Romans 8:31–35, 37
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
We have been emphasizing in our worship that the celebration of Easter continues in this period known as Eastertide. We continue giving the liturgical greeting, Christ is Risen! And I have devoted some of our exhortations to this topic of the resurrection. Why did Christ rise from the dead and what does this mean for us?
As we continue on this theme, let me remind you that it is the hope of the resurrection that has invigorated Christian witness throughout the ages. In the verses just prior to the ones we have read, Paul reminds us that all those whom God has predestined to life, He will call to faith in Himself; and all those whom He calls to faith, He will justify; and all those whom He justifies, He will glorify. The culmination of God’s work, in other words, is glorification: God will raise us from the dead and present us before Himself spotless and blameless. He “will transform our lowly body so that it may be conformed to Christ’s glorious body” (Phil 3:21).
It is in response to this promise, this promise of glorification and resurrection, that the words of our text are written. “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 delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
The promise of the resurrection assures us that all the promises that God has ever issued to His people will be fulfilled. God commands children “honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph 6:2). So what are we to think when a child loves and serves the Lord by honoring his parents and then suddenly dies? Will God’s promise fail? No – for in the flesh that child will serve God and with his own eyes and not those of another he shall see his Redeemer and worship Him.
Jesus promised, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this age…” (Mk 10:29-30). What are we to think of this promise and its application to the martyrs who lost life in the service of God? Will Jesus’ promise fail? No – for in the flesh those martyrs will serve God and with their own eyes and not those of another they shall see their Redeemer and worship Him.
The resurrection assures us that all the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus. Because Jesus has risen and by His resurrection has overcome sin and death, because through Him and the power of His Spirit all creation will one day be renewed and resurrected, therefore, all the promises of God will reach their fulfillment. Not one promise will fall to the ground. So we can cry out with confidence: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
This is our privilege and right as children of God – to live in hope of the resurrection. Too often, however, we live in fear – pressed down by the cares of this world, overwhelmed with the needs of the moment, forgetful of the promise of resurrection. We stand in need of the mercy of God and the empowering grace of God’s Spirit to enable us to live resurrection lives in the here and now. So, as you are able, let us kneel and let us confess our sins to the Lord, seeking His mercy. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.