The Great Eight (Part4)

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. (Romans 8:31-34 ESV).

As I mentioned yesterday, I have lived in three states: Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you have known me for very long you know that one of my favorite places to visit is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I really have lost count of the number of times we have been . Spring in the Smoky Mountains is always a visual treat. The rhododendrons provide some of the most beautiful landscape of anyplace I’ve been. So, living close to such a place for six years was a great advantage. Strangely, we did not take advantage of that as often as we could have. It is strange to think I could have taken for granted that privilege, but I did. Now, the fourteen hour drive makes it a very extravagant luxury.

That’s the point of Paul’s declaration in our reading. Because we now have this great gift of God of no condemnation, we must ask if we have taken that great gift for granted. So, Paul looks to the future. He considers the fact that the final judgment is yet to come. And on the way to it there are many days when our adversary, the devil, will try to deceive us and blind us and accuse us and swallow us up in feelings of guilt. So Paul writes about “already now” of no condemnation: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns [there’s the word!]? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” It is a wonderful reminder that we don’t have to wait for the final inheritance to know what our portion will be.

So here we not only have the backward look to remind us that Christ has died and become our condemnation, but the forward look to remind us that, even though there is a judgment coming, and we will sometimes tremble at the thought of it, nevertheless, already now there is no condemnation. You don’t have to wait for the final inheritance to know what this portion will be. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” In that last day when your whole life — with all its Romans-seven-imperfections is spread before you — this alone will be your hope: “It is God who justifies . . . it is Christ Jesus who died . . . who was raised . . . who intercedes.” The verdict of the last judgment was given in AD 33: Not guilty! No condemnation. Already now. This is the heart of Christianity. This is the gift of God.