Romans 8, I want to begin reading in verse 31. These are phenomenal verses. So, Paul writes, “What shall we say to these things?” And I want you to pay attention to the question marks, give attention to the questions as I read this. The title of this is “Seven Unanswerable Questions.” “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (question mark) Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? (question mark) God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? (question mark) Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? (question mark) Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (question mark).
There is a penetrating power in asking questions. Great teachers ask questions. Great preachers raise questions because questions cause people to think. Rather than giving you the answer, the raising of the question forces you to come up with the answer. Some questions are intended to gain information like, “What time did you arrive? When did you leave home?” That’s to secure information. But other questions known as a rhetorical question are really a statement intended to give the answer in the form of a question. And that is exactly what Paul is doing in these verses. He raises seven questions in these seven verses. So, there is a heavy use of questions.
And this is not unusual for Paul. And I want to draw this to your attention. I, actually yesterday, as I was flying back from Los Angeles sat on the plane and started in Romans 1 and brought it forward to Romans 8. And I thought, “You know, I’m just going to add up the questions.” So, in Romans 7, there are seven questions. That’s a lot of questions in just one chapter in the Bible. In Romans 3, are you ready for this? There are fifteen questions that Paul asks in Romans chapter 3. And in Romans 4, there are five questions. In Romans 6, there are seven questions. Romans 7, there are five questions. And here in Romans 8, there are eight questions. So, when you add all this up, it’s a total of forty-seven questions that Paul raises as he writes to the church in Rome. And they are all intended to teach doctrine, to teach theology, and also to make application to our lives.
The most boring preachers are those who preach like this: statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts, statement of facts. They’re just wearing people out.
Effective teachers and preachers know statement of facts, statement of fact, then come in with a question, and cause the listener to put their pen down, look up, and process so that the wheels will turn, then go back to statement of fact, but then ask probing penetrating questions. That is very effective communication, and that is exactly what Paul is doing here.
And so, just to give you the overview of verses 31 to 37, he asked two questions in verse 31. He asked one question each in verse 32 and 33 and 34, and then two questions in verse 35. So, there is a rapidity and staccato form of questions. So, we’re going to track with Paul, and they all deal with the eternal security of the believer. And when I say “eternal security,” I mean that the one who believes in Jesus Christ can never slip through His grasp, can never fall away, can never be lost.
So, once the Lord has a hold of you, He will never let go. Ultimately, it’s not a matter of you holding on to God; it’s a matter of God holding onto you. So, that is the focus, and it’s immediately following the last word of verse 30, “glorified,” which is a believer in heaven. You’ll note it is in the past tense, which means in the mind and the will of God you are already glorified. You are already as certain for heaven as if you’ve already been there ten thousand years. So, these questions really come spinning out of God’s golden chain of salvation that we were looking at in verses 29 and 30.
Now, I’m going to put a label on each of these questions, a one-word label to help us to distinguish one question from the other because these questions are not repetitive in the sense asking the same question. They all ask a different question. So, it’s Paul’s way to probe. So, the first question is at the beginning of verse 31, and it’s the summation question. The summation question, he begins, “What then shall we say to these things?” And he is referring to several things. One, what he has just taught in verses 28 to 29, the sovereignty of God in providence in verse 28, and in salvation, verses 29 and 30.
So, “What shall we say to these things?” Paul, knowing the profundity of what he just taught, but it also refers to the entire larger section which would be in Romans 5 through 8, as Paul begins really elaborating further on justification by faith. But the best commentators that I have read recently say it really points back to the whole book of Romans to this point, “What shall we say to these things?” That it reaches all the way back to really chapter 1 verse 17, the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel.
So, “What shall we say to these things?” The answer to this question will be found in the next six answers. So, Paul is very Jewish in this sense. He answers a question with a question. So, “What shall we say to these things?” He will now ask six questions, alright? So, that leads us now to the second question, which is the second half of verse 31. It’s the opposition question. So, he says in verse 31, “If God is for us, who is against us?”
