Principle for Bible Reading
We learn a lot about the Bible when the Bible quotes itself. In this lab, John Piper looks at Paul’s use of Psalm 44 to see how we are more than conquerors in all our suffering. Understanding God’s love for us in Christ completely changes how we think about hard things in this life.
Suffering Cannot Separate You from Christ (00:44–07:32)
- Christ Jesus died, rose, sits at God’s right hand, and intercedes for you with his omnipotent love (Romans 8:34). Christ will not stop loving you.
- But can you be separated from Christ’s love? Is there anything in life that could keep you from being loved by Christ?
- Paul’s examples of things that might separate us from Christ are both opposition and poverty. (Romans 8:35)
- God promises to provide everything we need (Matthew 6:30–33). Yet Paul suggests we may experience famine and nakedness (Romans 8:35). God will give us everything we need according to his judgment of what we need to do his will and glorify him.
- Paul says, “We are being killed. . .” (Romans 8:36, cf. Psalm 44:22). This is not hypothetical suffering. It is real.
- Paul asks, “Who,” and not, “What,” at the beginning of Romans 8:35. Someone is behind these sufferings — God, another person, or the devil (Revelation 2:10).
Innocent Suffering and Eternal Security (07:32–11:03)
- The sufferer in Psalm 44:22 is innocent (“God knows the secrets of our hearts”). (Psalm 44:21)
- Christians often suffer even though they have not disobeyed God or turned away from him.
- Nothing shall separate us from the omnipotent love of Christ. (Romans 8:37)
- Through Christ, in all these things — not despite, but in — we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37).
- Why “more than” a conqueror (Romans 8:37)? Your enemies die, and then rise again to serve you and your eternal good.
- Our sufferings are expressions of the love of Christ for us in the sovereign hand of God, because they make us more like Jesus and bring us with great reward to glory.
- What do you notice about the list of sufferings Paul uses here? Are there any that are different than the others? If so, why do you think he included them?
- Go back and read the context of Psalm 44:22. Why might Paul have quoted this text in particular? What similarities might there be with the Christians in the early church?
- What does it mean to be “more than” a conqueror? It’s easy, perhaps, to understand what it means to be a conqueror, but why does Paul say “more than”?
Piper: “Suffering displays Christ’s love because it makes us like Jesus and brings us with great reward to glory.”
‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series
This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.