BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES/God is for us, so who is against us?
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 1:00 PM
When we come to Romans 8:31-32, we come to the culmination of Paul's argument in the first eight chapters of the book. The Roman Christians to whom he was writing were wrestling with great problems, and they needed to be assured of God's love for them, of God's grace towards them, that God was for them. And so Paul points them to the magnificent demonstration of the love and the grace of God.
God's love for Christians is on display in redemption.
In Romans 8:32, Paul's focus is on the love of God, the Father. It is the Father who did not spare His own Son. It is He who delivered up His Son. In other words, Paul is focusing our attention on the priesthood of God the Father.
Sometimes our whole picture of God the Father's involvement in salvation is wrong, as if, somehow, salvation were wrested grudgingly from the hands of a reluctant deity. As if Jesus were somehow on the cross pleading to get the Father involved in His people's plight, pleading to get the Father to love His people, pleading to get Him involved in the redemption of His people. But that is not the biblical picture at all, and it's certainly not the picture of Romans, chapter 8, verse 32. Indeed, it all began with the Father's love. He loved. He sent. He helped the Son through His earthly ministry. And in the final analysis, He is the one who renders up His Son as a sacrifice for the salvation of His people.
II. The divine glory of the Son.
If you and I had been standing at the cross, we would have seen what all the other non-disciples saw, a condemned criminal. Perhaps a thief, or a rebel, or some sort of a lawbreaker. He was in the form of a man. He was scarred, He was marred, He was bruised, He was beaten, and there was nothing of glory about Him. There was nothing about Him which would have indicated that this was the being in the universe that God loved more than everyone else. But that's not what God the Father saw when He looked at the cross. When He looked at the cross He didn't see a man who was despised and rejected and forsaken; He saw His own Son. He saw the Son of His love. He saw the very last person in the universe that He wanted to be there. Jesus was the very last person in the universe that the Father wanted to bruise or wanted to forsake. There had never been a point in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the heavenly Father more wanted to say, This is My beloved Son than when Jesus was on the cross. But when the Son cries out from that tree, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" there is no answer.
When the sinless Son of God is on the tree of Calvary, and He renders up the cry in all his perfection, and in all his agony, My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me? There is no voice because the Son is bearing sin. He was bearing the curse that we ought to have born. And you'll never understand the cross until you understand how intense the love of the Heavenly Father was for His Son on the cross; or how glorious was the obedience of the Son for His heavenly Father on the cross. My friends, contemplation of the preciousness of the Son in His obedience to the Father, and the cost to the Father leads us to a deeper appreciation of God being for Christians.
III. The totality of the Son's sacrifice.
Look at it again in verse 32 where He says, "He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." For we see how God is for Christians in the severity of the penalty meted out to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the extremity of the punishment meted out to the Son. You see these words emphasize not only the Father's involvement, and not only the Son's preciousness, but they emphasize the totality of the Son's sacrifice. He did not spare but delivered Him up. These words point to the utterly unreserved sacrifice of the Son. The sacrifice of the Son is without limit. There is no sparing, there's no mitigation of the wrath which is visited on him.
Jesus had been going out and coming in with the heavenly Father from eternity. There had never been a time when He was not conscious of the Father's favor. And then suddenly there on that cross, there's this hour when this darkness falls, and when the bruising comes, and the penalty comes, and He loses the Father's face. And it's not simply that He's not spared, but He's delivered up. You remember Jesus had told the disciples that He would be delivered up into the hands of His enemies. And they didn't want to believe Him.
Then the most horrendous thing we find in Matthew 27, verse 46 where Jesus makes it clear that in the end it was not the Jews, and it was not His disciples, and it was not Judas, it was His Father who had delivered Him up. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, Peter would say, in Acts, chapter 2, verse 23. Well, my friends, it's not just the negative action, it's not just the not sparing, and it's not just the delivering Him up, it's the positive action of the Father that Paul has in view here
IV. The matchless substitute
Paul wants Christians to understand how much God is for them by looking at this matchless substitution. The cross is brutal, the cross is monstrous, the cross is unjust, and the cross is immoral. What I am saying is that on the cross, the wrath of God is striking out at the one place in the universe where it has no right to strike. If it had been you and me, it would have made sense. If it had been the whole human race, it would have made sense. If it had the whole of the universe, it would have made sense. But the combination of Christ and cross, that makes no sense. When we look at the cross and its brutality, we have to ask the question, how can this be that the sinless Son of God can be on the tree? You see that little phrase "for us" links Jesus to His people and renders Him vulnerable to the penalty due their sin, and explains the purpose of the cross and vindicates it from injustice, and makes it instead to be the instrument and the stratagem of salvation.
So the apostle is saying to Christians, do you want to know how much God is for you? Look at His involvement in your salvation. Look at the preciousness of His Son. Look at the severity of this punishment and look at this substitution which He has done on your behalf. Then you ask yourself a question, is God for me?