Now, what raises this question is what he will say in verse 35 and 36, where he will talk about what faces the believer, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, which is the result of the persecution, nakedness, which is the result of the persecution, sword, which is martyrdom, which is the result of the persecution in verse 35. Verse 36 quotes from the Old Testament and spells out the martyrdom where, “We are being put to death all day long. We are like sheep being led to the slaughter.” That’s who’s opposing the believers in the first century, it was who was opposing the believers in the Old Testament, and it’s who is opposing believers even to this very day.
So, believers are still facing what we see in verses 35 and 36 depending upon where you live in the world. Trust me. I’ve just been with some Chinese workers and pastors. They are facing big time persecution in China. Preachers are just suddenly disappearing, just like it was in Russia. So, when he says in verse 31, “If God is for us, who is against us?” he is not talking about, “Hey, someone took your parking place, and they’re really against you,” and like you’re really having to bear your cross. I mean, he’s talking about real persecution and real tribulation, which we may very well be facing here in the near future the way our culture and our country is headed.
So, this is a very legitimate question. And when he says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” what he is saying is in the midst of the persecution and tribulation that you will be facing as believers, if God is for you it doesn’t matter a hill of beans who is against you or what pressures are being brought upon you. Even if you die as a martyr, it will simply usher you into the immediate presence of Jesus Christ. That is a huge gain for any believer. I think of Philippians 1 verse 21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is,” what? It’s “gain.” It’s a far greater gain.
So, in verse 31, “If God is for us, who is against us?” it implies the negative answer, “No one can be against us if God is for us,” in the sense of preventing us from the greatest good that could come in our life. And that greatest good in verse 28 and 29 is to be made in the image of Christ. Even the greatest opposition that could ever come against you is only worked by God for your greater good. That’s what this is saying. Even the most difficult days you will ever face is being used by God for your spiritual good. James 1 verse 2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I mean, God works it all for good. That’s what verse 28 said, remember? “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” That bleeds down into verse 31.
Now, I want to point this out. It says, “If God is for us.” That is not up in the air. “He might be. He might not be.” “If God is for us.” Let me give you the correct grammatical exegetical translation of that. “Since God is for you,” “Because God is for us.” There is nothing hypothetical about it. It is a statement of rock-ribbed absolute certainty, “God is for you.” And it doesn’t matter what is crashing against your life. God is causing it to work together for good and it will never remove your salvation.
So, that’s the opposition question. No one can successfully oppose us and thwart the eternal purposes of God. No enemy, no persecutor, no demon, no devil. All that matters in your life is that God is for you. And even if the entire world was against you, and you are the only believer on planet Earth, which is not the case but for argument’s sake, if the whole world rose up against you it could not thwart what God’s purpose is for your life, which is to make you like Jesus Christ and one day when you die to go immediately into the presence of Christ. And even the sword and martyrdom cannot circumvent the eternal purpose of God in your life. And even the day that you would be strapped to the stake and burned for your faith is the very day that God appointed that you would leave this world and go to be with Him in the world above. So, that’s what Paul is digging at here. It’s really the overriding sovereignty of God over life’s circumstances, even death itself. So, that’s the separation question.
Now, number three, the provision question, and this is in verse 32. And it really answers the questions in people’s minds that would come up as a result of the question at the end of verse 31. If so many people are opposing me and against me, and if God is for me, so how is God going to take care of me if like in verse 35 there is famine, there is nakedness, which is the result of the persecution.
In other words, you have lost your job, you have lost all access even to clothing and food. So, how are you going to get by? So, verse 32 answers this question. So, he says, “He,” and that refers to God the Father, and I want to re-emphasize with us it is God the Father who is sovereignly in control of this whole process, and it is God the Father who is driving us. The “He” in verse 32 is the “He” of verses 29 and 30. It’s He who foreknew us, He who predestined us, He who called us, He who justified us, He who glorified us. It’s the same “He” in verse 32. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not all with Him freely give us all things?”
