The Gospel Coalition Podcast: The Good News of Romans 8

The Gospel Coalition Podcast: The Good News of Romans 8

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Trillia: If you didn’t know, my name is Trillia Newbell. I’m from the Nashville area. And today we’re going to talk about Romans 8, but I don’t want to talk about all of Romans 8. We’re going to study and think about the rhetorical questions in the end.

But has anyone ever opened a letter and started the letter in the middle? No. You don’t start the letter in the middle. You start at the beginning. And so before we start, I’m just going to run through Romans one through seven and it’s going to be really fast and a little overwhelming, but we’re going to just get through it real quick. And all I’m just going to tell one point. We know that Romans, the book is authored by Paul after his third missionary journey in Greece. And he writes around AD 57 written for both the Jew and the Gentile. The theme of Romans 8 can actually be found, or the theme of the book of Romans can actually be found in Romans 116. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.”

Many theologians would say that that is the whole theme of Romans, and it’s for sure and most definitely the theme of Romans one through eight. I am not ashamed of the gospel. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, and he longs for us to be captured by this good, good news and share it with the world. So this is written to Christians.

So, what is the gospel? When we look at the first setup before Romans 8, we really see it. Romans one, wrath of God revealed. Romans 2, God’s judgment and how his kindness leads us to repentance. Romans 3, no one is righteous and righteousness comes from God through faith. Romans 4, justification comes by faith and it rests on grace. Romans 5 for while we were still weak at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Jesus is the true and better Adam. Therefore, it is a free gift, and the free gift is not like the trespass. Amen to that. Romans 6, we are dead to sin and alive to God. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are slaves to righteousness. In Romans 7, okay. Although we know all this good stuff, we still battle with sin.

And so then we come to Romans 8. And the culmination of all these things, the climax is in that first declaration, Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Thus begins this amazing journey in the rest of Romans 8 into our faith and all that Christ has done for us. You can sit anywhere, come on in.

Romans 8 is massive. It lays out the gospel message. It culminates here in this chapter, so instead of trying to go through Romans 8 fully, we’re going to just look at these rhetorical questions. So I’m going to read them here.

So if you have a Bible, go ahead and open it. While you’re opening it, I’m just going to run through some of the things that Romans 8 talks about. So there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We’re going to talk about that. That the Holy spirit is spoken about probably more in this chapter than anywhere else in the scriptures. We are heirs with Christ. We are adopted children of God, and we can now call God, Abba father. So it’s an intimate relationship. There will be suffering we see in Romans 8, but it’s not to be compared to the glory that we will experience and receive. And the spirit helps us in our weighting, in our groaning, in our suffering.

And then we come to verse 31. All those things that I just said and also the things that we aren’t even exploring, justification, glorification, being called. It says this, Romans 8:31. “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, 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 Christ God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Let’s pray.

Lord, we’ll never exhaust the goodness of your grace. And even in these next 30, 40 minutes, we will only scratch the surface of your goodness. God. I pray that you would give us faith to believe, to trust you and to rest in this. And it’s in your name we pray. Amen.

So I’m going to tell you a little story. I have a wonderful 12 year old, almost 13 year old, and a nine year old. Well when my 12 year old, when he was four, I remember driving in the car. And he was, I don’t remember what we were doing and I was singing a worship song or something. And then I asked him about God. And in his sweet little way he said, “I don’t believe you.” And I said, “Well, what do you mean buddy?” And he said, “Well, I don’t believe you.” And then he goes on and there’s, he said, “Well there’s Spider-Man and there’s Superman, and where’s God? I don’t believe you.” And I realized that he’s looking for something tangible. I’m talking about God. Well where is God? And at that moment I was like okay God, can you show up in a burning bush or can you just, because I have no idea what to tell my son. And I said to him something like, “Well buddy, I can’t make God appear, but I am going to pray that one day you would believe that he’s real.” And he said, “Okay.” And I said, “Okay.” And that’s all I had.

And there’s a few things that God did and that was really helpful. At that moment I realized I can’t save my son. I realized I cannot make my son believe. I cannot change and transform his heart. Only God can do that. Only God can take his little heart and transform it so that he has a heart of flesh, that he knows Jesus.

So it took some of that pressure away. I’m going to continue to preach, always preach, share the gospel. But I can’t give him faith. I can’t make him believe. God has to do that because it’s a gift of his grace.

