BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES/God has justified Christians, so who can condemn them?
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:00 PM
If you have a Bible, I'd invite you turn to Romans, chapter 8, and we will focus on the 33rd and 34th verses today. Many Christians struggle with knowing, with experiencing, with really existentially embracing the benefits of God's redemption. They talk about the benefits of God's redemption, and by His grace they really do believe them. But sometimes it's very, very hard to really know, to experience or feel those realities. Many struggle with assurance. Many struggle with a sense of God's love. Paul wants believers to be awash in the sense of God's love; assured of His grace, completely aware of the reality that He is for them in ways that transcends comprehending. In verse 33 Paul wants to show Christians how God the Father is for them. In verse 34 he wants to show what God the Son has done for Christians, assuring the believer that God is for them.
I. Every consolation of this life flows from God's fatherly kindness and His free justification.
First of all, in verse 33, Paul ask a question "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies." In this question, Paul is relating to the statement that He had made back in Romans, chapter 3, verse 19. In that passage he said that the entire world was found guilty and accountable before God. And in contrast to that, here he says no one can bring a charge against those who are in Christ. If Christians have been freed by God's grace from the guilt of condemnation about which Paul spoke in Romans 3:19, what other charge can be brought? If God Himself is the one who has freed them from that charge, who is going to appeal this to a higher court? What person or being in the universe greater than God is going to reintroduce this charge? And so the apostle says this in order to give us a sense of how much God is for Christians.
Paul is not only saying here that God is for Christians but he wants to show how God is for them. Sometimes we might wrongly imagine that there is God the judge on judgment day, and Satan, the accuser comes, he brings a charge against a Christian, and then Jesus, the defense attorney, comes in, steps in-between and pleads with His heavenly Father to acquit them. That's not Paul's picture. Paul's picture is that the judge and the justifier is the heavenly Father. He will vindicate the believer just as the Son had confidence that the Father would vindicate Him.
So here's the picture. It's the final day of judgment, and when Christians stand before the bar of justice, and the accuser, the evil one, Satan, hurls, slings arrows and accusations at them, and those accusations ring true. It is not that Jesus Christ steps in and begs the Father to love and to forgive. It is that the Judge from the seat says I dismiss all the charges. This man, this woman is free. I am for him. The deck is stacked. The Judge of the court is the Justifier. It's the Judge from the bench who speaks as the defender as the justifier, as the acquitter. Every consolation for the believer in this life flows from God's fatherly kindness and from His free justification.
II. The grounds of our confidence of salvation: the justice of God, the vindication of Christ, His heavenly rule for Christians.
Secondly, he then wants to press home the reality that this judgment of God, this acquittal that God gives to the believer is just. You see, if a Christian does not believe that what God does in justification is just, they will always question their justification. If they think that God is somehow letting them off the hook, and that the due penalty of sin is not being dealt with, they will always question their justification. But the apostle goes on in verse 34 to make it clear that there is a three-fold ground of confidence for salvation. That confidence is in the justice of God, the vindication of Christ, and in the heavenly rule of Christ for Christians.
A. The Justice of God
How is it that a person stands before God on judgment day, and doesn't fear that? How is it then that you can face your Judge and Maker unafraid? First, "Christ Jesus is He who died." Here we see the judicial substitutionary death of Christ. Paul is pointing us to the costly justice of God. He is saying the costly justice of God secures those who have placed their trust in Jesus. It gives security standing before the Lord. If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, and if the Lord Jesus Christ has died bearing the due penalty for your sin, what is the Bible's answer to this question? Is it just for God to bring to bear the punishment of satisfaction of His justice upon those for whom Christ has died? And the answer is absolutely not. God cannot punish those whose sins have already been dealt with in Jesus Christ by His own decree.
B. The Vindication of Christ
In the New Testament the resurrection is not something sort of tacked on at the end of Jesus' death as an afterthought. It was one of the central events of redemption. And it does not just show that Jesus was divine, or just let Christians know that their sins have been forgiven. It is fundamental; it vindicates the claims and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It shows the heavenly Father's acceptance of His work on the believer's behalf. It recognizes His divinity. It is essential for salvation. And the apostle Paul is saying, the fact that God has raised Him from the dead, and that Christians serve a resurrected and living Lord, offers security when contemplating the final judgment of God.
C. The Heavenly Rule of Christ
Paul goes on to speak of the sovereignty and dominion of Christ. When Paul says that Christ is seated at the right hand, he is talking about the fact that God has made Jesus to be sovereign and exercise dominion over the universe for His people.
You should not have a picture of Jesus somehow pleading in prayer for His Father to bless His people. That picture is wrong from two perspectives. It's wrong from one perspective because it doesn't do justice to the status and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is seated at the right hand of the heavenly Father. In other words, He is the power in the universe. His dominion and authority is unquestioned. It also does not do justice because it pictures the Father as someone who is not involved in His people's salvation. The Father is the one who has given them the Son.
Christ rules providence for the good of His people. Paul's telling Christians that every time you consider that "all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)"; remember that the One who works all things together for good is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus in His sovereign dominion is at the right hand ruling the world by His word and Spirit, so that individually and personally and specifically and comprehensibly everything in the Christian's experience works for their good.
Christ is coming to judge the world. But the judge is interceding for Christians. The judge is on their side. How can a believer fear condemnation?