Remember in studying and interpreting God’s Word accurately we have to always pay attention to context. I have three words of wisdom for when you and I are seeking to accurately interpret God’s Word – context, context, and context. When we get the context right then our interpretation will be right because we haven’t taken God’s Word out of context and made a portion of it into a pretext. This guards us from twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction and thereby insures that we are guarded by the Scriptures.
The context of Romans 8 is the security of the believer in and through all trials and troubles that would otherwise cause us to apostatize. The chapter starts off with, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and proceeds to those who are in Christ are led by the Spirit, live by faith, suffer with Christ for His glory, patiently endure persecution while waiting for Christ to return, are guarded by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, are protected by God who causes all things (all the suffering and persecution) to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, and to the believer’s absolute security because of God’s promise to glorify everyone whom He justifies.
After establishing the wonderful truth of our victory in Jesus, Paul came to the great and glorious conclusion of what could easily be classified as the victory song of the saints. Here we see the security of the saints based on the grace, mercy, and love of God in saving and keeping saved everyone who believes in Christ through the gospel. It is here that our faith sores to heavenly heights, scales the tallest obstacles, and is found to be the victory which overcomes the world. We so trust God for what He has done and is doing for us that we face any suffering or persecution with absolute and total confidence in God who is for us and not against us.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? What shall we say to all the suffering and persecution that comes our way for the sake of loving and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ? We say that we know that God is causing all things to work together for our good! We say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23).
When trouble comes we say, “If God is for us, who is against us”? When trouble comes we say, “You don’t know who you are messing with because you can’t mess with me and not get God involved on my behalf.
When trouble comes we do not throw away our confidence in God but we remember that He is for us and not against us. We do not shrink back from trouble but we stand up for the truth, we do not water it down, and we will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us and is for 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? This is the foundation of our faith. If we don’t believe God in what He has accomplished for us by giving His innocent Son to suffer capital punishment in the place of us the guilty then we will not believe and trust Him in anything else either. This is the supreme demonstration of God’s love for us and His trustworthiness to save. Since God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for capital punishment for us all then surely He is for us and not against us. Since God gave us the highest and most valuable gift of justification through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus freely (Romans 3:24) without any cause in us or any cost to us, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Can you see why the truth of what God has done and will do for us in and through Jesus Christ causes our faith to gain new strength and mount up with wings like eagles, to run and not get tired, and walk and not become weary (Isaiah 40:31)? If we can trust God to save us from our sin through the gospel of His Son then we can trust Him to be for us and not against us in all of the suffering that we will endure for His name’s sake.
We can rejoice and rest secure in the salvation that God has granted us singing the victory song of the saints. As Martin Luther wrote in 1529:
A might fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing; For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate; On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing; Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.
And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us; We will not fear, for God hath willed, His truth to triumph thro’ us; The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure; for, lo, his doom is sure; One little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours; through Him who with us sideth; Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever. Amen!
Baptist Hymnal (1975 edition), A Mighty Fortress is Our God, 37.