Justification and Assurance
(g) If God Be For Us Who Can Be Against Us
More Than Conquerors
This study brings us to the final part of Romans 8, the chapter that Martyn Lloyd Jones called, “the brightest gem in the cluster”. The final section of this chapter runs from v28 and is dominated by the question which sounds like a great battle cry, “If God be for us who can be against us?” God is for us; in that he works all things out for our good (v28); in that he has foreknown, predestinated, called, justified and glorified us (v29-30); in that he has delivered up his Son for us (v30); in that no charge can be laid against us nor can anyone condemn us (v33-34); and in that we are identified with Christ in his person and work. This study brings us to the climax of the chapter which sounds like the crescendo of a mighty orchestra; God is for us in that we are more than conquerors (v37).
V 36-37 which lie at the heart of these final verses are intriguing as well as being remarkable. Paul describes the people of God as being “sheep for the slaughter”. Sheep are defenceless creatures which are non aggressive. Yet these sheep which are going to the slaughter are also “more than conquerors”. Herein lies the paradox. The metaphor of the sheep is given this unnatural and surprising twist. A lion may be described as a conqueror, but certainly not sheep. It is of course the final part of v37 that solves the riddle; “through him that loved us”. We are weak and pitiful, like the sheep, but we are also a flock which rises to great heights through our union with Christ, our Shepherd.
A consideration of the words, “we are more than conquerors”,are useful at this stage. The one Greek word is in use here, hypernikomen. The middle part of this compound is nikao, from which the brand “Nike” originates. This means “to overcome” or “to conquer”. This was the title given to the goddess of victory in ancient Greece. The first part of the compound in “hyper” which means “more than” or “over and above”. Hence in France there are “Hypermarkets” which are bigger than ordinary supermarkets. The word “hyper” is the root of the English word “super”. Therefore Paul is literally saying that Christians are super conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Saviour we are invincible; what a note with which to complete this section upon assurance!
1: The Impossible Question
V35 asks the 5th key question in a series which began in v31; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” The other questions focused upon God’s promises, God’s offering, God’s Justification, Christ’s Mediation. This question concentrates upon the love of God in Christ. In that sense we reach the summit of the mountain. We approach the greatest argument that underpins our assurance and our hope. This is an unanswerable question because it deals with every fear and doubt that we may have. Harold Voekel was a chaplain in the Prisoner of War Camps during the Korean War. He went around the camps, filled with thousands of North Korean prisoners and taught them a song, “Jesus loves me this I know”. He then went around the camps teaching the men simple Gospel truths about Jesus. Thousands became Christians, discipline improved and when the war was over and Korea was divided along the 38th Parallel they refused to go home to North Korea and remained in the south. There is no testimony greater than the love of God in Christ.
What are the things that threaten to separate us from God’s love?
Tribulation – This comes from the word truibulum meaning pressure.
Distress – The Greek words here literally mean “narrow space.” Many are troubled by circumstances out of which there seems to be no escape.
Persecution – To be deprived of our liberty to be Christians.
Famine – In the cycle of history there are many times of hunger.
Nakedness – extreme poverty.
Peril – Another expression of persecution.
Sword – suffering violence for the sake of the Gospel.
2: The Incredible Testimony
The final two verses of the chapter are Paul’s own personal testimony. It is as if he is saying, I am living out what I preach. I myself am convinced of everything that I have been teaching you, “For I am persuaded”.
What were the things that would not move Paul?
Death – this is the final event that we all dread.
Life – For some life is worse than death, such are the problems. Dr James Montgomery Boice tells of a letter he received from a man who attended his church 25 years previously. He has lost out with God, he had become a homosexual and had lost his wife, his children, his profession and his health. He came to faith and wrote to Dr Boice requesting some recordings of his radio broadcasts. This is an extract from the letter:
“Unfortunately, I am losing my eyesight due to AIDS, I’m reading your material as fast as I can, before I find myself unable to do so….Your tapes will enable me to continue my studies after the light fails…I have become obsessed with God. I can’t get enough of his Word. He literally has become my sole incentive to live. I have lost so much already and am losing everything else, but I cannot lose him. He is the only reason I hold onto life, miserable as it is. My living now is preparing me for eternity”.
We can make life miserable as a result of our own sin and folly, some of our wrong doings we will never make amends for. Yet if we are truly trusting Christ and if we have repented, not even the horrors of life can separate us from his love.
Angels – the powers of darkness, demons, Satanic forces.
Principalities – the Governments of this world.
Things present – No circumstance in the world today.
Things to come – no event in the future; let us remember that God controls time.
Powers – There no force anywhere that can remove God’s love.
Height and Depth – We cannot escape the love of God; he is with us everywhere, Psalm 139:7-10.
Nor any other creature – with this all encompassing statement Paul reaches the end of this chapter.
On this glorious note Paul concludes what may rightly be called the greatest chapter in the Bible. He began with “No condemnation” and he concludes with “No separation”. I am convinced. Are you?