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Series Study Guide
Romans 8 Supernatural Series/Week 5
Watching the news can be disturbing, even scary. Revolutions and revolutionary movements are surging through the Arabic world with the deadliest conflict in Libya where Muammar Gaddafi is slaughtering his own people in a desperate attempt to hold on to power. Because our world is so globally connected, we feel the effect at our local 7-eleven where gas prices have soared to over $3 a gallon because of the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s hard not to worry over where all this turmoil might lead. What will happen if revolution hits Saudi Arabia? What will happen to the world economy and to the flow of oil? Will violence and war spread?
It’s in such times of global unrest that God’s Word brings us such confidence and security. We are at the conclusion of a powerful series: Supernatural, a study of Romans chapter eight. If Romans is a spectacular mountain range of truth, then chapter eight is its highest peak. The theme is assurance. This is the inspirational highlight of Romans.
Let’s open our Bibles to the amazing Romans chapter eight. Remember – You can live a supernatural life by the Spirit because of God’s amazing gifts in Christ. Say that with me: You can live a supernatural life by the Spirit because of God’s amazing gifts in Christ. Today, we are diving into the last stirring paragraph, verses thirty-one to thirty-nine, that punctuates the end the chapter. Paul uses evocative language to show us what God has done for us so that we can live supernatural lives. These last ten verses are the bold exclamation point of the chapter. One recent commentator said “… the beauty of the text may be unrivalled in all of Pauline literature.” It is a magnificent celebration of God’s eternal commitment to his people. Chapter eight began with “no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1), and ends with “no separation” (8:35, 39). These ten verses have been called the Christian’s Triumph Song, 8:31-39.
Please stand for the reading of our triumph song. I begin in verse thirty-one reading from the NIV 2011 edition:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wow! Paul’s point is that you can live a supernatural life by embracing three divine guarantees: you will never be defeated, condemned or separated from God’s love because in Christ you are victorious, justified and a super-conqueror. No defeat! No condemnation! And no separation! Let’s walk through each of these three phenomenal divine guarantees.
It’s easy to feel defeated in this tough world. Dealing with a difficult boss to a slow economy to tension in your home, you can feel like giving up. Some days it may feel like everyone and everything is against you: after a hard day at work, you had to park in the back of the grocery store parking lot and walk in the rain. When you came back to your car it had a fresh dent in it and no one left a note. You arrive home to mail that includes a collection notice for a bill you thought had been handled. The kids are screaming at each other and as you check email there is a note from your son’s teacher about bad behavior. And this is the easy stuff. The hard stuff moves to a friend stabbing you in the back, a family member dying, sin enticing you to wreck your life, and your marriage collapsing.
But the Bible guarantees us that there will be no ultimate defeat. You are victorious in Christ! God is for you.
You are victorious in Christ!
Grab hold of this confidence-building truth: God is for you. The little preposition “for” is a bit stronger in Greek. It means “on behalf of.” God is on your side. He is fighting for you, on your behalf. Verse thirty-one is a hinge verse, Paul’s thesis for his last paragraph. It is powerful truth to strengthen us. Remember this truth. God is for you. God is for you. God is for you. All the powers and demons of hell might throw down against us; bring it on. We have God. Hell loses. This is core biblical truth. Psalm twenty-three says “I will fear no evil for you are with me.” If you are a believer, then God is for you. You can say: “God is for me.” Is that too bold? Is that not what the Bible says? God is for you. Say it with me: God is for me. God is for me. Make it personal. God is for Bruce. Put your name in the blank. God is for Bruce. God is for you! So nothing can be against you!
How can we know that this is truth, that God is for us? Verse thirty-two gives the basis for verse thirty-one.
32 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?
