choose to place ourselves in God’s care through the saving work of Jesus, there is no chance of us losing the future promised to us by God.

God already went so far as to give up his Son to a life of difficulty and pain, which ended in humiliating torture. Jesus is not God’s son in the same way that we are the children of our parents, but God uses terms like Father and Son to describe his Trinitarian nature in ways we can partially understand. So imagine for a moment what it would be like for a parent to willingly give their child over and watch them be tortured for someone who doesn’t even know or like them. Or someone who even hates them.

Paul points out that if God is willing to do THIS, he won’t hesitate to follow through and give us everything else he has created, which has infinitely less value than the Son he has already given up for our sake. (v.32)

If any person, whether human, angel or demon, were to pronounce judgment on us, claiming that we belong in hell, they’d be wasting their time and breath. God, the judge of all, has already justified believers. This means that he has already declared them “not guilty”. Not because they are such good people, but because Christ offered the gift of payment for their sins through his death, proving he had the right and power to do this by rising from the dead.

Christians are “justified” because they accept this gift and trust in it. Jesus is in the highest position of authority next to God the Father (“at the right hand of God”) and uses that authority to make our case. So God is both the advocate and the judge of believers, and in both roles he declares them “not guilty”! (v.33-34)

Paul argues that no person, thing, force or event can separate believers from the “agape” (charitable, selfless love) of God. Suffering from disease or natural cause does not mean God has abandoned us. When we suffer financial difficulty and run short on necessities like food and clothes, God hasn’t stopped caring for us in the least. When we find ourselves in dangerous circumstances, or facing martyrdom, God is no less present and lovingly involved in our lives than before. (v.36)

Paul quotes Psalm 44, which acknowledges God’s power to bring about both victory and defeat or difficulty in our lives. Although God may not directly bring about pain in our lives, various instances of suffering are factors in a grand cosmic equation that God is in control of and uses to bring about his purposes.

Let’s jump back for a second to verse 28 of this chapter:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB)

It’s because God is in control and using everything (even evil and suffering) to bring about the ultimate good for believers that Paul can say we are victorious even now in the middle of the pain and difficulty that life brings us. We are the victors in this conflict because of what Jesus has done for us out of love, and because of the eternal future that is already guaranteed to us no matter what we may experience now in this dot on the line of eternity we call a lifetime. (v.37)

As believers, nothing we experience or are influenced by in life, whether right now or in the unknown future, can separate us from God’s love for us, which was revealed through the life, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (v.38-39)

Next- How Do Jews Factor Into Christianity?

Coffee House Question- Do you ever have moments, periods or even seasons where you doubt that Jesus has really declared you “not guilty” and that your eternal future is guaranteed? What triggers your doubts?

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