God Did Not Spare His Own Son
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. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 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?
Some truth leaves us almost speechless. Romans 8:28-30 left Paul almost speechless. All things work for your good – God sees to it, because he foreknew you, predestined you to glory with Christ, called you when you were dead in trespasses and sins, justified you freely by his grace through faith alone, and is now glorifying you little by little until the day of his coming when it will be consummated with a body like Christ’s glorious resurrection body.
This leaves Paul almost speechless. Almost. He says, "What then shall we say to these things?" I hear two things in those words for Paul and for us. I hear, "It is hard to find words for these great things." And I hear, "We must find words for these great things." I think when Paul says, "What then shall we say to these things?" his answer is: We must say it again another way. We must find different words and say it again. That’s what he does with the words, "If God is for us, who is against us?" That’s what he has been saying all along. But he must say it another way.
And so must we. If you have shared the glorious gospel with a child or a parent or a friend many times, you must say it again, say it another way. We must write another email, dictate another letter, teach another lesson, put up another plaque, write another poem, sing another song, speak another bedside sentence about the glory of Christ to a dying father. "What then shall we say to these things?" We will say them another way, over and over again till we die, and then to all eternity. They will never cease to be worthy of another way of speaking the glory.
God Is For Us
How does Paul say it this time in verse 31? He says, "If God is for us, who is against us?" And his point is to sum up what has gone before: God is for us, and therefore no one can be against us. God foreknew us in love, predestined us to sonship, called us from death, declared us righteous, and is working in us from one degree of glory to another until the great and glad day of Christ. How shall we say that again? We shall say, "God is for us."
O how precious are those two words, "for us." There are no more fearful words in the universe than the words, "God is against us." If infinitely powerful wrath is against us, annihilation would be a sweet gift of grace. Which is why those who try to persuade us that annihilation is what judgment means, not hell, are so far from the mark. Annihilation under the wrath of God is not judgment, it is deliverance and relief (see Revelation 6:16). No. There is no annihilation of any human being. We live forever with God against us or with God for us. And all who are in Christ may say with almost (!) unspeakable joy, "God is for us." He is on our side.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God is entirely for us, and never against us. None of our sicknesses is a judgment from a condemning judge. None of our broken cars or failed appliances is a punishment from God. None of our marital strife is a sign of his wrath. None of our lost jobs is a penalty for sin. None of our wayward children is a crack of the whip of God’s retribution. If we are in Christ. No. God is for us, not against, in and through all things – all ease and all pain.
Who Is Against Us?
Which means, to say it still another way, "Who is against us?" We are still in verse 31: "If God is for us, who is against us?" The answer Paul expects when he asks that question is, "No one can be against us." To which we are prone to say, "Really?" What does that mean? Verse 35 says that there will be tribulation and distress and persecution and sword. Verse 36 says that Christians are being killed all day long, they are counted like sheep to be slaughtered. Paul said that. So what does he mean, "Who can be against us?" I think he means no one can be successfully against us.
The devil and sinful men can make you sick, can steal your car, can sow seeds of strife in your marriage, can take away your job, and rob you of your child. But verse 28 says, God works all those things together for your good if you love him. And if they finally work for your good, the designs of the adversary are thwarted and his aim to be against you is turned into a Christ-exalting, soul-sanctifying, faith-deepening, painful benefit. If God is for you, he does not spare you these things. But he designs good where the adversary designs evil (Genesis 50:20; 45:7). The things that are against you he designs to be for you. No one can be successfully against you.
What an impact this should have on our lives! We should not be like the world if these things are so. Most of the world chooses its lifestyle because it fears sickness and theft and terror and loss of job and a dozen other things. But to the follower of Jesus, the Lord says, "The gentiles seek all these things. You seek the kingdom first" (see Matthew 6:32-33). God will give you what you need. And what you lose or lack in the kingdom-ministry of love and sacrifice and suffering will work for your good and come back to you, in some God-designed way, a hundredfold.
So stand before your adversary and speak the gospel, whether in Kankan, Guinea, or Istanbul, Turkey, or Ternate, Indonesia, or Minneapolis, Minnesota. And say to those who even plan to take your life: "Do what you must, but in the end all your words and all your injury can only refine my faith, and enlarge my reward, and dispatch me to paradise with the risen Jesus Christ." O how different we will be if we believe that God is for us and no one can be against us!
The Solid Logic of Heaven
And now what shall we say to that? What will the apostle Paul add to that? He will say it yet another way. He will say it in a way now in verse 32 that not only promises no successful adversaries, but also promises total, overflowing, never-ending generosity from God; and all that on the rock-solid basis in the death of his Son for sinners. "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?"
