This is the seventh study on Romans 8. And it’s a marvellous chapter which begins with the promise that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And it ends with the promise that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God the Father that is in Christ Jesus. And between the promise of no condemnation at the beginning and the promise of no separation at the end, the chapter is packed with things to encourage us and to comfort us and to re-assure us. And so, I mentioned before that this chapter has been called the Tree of Life because it refreshes the weary soul.
Today we’re coming towards the end of this marvellous chapter. And you can tell that Paul is drawing to a conclusion because he says in verse 31:
What, then, shall we say in response to this?
Having heard all these wonderful things and all these precious promises, what can we say about it all in conclusion?
And so, in verse 31, Paul is referring us back to what he’s been saying previously. So, what can we say in view of what he wrote at the beginning of this chapter about there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? And what can we say in view of what Paul wrote in verses 5 to 13 about how we’re no longer in the flesh which is characterised by sin and death, but instead we’re in the Spirit which is characterised by righteousness and life? And what can we say in view of what Paul wrote in verses 14 to 17 about the Spirit of Adoption who convinces us that we’ve become God’s children and he enables to cry out to our Heavenly Father for help? And what can we say in view of what Paul wrote in verses 18 to 25 about how our present sufferings — all the trials and sorrows of this troubled life — are not worth comparing with the glory which God has in store for us? And what can we say in view of what Paul wrote in verses 26 and 27 about the way the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and how he helps us when we pray? And what can we say in view of of what Paul wrote in verses 28 to 30 about the way God works all things together for the good of his people, the people he chose before the beginning of time to become like his Son in glory? What can we say in view of all these marvellous things?
But then, some of the commentators believe that Paul is not only referring to what he wrote in chapter 8, but he’s also referring to everything he wrote from chapter 5 onwards. So, what can we say in view of all of those marvellous things? Do, you remember how chapter 5 began? Paul wrote:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
And from the beginning of chapter 5, until the end of chapter 8, Paul has been teaching us about the assurance of glory which God gives to us. Since we’ve been justified through faith, nothing will prevent the believer from being glorified in the presence of God one day. Nothing will prevent us. Death won’t stop us. Sin won’t stop us. The law won’t stop us. Nothing at all will separate us from God who is working out his plan to bring sinners like us into his glorious presence one day.
That’s what Paul has been writing about since the beginning of chapter 5. So, in view of all these things, what can we say? What can we say?
Paul answers his own question in verse 31 of chapter 8. He wrote:
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Of course, there are lots of things which are against us. Paul has already mentioned some of them. He’s mentioned death which came into the world through Adam and which has spread to all of us. Death is against us. And he mentioned sin which used to enslave us so that we were bullied by it and forced by it to do its will. Sin is against us. And Paul mentioned the law which is against us because it condemns us as lawbreakers. All of these things are against us and are standing between us and everlasting life. And, of course, there’s the Devil himself, the great Accuser. He’s against us, because he hates the Lord and he hates the Lord’s people and he’s got all his wicked schemes which he devises to draw us away from the Saviour.
So, there are many things which are against us. But when Paul asks ‘who can be against us?’ he means ‘who can be against us and succeed?’ None of our enemies will ever succeed in keeping the believer from entering God’s glory because God is for us. He’s on our side. And with God on our side, none of the enemies of our soul will ever be able to succeed, because remember what we read last time? God is able to work all things together for our good. So, he’s able to take the good things that happen to us, and he’s able to take the bad things that happen to us, and he’s able to take the really, really, really bad things that happen to us. And he’s able to use all of these things in a way that will fulfil his purpose and plan for us which is to bring us at last into his presence in heaven where we will become like his Son in glory.
So, with God on our side, who can be against us and succeed? Well, no one can be against us and succeed, because God has planned our salvation from before the world was made and he will do everything necessary to ensure that his plan for us is fulfilled.
But how can we be sure that God is for us? How can we know it? Well, that’s what verse 32 is for. Verse 32 is about showing us that God is on our side.
Now, some people, when you ask them how they’re sure that God is for them, will point to the things in their life. And they’ll say:
There you are. Look at my life and the way God has blessed me. That proves that God loves me and is with me. So, God has given me a large family. And he’s given me a nice home. And he’s given me a good job. And he’s given me good health. These are all signs that God is for me and not against me.
But, you see, if we think like that, and if we rely on all the good things in my life to re-assure me of God’s love for me, what happens if we become like Job? Remember Job? He had it all. He was the most blessed of men. But then, his property was destroyed. And his family was destroyed. And his health was destroyed. All the good things in his life were taken away.
So, if we were basing our assurance of God’s love on all the good things in our life, what would we do if all the good things in our life were taken away just as they were taken away from Job?
No, we need to base our assurance of God’s love on something else. And in verse 32 Paul directs our attention to the good news of the gospel. And he’s saying to us in verse 32:
Here’s where we see the love of God for us. Here’s where we see that God is for us.
