This week has been challenging for many of us, and a week marked by uncertainty for all of us. Difficult questions are swirling. Will I or my loved one contract the Corona Virus? When will I be able to meet with my church family? Are my finances okay? Will I or my loved one get laid off? Will the spread of the gospel be hindered? And the list can go on and on. But, in this midst of all these uncertainties God’s love is certain. This refreshing truth is found in Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This passage is the climax of the first half of Romans and contains three relevant truths.
1. God is for us, forever (vv. 31-34)
Verse 31, begins with a summative rhetorical question “What shall we say to these things?” This question has believers focus on the truths found in Romans, especially in the previous paragraph. The truths include these points.
- As children of God we have been adopted into his family (v. 15).
- We are co-heirs with Christ (v. 17).
- We have received the Spirit as the guarantee of final redemption (v. 23).
- Our prayers are taken up by the Spirit and laid before God (v. 26).
- Though sinners by nature, through faith we have been acquitted of all wrong (v. 30).
- Our future glorification is so certain that God speaks of it as already having taken place (v. 30). List from R. Mounce.
If we take all these things into account, we realize that God has done so much for us to the extent that he gave his only Son (cf. John 3:16). In light of this, the passage transitions to a heavenly court situation, evoking Old Testament imagery. The idea is that the One True God, the Father, sits as judge overall. Some “enemy” of us Christians lays a charge against but his or her accusation is ineffective because God the Father is for us. What is more the Risen Lord, Jesus is also present at the right hand of the Father and is interceding for us. Thus, we are eternally secure with no human being able to break the bonds of God’s love for us. Moreover …
2. God’s love cannot be broken by disaster, death, or demonic powers (vv. 35-39)
Paul moves from men seeking to separate us form God, to other catastrophes threating to do so. In most contexts, these tumultuous items should discourage people, but Paul uses them as a means to strengthen and stir our heart by asking a series of questions. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (v. 35). All these things are fretful and life threating, but that is the beauty of Paul’s statement. Even if we suffer to the point of death, whether for the Lord (persecution), war, or natural disasters—like the Corona Virus—we will remain in God’s love. We have certainty through this perilous time God loves us. The Lord has not abandoned us or forsaken us. The Corona Virus and the toil this pandemic brings is no match for God. Even more than that, the spiritual realm is no match for God (vv. 38-39). “What God has already done in and through Christ has established a bond of love which cannot be broken” (Dunn).
3. God’s love merits our praise (vv. 31-39)
Although it may be hard to look at what’s going on in the world and nation and feel that “we are more than conquerors” (v. 37). The perspective from God’s heavily throne room is that we are. We are citizens of the heavenly kingdom with the King sitting above. He loves us beyond and through our present situation. For that we can praise and proclaim God to a world that is “groaning together” and “in bondage to corruption” (vv. 21, 22).
Please sing this hymn as praise to God.
Hymn: The Love of God by Fredrick M. Lehman (v. 3 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai)
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
 List from Robert H. Mounce, Romans, NAC 27 (Nashville: B&H, 1995), 189-90.
 James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, WBC 38a (Dallas: Word, 1988), 497.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jillian Ross: Dr. Jillian Ross currently serves on the Women’s Ministry Team at Forest Baptist Church in Forest. Jillian is Assistant Professor at Liberty University’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity. Her areas of interest include the book of Judges, inner biblical allusions, and women’s ministry.