God gave you his own Son and all things
Pause for a minute on the first phrase here: God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. This is God’s one and only son, Jesus Christ; his own Son. Can you imagine giving up one of your children? I can’t get there. Andy, our media director, was telling me this week about teaching his daughter to ride a bike without training wheels. He was doing everything in his power to keep her from hurting herself. Mentally, he was ready to throw himself in the way of a car if need be. He would give his life to save his daughter’s life. I think of my kids. I see their faces: Bart, Jimmy, David, Melanie, and Ben. Would I give one of them to die for someone else? I can’t do it, even in my mind. If one of my kids volunteered to go on a mission that meant their sure death, I would try to stop them. God did not. He gave up his own Son for you and me. He gave the greatest gift possible. Notice ultimately who it was that delivered up Jesus to die. Octavius Winslow was correct to write: “Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy;—but the Father, for love!” “God did not just allow the cross, but deliberately ‘delivered’ his Son to the cross for our sake.” We know that God is for us and that nothing will defeat us because God did not spare his Son, Jesus Christ, but instead handed him over to death for us. Since he has done the greatest thing imaginable—you can be sure that God is for you. He proved it in the most remarkable way.
Since God gave us his Son, certainly He will give us all things. Every gift after his Son is small in comparison. To what does “all things” refer? What does the Father graciously give us? The word graciously in English and in Greek is related to the word grace. The Bible is not talking about little things, such as earthly toys. Rather think back to what Paul has already told us about God’s great gifts in Romans chapter eight. He is talking about all that is ours in Christ as his co-heirs who share in his glory. We have supernatural freedom, no condemnation, set free from sin and death; the Spirit of God lives in us, giving us life today and resurrection in the future. We have supernatural hope. We will be raised from the dead one day because we are righteous in Christ. We have supernatural adoption. We are the adopted children of God. God has made us his heirs, co-heirs with Christ. All creation is on tiptoe eagerly looking forward to our full redemption. We have supernatural assurance. We have the Spirit interceding for us. God is working everything for our ultimate good. God is for us. We have been given all things in Christ. Since God gave us his only Son, it makes sense he would give us all these things. You see, if you are a believer in Jesus, God is for you! There is no defeat! That’s a divine guarantee. You are victorious in Christ!
If that’s not enough, let me share a second divine guarantee that enables you to live a supernatural life. Many struggle with guilt, condemnation and judgment. You feel unworthy. You condemn yourself and beat yourself up. You hate how others judge you, especially when you know it is partially true. And most of all, some of you fear that God will judge you one day and you will not pass the exam on the final judgment day. To break free into the supernatural life God intends for us, we need to grab the second divine guarantee: no condemnation!
Look again at verses thirty-three and thirty-four where Paul introduces a courtroom atmosphere with his explicitly judicial terms.
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who might bring a charge against you or try to condemn you? Paul does not say specifically. We know that Satan is called the accuser. One of his favorite tricks is to paralyze us with guilt so we are ineffective for Christ. We know that we condemn ourselves. Often others judge us. Figuratively, we might worry that our sins will condemn us in the end.
But in the end, no one will be able to make any charges stick against you. No prosecution against us will prevail because we are guaranteed by God that there is no condemnation for us who have trusted in Christ. Our own conscience, critics, enemies, and all the demons of hell will fail. How do we know this divine guarantee is true? Because as a believer you are justified in Christ.
You are justified in Christ!
Verse thirty-three gives the solid basis for our guarantee: God is the one who justifies. There is no higher court. God has given an irrevocable verdict that renders impotent any accusations against us at the judgment. God does not condemn us; he defends us. All accusations against us fall to the ground. We can confidently say with the prophet Isaiah:
He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! 9It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? Isaiah 50:8–9
But how can God justify us when we know we have done wrong? We have sinned and he is righteous. As the great American theologian Charles Hodge wrote over 150 years ago in his commentary on Romans chapter eight, “If justice is not satisfied, there can be no justification, no peace of conscience, no security either for salvation or for the moral rule of God. The Bible knows nothing of mere pardon. There can be no pardon except for the reason that justice is satisfied.” Verse thirty-four gives the answer. No one can condemn us and God can justify us because of what Jesus Christ did for us. Christ died, rose, ascended, and intercedes for you.
Christ died, rose, ascended and intercedes for you
This piling on of actions by Christ rises in power. All that Jesus claimed is truth. By his death on the cross, Jesus atoned for our sins. He paid the penalty demanded: death. Justice was satisfied. Paul said earlier in chapter four,
25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
By his resurrection, Jesus proved that he is God. He conquered death. Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our own resurrection, so we have nothing to fear. Then Christ ascended to the right hand of God, indicating his authority to rule the universe. At the right hand of God he acts as our advocate, presenting the case that he has secured our salvation by his death and resurrection. With Jesus as our defense attorney, no one can stand against us in the divine court. Not only does the Spirit intercede for us, but so does Jesus himself. So we can be certain that there is no condemnation because God justifies us on the basis of what Jesus did by his death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession.
