The All-Conquering Love of Christ
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 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? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
As we focus on verse 34 let’s be very clear what God’s design is for us in these verses. What is this section of Romans meant to accomplish in you? It is meant to make you unshakably secure for the sake of suffering in the Christ-exalting path of obedience. The point is to build into your life God-wrought, blood-bought security to help you suffer well.
To those who love God and trust Christ and are called according to his purpose, verse 28 says that all things will work for your good. Verse 30 says that your final glorification is secured. Verse 31 says that since God is for you, no one can be successfully against you. Verse 32 says that since God gave his Son for you, he will give you everything you need. Verse 33 says that since God is the one who justifies, no one can make a charge stick against you in the courtroom of heaven. Verse 34 says that since Christ died and was raised and is at the right hand of God and intercedes for you, no one can condemn you.
What Is God’s Design in This Truth?
What is God’s design in all of this spectacular truth? His design is your security for the sake of bold, joyful, unwavering suffering for the cause of Christ. How do we know this? Because of the next verse. Everything is getting us ready to hear this: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" That is where we will be next week, the Sunday before the one year anniversary of 9-11. The point is that the massive power and wisdom and love of God for his people does not promise escape from these things. The power and love and wisdom of God promises triumph in these things.
In the sword that cuts off your head or pierces your heart. In the peril that sweeps away your family and leaves you alone. In the nakedness that shames you in the rape or prison yard. In the famine that leaves you and your bloated children with bones draped in skin. In the persecution that blocks all your professional advances or burns your house. In the distress or calamity that leaves you paraplegic or takes all your life savings. In the tribulation that wrings your soul till you wonder if every drop of faith will be squeezed out of it.
The design of God in this chapter is to give you such a deep, firm, unshakable, God-wrought, blood-bought security in his all-conquering love, that in these seven kinds of sufferings you will not curse him or forsake him or reproach him, but trust him and hold fast to him and be satisfied with him when all else is taken away. "When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay." Or, as Job said, after he tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21; see 42:11)
In other words, the design of this passage is not to add eternal security to a life devoted to earthly comfort. The design is to promise eternal security to free you from a life devoted to earthly comfort, and give you the freedom and joy and courage to move toward need, not toward ease. Oh, the joy and holy health of soul that Americans forfeit in living for their own comfort while the poor and sick and oppressed and unloved and unconverted people of the world perish. Sum it up like this: Romans 8 is about God in Christ giving massive security for merciful service through many sufferings.
So now let’s look at verse 34 as Paul puts more pillars under our security and service and suffering. "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." Again he asks a question without giving the answer because he expects us to give the right one and to draw us in: "Who is the one who condemns?" Answer: No one. Then the rest of the verse is foundation. He gives reasons why no condemnation can stand against Christians. Last time (verse 33) the answer was: Because God is the one who justifies. This time the answer is: Because Christ Jesus died, was raised, is at God’s right hand, and intercedes for us.
Christ’s triumph in verse 34 is the foundation of God’s justification in verse 33. The reason the infinitely just and holy God can justify the ungodly by faith alone is because of what Christ did in verse 34. Remember Paul already said in verse 32, "God did not spare his own Son." Now in verse 34 he spells out what the Son of God did so that the Father could justify the ungodly by faith and remove all possible condemnation.
You see what Paul is saying here: "no condemnation!" Just like verse 1. Only here he says, no condemners! John Stott sees the universal impact of this and says after verse 34, "We can therefore confidently challenge the universe, with all its inhabitants human and demonic: Who is he that condemns? There will never be any answer" (Stott, Romans, p. 257).
Listen carefully, you who are oppressed by the devil – or some day may be. That is, everyone. Get blunt and courageous and tough with the devil. Did you hear what Stott said? You can challenge the demonic hosts of the universe: "Satan! Whom do you put forward to condemn me?" Get in Satan’s face and state your case with authority. Tell him four things and bid him go. "Christ died for me. Christ was raised from the dead for me. And Christ is at the all-seeing, all-powerful, all-ruling right hand of God for me, and Christ is interceding for me with almighty God. Be gone little, created, dependent, defeated, ruled devil! And hear this little devil! If you kill me – which almighty God may let you do – in that moment, my soul is freed (I win), your misery is multiplied (you lose), and thousands follow behind me blessed with my blood."
Jesus Christ: Four Pictures
The design of this text is to make you valiant in Christ-exalting service and suffering. So look at the four things Christ does for you in verse 34. Or to be more faithful to the wording of the text, look at who it is that does these four things. You recall we almost made the same mistake last week. Verse 33 did not say, "Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? They are justified!" It focuses not on justification per se, but on the God who justifies: "Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies!"
