If God is for us...
In the first half of his letter to the Romans, Paul presents the “Gospel” – it is the “power of God for salvation to Jews and Greeks.” God provides salvation through the “faith of Jesus Christ” for everyone who responds to it in faith. Death passed from Adam to everyone, both “within the law” and “apart from the law” because “all sinned and lack the glory of God.” But now, “apart from the law,” the “righteousness of God” is revealed for “all men who believe, for there is no distinction.”
Prior to the revelation of his “Righteous One,” all men stood condemned by the “righteous requirement” of the Law, both Jew and Gentile. But freely by his grace,” God has reversed the sentence of death through the “redemption” that is found in Jesus. Therefore, for all men who are “in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation” - (Romans 3:21-28, 8:1).
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Because of human mortality and weakness, the Law is incapable of rendering anyone righteous before God. But what the Mosaic Law could not do, God achieved by “sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,” and thus, he “condemned sin in the flesh.”
And paradoxically, God used the very thing that condemned humanity – sin - to reverse the sentence of death - (“Jesus condemned sin in the flesh”).
What distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever is the gift of the Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The Spirit compensates for human weaknesses by enabling the disciple to fulfill the “ordinance of the law.” Even though at present, the body of the believer is “dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness,” that is, the righteousness “from the faith of Jesus.”
In this present life, the believer remains mortal, still subject to suffering, temptation, and death. However, that is not the end of the story:
- “If the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised him from the dead will give life also to your death-doomed bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you” – (Romans 8:1-11).
The problem is not physical or bodily existence, but mortality and human frailty due to sin. This condition will be remedied by the resurrection of the dead when our bodies are “quickened” by God’s Spirit and made immortal.
In Chapter 8 of the Letter, Paul focuses on the future bodily resurrection which is vital to the disciple’s redemption. Everlasting life and glory mean bodily resurrection and life in the New Creation.
The indwelling Spirit attests that we are the “sons of God,” and therefore, we are “heirs” and “joint heirs” with the Son. Like him, in this life, we are subject to suffering and death, but this also means we will be “glorified with him” in the future - (Romans 8:12-17).
Paul next explains this future “glory.” The faith proclaimed by Jesus and his Apostles is forward-looking. Salvation and glory lie in the future. Everlasting life is received in all its fullness at the end of the present age when Christ arrives in power and glory - The “sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us.”
RESURRECTION & CREATION
At present, the creation itself is “waiting for the revelation of the sons of God.” Adam’s sin did more than condemn humanity to sin and death - it sentenced the entire creation to disease, decay, and death.
Even now, the “whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain.” However, the “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.” The resurrection of the “sons of God” also means the arrival of the New Creation – (Romans 8:18-25).
And so, in the present fallen age, believers “groan within themselves waiting for the redemption of their body” - their resurrection. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so He will give “life to our death-doomed bodies.”
Thus, the future bodily resurrection is foundational to Christian “hope.” But it is a “hope not seen,” NOT because it is invisible, but because it is in the future.
In Christ, God triumphed over sin and death for His children, and this despite our sins, weaknesses, and mortality. His sentence of “acquittal” is an act of sheer grace, an undeniable manifestation of His “righteousness” - His faithfulness to redeem humanity and the creation itself.
WORKING ALL THINGS FOR GOOD
Indeed, God “works all things together for good to them who are called according to purpose.” Since He “foreknew” those who belong to Him, He also “marked them out beforehand for conformance to the image of His son.”
In the passage, the Greek verb does NOT mean to “foreordain” or arbitrarily “predestine” one person over another, but simply to “mark something out ahead of time.” Paul is not a fatalist expounding on one form or another of later church doctrine about “predestination.”
The text does NOT state that God “causes all things,” but that He “works” in all things to bring about “good” for His children. Rather than an abstract explanation of predestination, Paul is highlighting the faithfulness of God. Despite our frailties and failings, He brings us into the “image of His Son,” and ultimately, salvation and glory – (Romans 8:26-30).
And because of all that God has done, and this DESPITE our sin and disobedience, Paul now exults:
- “If God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” – (Romans 8:32).
No longer can anyone successfully bring any charge against the children of God since the very same “righteous one” who died on their behalf and was “raised from the dead” now reigns from the “right hand of God to make intercession for us.”
Nothing in this universe is capable of separating believers from love of that magnitude, not even death. When God resurrected Jesus, He reversed the sentence of condemnation and death under which all men live.
It is “in Christ Jesus our Lord,” especially in his death and resurrection, that the “love of God” is manifested and found. Nor do the sufferings of this life compare with the glories that lie ahead for his “joint heirs” for whom he died.