This truth is only for believers. If you have not trusted in Jesus Christ to save you, then you are still under divine condemnation. On judgment day you do not have Jesus as your defense attorney. What are you going to do? I urge you to trust in Jesus Christ today. God is offering you these great guarantees, available for all those who are in Christ. Today, if you never have, trust in Jesus Christ; that he died and rose again for you, so you will not be condemned, but be justified by God. You can do this in your heart right now and if you do, let me know on the Care Card so I can celebrate with you.
Starting in verse thirty-five Paul shifts from forensic terms to a relational emphasis on the love God in Christ has for us. Not only do we have the divine guarantee of no defeat and the divine guarantee of no condemnation, but also we have the divine guarantee of no separation!
God has not only declared us innocent of all charges against us, but he loves us and enters into a relationship with us, and nothing can separate us from his love. It is difficult for many Christians to believe that God really loves them. Inside, you know you do not deserve his love. You may feel unworthy, unlovely, unlovable. How could a holy, great God love someone who is selfish, ungrateful, and disobedient?
This is the point of the gospel. God loves us in Christ, not because we are so lovely, but because Christ is so lovely. It is based on what Christ has done for us, described in verse thirty-four, that Paul can state so confidently in verse thirty-five,
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
God’s love for us is not simply an “emotion,” but his gracious action on our behalf.
When we face really tough times such as the seven examples Paul mentions, it is easy to doubt God’s love. We might feel distant from God. You may not feel his love. You may wonder if he still loves you. Paul faced all the terrible things that he lists in 2 Corinthians where he tells his own story: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword. These horrible circumstances did not cause Paul to doubt God’s love. Paul was not surprised by tough times. He knew that God’s people will suffer in this world. In the very next verse Paul quotes Psalm forty-four, verse twenty-two which reminds us that God’s people have always suffered in this fallen world where the devil runs wild. The psalmist says to God,
Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Psalm 44:22.
Paul reminds us that difficulties are a normal and expected part of living for Christ in this world.
Far from weakening the bonds of love, trouble and hardship strengthen them. Persecution drives true believers into the arms of the one who knows from experience the full range of suffering. Since Christ proved his love for us by his sufferings, so our sufferings cannot possibly separate us from His love. It is in the hardest times that we can know the greatest depths of God’s love for us. When you face really difficult things, you have two choices: run away from God, doubting his love and being angry at him for allowing it to happen; or you can run into his loving arms, knowing that he will work everything for your ultimate good.
I love how verse thirty-seven answers the question raised in verses thirty-five and thirty-six.
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Nothing can separate you from God’s love because in all things you are super-conquerors in Christ!
You are super-conquerors in Christ!
Instead of believers being separated from Christ’s love through afflictions, the afflictions become the means by which believers “more than conquer.” The triumph is not ascribed to our will power and strength as believers, but to the love of Christ. Paul knew from experience that the love of Christ empowered him to overcome all the obstacles of life. We have more than just the fortitude to bear with trials because God actually gives the ability to triumph over them. Paul said,
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
For me, verse thirty-seven is one of the most powerful verses in the section. Let me introduce you to the single Greek word behind the phrase: “more than conquerors.” The word is Hypernikomen The prefix hyper means “over, more, beyond.” You may hear the word nike in nikomen. This word is from the Greek root meaning victory. Hypernikomen is a verb, meaning we super-conquer. We are super-victors, super-conquerors. We not only endure adversities, but we triumph over them. God works them for our ultimate good. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s love because, through God who loves us, we overwhelming conquer anything that comes against us. Therefore, absolute victory is ours. God is for us. Nothing can ultimately harm us, but can only be transformed into our final good and increase the glory of our victory. We hypernikomen; we super-conquer affliction, disease, distress, job loss, physical dangers, financial hardships, and death. Christ’s love is so powerful that it enables us to more than conquer every adversity. And here’s the big deal: nothing can separate from his love.
