If holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.
The Spirit of Hope (8:18-25)
The Christian life is obviously no bed of roses, no flower-strewn pathway. It is a life of suffering, a life of struggle. These sufferings, Paul tells us, are not to be compared with the glory which is to follow (v18). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Hope for he assures us that great glory awaits us.
The struggle of the cosmos is a reflection of the struggle within the Christian. We are all too aware of the struggle of Romans 7, and we will continue to know this agony until we experience our full restoration and sanctification. The presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise of a future and total restoration, a complete release from not only the power of sin, but from its presence. The Spirit is like an engagement ring in that it gives substance to our hopes for better things in the future.
The Spirit of Help (8:26-27)
The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. Some things simply cannot be put into words—any words (any language, native, foreign, or angelic). At these times when our humanity is stretched beyond the breaking point, the Holy Spirit ministers on our behalf, communicating for us the deepest longings and desires within us.
The Spirit of Certainty (8:28-39)
Only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Except that for the Christian, we can add at least one more thing—sanctification. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to himself.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).
All things for God’s glory, but also for the good of the Christian! It is God who is active in all the affairs of our lives. The events of our lives are no accident; they are the handiwork of the sovereign God. No circumstance fails to contribute to our good and God’s glory. Finally, we will how that has been, we will see the beginning from the end. In the meantime, we trust God to accomplish his good and perfect and acceptable will in his own way in our lives.
Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification.
Foreknowledge determines who God’s children will be; predestination determines what God’s people will be (conformed to the image of Christ); calling is that point in time when the unbeliever is irresistibly invited to be a part of God’s family; justification is the sinner’s participation in the benefits of the work of Christ on his behalf; glorification is the full future realisation of all that God has purposed us to be. Glorification is spoken of in the past tense because of its certainty of coming to pass. There is no question of it not coming to pass.
From election to glorification it is entirely in God’s control. Paul has not said that some of those whom God has chosen will be called, nor that some of those who are called will be glorified. From election to sanctification, it is the work of God and it is certain.
This all gives confidence to the Christian:
1. “What then shall we say to these things?” (v31).
If God is on our side, who could be against us? This is not to say that there is no one against us, for Satan is our adversary. But if God is for us, who is Satan to oppose us? If God’s power was sufficient to save us, if God’s love was strong enough to send his only Son to the cross, then there is nothing which he will not do for us(v32).
2. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (v33).
God, the sovereign judge of the universe, has declared us to be righteous through the work of his Son. Who, then, would dare to accuse us before God?
3. “Who is the one who condemns?” (v34).
Would anyone dare to condemn us before the God who has given his only Son to save us. He has borne our sins on the cross. There is no condemnation.
4. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (v35).
Is there anything in this universe greater than God? Is there any one greater than God? No! If that is true, then there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God. Our salvation, our sanctification, is as secure as the God of heaven is strong.