Now, let me unpack this. It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If God has given to us the greater provision, will He not logically give us the lesser provision? And what was the greater provision that God has already supplied? He delivered over His own Son unto death upon the cross. He gave us the infinite riches of His grace in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And let me just make a few comments on the first part of verse 32, and then I am going to get to the lesser provision. When he says, “He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over,” that’s referring to the cross. This verb “delivered over” is a compound Greek word, paradidomi, which means “to be delivered over to judgment.” It’s used of Jesus being delivered over to Pilate. God the Father delivered over His Son to the severe judgment of the cross. And please note who delivered Him over. Ultimately, it was not the Romans. It was not the Jews. Ultimately, it was God the Father. Jesus was the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world.
This was the eternal decree of God the Father, that He sent His Son into this world to go to the cross and to die for us. The situation did not get out of hand and God had to make lemonade out of lemons. No, this was God’s pre-designed, pre-scripted purpose for His Son to be delivered over unto judgment, the judgment of the cross. And the physical was nothing compared to the spiritual. Thousands of people were crucified on crosses. It was that upon that cross He bore our sins in His body, and when He became sin for us God the Father brought down the full curse of the law upon His Son and literally crushed His Son with a severe blow of His vengeance and fury upon our sins.
So, He delivered Him over to judgment “for,” that little preposition, it could be argued the entirety of the gospel is found in those three little words “for,” F-O-R, which means “for the benefit of,” or “for the sake of.” It’s substitution. And if you had to define the cross in only one word, which is hard to do, I would go for the word “substitution,” that Jesus died in our place. It says here “for us all.”
Now, I’ve got to ask the million-dollar question. Are you ready? You see, great teachers use questions, okay? So, I’m modeling the message right now. So, the million-dollar question is, “Who is the “us,” which answers this question: “For whom did Christ die?” For whom did Christ die?
Now, there is essentially two answers. One is wrong; the other is right. So, we will begin with the wrong answer, that He died for the whole world, that upon the cross He bore the sin of every person who would ever live. And that’s what most people believe. Probably 90% of Christendom have a wrong understanding of the death of Christ upon the cross. I don’t even have time to go into all this.
But if Jesus died for people who die in unbelief, then God is unjust because there will be a double payment for their sin. One, Jesus would have paid for their sin upon the cross, which should be sufficient with equity and justice. But they would then also pay for the very same sins that Jesus has already paid for in hell throughout eternity. That is what you called double jeopardy, where you pay twice for one sin. God would be unjust. But further, let me ask this question: Did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief for those who die in unbelief? Did He or did He not? If you say He died for every single person who ever lived in the history of the world, did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief of unbelievers who die in unbelief? Because if He did, they are released from the sin of unbelief and they would never go to hell.
No, the correct answer is that Jesus died for everyone who will receive the benefit of His death. Jesus died for everyone who will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. In other words, not one drop of blood was shed in vain upon the cross. Every drop that Jesus shed upon the cross actually accomplished its purpose. It was a triumphant death. It was a victorious death. And this is critically important how you see the cross and how you understand what Jesus did. The intent of the cross defines the extent of the cross. Just write that one down. You can tweet that if you want. The intent of the cross defines the extent of the cross.
So, why did Jesus die? What was His mission? Well, He came to lay down His life for His sheep. He came to die for those whom the Father chose in eternity past and gave to the Son in eternity past. That’s whom Jesus came into this world to save. “He will save,” Matthew 1:21, “His people from their sins.” So, that leads us in this verse 32, who is the “us?” “He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all.” The “us” refers to verse 29 “those whom He foreknew.”
Context, context, context is king in interpretation, just like location, location, location in real estate, Kent. Context, context, context! So, verse 29, the “us” is those whom He foreknew, those whom He predestined, verse 30, those whom He called, those whom He justified, those whom He glorified. Look at verse 31, “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us.” Who is God for? He is not for the persecutors and those inflicting the tribulation. He is not for those who are putting the sword to believers. God is against them. God is angry with the wicked every day. God has bent His bow and put His arrow into His bow, and it is aimed at their soul. And as Spurgeon says, God will never miss the target. God is not for them; God is against them. He is against the wicked, but He is for His elect.
So, in verse 31, “If God is for us, who is against us?” Who is the “us?” A blind man could see this. The “us” is a smaller concentric circle within all humanity. It is those who are foreknown and predestined and called, justified, and glorified. It’s all who believe in Jesus Christ. Hello!
