Full Text for Romans- Volume 30 - Romans 8 in the Larger Context of Romans (Video)

No. 30. >> Romans 8:31 through 39 has been one of my favorite Bible passages. But I agree with the previous question. It is interesting to see 31 through 39 in context. How does this section fit in with Paul's larger discussion at this point? >>PROFESSOR DAVID I. M. LEWIS: Well, thank you for that question, Josh. And I have to agree with both you and Eric that there are many verses here in Romans Chapter 8 that are very precious, very important to me. And I find, also, very important to the people of God. And this passage in particular, Romans 8:31 through 39 has a special place in my heart because my mom passed away when I was eight. She died in the faith. And this was the epistle that was read at her funeral. And I can remember that she was in a white coffin. Us kids were not allowed to view her. The adults were. But it was a closed coffin in the funeral. And the reason it was white was because she wanted us kids to know that she died in God's grace in salvation. And that she would rise again. In other words, she wanted a white coffin specifically because she wanted us to know that she was a saint. And she had died as a saint. And that she would one day be raised as a saint. And so you might say my mother's last words to us were that white coffin. And then the Bible verses that she picked for us to hear were the words from Job: I know that my redeemer lives. Was the promise from John 14: That Jesus leaves to prepare a place for us. And then Romans 8:31 through 39: That nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Not even death. And you might say that my mother's last words to me were in a sense that white coffin proclaiming her faith. And you might say these words from Romans Chapter 8 were her words to us. She commended this -- these wonderful words of Paul to her children so that we would always be mindful of these when we remembered her and remembered how she died. And I think you'll find -- I think you'll also find, Josh, that many of your parishioners will love these verses from Romans. And at the same time your question is very pointed. Because these words, too, should be understood in context. And what are these words? Well, I think that we find the grand conclusion not only to Chapter 8 but also to Chapter 6, 7 and 8. In other words, this whole place where Paul is focusing upon the Gospel creating a new life in us. We find that we are dead to sin in our baptism. That we are no longer slaves to sin. But we are supposed to be slaves to righteousness. That's what God makes us. We are no longer slaves to the law. But rather than living under the law, we live under the Spirit. And how the Spirit helps us live opposing the sinful nature because the Spirit is hostile to the sinful nature. He fights that fight for us. And he gives us the sure and certain hope that God is going to renew us and renew creation on the last days. And thus, we are able to face troubles and suffering and sorrows and persecution. And finally even death itself. Because the Holy Spirit of God gives us that sure and certain hope. And so this whole discussion ends with what Fransman calls this triumphant servitude. In other words, this very triumphant certainty that we who believe in Jesus have in our God. That no matter what happens, we are his. He is ours and nothing can separate us from his love. In fact, you might say that this section of Romans actually is a good conclusion to everything we've seen from Romans 1:18 all the way to the end of Chapter 8. In other words, this whole story about the universal sin of mankind, of the righteousness of God that comes apart from the law that is received as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ. And how that is proven by how God did things with Abraham. Abraham was justified by faith. How this relates to how we face life. We can rejoice even in sufferings. How God has reconciled us to himself. How Jesus has undone Adam's work. And how we have this new life described in Romans 6, 7 and 8. This is kind of the grand conclusion to all of that. In fact, you might say that the letter could end here. Except that Paul has something very important to say about how the Gospel relates to Israel today, as well. And so this isn't the end of Romans. But it certainly is a grand finale to this section of Romans that we've been looking at. And I think that these words are worth looking at. Just as we looked at the proposition in Romans 3. Here we have -- we see an argument being rounded out. So we should look a little closer at what Paul writes. So I begin with Romans 8:31: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Thus far you might notice that Paul is arguing by asking a series of rhetorical questions. What I mean by rhetorical questions is they are questions that don't need to be answered because they sort of beg the answer in themselves. In other words, what should we say of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Well, no one can be against us. Well, it's true the world and the devil might be against us. But compared to God, who are they? So if God is for us, who can be against us? No one. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him graciously give him all things? The answer is: Well, of course he will. Who should bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is it who condemns? And the answer is no one. If God justifies, then no one can condemn us. He goes on in Verse 34. Jesus Christ is the one who died. More than that, who was raised. Who is at the right hand of God who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? And now Paul brings a bunch of examples of things that theoretically might separate us from the love of Christ. Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword or danger? Now, notice, Paul isn't saying that these bad things don't exist. In fact, he's assuming in Chapter 8 that they do exist. But the question here is: Do they separate us from the love of God that's in Christ? Verse 36: As it is written: For your sake we are being killed all day long. We are recorded as sheep to be slaughtered. Now, see, Paul is very aware of the reality that we face. That in this earthly life we will face tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. These bad things are here. In fact, very often they come to Christians because they are Christians. Remember again in the early centuries of the Christian church, to be a Christian was outlawed. And the Roman Empire persecuted and killed Christians. And Paul himself had undergone many sufferings in carrying out his apostolic past. So these are realities. Paul is not saying that we are going to escape these things in this earthly life. His question is: Do these things separate us from God's love. And the answer comes in Verse 37: No. In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life; neither angels nor demons; nor things present nor things to come; nor any powers, 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. And what a grand finale to Paul's discussion of both our new status in the Gospel and also the new life we have in the Gospel. This triumphant certainty he that because of what God has done first in declaring us righteous for Jesus' sake and now what he does in giving us this new life and giving us the Holy Spirit, that in all things, nothing can separate us from God's love. Now, again, this speaks contrary to the health, wealth and prosperity theology. Because they would say: Well, all these bad things Paul listed, none of them should be in the Christian's life. God should free us from all of them. We should all just have a blessed earthly life and then we die and go to heaven. That wasn't Paul's reality. Paul was stoned, whipped, shipwrecked, imprisoned, eventually killed for the sake of the Gospel. So Paul's faith actually looked beyond those bad things to know that even in suffering itself, even in death itself, nothing could separate him from God's love in Christ Jesus. A few of the points then Paul expressively states that God is for us, therefore no one can be against us. That God has justified us, therefore no one can condemn us. No one can bring a charge against us. Remember this was Satan's role in the Old Testament to go to God and bring charges against God's people. He did that to Job and he did that to Joshua the high priest after the return from the Babylonian captivity. Well, he can't do it anymore. Right? Christ intercedes for us. What is Christ doing right now at the right hand of God? He is praying for us. We have the Holy Spirit praying for us here on earth. We have Christ at the right hand of the Father praying for us in heaven. And therefore, nothing shall separate us from the love of God. Triumphant certainty. I rejoice because I think of my mother's death. But I read here that not even death itself can separate her from the love of her God. That's joy to me. Because her death has separated me from her. But not forever. But I know that her death has not separated her from God who loved her and gave his Son to die for her. So I carry that same confidence for myself and for my wife and for my children who are baptized and for my brothers and sisters in Christ at the church I attend. And for the people I was once called to preach to. You, too, can have this triumphant certainty. And what a wonderful Gospel message to bring when you face people who are actually undergoing the stress and tribulation and sorrow and loss, to give to those who are facing death itself. What an awesome way to minister to someone facing death by pointing them to the triumphant certainty that God's love will never be separated from them. That they are with God. And he is with them forever because of what Christ has done.