Monday, October 09, 2023

2023.10.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:35–39

Read Romans 8:35–39

Questions from the Scripture text: What new question does Romans 8:35a ask (that Romans 8:36-39 proceed to answer)? What seven more things does Romans 8:35b ask about? Upon which of these does Romans 8:36 focus? What does Psalm 44 teach believers to expect in this life? For Whose sake? In light of what things from Romans 8:35 (and Romans 7:15–24, and Romans 8:17–25) does Romans 8:37 make its declaration? What is love making us to be in all these things? What nine great realities do Romans 8:38-39 name? To what category do they belong (Romans 8:39)? From what can’t things from this category separate us? Whose love? In Whom is this love? What is His title? What is His Name? What is His relation to us?

Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35–39 looks forward to the midweek sermon. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, because Christ is God, and all things are for His sake.

The love of Christ is the love of God. Romans 8:34 had focused upon the powerful case that Jesus makes for us (His death! His resurrection!) and the powerful position from which Jesus intercedes for us (the right hand of God!). Now, Romans 8:35 continues with the powerful motive from which Jesus intercedes for us: His love.

Jesus is God. Romans 8:39c says more than that God’s love for us is through Christ. It says that Jesus Himself is the Lord God, and He loves us not only with human love in accord with His human nature, but with divine love in accord with His divine nature. “The love of Christ” (Romans 8:35) is “the love of God” (Romans 8:39c), which is in Him. It is essential to His being. It is not merely a part of Him (there are no “parts” of God).

Since Christ is God, everything is for His sake. Created things (Romans 8:39b) are for the sake of the Creator (cf. Romans 11:36).If the reason for everything is that the Son of God would be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29), then whatever happens in this groaning creation (Romans 8:22) is participating in bringing for that hope in which it was subjected (Romans 8:20). The hope in which we were saved (Romans 8:24). The hope for which the Spirit prays (Romans 8:26), and according to which God works (Romans 8:27).

So, in every adverse circumstance, we continue to have something to say to “these things.” None of “these things” can stop God from being God, or can be for anything other than His sake. “These things” includes trouble, distress, famine, nakedness, and danger (Romans 8:35).

But what about persecution and the sword? Just as we were thinking last week, from Genesis 50:20, even the actions of the wicked are “for us.” And now the apostle quotes Psalm 44:22 to remind us that this is because we are “for the Lord”: “for Your sake.” If I live, it is for the Lord’s sake. If I die, it is for the Lord’s sake. There is great power in living for Christ, because it is then that dying is gain (cf. Philippians 1:21). This verse reminds us that it is also gain for Christ—not only for our good but for His glory.

Since we are Christ’s, we super-conquer in everything. Christ’s love, which has been determined to see us glorified since before the world began, is behind everything that happens. The believer cannot be ultimately defeated by his circumstances, because they are being employed in sanctifying love. And what great love that is! The second half of Romans 8:37 uses a participle to describe Christ as “the One having loved us.” It takes into its scope the foreknowing love from before the world began (Romans 8:29a), the sacrificial love unto death of the cross (Romans 8:34b), and the perpetual love of His intercession (end of verse 34).

We must be careful here. We cannot employ the wicked logic that has already been condemned in Romans 3:8 and Romans 6:1. Sinning is not a victory; part of the super-conquering here is conquering against sin. Indeed, many of the “these things” in this passage are chastenings by which the Lord helps us turn ever-more against our sin rather than for it (cf. Hebrews 12:1–15).

Never may we heal ourselves lightly, when defeated by sin, saying, “that’s ok: I’m super-conquering it.” No, we must HATE it. Let the sinning believer feel the pain, see the damage, and be helped along in his sanctification. And thus let him feel the defeat from himself and yet the super-conquering from his Lord—driving him all the more to live by the Spirit Who conquers, rather than by the flesh that is conquered. Whenever a believer sins, let him see again the great hatefulness of his sin and hate it more. And let him see again the great worthiness of his Redeemer and love Him more.

And so the truth about the “these things” of Romans 8:31 and the “all these things” of Romans 8:37 stands. However we may be conquered—even if we be killed by a being of great authority (principality) and ability (power), we super-conquer whoever and whatever did that. A love that had no beginning can have no end. And this almighty love will achieve its goal for us and in us: glorification. To be conformed to the image of the Son. All things serve the purpose of Christ’s divine love for us, and that purpose is to glorify us sinless and resurrected with Himself.

How does Christ’s two natures inform how you see His love? For Whose (and whose!) sake are all things happening? What is the most difficult thing in your life to believe that about right now? How will you bring the truth of this text to bear upon how you think about that thing? When did Christ’s divine love for you begin? When will it end? What things will serve its purposes? What is that purpose?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You have purposed all things to glorify You by doing us good. Grant that we, too, would love You by pursuing Your glory in all things—especially since that means putting off the things that hinder and the sin that remains. Remove all fear and defeat from us by the certainty that Your love is determined to make us super-conquer in all things. For, we ask it in Your glorious Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB“What Blessedness” or TPH515“More Than Conquerors” 

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