So, we come down to verse 32. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us,” who is the “us?” Any consistent Bible study observation and interpretation can only come to one conclusion, that the “us” refers to the elect of God. It was a definite atonement that Jesus made upon Calvary’s cross for the sins of those who had been given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world.
And also, would you please note in verse 32 we could ask this question, “For whom did the Father deliver over the Son?” That’s a question that is never asked. For whom did God the Father deliver over God the Son unto death? Well, you have the answer in verse 32, crystal clear. It is lucid. It is “for us all.” And by adding the word “all,” it really emphasizes the “us.” It’s not all humanity; it’s all “us.” So, what I want you to understand is that there is an inseparable unity within the Godhead in matters of salvation. Those whom the Father chose are those for whom the Son died, are those whom the Spirit calls, and it’s an unbreakable union within the Trinity in this matter of salvation. They work as one Savior.
That is why, and I said this a couple of weeks ago but I’m going to say it again, that is why when we baptize someone we baptize them…can you find it, Kent? Hashtag, #benicetoKent, I know, I know. That’s why when we baptize someone we baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, principally because all three Persons were active in our salvation. The Father chose us. The Son died for us. The Spirit convicted us, called us, and regenerated us.
So, come back to verse 32 now. “He (God the Father) who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He (God the Father) not all with Him (God the Son) freely give us all things.”
Now, these “all things” are the lesser provision. The greater provision is “delivering over His Son for us all.” The lesser provision is the “all things.” Now, the “all things” are not to be mistaken as a health, wealth prosperity gospel, okay? The “all things” refer to all things necessary for you to fulfill the will of God for your life, whatever is necessary. And in fulfilling the will of God for your life, verse 35 tells us there will be times you will go without food, and there will be times you may go without clothing and the necessities of life. There may even ultimately come a time when you will go without your life’s blood by the sword and martyrdom. But all of that is under the sovereignty of God, and whatever it is you need to stay alive and to move forward in the will of God for your life and to accomplish the work of God that He has prepared for you to do, God will provide all things that are necessary for you to carry out the preordained, foreordained work that God has prescribed for you.
Now, this doesn’t mean we all get Lamborghinis, okay? This does not mean that. It just means, whatever you need to keep you alive and to keep you moving forward to carry out what God has foreordained for you to do while you’re alive, God will provide that. And it’s a brilliant logical presentation that Paul is making to us, that if God has delivered over His Son, don’t you think He will give you a shirt? I mean, it’s bizarre. I have two sons here at this Bible study right now. If I loved you enough to give my two sons to you right now so that you would escape the death penalty, and then you came over to my house and knocked on my door, after I just gave my two sons to die in the electric chair so you could go free, and you said, “Say, by the way do you have any socks? Could you give me their socks?”
I would go, “My goodness! I just gave you my sons. Of course, I’ll give you a pair of socks. That’s nothing.” That’s the argument that Paul is making from the greater to the lesser. Once He gave over His Son at the cross, that is a documentation that God will pick up the tab on everything else. He will cover everything else. Now, you are still going to have to work. You are still going to have to pray, and you are still going to have to put your shoulder to the plow and you are going to have to move forward by faith. You still bear enormous responsibility, but as you move forward, trust God. “Trust the Lord with all your heart,” Proverbs 3:5, “and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
So, that’s what Paul is arguing in this context. And please understand, verse 35 and verse 36 is critically important to understanding verses 31 and 32. So, this answers the provision question. So, what comfort there should be to all of our hearts as we live in the rat race, as we live in a stressful society that is always pushing to get ahead! And not all of that is bad. I mean, we should all be working hard and be productive. As we are facing all kinds of difficulties, just know God has already given you His Son. And as you work hard and are responsible, God providentially will provide all things that you need to stay alive and do His will and carry out His service. That’s an extraordinary verse we just looked at.
