What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?…
We have appreciated the paradise of pardon, of acceptance, of sanctification, into which, in spite of this life's sufferings, believers in Jesus come. And now we are to study that hymn of courageous assurance, into which the apostle rises at the close of the chapter. Nowhere does St. Paul rise into nobler eloquence than here.
I. THE BELIEVER'S SOLILOQUY. (Vers. 31, 32.) In this soliloquy the apostle reviews the whole previous argument. Ch. 1.-5. is God for us - justification by faith; ch. 6.-8., is God in us - sanctification through the Spirit of Christ. What can be said to these things? If God be for us, then we ask naturally and logically:
1. Who can be against us? With God as our Ally, we may safely face the world in arms. Assurance is thus traced to its Divine Source. It is not boastfulness, but humble dependence upon the almighty strength of God. The One is more than a match for all his and our foes.
2. In sparing not his own Son, he has given us the greatest pledge of his good will. In delivering up his Son to the death for us all, God was giving to man his very greatest Gift. It implies that the lesser gifts of the Spirit and of providence shall not be wanting.
"He who his Son, most dear and loved,
Gave up for us to die,
Shall he not all things freely give
That goodness can supply?" It was a similar argument through which Abraham passed, he journeyed to Mount Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. He found there that God had provided a substitute in the ram caught in the thicket, and that, therefore, Isaac could go free. He accordingly called the place "Jehovah-jireh" - the Lord will look after everything, and I shall not want any really good thing from his hands (Genesis 22.). Christ crucified is thus the foundation of the believer's assurance.
II. THE BELIEVER'S CHALLENGE. (Vers. 33-36.) And here we have a challenge:
1. To all who may dispute his right to salvation. (Vers. 33, 34.) For:
(1) Justification is from God. And he has taken every possible charge into account.
(2) The ground of the justification is the death of Jesus Christ.
(3) The guarantee of it is the resurrection, reign, and intercession of Jesus. With a risen Saviour on the throne, making intercession for us, who will dare to dispute, and who will succeed in preventing, our pardon and acceptance? It is thus that the apostle works the great facts of our Saviour's history into the experience of the believer.
2. We have a challenge to all adverse circumstances. (Vers. 35-37.) The believer can defy his environment, as it is now called, as well as his enemies. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, - one and all shall be found to be powerless in separating him from the love of Christ. Jesus, with his loving and almighty arm, can hold his people safe in every trial and difficulty. What have these adverse circumstances been but opportunities for the exercise of preserving power? They are golden opportunities which Christ embraces for exhibiting his power to save. And so here we have the true Christian evidence, that Jesus can preserve his people in spite of all apparently adverse things.
III. THE BELIEVER'S SUPREME PERSUASION. (Vers. 38, 39.) In these verses the apostle exhausts the category and declares his persuasion that not one of the things or persons embraced shall be able to separate the believer from the Divine love. Let us glance at them in order.
1. Death shall be no separating power. So far from this, the believer is enabled to rejoice in the fact that to die shall be gain; absent from the body, present with the Lord. The king of terrors will only usher the emancipated spirit into the near presence of his Lord.
2. Life shall prove no separating power. Even when it is flowing full and free, with all its garish and distracting shows, it will not be allowed to separate us from the love of Christ. Of the two dangers to our union with Christ, life is greater than death, but not so great as to defeat the loving power of Jesus.
3. Angels, principalities, powers, shall prove no separating power. This must refer to the evil angels, to Satan and his hosts; for the good angels are our helpers (Hebrews 1:14). A risen Saviour is more than sufficient to meet and overthrow them all.
4. Things present, appealing to sense, shall also be unable to separate us from Christ's love. They are subtle and powerful foes, yet Christ can vanquish them. He can conquer the inclination to be over-occupied with such things.
5. Things to come, appealing to fear, shall be unable to separate us from Christ. No possible combination of circumstances can perplex him. He is more than a match for all.
6. Height, depth, or any other creature, shall likewise be unable to separate us from the Lord's love. Neither space nor time, things physical or things metaphysical, shall be able to endanger our union with Christ. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?