Here’s the thing about faith. It’s the same for you and for me, even after we believe. It’s a gift. So it can be easy to hear the truth that we’re about to listen to, and kind of maybe go through the motions or take it for granted because maybe it’s something that we’ve heard over, and over, and over again.

Maybe there are people in here who are longing for the joy of your salvation to be restored, or maybe there are people in here who are apathetic, going through the motions. You’ve been there, done that. You’re just trying to check off and get done.

Whatever and wherever you are, I have been praying that God would give you faith to believe. Faith like new, like you’ve never heard this stuff before. Even though you have.

These texts that we just read are a crazy celebration of the gospel. It’s a climax of this first half of Romans. It’s at least a culmination of Romans five through seven. Or we could just sit in the text right before it where it talks about that we are predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

The ultimate theme in these texts, all of it is that the verdict has been determined. The verdict has been determined for you and for me. Anyone who placed their faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, it is finished.

Tim Keller wrote, “Do you realize that it is only,” I’m going to have to put this here. “It is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance. In Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. It is not the performance that leads to the verdict.” In Christianity, the moment we believe God says, “This is my beloved son whom I am well pleased.” Or like I just read, we take Romans 8:1 which says there, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Christianity, the moment we believe God imputes Christ righteousness in his perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into his family.” In other words, God says to us as once said to Jesus Christ, you are my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased. The verdict is in and the verdict is well done. My question to you and my question throughout is do you believe this?

We could really sit there forever, but I want to think through these rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is asked in order to create a dramatic effect so Paul’s asking these questions because he’s kind of saying, “Duh, come on. If God would do these things, can’t you trust him with this? If God’s going to do these things, surely you can believe this for that.”

So here we come to question number two. If God is for us, who can be against us? God is for us means that God is on our side. God is for us means that God is working on our behalf.

God is always working for our benefit. Can you believe that? God is always working for our benefit. Here’s another story real quick. My daughter who I love is nine, but I’m about to confess sin. I have a 9:00 PM cutoff. I am not a night person. I’m a morning person. I was up at 5:00 this morning running. That’s me. I’m that annoying one. I cannot though, at 9:00 PM I turn into a pumpkin. But my daughter always wants to talk to me at about eight because she’s just trying to delay bedtime. Love her, but that’s what she’s doing. So she starts to talk to me and one night she came to me and she said, “Mommy, I’m not sure if you love in the evening.” I said, “No baby girl, I do. I love you. I’ll love you more in the morning. Go to bed.” Aren’t we glad that God is not like me? Yes and amen. He is for us, continually giving himself for us. God is for us. The verdict is in and God is for us.

It is true. If it is true, then who can be against us? I’m going to surprise you with my answer. Everyone and everything can be against us. Yes, God is for us. But everyone and everything can be against us. People will be against you. Paul, the writer of Romans had everyone and everything against him. In Second Corinthians 11 he wrote, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews, the 40 lashes less one. Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. A night and a day, I was adrift at sea on frequent journeys.” In danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people. Danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, dangerous in the wilderness, danger at sea. He was in danger. He had everything and everyone against him. And he says, “And apart from other things, there’s this daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches,” so even his own self was against him.

Paul had pressures and Paul suffered. Here’s the thing. If we believe that if we trust in Jesus, then everything’s going to be perfect and wonderful, then we will be discouraged, disappointed. And it’s the prosperity gospel. It’s not the real gospel. God is not saying that we will not experience hardship or that we will not have anything try, try is the word. Try to come against us. What he is saying is that ultimately no one can harm or threat God’s good plans for us. Even evil plans of others turn out for our good. And early church father, I can never say his name, [inaudible 00:16:19] he put it this way. Yet those that be against us so far as they from thwarting us at all. That even without their will, they become to us the causes of crowns and procurers of countless blessings. In that God’s wisdom turneth their plots unto our salvation and glory.

See how really no one is against us. No one can thwart God’s good plans for us. No one can ultimately turn God’s good plans for us against us. Even evil plans of others, and ultimately he will use them for our good. He cannot act outside of his love and goodness. What man plans as evil, God plans for good. So therefore, no one can be against us. Question number three. 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?

This is one of those duh questions I think Paul is saying. He’s like, “Why doubt if we believe the gospel to be true?” If we believe that Jesus died on a cross, that he bore the wrath that we deserve. If we believe that, why do we not trust him for all things?

The words all things has been debated, but we do know this. In Christ, we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Christ we have identity, righteousness, blamelessness. We are promised. All the promises of God are yes and amen to us, for us. Kinship and much more.