So, let’s keep moving forward. Verse 33 is the prosecution question. In verse 33, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” You will notice it’s in the future tense verb, who will bring a charge, not who is bringing a charge. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” And I believe the verb tense there indicates the last day, when you stand before the Lord on the last day and God has already declared you to be righteous before Him. He did that the moment you were converted. On the last day, who could ever dig up some evidence? Who could ever bring a skeleton out of one of your closets? Who could ever say, “Well, yeah I knew him in high school,” and do one of these Supreme Court judge things and just dig up dirt from the past and just come out at right field out of nowhere?
Who could ever bring a charge, a prosecution against you, on the last day that would circumvent the justification that God has pronounced upon you? That is a pretty good question. And notice he says “against God’s elect.” That again defines what we were talking about in verse 32 on the death of Christ. That again narrowly defines the “us” in verse 31 and 32. It was referring only to the elect of God. Also, it is only the elect who will stand before God on the last day acquitted. Who will bring a charge, a prosecuting charge against God’s elect?
And again, verse 35 and 36 would tell us that there are a lot of people who would love the opportunity to step forward with information that would damn you because they don’t want to go to hell by themselves. I mean, they want to drag everyone down into the pit with them. Who could stand that day? And the answer at the end of verse 33, God answers it. God is the One who justifies. It doesn’t matter anything what anybody else has to say. God is the supreme Judge of heaven and earth. God is the One who has the gavel. God is the One who is sitting behind the judge’s bench. God is the One who justifies. God is the One who takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ and credits it to your account.
It would take someone greater than God to reverse what God has done. It would take someone with greater sovereignty and greater supreme authority to override the verdict that God has declared upon you as a believer in Jesus Christ.
And let me just tell you, there is no one even in God’s category. He is the Most High God, and what God has declared shall stand forever. On the last day, no one can ever enter any piece of evidence that would circumvent or overturn God’s declaration of your righteousness in Jesus Christ. And that is very important, given verse 35 and verse 36, because there are a lot of people who would like to bring an accusation against us on the last day, whether it be a fabricated charge or whether it be based in reality. God is the One who justifies. So, that’s the prosecution question that Paul is addressing. Do you see how eternally secure you are in Christ? Do you see how settled and certain and sure your eternal destiny is?
Now, number five, the condemnation question. That is in verse 34. “Who is the one who condemns?” This is very closely aligned to the previous question, but it’s in the present tense, you will note. So, right now, who could successfully bring a charge that would result in your condemnation? People you work with, people you live with, people who know you, people you went to school with, people you have had association with, people who know the worst about you, people who could dig up dirt on you right now. “Who is the one who condemns?” And he will now answer that. The answer is, “No one.” And he will answer by telling us what Jesus Christ has done for us, and he will tell us four things about what Christ has done.
Number one, Christ Jesus is He who died, and that’s pointing to the cross and it’s pointing to His sin-bearing substitutionary death upon the cross by which He bore our sins in His body, He suffered under the wrath of God, and He took our sins away as our scapegoat. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. So, He died our place.
So, how do we know, how do we know that that death upon the cross is sufficient to clear all charges before the Father? How do we know that? The second truth about Christ is the verification. “Yes, rather was raised.” And the purpose of the resurrection of Christ is to validate the success of His sin-bearing death upon the cross. We are saved by His death upon the cross. It is His resurrection that is God’s stamp of approval that the death of the cross was all sufficient to take away all of our sins. So, the resurrection is very important because it is proof positive that Christ’s death clears us of all charges.
Now, the third truth about Christ, it says, “who is at the right hand of God.” So, Jesus has ascended back to heaven, right? Acts 1:9 through 11, and He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, which is the highest position of authority in the entire universe. He now has equal authority with God the Father. And at the right hand of God the Father, Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto Me.” So, whatever Jesus does and whatever Jesus says is the trump card on everything.
So, that leads us now to number four, the fourth truth about Jesus, “who also intercedes for us.” And what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God the Father is continually interceding for us. “Intercedes” is in the present tense, you will note. It is an ongoing continual intercession, day by day, moment by moment. And in this intercession, He is pleading with the Father the merit of His own death on our behalf.
