The Pardon of God
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Because our salvation is based on God’s gracious dealings, Paul asked, “What then are we to say about these things?” We confidently say it is impossible to nullify the power, provision, and protection of God.
Based on the master plan of salvation (vs. 28-30), Paul introduces five major conclusions in answering the question, “What then are we to say about these things?” (v. 31a). In the rhetorical questions of verse 31b, 32, and 33, we found the first three conclusions: It is impossible to nullify the power, provision, and protection of God. Verse 34 contains a fourth rhetorical question, which provides Paul’s fourth great conclusion with regard to the security of believers:
IV. It is impossible to nullify the pardon of God.
Romans 8:34a Who is the one who condemns?
This is another rhetorical question requiring the obvious answer, “No one.” This deduction is drawn from the previous conclusion (v. 33). It is impossible to lay anything to the charge of God’s elect. And since no one can bring a valid accusation against us, it is only reasonable to deduce that no one can condemn us. You cannot receive a negative verdict if there is no indictment.
“Who is He that condemneth?” No one; and the remainder of the text helps explain why we can be assured of this truth.
Romans 34b Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been
No one can condemn us because Jesus in His death paid our debt. Yes, we are guilty of sin, but we have been pardoned from condemnation because Jesus bore our condemnation for us. Even if a valid accusation could be brought against us, we still could never be sentenced to damnation, because our punishment was paid in full by Jesus on the cross.
Jesus’ death satisfied the demands of God against us with regard to sin. The resurrection was God’s way of validating the reconciliation made possible at Calvary. It is the proof that God is satisfied with the propitiation made by Christ.
God put the everlasting consequences of our sin upon Jesus. It would be unjust to inflict wrath twice upon the same sin. God cannot condemn us because justice has been satisfied in the death of Jesus. Christ died for us, in our place, as our substitute. In love He died our death.
There once was a Princess Alice whose heart was moved with compassion for some children dying with a contagious disease. One child had died, and she entered a room where another was fast dying. The doctor warned her, “You must not breathe the breath of the child or you yourself will die.”
However, the princess could not bear watching the child suffer along. She went to the sick one’s bedside and began ministering to the little one. In love she kissed the child, and soon caught the disease and died.
The self-sacrifice of Prince Alice made quite a sensation in the news reports of her day. She was universally praised for her heroism. However, our text tells us of an even greater hero. When our race was dying, Jesus stooped down to minister to us. One can almost hear the angels trying to keep Him from coming to earth: “Do not go, Master! It is suicidal; they will kill you!” Nevertheless, He came and through a cross gave us the kiss of His everlasting love. To Him it was a kiss of death, but to us it was a kiss of life. He died that we might live (Talmage).
The Father is totally pleased with what the Son has done in our behalf. In fact, God is so pleased that Jesus holds the most distinguished position in Heaven:
“At the right hand” has long been considered the place of honor. It is from the ancient custom that we derive the phrase “right-hand man.” It refers to that individual which is almost an extension of one’s own self. For Alexander it was Hyphestion; For Washington, Lafayette; for Napoleon, Marshall Ney; For Lee, Stonewall Jackson; for God the Father, it is God the Son.
Jesus is the honored guest of Heaven. He has earned every right to sit in the place of honor. Christ is the Hero of the Universe. What a moment it must have been, when Jesus returned to Heaven and heard the Father say, “Come, sit here beside Me, at my right hand.” Surely all in Heaven lifted their voices in one grand chorus of consent, “Amen! Yes! So be it! Let it be! He deserves that honor! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”
Count the battle wounds in His body. Stand in awe before nail-prints in His hands and feet. Adore the spear-wound in His side, and thorn-scars on His blessed brow. Be amazed that the precious Son of God bears in His own body the marks we should have borne.
Samuel Stennet said it well in R.G. Lee’s favorite song: “Majestic sweetness sits enthroned upon the Savior’s brow… No mortal can with Him compare… Fairer is He than all the fair.” All of heaven is focused upon the beautiful Savior of men.
One might fear that all the accolades of Heaven would cause Jesus to forget the men of Earth. But not so! In the place of power He carries on the redemption He purchased with His blood.
Romans 8:34d He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
Christ’s work of sacrifice was completed on Earth; but His work of ministering to men continues in Heaven. Christ’s compassion did not end when He died. His love is as strong today as it was at Calvary.
If anyone could ever rightfully condemn us it would be Jesus. We crucified Him. But instead of condemning us, He is pleading our cause at the right hand of God. We do not need earthly priests, the Virgin Mary, or beatified saints to plead for us. Jesus is doing that special task Himself.
An old soldier once asked Augustus to come help him in a legal matter. Augustus sent a representative, but the soldier rejected the substitute and sent word to the Emperor, “It was not by proxy that I fought for you at Actium.” Augustus recognized his obligation and went to plead the soldier’s cause in person.
Even so the Lord Jesus pleads our cause in person. He doesn’t need any proxies. He is quite capable of doing a good job on His own.
We cannot fully understand all that is involved in this intercession for us. Some falsely conclude that it implies that by nature there is a vast distance between the Father and us. However, the ministry of Jesus has removed this distance. What Jesus did for us allows a just God to deal graciously with us.
Once again, we stress that our knowledge of God’s ways is very incomplete. WE have at best merely a surface understanding of those things which transpire within the Godhead. However, we do know that all the benefits of Heaven are given to us through, and because of, Jesus.
Since the Son is our elder brother, He is seated at the right hand of God as our Representative. We are “in Him.” His wounds are a ceaseless cry in our behalf. The Father never forgets that those wounds are “for us.” The very presence of Jesus in and of itself is an intercession in our behalf. The Father “sees us in Jesus” and therefore gives freely to us all things necessary to secure our salvation.
It is impossible to nullify the pardon of God. Therefore, only one question needs to be answered, “Have you received your pardon?” The death of Christ is of no effect for you until you appropriate what He has done in your behalf.
I am indebted to Dr. W.A. Criswell for an illustration which helps emphasize this fact. Due to public and political pressure, President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for a convicted murdered named George Wilson. However, to the astonishment of the whole country, Wilson refused to accept the pardon and said he wanted to proceed with his sentence: death by hanging.
The greatest legal minds in America were left in a quandary as to what should be done. The case finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates handed down this decision: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that one under sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must hang. With that, George Wilson was hanged. Have you received your pardon? It awaits you. Jesus has taken your condemnation upon Himself. Do not let His blood be wasted. Receive Him now.