I called this one time, "The Solid Logic of Heaven." It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. The hard to the easy. From the almost insurmountable obstacle to the easily surmountable obstacle. Since he did not spare his own Son – that’s the great thing, the hard thing, the insurmountable obstacle to our salvation – delivering over his Son to torture and scorn and sin-bearing death. If that can be done, then the lesser thing, the easy thing will surely be done: his freely giving to us all that Christ bought for us – all things! The solid logic of heaven.
His Own Son
Consider the parts of it. First, the phrase "his own Son." Jesus Christ was not a man whom God found and adopted to be his son on earth. Jesus Christ is the pre-existent, indeed ever-existent, co-eternal, non-created, divine image of the Father in whom all the fullness of deity dwells (Colossians 2:9). Remember from Romans 8:3 that God "sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh." In other words, the Son existed before he took on human flesh. This is no mere prophet. This is God the Son.
And when verse 32 calls him "his own" Son, the point is that there are no others and that he is infinitely precious to the Father. At least twice while Jesus was on earth God said, "This is my beloved Son" (Matthew 3:7; 17:5). In Colossians 1:13 Paul calls him "the Son of [God’s] love." Jesus himself told the parable of the tenants in which the master’s servants were beaten and killed when they came to collect the fruit. Then Jesus said, "He had still one other, a beloved son" (Mark 12:6). One son is all the Father had. And he was deeply loved. And he sent him.
I have four sons. There is no love like the love of a father for a son. Don’t misunderstand. I love my wife. And I love my daughter. And I love my father and my comrades on the staff of this church and you. And I don’t mean the love of a father for his sons is better than these loves. I mean, it’s different. They are too. But I speak only of this one: there is no love like the love of a father for a son.
The point of verse 32 is that this love of God for his one and only Son was like a massive Mount-Everest obstacle standing between him and our salvation. Here was an obstacle almost insurmountable. Could God, would God, overcome his cherishing, admiring, treasuring, white-hot, affectionate bond with his Son and deliver him over to be lied about and betrayed and abandoned and mocked and flogged and beaten and spit on and nailed to a cross and pierced with a sword like an animal being butchered. Would he really do that? Would he hand over the Son of his love? If he would, then whatever goal he is pursuing could never be stopped. If that obstacle were overcome in the pursuit of his good, every obstacle would be overcame.
Did he do it? Paul’s answer is yes, and he puts it negatively and positively: "He did not spare him, but he delivered him over." In the words, "he did not spare him," we hear the immensity of the difficulty and the obstacle. God did not delight in the pain or the dishonor of his Son. This was an infinitely horrible thing for the Son of God to be treated this way. Sin reached its worst in those hours. It was exposed for what it really is – an attack on God. All sin – our sin – is an attack on God. A rejection of God. An assault on his rights and his truth and his beauty. But God did not spare his Son this treatment.
Delivered Him Over
Instead "he delivered him over." Don’t miss this. Almost everything in the universe that is important and precious gathers here in this unparalleled moment in time. Divine love for man and divine hatred for sin gather here. Absolute divine sovereignty and the everlasting weight of human accountability and moral action gather here. Infinite divine wisdom and power gather here – when God delivered over his own Son to death.
The Bible says Judas delivered him over (Mark 3:19), and Pilate delivered him over (Mark 15:15), and Herod and the Jewish people and the Gentiles delivered him over (Acts 4:27-28), and we delivered him over (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24). It even says Jesus delivered himself over (John 10:17; 19:30). But Paul is saying the ultimate thing here in verse 32. In and behind and beneath and through all these human deliverings, God was delivering his Son to death. "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death" (Acts 2:23). In Judas and Pilate and Herod and Jewish crowds and Gentile soldiers and our sin and Jesus’ lamblike submission, God delivered over his Son. Nothing greater has ever happened.
If This Is True, Then What?
And what shall we say to this? We shall say, "The logic of heaven holds!" If God thus delivered over his own Son, then . . . What? Answer: He shall with him surely and freely give us all things. If God did not withhold his Son, he will not withhold any good thing from us. This is the final purchase and fulfillment of Psalm 84:11, "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." This is the promise and ground of 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God’s." This is the sealing of the promise of Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." This is the securing of the promise of Jesus in the words, "Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:31-33).
Since he did not spare his own Son, but delivered him over for us all, he will, with absolute moral certainty, give us all things with him. Really? All things? What about "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" (Romans 8:35)? The answer is in this magnificent quote from John Flavel from 350 years ago:
He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). How is it imaginable that God should withhold, after this, spirituals or temporals, from his people? How shall he not call them effectually, justify them freely, sanctify them thoroughly, and glorify them eternally? How shall he not clothe them, feed them, protect and deliver them? Surely if he would not spare this own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever he should, after this, deny or withhold from his people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them.
God always does what is good for us. If you believe that he gave his own Son for you, this is what you believe. And all of the Christian life is simply the fruit of that faith. Look to Christ. Look to the love God. Live in love. And fear no more.
©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org