So, whenever Satan would bring charges against us in heaven, he is the accuser of the brethren, Revelation 12:9 and 10. When Satan brings charges against us, you have a defense attorney at the right hand of God the Father who will successfully defeat all accusations that the devil would bring against you in the presence of God in the courtroom of heaven. I don’t totally understand how all this works. None of us do. But when we read Job 1 and Job 2, we see that Satan is allowed to come before the throne of God and to bring accusation against Job who was the single most righteous man on the earth. And it was God who initiated the conversation. “Have you considered my servant Job? There is none like him on the earth.” And Satan brings accusation, “Well, no wonder he worships You and loves You. You are so good to him. You’ve bought his worship. You’ve spoilt…You’ve indulged him. Anyone would worship a God like that.” And so, God says, “Okay, have at him. He will still worship Me. He will still praise Me.”
All I know is, is that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he is bringing accusation against you and against me every day. And you don’t have anyone to defend you except the One who has never lost a case, the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is interceding with the Father at your right hand to repel and defeat any charge or accusation that Satan could bring up against you. He is your defense attorney, and He will successfully defend you in the courtroom of heaven with the Father.
So, again, I mean how secure can secure be? I mean, how safe are we in the economy of God, in the will of God? The answer is we couldn’t be any more secure. Now, there is one last thing that I want you to see and then we will wrap this up. The last question is in verse 35. It’s really two questions in verse 35. The first question in verse 35 is the separation question. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Who can pry us out of Christ’s saving hand? Who can drive a wedge between Christ and us? Who can break up our relationship, our personal saving relationship, with Jesus Christ? Who can turn Christ away from us? Who could cause Christ to turn His back on us and walk away from us? That’s the separation question.
And Paul will answer that question with a question. And so, this sixth question is really the sixth and the seventh question in that he will answer the question with a question. And the answer will be, “No one. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of Christ.” And so, he goes through this list beginning in the middle of verse 35. And this is not a hypothetical list. This is what the early believers were facing and were ready to face in the near future in an escalating fashion. It is what believers have faced down through the centuries. I mean, the fact is we are living on Easy Street right now in Dallas, Texas. We are living in posh good times to be a believer, but it’s not this way around the world. And there are people even watching on the livestream right now nodding their head, “Yes, if you only knew what it was like to live in my zip code.” This becomes far more relevant.
So, let me just walk through this list, and they all deal with forces of evil, forces of darkness that would try to separate us from the love of Christ. “Will tribulation?” And the word “tribulation” literally means “to be squeezed under pressure.” It’s almost like taking a grape and just crushing it with the palm your hand. So, will the tribulation of this world, will that separate us from the love of Christ? And the thought there is, will that turn us away from Christ? Will that cause us to go, “This isn’t what I signed up for. This is hard being a Christian.” There is a cost of discipleship. Will that turn us away and separate us from the love of Christ in that way? Then “distress” is a compound word that combines the two words for “narrow” and “space.” And the idea is like being put in a vice grip and then you tighten both sides of the vice grip until it just clamps down. That’s the idea of “distress,” like there is no escape, that there is no way out, like you are going down a narrow hallway, but the sides of that hallway somehow were able to be narrowed down and you can’t get out of this tribulation and distress.
And then the word “persecution,” we understand what that means. That refers to afflictions suffered for the sake of Christ. Then “famine” is actually referring to the result of these first three, that you are so persecuted that you have no food. And the reason you have no food is you have been run out of town, you have lost your job, everyone hates you, no one is going to take care of you, even your family has ostracized you because you now are a believer following this dead Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth. You can’t even afford to buy food. That’s the sense of the “famine” here. And then “nakedness” is also the result of the first three. You don’t even have money to buy clothes. You just have inadequate provisions to survive.
And then the word “peril” means you are exposed to danger constantly, threats to your life. And it can escalate and mount to the pinnacle. And the crescendo on this list of seven is the sword, and we understand what the sword would mean. That would be martyrdom, paying the ultimate price to seal your testimony and your confession of Christ with your own blood unto death. Even all of that will not separate us from the love of Christ. If anything, it will elicit greater measures of the love of Christ to be poured out upon us. And as the world rejects us, Christ embraces us. And as the world takes away from us, Christ will give to us. He will stick with us and stay with us through thick and thin, no matter what. There can never be a breach in our relationship with Jesus Christ. And not only will He stand with us, He will provide for us, whatever it is we need as long as we are alive and as long as we are maintaining a trust in the Father and in prayer looking to Him and working hard, then He will provide for us. So, just march on in faith, fly your colors high. You are a believer in Jesus Christ. Nothing the world can do to you will prevent the purposes of God being fulfilled in your life.