And so, listen to what he wrote:
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.
He’s referring to God the Father, isn’t he? The person who did not spare his own Son is God the Father. That’s clear. And what does Paul tell us about God the Father? He tells us that he did not spare his own Son.
Now, I was trying to think about the way we use the word ‘spare’. When we’ve got something to say to someone, we might say:
I’ll spare you the details.
In other words:
Because the details are so long and tedious and will only bore you to death, I’ll have mercy on you and skip over them.
So, to spare someone means to show them mercy, or to let them off lightly. When I first preached on this passage, I referred to a case in the USA of someone who was convicted of a very serious crime. But before the sentence was passed, the accuser was allowed to write to the judge to ask for mercy. He wanted the judge to be lenient with him and to ‘spare’ him from having to suffer the maximum sentence for this particular crime.
So, bearing that in mind, let’s go back to verse 32 where Paul tells us that God the Father did not spare his own Son. In other words, he was not merciful towards his Son. He was not lenient with him. He was not prepared to spare his Son from suffering the maximum sentence possible.
His Son — and Paul refers to him as ‘his own Son’, because while we’re his adopted sons and daughters, Jesus Christ is his one and only, eternal Son. So, his Son stood before him. And, of course, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, never did anything wrong. He never once sinned against his Father in heaven. He never once broke God’s laws and commandments. But, the Lord Jesus stood before his Father and he took upon himself the guilt of our sins and he stood before God’s judgment seat in our place. And though God the Father was looking at his own Son — whom he had loved from all eternity, his own Son who had never did anything wrong, the Son of whom he said on the day of his Son’s baptism, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’ — though God the Father was looking at his Son, God the Father did not spare his Son. He showed him no mercy. He showed him no leniency. He didn’t, for a moment, hold back. He didn’t restrain himself at all. But instead he inflicted his own Son with the full force of his wrath for our sins.
And why did he not spare his own Son? Why did he show his Son no mercy? Well, it’s because he loved us and wanted to spare us from having to suffer his wrath for our sins.
This is where we go for evidence of God’s love. We go to the cross of Christ, because in the cross of Christ, we not only see the depth of Christ’s love for us, in that he was prepared to suffer and die for us, but we also see the Father’s love for us, because he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us. Think of Abraham, for a moment. Abraham with his beloved son, Isaac, whom he loved. But then, one day, the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. And though Abraham loved his son, he loved the Lord more. And because he loved the Lord, and wanted to do his will, he was prepared not to spare his son, but to give him up. And though God the Father loves his Son, he loved us so much that he did not spare his Son, but gave him up to die on the cross in our place. It’s almost impossible to take in. He loved us so much that he did not spare his own, beloved Son, but gave him up for us. It makes no sense, but this is what God has done for us.
Now, if he gave up his enemy, we would understand it. Or if he gave up up someone he didn’t care about or was indifferent to, then we would understand it. If he gave up an animal, like they used to do in the Old Testament as a sacrifice for sins, then we would understand it. But the fact that he gave up his own Son, whom he loved, and he gave him up for us, is impossible to fathom. And so, all we can really do is fall down before the Lord and worship him for the unsearchable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Notice that Christ was given up to death ‘for’ us. In other words, he was given up to death in our place or on our behalf. And when Paul says ‘for us all’, he’s referring to all those he’s mentioned previously in verses 28 to 30. In other words, all those God foreknew and predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
And notice that this is not the end of Paul’s argument. He goes on from speaking about the measure of God’s love for us — seen in the fact that he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — to conclude:
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.
By ‘all things’ Paul probably means all things necessary for our final glorification. So, since he’s already done this one, marvellous thing for us, since he’s already given up his own Son for us, then he’s not going to withhold anything from us which we need for our salvation. You know, we think to ourselves perhaps:
I’ve paid thousands of pounds for this car. I’m not going to quibble now over the price of the air freshener.
Well, God the Father has paid for our salvation with the death of his Son. He’s not going to quibble now over something else we might need for our salvation. Since he’s already demonstrated his love for us by giving up his Son for us, then we can rely on him to give us everything we need, everything we need, to ensure that we will one day enter into his glory.
And look: Paul uses the word ‘graciously’. In other words, God will freely give us what we need. He’s not at all stingy. And he’s not going to withhold what we need. And he’s not going to charge us for it. No, he’ll give us everything we need for our salvation freely, because he’s a gracious God who does not treat us as our sins deserve, but instead he’s so kind and generous and good to us. And so, not only has he given up his Son for us, but he’ll give us faith to believe in Christ, and he’ll give us justification, and he’ll give us adoption into his family, and he’ll give us his Spirit to sanctify us, and he’ll give us assurance of his love, and he’ll give us peace of conscience, and he’ll give us joy in the Holy Spirit, and he’ll give us growth in grace, and he’ll give us perseverance. and everything else we might need so that we keep going in the faith and will come at last to glory.