We know that every perfect gift comes from the father. We know that he cares for the lilies. Surely he will provide for us. So all things in this context is spiritual, but we can rest and trust that he will provide all things, period. All things beyond and for us that’s for our good. Yet, and here I ask, do you believe that the gospel is for you, or do you think it’s just for the unbeliever? Do you believe that Jesus’s death and resurrection is for you now?

My children, which I keep talking about, but they’re inquisitive and tender, and vivacious, and loyal. They’re wonderful. I cannot imagine sacrificing them. I cannot fathom given them up for anyone. Anyone. I can’t imagine what Abraham and Sarah went through as they were going to sacrifice Isaac. And of course we know that the angel directed Abraham to a ram as a substitute for that sacrifice. So Isaac’s life was spared. But can’t imagine it. And yet God had an eternal plan to sacrifice his own son for the sins of the world. And he didn’t spare either he or himself.

Jesus, this death was agonizing. It was painful, and it was a separation from his father. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We know these texts. It was the ultimate sacrifice. And he did not die for friends. He died for enemies. He died for sinners, and he willingly died. For while we were still weak at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

In view of this great sacrifice, this is where Paul is asking. In view of this, in light of this, he who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. How will he not give us all things? It is a matter of faith. Do we believe this to be true?

You and I may have to fight to believe this to be true for us. That God is for us, that God will work good for us. If God is for us, and he sent his only son to die on a cross on our behalf. Then who really can be against us? These truths may seem like something you’ve heard over and over again, but it is for you today. Right now.

Question four, who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? A charge is a judicial term. A charge would be an accusation, to accuse someone of something. That is a charge. And so he’s asking, “Who shall bring a charge? Who shall bring a charge?” The answer is everyone and everything. People may some times charge you or accuse you of something, whether it’s sin or something otherwise. Satan is called the accuser.

And our hearts, the scripture say, will accuse us. So similarly, who can bring a charge? Well, the answer is well, people will. They will surely try, and our hearts will try and Satan will accuse you to the father, but God is greater than our hearts. First John 30 praise God. And Satan’s accusations don’t stand a chance against Jesus’ intercession on our behalf. Do you believe that? Jesus is powerful. If we are his elect, we are his. God freely and he graciously chooses who he wills. And it has nothing to do with us. Thank God for that.

This should help us rest secure. Has nothing to do. He chose us before the foundation of the world. God has us in mind. If he chooses to redeem and rescue us, why would he then allow someone to bring a charge? He won’t. God chooses us in spite of us. And in spite of our sin and in spite of our doubting, he is that good. He is invested in you. He is invested. So there is freedom.

Here’s the thing about a room like this. There are people in here who know their sin deeply. There are people in here who likely have secret sin. There are people in here who have done things that you feel like they’re habitual. So you would struggle with understanding that no one can bring a charge because you’re aware of your sin. Here’s the good, good grace of God.

He says, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us, and to purify us.” And we are just confessing forgiven sin. Who can bring a charge? He’s already declared us righteous. So if you’ve placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you don’t have to pretend, you don’t have to hide. You can confess it to a God who forgives completely and who forgives completely. Which leads me to question number five, who is to condemn?

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because we are hard headed, I think he needed to repeat this because this is also in the first Romans 1, right? “That the judge has already redeemed us.” No one can condemn us. No one can declare us guilty.

But what is our reality? Is there anyone in here who’s never sinned before? If you have, go ahead and stand up. We’ll start worshiping now. Our reality is, is that we struggle with sin. Even after we trust and put our faith in Jesus Christ, we still have that sin that cleans close to us that we have to put off. We struggle with it. And Paul talks about this. Paul talks about it in Romans 7, and we plead like he did in utter frustration. He says, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And we know the answer, and he answers it himself. Jesus Christ our Lord. But the reality is, is we struggle with sin. My question to you, do you run to the Lord in your sin, or do you run to a person, or in your thoughts, or try to earn it back, trying to please God? That would be sitting in condemnation.

To be condemned is a fearful thing. It means that you are declared unworthy or even evil. You are declared guilty. So here’s the question. If Jesus has already declared you righteous, why would you sit and declare yourself guilty? Why do we do that? Why do we try to earn something that we can never earn that’s already been given?

