Summary: In this sermon we see that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because of five unanswerable questions.
Today we come to my last message on Romans 8. The first verse of the greatest chapter in the Bible—Romans 8:1—says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Everything else that follows in the rest of Romans 8 tells us why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There are a number of reasons why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. First, because there is no condemnation from the law (8:1-4); second, because we have been delivered from the flesh (8:5-11); third, because we are now the children of God (8:12-17); fourth, because we have the hope of future glory (8:18-25); fifth, because of the intercession of the Holy Spirit (8:26-27); sixth, because of five unshakeable convictions (8:28); and seventh, because of five undeniable affirmations (8:29-30).
Today, we see an eighth reason why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and it is because of five unanswerable questions. We see this in Romans 8:31-39:
"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." (Romans 8:31-39)
Anyone who studies the Bible carefully knows that there are times when we come to some soaring peak of revelation and are left nearly breathless by the view. This is what happens when we come to the last great section of Romans 8. Commentators have called Romans 8:31-39 a “hymn of assurance,” “a triumph song,” and “the highest plateau in the whole of divine revelation.”
But surely these accolades are too weak. This is a mountaintop section. It is the Mount Everest of the letter and thus the highest of peaks in the Himalayan range of the Scriptures. We have made our way up the steep ascent of doctrine in the first half of this great letter. We are able to look out over the beautiful but somewhat lower vistas of the book’s second half. Yet now, for the time being, we are on the peak, and the view is glorious.
Strictly speaking, there are seven questions in these verses, two each in verses 31 and 35, and one each in verses 32, 33, and 34.
But the first question is not really part of the set. It is a formula Paul has for moving from exposition to the conclusion of an argument. We have already seen it several times in the letter.
Paul asks in verse 31, “What then shall we say to these things?” In other words, “In light of what I have been teaching, what conclusions follow?”
Then follow five unanswerable questions.
The last two questions in verse 35 are actually two parts of the same question. So there are five main questions in all. These five questions concern things that might be imagined to defeat God’s plan for us or to harm us. But each question is unanswerable, because there is nobody or nothing that can defeat God’s plan for us.
Commentator John Stott says, “The Apostle hurls these questions out into space, as it were, defiantly, triumphantly, challenging any creature in heaven or earth or hell to answer them or to deny the truth that is contained in them. But there is no answer, for nobody and nothing can harm the redeemed people of God.”
Let us see that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because of five unanswerable questions.
I. “Who Can Be Against Us?” (8:31b)
The first of five unanswerable questions is in verse 31b: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Taken by itself, the second half of this question is not at all unanswerable. “Who can be against us?”