God Is On Our Side
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 8:31a (Holman) What then are we to say about these things?
In the remainder of this chapter, Paul will focus our attention on five great conclusions that can be drawn from the fact our salvation was accomplished long, long ago in the mind of God. These five conclusions are among the greatest promises and assurances ever given to believers.
These promises will provide little assurance if we do not accept the truth our salvation is rooted in God. He foreknew us, and He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ. Spurgeon said, “I’m glad God knew me before I was born; He would not have liked me afterwards.”
God called, justified, and glorified us. We must receive the truth that salvation is all of God. Luther said he had to preach constantly on justification by faith because people tend to forget it. He said, “I was obliged almost to knock my Bible against their heads, to send it into their hearts.”
Once we realize how dependent our salvation is on the grace of God, we can begin to appreciate better these last verses of Romans 8. “What then are we to say about these things?” The first of five answers is; it is impossible to nullify the power of God.
Romans 8:31b If God is for us, who is against us?
Maximillian, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, so admired this statement that he had it artistically inscribed on his dining table. God is on our side. He throws Himself into the battle in our behalf. All the Lord has is committed to our wellbeing. God is doing everything He can to accomplish our salvation; therefore it cannot be thwarted. No power in Heaven, Earth, or Hell can ever keep us from arriving at our ultimate glorification.
This does not mean nothing shall oppose us. We have enemies that are always harassing us; there will constantly be a conflict in this life. However, none of our enemies will ever be able to thwart the plan of God in our lives.
We say this boldly, realizing our enemies are terrible. “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (EP 6:12). The warfare is intense on at least three fronts.
One, the world. The world will never forgive us for renouncing it. It cannot help but notice our lives are a constant rebuke to all it stands for. The world taunts us, and wants to drag us down, but do not fear its threatened quicksand. Our feet are planted on the solid rock.
Two, the flesh. Our own hearts war against us. The old nature is Satan’s “fifth column” in us. Our flesh resents the fact we have chosen to please God rather than it. Do not yield to its desires, the old man will someday die and be no more, but we shall be resurrected to life everlasting.
Three, the devil. We have made the evil one angry, dear saints. We renounced allegiance to him as sovereign, but we still live in his realm. He hates us as traitors who have rebelled against his authority.
He knows our weaknesses, and does an excellent job of baiting the hook. He tries to humiliate us. Yes, the devil is mighty, but God is almighty.
Satan tried to desecrate Job, but God was for Job, and rescued him. Satan tried to sift Peter like wheat, but God was for the disciple, and kept him from falling completely (Luke 22:31-32). Satan tried to break Paul the Apostle through sending him a thorn in the flesh, but God was for Paul and made him strong in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The battle rages on three fronts: the world, the flesh, the devil. We win because the Champion leads us. God is the shield that lets us triumph boldly over all our enemies. Since God is for us, nothing can prevail over us. There is no power anywhere that can resist the omnipotent arm of God.
Paul was so confident of this that he boldly presented the challenge in our text, “Who can be against us?” Where is there a person or thing that can successfully challenge the power of God?
Since God is our defender, we fear no everlasting harm. No matter how many, how mighty, or how malicious our enemies are, they are checkmated by God. Our final salvation is secure and can never be taken away from us because it is grounded in God.
“The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1b). “Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid; though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.” (Psalm 27:3). “He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock.” (Psalm 27:5). “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14).
“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.” (Psalm 46:1-3). It should never cease to amaze us that God is for us. We do not deserve such a partner.
The partnership between God and people is one between God and worms! What a contrast! He provides the power, we the weakness, He furnishes the grace, we the sin; He gives His all, we our nothingness; He brings the fullness, we the bankruptcy. When it comes to strength, He is all in all; we are frail as worms.
It is a shame that our latest Baptist Hymnals have altered the wording of “At the Cross.” Isaac Watts originally penned, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” The old Broadman Hymnal maintained this original rendering, but our newer hymnals changed the wording from “such a worm as I” to “sinners such as I.” Watts used the term “worm” to designate our lack of strength, not our lack of value.
We are as powerless as worms, but completely safe due to the power of God. An old Welsh motto said it well: “Without God, without all; with God, enough.”
The Champion makes all the difference. The troops of Antigonus, vastly outnumbered by the enemy, rushed to their commander in fear. Antigonus straightened himself and said with indignation, “How many do you reckon me to be?” Look around, dear people, and see the vast hordes opposing us. They seem as numerous as the stars, and we seem few. But I ask us, “How many do you reckon the Lord Almighty to be?” Fear them not.
Chrysostom stood before the Empress Eudoxia and displayed one of history’s most powerful and poignant scenes regarding believers having confidence in God. When this wicked lady threatened to banish the preacher, he said, “You cannot banish me, for the world is my father’s house.”
She said, “I will slay you.” He responded,” No, you cannot do that, for my life is hid with God in Christ.” “I will take away your treasures.” “No, my treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”
She then warned, “I will drive you away from men, you will have no friend left.” “No, you cannot do that, for I have a Friend in Heaven from whom you cannot separate me.” Mustering all his courage, the golden-mouthed orator nobly challenged his royal foe, “I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” What an assurance this can provide. Does it comfort us? Do we know for sure God is for us? Does He live in our heart? This is all that matters. We must come to know Him.