It’s because we lack the faith to believe that this is true. It’s easier to work. It’s easier to find something tangible than to rest. Isn’t it? To rest and believe that there is no condemnation, that God isn’t going to hold this against you, that God knows already and that you don’t have to earn it. That’s hard to rest in, but it’s true. And that’s what he longs for you and me to do. To be condemned is a fearful thing, but God tells us in his word that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In fact, his response to you is just the opposite. God not only approves of you, he counts you as righteous because of his son.

The reality is that our sin does deserve condemnation. That’s the reality. But we have received God’s forgiveness. Have you rested in this forgiveness, or are you working for your salvation?

It’s good news that God doesn’t hold our sins against us, and that he doesn’t deal with us according to our transgressions. And we need to rest in that. No means no. So there’s no condemnation. Tim Keller, again, he explains it like this. Christians who do not understand no condemnation only obey out of fear and duty. Christians, I’m going to say it again, who don’t understand no condemnation only obey at a fear and duty.

So we must preach to ourselves every single day, that because we are not condemned, our obedience can grow out of a love for our savior and reverence for the father.

Our text here doesn’t end there. It says, why don’t we need to worry about condemnation? Why don’t we need to worry about condemnation? And he says, “Because 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.” So Jesus died for our sins, satisfying the wrath that we deserve. He defeated death, and is in the most powerful position in the universe at the right hand of God. And the risen savior is now sitting, interceding for you. He is not sitting idly by. He is interceding for you. And the scripture say that he lives to make intercession.

If this is true, then we can rest. Here’s a question for you to just ask yourself. Do you sit in more worry or prayer? Do you sit in more worry or prayer? Jesus not only died, he was raised and is interceding for you so you can rest secure. Our security isn’t in our performance. Our security is in Jesus’s inner session, on judgment day. That’s where we must rest, not in our good works. So therefore, you do not have to try to earn your favor and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

And then we get to the final question. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? It goes through several things that can try to separate us from the love of Christ, but it says nothing. No one can separate us. And we understand that all of what God has done is been an outworking and outpouring of his love for us. And in through Christ Jesus. So the question is shall tribulation or distress or persecution? Here’s what Jesus says to that. Jesus says, “I have said these things to you that in me, you may have peace.” In the world, you will have tribulation. So yes you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. So in our troubles and in our trials, we have a place to go where we can see peace and rest. And then the question asks, “What about famine or nakedness?” And Jesus says, “If God so closed the grass and the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Will he not much more clothe you?” God provides for all our needs. Not all our wants, all our needs. And he doesn’t promise riches, but he does promise to take care of us. So we can again rest and trust. Neither famine nor poverty can separate us from the love of Christ. What about danger or sword?

“Where are you Lord?” We might ask. And Jesus says, “I am right here.” Everlasting love, inner seeding for you. Scripture says, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

It is in answering these questions with Jesus’s own words that we come to fully understand our victory cry. We are more than conquerors. How are we more than conquerors through Christ who loved us? We see that scripture misapplied to pushups. You know what I’m talking about. We are more than conquerors. I’m doing a pushup. No. That’s not a pushup. That’s a squat, but whatever.

But yes. No, we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. We are more than conquerors because we have a place to run to for faith. We are more than conquers because Jesus Christ has already done the conquering. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. In these last two culminating sentences of Romans 8, Paul emphasizes his conviction based on the nature and character of God. That nothing and absolutely nothing can cut us off from the love of God because of who God is. God’s not going to go against his own word. So we can rest. We are victorious in Christ Jesus, who is steadfast, faithful, persevering, and all loving.

John Stott wrote this about Romans 8. He said, “Insecurity is written across all human experience. Christian people are not guaranteed immunity to temptation, tribulation, or tragedy. But we are promised victory over them. God’s pledge is not that suffering will never afflict us, but that it will never separate us from his love.” God’s promise is not that we will not experience tribulation. As a matter of fact, the scripture say just the opposite. But what we hear and see in Romans 8 if we would believe it, is that whatever comes against us, whoever comes against us, whatever brings us a charge, whatever we experience, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nothing. And we will need to know that to make sense of our lives. I am someone would call me jolly, whatever. I’m joyful, but here’s the thing.

I experienced the death of my father at 19, the death of my sister about six years ago on her birthday at the age of 40. And I’ve experienced four miscarriages. I have a load of other things that I could list, but I don’t want to depress you. But the reality is, is that the joy of the Lord is my strength. The reality is I know that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ God in Christ Jesus. Suffering, which Romans 8 talks about all of these things culminate in this good, good, good promise to us. Do you believe it? Whatever you’re experiencing, do you believe that this good news is for you today, right now? Do you believe that you can run to the father and that he longs to hear your prayers? Do you believe that the whole, that Jesus really is interceding for you? Or do you think it’s only for her, or him, or them? No.

