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? Christ Jesus 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? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).
After Paul’s glorious summary of the salvation of souls in Romans 8:29, 30, it is easy to miss the forest for the Giant Sequoia that is God’s sovereignty. We rejoice in these verses, and rejoice rightly, for in them they declare the greatest reality–Christ is King, and there is no other. In him all things live and move and have their being, and nothing moves apart from his command. Yet if we were to leave Romans 8 with this knowledge and nothing else, we would have greatly missed the Apostle’s intentions.
The study of God and his ways is never solely an exercise of the mind. In this way, theology is unlike any other science, for the theologian knows before he begins that he cannot fully know God. While others pursue various sciences so that they might exhaust a field and thereby claim to know it, he who seeks to study God knows that God will never be exhausted. The finite creature will never fully comprehend the infinite, even if an eternity were at his disposal.
Therefore, theology can never stand as a purely cognitive science. For every revelation of truth and knowledge to the mind about the Almighty, an equal or greater response by the heart is demanded. This joint response of the mind and heart to the knowledge of the Infinite is what is commonly called worship. In worship, our minds and hearts with the Spirit transcend together what each could never grasp alone. For this reason it is commanded, “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, and strength.”
Thus Paul, after his glorious doctrinal statement in Romans 8:29, 30, does not end with the doctrine but proceeds directly into worship and to application of the doctrine. In the verses that follow, Paul does these two distinct things, and the latter is contingent on the former. First he worships God by calling attention to who he is, and second he offers comfort to the suffering saints. Let’s take a brief look at both:
Worshiping the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
In the final verses of Romans 8, Paul calls to the mind of the reader several of the attributes of God. This calling to mind of God’s attributes can be labeled as worship because their arrangement is designed to move the soul with adoration toward God. In his composition, the Apostle first appeals to the omnipotence of God. He declares, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This is to say rhetorically no one. No one can be against the saint, not because he does not have enemies, but because only God is all powerful. There is no strength in the universe that can compare to his, and with the word of his mouth all powers would cease.
Second, the Apostle appeals to God’s self-sacrificing and gracious nature. He writes, “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?” Another way that this could be asked is, “Why do you doubt the goodness of Father toward you his child?” There should be no doubt in our souls of the goodness of the Father toward us, for his love for us is infinite and boundless. If he was willing to sacrifice his Infinite Son for our sakes, why would he not give us everything else that we need and righteously desire, which are in comparison petty and trivial?
Third, the Apostle appeals to the justice and provision of God. He writes, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more that that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” If there remains any doubt of the love of God in Christ for us, it is obliterated by his glorious design to appease his own justice. We all being sinners deserve the full brunt of God’s justice that would condemn us all to eternal death and infinite suffering, but Christ took our guilt and condemnation and provided us with his righteousness and acceptance. More than that, the Apostle says that Christ rose from the dead to the right hand of the Father where he actively pleads his blood on our behalf. Who indeed shall bring a charge against the saints of God when it is God who justifies us and pleads our case!
Comfort in Trials and Suffering
The fourth attribute that the Apostle mentions is really the sum of all the previous attributes. He asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Who indeed! For it is the love of God in Christ that has placed on our side the fullness of the Divine power; it is the love of God in Christ that motivated the Father to give up his Son and to graciously give us all things through him; and it is the love of God in Christ that squarely placed on the shoulders of Christ the wrath of God stored up for us and that then raised him from the dead to plead our case. All this was accomplished by the great love of God for us through Jesus Christ.
The application from this point is quite simply reached: Do not fret, little child of God; regardless of how things might appear at a particular moment, the Father loves you infinitely, and it is his good pleasure to give you all things through his Son. Worship Christ today for his love.