Romans 8:31–39 (ESV)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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 is rich, but if you’ve been wondering, “Is this going somewhere?” this is where. Everything Paul has been teaching is for a specific purpose—to steel folks for the trials ahead. It’s been fun and interesting, but Christianity isn’t all about fun and interesting; it’s about God’s glory. Paul needs his readers (especially his original readers) to get ready to endure great trials.
The things Paul lists in the first paragraph are the things Christians should expect. Many will be against us. Some will bring any charge against God's elect. Others will condemn us. Something will try to separate us from the love of Christ. It might be tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.
For each of these, Paul has a ready answer. God has our backs. 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?
All the theological understanding in the world isn’t worth a dime if it we don’t use it. Trials and tribulations are no one’s desire but they do give us a chance to use what we’ve learned.
That’s when we experience God having our back (see Romans 5:3–5).
While most of us don’t suffer the kind of persecution most people think of as real persecution, take another look at the list Paul lays out. Many are against us. Some do bring any charge against God's elect. Folks do condemn us.
But, most importantly, plenty of things try to separate us from the love of Christ. The modern things may even be more effective than the in-your-face persecution that the first century Christians had to endure. Their persecution was severe but at least it didn’t masquerade as something else. Anti-Christian messages weren’t hidden inside movies and TV shows. The news wasn’t slanted.
Our persecution yields emotional rather than physical pain, but God has our backs just the same.
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