What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?
Oh, I like Romans 8. I’ve heard it being called the Great Eight, although just by a select group of people. It’s strangely not my favourite chapter in Romans though – Romans 12 is by far my favourite, but not because Romans 12 is better or richer in content – it’s simply more personal to me. Romans 8 holds a great amount of assurances on top of a whole string of theology-rich verses on various big topics, but there are many assurances here – assurances of faith, assurances of the power of God, assurances that we are free of sin, assurances that we have hope and we have a future. Ask any Christian his or her favourite verse in Romans 8, and you’ll probably get a variety of answers – there are so many great and notable verses in this book alone that there isn’t one single verse that you can mention without the rest. One of the verses you’ll hear a lot as an answer, though, would probably be Romans 8:31. In today’s study, we’ll take a walk through the entire verse, and not just the second part of it, trying our best to refer constantly to the rest of the chapter and to the rest of the book and to the rest of the Bible.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? – erm, wait. What things? That’s one of my most frequent thought whenever I read this verse, mainly because the previous verses hold such a conceptually deep message – in other ways, difficult to understand – especially from verses 19 to 23. The immediate context prior to this verse that is most likely what Paul referred to when he said these things would be from verses 18-30, and although big words and various images were used, there were two main points – present suffering and future glory. Assuming these were the two things that Paul was referring to, then how should we respond to these things? One would usually complain and moan about afflictions and sufferings – but we shouldn’t, because they cannot be compared to our future glory , work together for our good [28|Article], and the Spirit personally intercedes for us . Or what can we say in response to our future glory? Well, we can say a lot, but they would be meaningless because nothing else can be added to it to make it better, and we can say nothing against it that will make it void.
If God is for us, who can be against us? – Ah, lovely verse. Paul did us a favour and went on to identify this God in the next verse, stating the greatest sacrifice ever made – He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all [Rom 8:32]. That’s who we’re talking about. That’s God. And all throughout the entire Bible we find evidences to support Paul’s clear implication that God is strong, powerful and has no superior who is able to restrain him and no equal who is able to refrain him. ut the meaning is clear. God is mighty, and he will save us [Zeph 3:17|Article]. When God acts, nobody can reverse it [Isaiah 43:13|Article]. The next three verses begins by eliminating the possibility of anybody able to hinder God – Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? [Rom 8:33] Who then is the one who condemns? [Rom 8:34] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Rom 8:35]. The answer was clearly stated in the midst of these verses. No one can hinder God.
A good imagery to use to illustrate this verse would be the image of David being victorious over Goliath – Goliath being our enemy, and us being David. We may at times be fighting against big and strong enemies, and even unseen enemies of seemingly boundless power – but our God, though unseen, is greater, and with his might our enemies cannot conquer us. There was once when the king of Aram wanted to capture the prophet Elisha and sent an army of horses and chariots to surround the city he was in. Elisha’s servant, seeing the size of their enemy, panicked, but what did Elisha say? “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” [2 Kings 6:16] In the Bible Elisha was often called ‘the man of God‘. Having a personal relationship with God and knowing who this God is makes a lot of difference. Elisha prayed, the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha [2 Kings 6:17]. Today we may not be able to see the horses and chariots of fire, but we’ve got the Bible. Our ally that we cannot see is far greater than the enemy that we can see.
If God is for us, who can be against us? You know it’s always unwise to make a powerful person your foe. It is unwise to make an enemy out of someone in great power. If God is for us, nobody can be against us – because nobody can be against God. But what if God is not for us? We won’t discuss that in great detail, but let us remember about the converse. What good is it for us to gain the whole world but not have God with us? For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? [Mark 8:36] Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God [James 4:4].
Romans 8 isn’t a short chapter with 39 verses, but if you’re up for it, I urge you to try memorizing it. Granted, it’s not the easiest chapter to memorize either, but maybe you can start from Romans 8:28-39? If not, just memorize verse 31. These verses offer great hope and assurances. Verse 31 in particular, is helpful in times when we are struggling or in fear; in doubt or in disillusion; it helps when the whole world seems to be against us, it helps when we find ourselves having fallen off the path of God. Paul left Romans 8:31 with an ‘if’. To kill the ‘if’ is our job. It’s our decision to make. Do we want God for us? Or do we want God against us?