Insecurity is written across all human experience, but the reality is this is true. His love will never fell will never let go, and when never allow us to be trampled. God will be faithful to us to the very, very end with. Confidence and great assurance, we can say the words God is for us. Because he’s proven to be for us through Jesus. So we have to ask God, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief so that I can apply this and walk this out.” So I’m going to give you two ways that maybe you can apply it. Here are two.

One is you need to preach these truths to your heart. Jerry Bridges, I think is the one who coined the phrase, “Preach the gospel to yourself.” I love that phrase. I say it, I think it. But you too need to preach this to your self.

In times of prosperity, we will forget this truth because all might seem well. So we won’t lean on God perhaps. And we might forget our need for God. In times of trouble, we might forget this truth because we can struggle to reconcile God’s goodness who is for us with whatever we’re going through. So we need to preach this truth to us. Who is God? If God is for us, okay, who is God? What is God’s character? What is he like? What are his attributes? Okay, this is the God who is for me. Write it down. Who is God? What does God’s word say about himself? Okay, this is the God who is for me in this struggle. And we must remember this because the good news isn’t only for those who are lost. The good news is for the Christian, and that is who Paul was writing to in this text. So number one, preach it to yourself because you’re going to need to remember it.

Number two. If any of this is true, if even one bit of this is true, then why don’t we scream it? Why do we keep it to ourselves? This conference is about evangelism. If any of this is true, then don’t we want to share it with the world? Don’t we want everyone to know this God who is forced? How does Paul start out? He starts out by saying, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it’s the power of God.” That is the theme of Romans. I am not ashamed of the gospel. So application to is let’s not keep this gospel to ourselves.

Paul, he was beaten. But he was also once a persecutor. Isn’t that radical to think that the author who wrote these things that we just read, that he was present at Stephen’s stoning, that he ravaged the church? He pulled women, men, and children out of their homes. This is Paul. He’s radically transformed in the book of Acts, we know. And then he goes out on a missionary journey to share the gospel.

Why would he want to share this good news? Because he had been forgiven much. Much, much. And because it was the power of God. For him to be transformed, he could not keep it to himself. For you and me, if we have been transformed by the power of God, and we don’t have to have a radical testimony like Paul’s. If you know Jesus, it’s radical. He’s done something radical. Then we want to go and share this good news. And those little bitty points that I read through in Romans, that was all just walking through the gospel. Talking about his holiness, our sinfulness, our need for forgiveness and all that Christ did by his death on the cross and resurrection. And if we place our faith and trust in this finished work, repent. You can believe and have a relationship with Jesus. He defeated death.

So application two is even this week, maybe you can think of one person that you have been thinking about. Maybe it’s a family member or someone, and you can ask God to give you faith to share and open your mouth and share this good, good news. We only have about two minutes left, so I’m going to pray for us and then I will be up here and we can talk. And yeah. And if you do desire my book, unfortunately it’s not here. I know, I was like what, but that’s great. So it’s on Amazon. It’s called If God Is For Us. Let’s pray.

Lord, thank you so much for this good, good news of the gospel. Thank you God that you are a God who is Holy just set apart and for us. Thank you that there is no condemnation for us, that no one can bring a charge and that you would elect us in spite of us.

God thank you that this is true for us and not just for those who do not believe. But Lord, we do pray that you would give us the faith to go and share and spread this good news, that we would not keep it to ourselves. God, we need strength and grace for this. God, we cannot do it on our own. So God, I pray that we would be strengthened by your spirit to share the good news with those who do not believe. And Lord, for the person in here who’s struggling with secret sin or unconfessed sin, I pray that you would give them the grace to confess their sin and to trust you. God to put their faith and trust in your finished work and that they know that they can confess because they’re confessing forgiven sin. And that you promise to cleanse, and transform, and purify us by your grace.

And God, I want to pray for the person who has just been apathetic. God, I pray that you would restore the joy of their salvation, that they would know you in new ways. God, that they would not grow too familiar with the gospel. That they would share it, that they would know it, that they would believe it, that they would long to know more about you God. I pray you would do that Lord.

Lord, we love you. And I also want to pray for the person who might be suffering. God, I pray that they would draw near to you Abba father. They’ve called out your name and know that you draw near to the brokenhearted. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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