So here in verse 34 Paul does not say, "Who is the one who condemns? Christ died for you, was raised, is at God’s right hand and intercedes for you." No, he focuses again on the person who does the work. He says, "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died," and he continues this focus on the person by the way he writes about each of the following three deeds. "Yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." He did not have to use two substantival participles and two relative pronouns. He did it to keep our focus on the person: Jesus Christ died. Jesus Christ was raised. Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God. Jesus Christ intercedes for us.
No death for us, no resurrection for us, no presence at God’s right hand for us, no intercession for us would do us any good if it were not Jesus Christ who died and rose and reigns and intercedes. So let’s keep our focus on him. Look to him. Know him. We are not talking about a mythological event or a random deed or a mere human happening. We are seeing the historical Jesus Christ in action. And the point is to know HIM as our security. Jesus himself is our No-condemnation.
Let’s see him and know him in four painfully brief pictures that Paul paints here.
1. Know Him as One Who Gave His Life for You
First know him as one who gave his life for you. I say "gave his life for you" instead of "died for you" just to make plain that he chose to die. He planned to die. He embraced death for you. He didn’t stumble in front of the divine bullet meant for you; he stepped in front of it. Mark 10:45, "The Son of Man came . . . to give his life as a ransom for many." So know him that way.
Know him as the one who gave his life for the ungodly, not the deserving and worthy, but the undeserving and unworthy, even while we were still enemies (Romans 4:5; 5:6).
Know him as the one who gave his life to complete his perfect obedience so it could be imputed to us (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Know him as the one who gave his life to forgive all our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
Know him as the one who gave his life to become a curse for us and remove the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
Know him as the one who gave his life to absorb our condemnation and remove the wrath of God (Romans 8:3).
Know him as the one who gave his life to prove that God is just when he justifies the ungodly who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
Know him as the one who gave his life in all these ways to prove the love of God for us. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
2. Know Him as the One Raise from the Dead by the Father
Second, know him as the one raised from the dead by the Father. I stress that he was raised by the Father because the verb is passive in verse 34: not "Christ rose" but "Christ was raised." The point is that the Father was so satisfied with the once for all, atoning work of the Son that he vindicated his obedience and suffering and his infinite accomplishment by raising him from the dead.
So know your Friend and Savior and Lord and Treasure as one absolutely approved by God. And know him, as Romans 6:9 says, as the one who "will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him." And therefore know him as what Paul describes in the next two phrases.
3. Know Him as the One Who Is at the Right Hand of God
Know him, third, as the one who is at the right hand of God. That little phrase "right hand of God" was full of power for those first-century Christians who knew their Old Testament. Psalm 110:1 is quoted by New Testament writers more than any other verse in the Psalms. God says to the Messiah, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
The meaning is triumph and rule and authority. We can see this in Ephesians 1:20-21, "[God] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." And 1 Peter 3:22, "[He] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him."
In other words, to be at God’s right hand is to rule over all authority and power and dominion and angels and names. Know your Savior, your Lord, your Friend, your Treasure this way – triumphant and ruling now over all the universe until all his enemies are put under his feet. Know him and enjoy this unshakable security.
4. Know Him as the Intercessor between You and God the Father
Finally, know him as the intercessor between you and God the Father. Verse 34 ends, ". . . who also intercedes for us." He was and is now and ever will be our go-between (1 Timothy 2:5). Our advocate (1 John 2:1). Our intercessor. We might ask, Why do we need an intercessor if the death and resurrection of Jesus provide the full ground of our forgiveness and righteousness? The answer is that today in heaven Jesus does nothing to add to the ground and purchase of our forgiveness and righteousness. That he finished once for all. What he does is represent that finished work for us in heaven. He stands as a lamb slain and triumphant. And provides a living evidence and witness for the ground of our salvation.
Hebrews 7:25 says, "He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." We experience this intercession every time we pray in Jesus’ name. Why do we say, "In Jesus’ name, Amen"? Because we have no rights with the Father apart from what he did for us on the cross and what he is for us in heaven. So know him as your intercessor every time you pray. Be thankful to him that he loved you and died for you and bought all your salvation and every answered prayer at the cost of his life.
I have emphasized know him. Not just knowing his work. Know him who did – and is doing – for you these great things. Know him as your freedom from condemnation, and your fearlessness, and your massive security in merciful service through many sufferings.
And since I have emphasized this personal dimension of knowing him, it would fitting to end with an insight from John Murray on this final point of Christ our intercessor. He catches a dimension that could be easily missed. I close with this as my final call to know him:
Nothing serves to verify the intimacy and constancy of the Redeemer’s preoccupation with the security of his people, nothing assures us of his unchanging love more than the tenderness which his heavenly priesthood bespeaks and particularly as it comes to expression in intercession for us. (Murray, Romans, Vol. 1. p. 330)