The conclusion of this chapter ties in nicely with the way it begins—the chapter begins with no condemnation, and it ends with no possible condemnation. And the basis for this glorious and exalted grace is the entire argument of Romans up to this point—the free gift, justification, and the love of God. This is Paul coming to a conclusion of no condemnation; he is not offering it as a mere assertion.
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? . . . ” (Rom. 8:32-39).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:
Paul resorts to a favorite form of argumentation, offering a “how-much-more” argument. If God did not hold back His Son for our sake, why would He hold back on anything else (v. 32)? Note the “freely give us all things.” All things work together for good. And all things include the entire cosmos and all history. So who is going to be able to bring a successful charge against God’s elect (v. 33)? God is the one who justifies. Condemnation has no place to stand because Christ died, and rose, and ascended, and is praying for us (v. 34). Christ prays for us because He loves us (vv. 34-35). And what can get in between us and that love? It is a rhetorical question, and the answer is absolutely nothing (v. 35). To drive the point home, Paul runs through a list of possible contenders, things that might want to drive a wedge between the believer and Christ, in order to make room for condemnation. Bring out your champions, Paul says. Tribulation? Distress? Persecution? Famine? Nakedness? Peril? Sword? The answer comes back, of course not (v. 35).
These are not academic questions for the righteous, as a citation of Ps. 44:22 shows (v. 36). No, in all these things, Paul says, we are more than conquerors through the Christ who loved us (v. 37). Paul is convinced of this, fully persuaded, and so he works through another list of challengers, even more comprehensive than the first (v. 38). Get to the conclusion first. Can anything separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 39). No. What sorts of things cannot bring about such a separation? Death cannot, and life cannot (v. 38). Angels are not up to it, and neither are principalities or powers (v. 38). Nothing that is happening right now can do it, and neither can anything that might happen in the future (v. 38). High things can’t do it, and deep things can’t do it (v. 39). And to fill out the list, nothing created can do it (v. 39). Did Paul forget anything? Did he leave anything out? On the backside of the castle of your soul, is there an unlocked and unguarded gate, swinging on its hinges invitingly? Heh. Give Paul a little credit.
In order for this argument to work at all, we have to be talking about those people who are decretally elect. Paul is being more pointed and specific here than he was, for example, in Colossians 3:12. I said last week that in between foreknowledge and glorification, no one gets off the train. If anybody can be forced, seduced, or tricked into getting off the train, then this wrecks Paul’s argument completely. It does not slightly dilute the force of Paul’s argument; it leaves it in a shambles.
What might persuade someone to use his “free will” to get off the train? Well, the sorts of things that are employed for this are things like tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, height, depth, angels, principalities or powers. So other than those sorts of things that might sway you, you are quite secure. But Paul is not satisfied. Suppose someone wants to say that a person himself can make a series of choices to somehow interupt the transition from foreknowledge to glory. Is my “free will” a thing present? A thing to come? Is it something in creation? Go back to the beginning. If someone is foreknown, then what follows is absolute security. And it is security found in the protection of another.
KILLED ALL DAY LONG:
Paul quotes from Ps. 44, and it is important to note that that psalm is not a prayer of confession. It is a lament from righteous martyrs. God had delivered them mightily in the past (Ps. 44: 1-8). But God had turned them over to their enemies, and they were suffering terribly (9-16). But where you would expect to then find a confession of sin, we find a protestation of innocence (17-26). These are Old Testament saints; these are righteous ones.
But the exaltation of Christ in history has made a difference. It is not a difference between unrighteousness and righteousness—but there is a difference between bewildered righteousness and triumphant righteousness. The Christ who reigns, and prays for us, and who is at the right hand of God is the same Christ who was “delivered up.” He is the one who “died.” Now, in the light of the gospel, we have had it revealed to us that this thing called self-sacrifice is a weapon that completely undoes the machinery of the world. Those who are worldly wise don’t know what to do with it.
MORE THAN CONQUERORS:
We are more than conquerors because Christ was more than a conqueror. Note that Paul has moved from a failure to be conquered to a success in conquering. This is not just something that is “great on defense.” What is it that overcomes the world? Is it not our faith? But please remember that Paul is not talking about an invisible spiritual seventeenth dimension victory in some other place, a place that historians will never find. He is not seeing mystic visions about some other neverland. No—we pray weekly for the kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done . . .. where? Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.