We’re continuing in our series in Romans 8. If you’re just joining us, you’re best to start with Tuesday’s post, as it’s all connected.
We’ve been talking this week about why we can be confident in the future hope Paul spoke of earlier in the chapter. Yesterday, Paul said that we can be confident because God’s in charge of the process, from start to finish. It’s not up to us. He’ll finish what he started.
Fair enough, but is there any demonstrable evidence to back this up? He’s God, so we know he can. But how do we know he will? This is where we pick up the argument today.
Argument 2: The evidence of the cross
Paul’s second argument begins in verse 31. Here he counters some hypothetical objections to his conclusion that our future is assured. And to each objection, he answers by pointing in some way to the cross.
The first objection that he seems to take care of is that of persecution. Hang on, Paul, what about the persecution we’re suffering? What about the powerful Roman Empire? What about the equally powerful forces of family and cultural shame that threaten our faith? And what about the spiritual forces that are arrayed against us?
Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Paul points us, implicitly, to the cross. The cross is the proof – if we needed it – that God is for us. That he’s on our side. And since God is for us, anyone who may be against us – however powerful – is irrelevant! Society, the empire, the devil – they are all insignificant when compared with the God who created them. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Then there’s the second objection – how can we know God will follow through on this chain of salvation Paul talked about? Can we be confident that it is an unbreakable chain? Again, Paul points us to the cross as evidence:
Romans 8:32 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?
In other words, the cross shows that God was willing to give that which was most precious to him: the life of his own Son. Do you think he’s then going to change his mind and not give us everything else he has promised? Of course not – it would mean the sacrifice of his Son was for nothing! The cross gives us confidence for the future.
Some years back, the day before Good Friday, the engine in our car died. And let me tell you, it took a lot longer than Jesus did to get resurrected – about a week-and-a-half. To be honest, it was a tough decision as to what to do. The two best options were – give up and buy another second hand car, or put a reconditioned engine in the existing one.
In the end we decided to stick with the car we knew. We worked out we’d probably have to spend twice as much buying another car, and just end up inheriting someone else’s problems. So we put the reconditioned engine in for $3000. With a three year, 100,000km warranty.
But what that meant was, now that we’d spent that money on a thirteen year old car, we weren’t going to be selling it in a hurry! If it needed new shock absorbers, we’d fork out for that. If the transmission went, we’d have to fix that, too. Now we’d invested so much in it, we’d be crazy not to stick with it. We’d be throwing away my original investment. Our decision to replace the engine meant that for good or for ill, we were with that car for the long haul.
Paul’s saying: look, God went to the trouble of sending his own son to die for us. He’s invested a lot in us. Far more than a few thousand dollars. Why would he do that if he wasn’t going to stick with us for the long haul? When you consider what the cross cost him, isn’t that a guarantee he’ll see us through till the end?
(And here ends, with the exception of my children, my most expensive sermon illustration ever. I hope it was worth it for you…)
Paul then faces objection number three: but I’m an unrighteous sinner – how can I ever hope to share in Christ’s glory? He answers:
Romans 8:33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
God is the only one who has the right to make accusations; and God is the one who has the authority to judge. So if God has justified us – if God has declared us to be right with him – if he’s refusing to press charges – who is there left to accuse us of anything?
In fact, even if anyone did bring an accusation – other people, our own consciences, Satan – God has hired us the best defence attorney:
Romans 8:34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. 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.
Again, Jesus’ death and resurrection are the source of our confidence. Jesus died in our place, so there is no longer any punishment to be served. We’ve already been declared innocent, and if the prosecution wants to appeal, our defence lawyer is the risen Christ himself! Our own sinfulness is no longer able to jeopardise our relationship with God, or our future glory!
Spend some time contemplating what God has done for you in Jesus – not just to inspire thankfulness, but to inspire confidence that he’s not going to give up on you now!