God loves you eternally
God loves you eternally. Take a look at Paul’s personal testimony in the final two verses of the chapter:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul has come to a rational, settled, unalterable conviction. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! He writes a poetic list with four pairs and two single items for ten terms that communicate the powerful truth: nothing that exists or ever will exist can separate us from Christ’s love. Talk about security!
Of course, this does not mean that we won’t have troubles. Paul has just said he did and we will. The point is that in our hard times we can know with certainty that nothing can separate us from God’s love. If you feel God is distant, know that he is not. If you are tempted to doubt that God still loves you because of some sin or some series of hardships, grab the divine guarantee: no separation. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Take a closer look at Paul’s remarkable list to increase your confidence. The first pair, death and life, encompass everything. Death cannot scare believers because the Spirit has set us free from sin and death. In Christ we will be raised from the dead. Dead is not scary. Paul looked forward to dying and being with Christ. Death is no danger to the love of Christ for us. Neither is life with all its calamities. Life on this earth can be oppressive, but it is impotent to separate us from God’s love.
The second pair, angels and demons, tells us that the spirit world holds no threat for us. Not only can no human scare us, but neither can a spirit-being. God’s love is infinitely more powerful than a demon’s meager ability.
In another contrast, Paul refers to anything in time: neither the present nor the future. Whatever you are going through right now can’t separate you from God’s love. Whatever your fears and anxieties are about the future, there is no need to worry. Nothing in the present or the future can stand against you.
Neither can any power at all stand against you. The word “power” standing by itself may refer to spiritual forces. No power in all creation can make a dent in God’s love for us. You are secure. You can live with total supernatural assurance.
Paul uses spatial terms to refer to anything from top to bottom, as we say in English: neither height nor depth, not the highest thing or the lowest thing or anything in between. The terms embrace the entire universe. In case he left anything out, Paul wraps it up saying, “nor anything in else in all creation,” will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The worst that could happen holds no terror for believers because we have supernatural assurance from the omnipotent God. In our worst nightmares, nothing can disrupt God’s love for us. The whole chapter ends with that wonderful phrase reminding us that in the end it is all about Jesus. Jesus is the cosmic Lord of all.
A story is told of a church leader, Father Chrysostom. While I question the historical accuracy of the story, it makes the point well. According to the story, Chrysostum was brought before the Roman Emperor in the late 300s AD. The Emperor threatened him with banishment if he remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot banish me for this world is my father’s house.” But I will kill you,” said the Emperor. “No, you can not,” said Chrysostom, “for my life is hidden with Christ in God.” “I will take away your all your money and possessions.” “But you can not for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.” “Then I will drive you away from all humanity and you will have no friend left to be with you.” “You cannot, for I have a friend in heaven from whom you can not separate me. I defy you; for there is nothing that that you do to hurt me.” That’s living Romans eight. That’s supernatural living.
Romans eight tells us that we can live supernatural lives by the Spirit because of God’s amazing gifts in Christ. That’s the overall point: you can live a supernatural life by the Spirit because of God’s amazing gifts in Christ. Christ’s love enables us to transcend troubles even right in the thick of them. We triumph over them from hospital beds, emergency rooms, unemployment lines, and courtrooms. Absolutely nothing can frustrate God’s purpose (since he is for us), or quench his generosity (since he has not spared his Son), or condemn us (since he has justified us through Christ), or sunder us from his love (since he has revealed it in Christ the Lord).
Christians are not guaranteed immunity from temptation, tribulation or tragedy; we are promised victory over them. You can live a supernatural life by embracing three divine guarantees: you will never be defeated, condemned or separated from God’s love because in Christ you are victorious, justified, and a super-conqueror. Our confidence is not in our love for God, which is frail, fickle, and faltering, but in his love for us, which is steadfast, faithful, and persevering. My friends, we can live supernatural lives by the power of God’s Spirit who lives in us. No matter what happens, you can be a super-conqueror in Christ. For believers there is no defeat! No condemnation! And no separation! God is for us! God is for us! God is for us!
Let’s all stand to worship the great God who has given us the power to live these supernatural lives! I call you to worship God with all your heart. I call you to worship this great God by living all out for him, holding nothing back. Let’s cheer our great God who has given us such amazing gifts!