Then finally, verse 36, “Just as it is written.” Now, he quotes Psalm 44 verse 22 to further explain the “sword” at the end of verse 35. “For your sake,” referring to “for God’s sake,” meaning for the sake of the cross, for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the kingdom. “We,” the “we” refers to the “us,” it refers to the elect, it refers to all those predestined and foreknown. “For we are being put to death,” and that’s the martyrdom, the sword at the end of verse 35, “all day long.” And the idea is they are coming after some of you in the morning. They are coming after others of you in the afternoon. They are just kidnapping you at night, and your family never sees you again. “All day long; we are considered as sheep.” Sheep are defenseless, sheep are weak. “We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” That’s the martyrdom and that’s the reality. But even that can’t separate us from the love of Christ. In fact, that only propels us into the very presence of Christ and into His gracious arms to receive us in heaven.
So, verse 37, “But in all these things,” all this persecution and tribulation, martyrdom, that’s “all these things,” we overwhelmingly conquer. We are not whining. We are not complaining. We are not saying, “Woe is me!” We are triumphant. We are robust. We are dynamic in our faith because we know if God is for us who can be against us because God has given us Christ at the cross. He will give us whatever we need, all these lesser things.
“We overwhelmingly conquer.” He could have just said, “We conquer,” but he adds, “We superabundantly conquer.” I mean, we walk triumphantly in this world. I mean, when people ask us how are things going, we don’t say, “Well, the best under the circumstances.” You know, “Best as it could be.” Or like that woman had put on her tombstone, “I told you I was sick.” I mean, we go through life victorious, giving praise to God and giving a testimony of faith in Jesus Christ no matter what is thrown in our face because of our faith. “We overwhelmingly conquer through Him,” the “Him” refers to God the Father, “who loved us.” Please note the verb tense. There is only one verse in the entire New Testament that says He loves us present tense. It’s always in the past tense. Think about it! Why? It’s pointing back to the cross. That’s where God demonstrated His love towards you, at Calvary’s cross.
Anything present would be a lesser expression of love. He is always pointing us back, past tense. He loved us when He gave us His Son at the cross. And I can even say it goes back to eternity past because in verse 29 when it says, “Those whom He foreknew,” we talked about that means those whom He previously loved. He loved us before the foundation of the world when He chose us in Christ. This is why we should be confident even in our most difficult circumstances. Whatever hand providence deals us to play, we overwhelmingly conquer because God is causing all things to work together for our good. Even the tribulation, the persecution, the peril, nakedness, famine, sword, God’s causing it all to work together for our good. And what is that good? It is to conform us into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the greatest good, not for us to live on Easy Street. It is for us to become more and more like His Son. So, He is using these other things just as a chisel to shape us and mold us into the image of Christ. And He is for us, and He is with us, and He is providing for us.
So, I can’t believe I got it in. We just did seven verses. We will have T-shirts next time that say, “I was there when SJL covered seven verses.” We really don’t even have time at the moment. I know I need to just close in a word of prayer. But let me just say this, and I’m really thinking also about people who are watching us on livestream right now. Do you see how great it is to be a believer in Jesus Christ? You are the object of God’s care, constant care and love, and if you are on the outside of Christ, you are the object of His wrath.
So, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of your sins. Put your trust in the One whom God the Father delivered over to bear the sin of those who would put their trust in Him. And if you have never committed your life to Jesus Christ, there is no greater time than this very moment for you to turn from the world, to turn from your sin, and to entrust your soul to Jesus Christ, who this text says died, was raised, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and makes intercession for those who believe in Him.
It is the greatest decision you would ever make in your life, and I would encourage you to do so. And if you put your faith and trust in Christ now, I would urge you to even send us an email and let us know how God has worked in your life.