Hope in Adversity: If God is for us (Romans 8.31-39)

– Bishop Stephen Hale

Yet again we come to a magnificent part of Scripture. If God is for us, who can be against us? We need to bear in mind that when Paul wrote this letter the relatively new Christian faith was under continuous assault. There was fierce resistance from the pagan Roman world which resulted in many being persecuted and martyred. There was equal resistance from the Jewish leadership in its various forms. In January this year I read the novel ‘Damascus’ by Christos Tsiolkas. It is a stirring account that captures the vulnerability of the first Christian disciples. Life was cheap and they lived under constant threat from plagues, poverty and persecution. It beautifully captures the sense of community they shared and how attractive it was.

So, Paul asks five questions:

1. If God is for us, who can be against us? (v.31b)

Sin, the flesh and the devil are arranged against us. But we know that God is for us? What glorious words. How this can be, is captured in the next question.

2. 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? (v.32)

The demonstration of God’s commitment to us is in the willing self-surrender and sacrifice of his own Son. Because of this death we are now able to stand in God’s presence and we know that he stands with us in all we confront today.

3. Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (v.33)

We may be accused of many things in this life. Let’s face it Christians are under constant assault in our day and age. In some cases it may be warranted, but often not there is no basis to it. None of this really matters because we know our standing with God is secure because he has justified us. In his sight it is just as if we never sinned because of Christ’s work.

4. Who is he who 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? (v.34)

Jesus not only died for our sins, but he was raised again and because of that we have new life which starts today and goes on into eternity. We are not condemned but loved and accepted. Even more than that we have our saving Lord interceding on our behalf.

5. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (v.35a)

Paul then lists the full range of possibilities that we could face and many today do face as disciples of Christ – famine, persecution, nakedness, disease, danger, the sword. It doesn’t matter what we face in this life because we know that we are caught up in something much bigger and much better. ‘In all things we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord.’(v.37)