Who Shall Separate Us?
First & Second Question

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 42a of 83


31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32  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? …” (Romans 8:31-39)

In our previous study, we saw how the apostle Paul draws out the golden chain of our salvation. This chain has five unbreakable links: election, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification.

That may seem to be a dry theological doctrine to some of us. But the reality is, in fact, far more glorious and heart-warming; for what binds the five links together is actually Christ himself. Indeed, these benefits of our salvation may be described, as our Larger Catechism does, in terms of our union and communion with Christ. In any case, it is easy for us to understand that:

·     We are elected in Christ, and are beloved in Him.

·     We were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ.

·     We are called by the Spirit of Christ who enables us to see Christ as altogether lovely and to hear His voice as the voice of our good shepherd.

·     We are justified on account of Christ’s life and death for us.

·     We are glorified that we may bear the image of Christ appear with Him in glory.

This is a glorious truth. But what shall we say to it? Previously, we drew a couple of general application, namely that we should walk humbly and gratefully before the Lord. Then we made a brief foray into Paul’s inspired application.

It is this inspired application that we must study in greater detail in the current exposition.

This passage is a very beautiful one. Paul is speaking, says Matthew Henry:

“…as one amazed and swallowed up with the contemplation and admiration of it, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.

Trying to explain this passage, is like gilding the lilies, or as someone puts it, “painting the tulips or perfuming the roses.”

But we must, nevertheless, explain what He is saying a little so that we may share in his joy and confidence.

Paul asks, “What shall we then say to these things?” (v. 31). That is: What shall we say to the fact that God has, in Christ, elected us, predestinated us, called us, justified us and glorified us? “What shall we then say to these things?”

Paul does not give us an answer. He asks us, instead, six further questions! Each of these questions is a rhetoric question. Paul is not asking for answers. He is stirring us to think for ourselves and to come to our own conclusions on what he wants us to know. These six questions are like six light bulbs in our heart. Paul is seeking to have them lighted by the battery-power of our own conviction.

Only after these six questions, does Paul bring us His own conclusion in verse 37.

The best way to approach this passage is therefore to consider the six questions and then to look at Paul’s conclusion.

Paul asks, first of all,…

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

There is a saying that goes, “It does not matter who you are and what you own. But it does matter who you know and who is your friend.” In a time of war, the wisdom behind this saying become very obvious: for if you are standing on the wrong side and have the wrong friends, you will suffer loss.

Christians are in a battle. We are constantly in a spiritual battle. This is why Paul exhorts us to put on the full armour of God. In this battle it is especially crucial for us to know who is on our side.

Paul, in asking us, “If God be for us, who can be against us,” is reminding us of the great advantage that we have with God on our side.

God has not only elected us and predestined us. He has called us into a covenant friendship with Christ. He has pardoned our sin in Him and He has determined to glorify us in Christ.

Is that not sufficient evidence that God is for us?

If so be that God is for us, who can be against us? Who can do evil to us? There are many who, no doubt, want to see our downfall, but who can succeed? Who can be against us?

The answer that must surely echo in our own hearts is surely a resounding: “No one! Absolutely no one!”

Why? Because God is the Sovereign, Almighty One! He has not only made all things, but has and is ordering all things in Creation according to His pleasure and His infinite wisdom and power.

Is there anyone who can stand against God? If so, that person can stand against us. But if not, no one can be against us, for God has made us His friends by His covenant mercies.

The Psalmist understood this truth when He says:

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.  3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident” (Psalm 27:1-3)

Again:

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Ps 118:6)

God is for us! No one can be against us. We need not fear what Satan can do; nor what man can do; nor what the world can do. Christ has conquered them all at the Cross.

No one will dare to fight against us while God is fighting for us. In the words of Joshua:

“One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you” (Jos 23:10).

Do you see the first light bulb shining brightly in your heart? But there are five more to go:

2.  “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?” (v. 32)

God, in order to do good to us, went to the extent of sending His only begotten Son, to be born in the likeness of sinful flesh, to suffer, and to die a most cruel death on the Cross for us. Indeed, He even undertook it upon Himself to punish Him for our sins!

If God did all these, for you, do you think he will withhold anything from you? If He withheld not His Son, His own Son, His only begotten Son for your sake (Gen 22:12), do you still doubt that He truly loves you and will give you everything that’s good for you?

He has already given you, the greatest gift, that as God He can give you: Will he not freely give you all things together with this great gift?

If He is not only willing, but has actually freely given us the gift that cost Him the most, will He not freely give us all other things? If He spared not His own Son who loved Him from all eternity that He might spare us who hate Him from our birth, shall He withhold anything good from us?

To ask this question is to answer it.

Dear Christian, God has made a great sacrificed for your sakes. He willingly parted with that which is most precious to him, namely His only begotten Son: How will He not freely give you all things good for you?

Is there anything you have been praying for? Be sure that if it is good for you, God will give it to you in His time.

Are you convinced of this truth? Is the second bulb lighted up?

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim