Friday, September 26, 2014

How we know God is for the Christian

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

It is no secret that we are living in a cynical age. The Christian can very quickly adopt such a suspicious attitude toward God if they're not careful. Let's be honest, if you are a Christian reading this post today, I'm certain you have asked from time to time: "Is God really there for me?" or "How do I know that God still cares"? The mistake you and I make too often is to guage God's love for us by the kinds of circumstances going on in our lives. Life and its events are not reliable indicators for determining how much God is for the believer. Certainly a person can be in the will of God and yet still experience cancer, loss or dissapointment, as well as times of abundance and ease. What specifically does Romans 8:31 mean when it mentions "these things" demonstrating the fact that God is for the Christian? As we fan out from Romans 8:31, I believe we can find three demonstrations of the fact that God is indeed for the Christian in Romans 8:28-32: 

1. The purpose of God for the Christian. Romans 8:28

2. The plan of God for the Christian. Romans 8:29-31

3. The promise of God for the Christian. Romans 8:32

So let's briefly look at each of these three things that demonstrate that God is truly for the believer in Jesus Christ.

1. The purpose of God demonstrates God is for the Christian.
Romans 8:28 is perhaps one of the most beloved passages in scripture. Notice what Romans 8:28 states: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Notice how Paul emphasizes God's Sovereignty operating in the believer's life. God "causes" all things. God is the Orchestrator of human affairs. Even when mankind sins, God can still use the foolish decisions of sinful men to achieve His ultimate purpose. Were it not for the Ultimate purpose of God at the end of this verse, the entirety of life and salvation as we know it would fall to the ground. God is for you dear Christian because of the purpose He has for your life. This speaks of the goal God has established for you dear Christian to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. The end has been set by God, and whatever God begin He finishes, guaranteed. (Philippians 1:6) However, how does one know God's purposes are sure? This is where the purpose of God in Romans 8:28 is connected to the plan of God in Romans 8:29-31.

2. The plan of God demonstrates God is for the Christian. Romans 8:29-31
For years Bible teachers have referred to these verses as the unbreakable golden chain of salvation. The point of Romans 8:29-31 is to unfold what is meant by God's purpose in Romans 8:28. Sadly so many Christians skip over Romans 8:29-31 to hasten to Romans 8:32. However unless we grasp God's grand plan and design of Christian salvation from beginning to end, we will have no basis for assurance. 

Romans 8:29 introduces us to the anchors of God's plan: foreknowledge and predestination. These words are not revealed in scripture to scare us, but rather to comfort us. Foreknowledge could just as easily be rendered "foreloving" or "foreseeing". He knows where you're at before you ever arrive at where you're at.  Predestination has to do with God "marking out" the boundaries of each and every individual Christian's life before they were born. 

Foreknowledge speaks of God's loving intent for each believer before they were born and predestination can be likened unto a set of blue prints. 

In roughly 100 places in the Bible we find the truth of God's elective purpose of grace, whereby He chose every Christian based not upon anything they had done but soley upon His choice for them based upon His love for them in eternity. (Ephesians 1:4-5; 2 Peter 1:1-2) Why would God begin planning each believer's salvation in eternity? Paul tells us the point of plan: "to become conformed to the image of His Son". 
The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 explains for us God's elective purpose: "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility."

In Romans 8:30 we then see the so-called "golden chain" of salvation laid out in full length. We've already mentioned foreknowledge and predestination. The third link of the chain is God's calling. The Holy Spirit comes to people in their sins and calls them to leave their love affair with unbelief and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. 

The fourth link, justification, has to do with God's judicial declaration over the sinner at saving faith: not guilty. Let the reader be reminded that justification can only occur when the sinner believes. Salvation is taught consistently in scripture as including both God's Sovereignty (election, foreknowledge, predestination, calling) and human responsibility (justified). No man can be saved lest God draws them and yet, at the same time, no man can be saved until He repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Then the final link of God's plan of salvation is what Romans 8:30 calls "glorification". This speaks of the believer's completion in Heaven, from the removal of their sin once they leave this world in death to when their perfected soul and spirit is united with a glorified resurrected body at Christ's return. Those saints dying presently have just begun their glorification by having their soul/spirit purged of the presence of sin. When the rapture or catching away of the church takes place, those who died will raise from the dead first, followed by the living saints of God having their current bodies transformed. (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) 

Why labor these verses? Because God's plan for every Christian stretches literally from eternity past to eternity future. We know God is for the Christian because of His purpose and plan but also notice lastly....

3. God's promises demonstrate that He is for the Christian. Romans 8:31-32
Romans 8:31-32 state - "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" How do we truly know whether or not God is for us? Read again that above underlined portion of Romans 8:32 - how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" How much does God truly love His people? He loves them so much that He gave His only Begotten Son (John 3:16). God's promises are yes and amen in Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:20-22) Why is it that we doubt God so often? Because we get our eyes off the cross. God's purpose and plan is tied to all that was achieved at the cross and empty tomb. Whenever we doubt Jesus' love for us: look to the cross and empty tomb, look to the scriptures. Emotions are o.k, but not infallible. The Bible alone is inerrant and infallible and the cross and empty tomb are the only proofs that everything that pertains to our salvation is true. As you read down to the end of Romans 8:33-39, you discover that everything Paul wrote about in Romans 8:28-32 is the guaranteed foundation of Romans 8:33-39. 

Closing thoughts:
In closing, remember that we know God is for the Christian based upon His purpose, plan and promises for each child of God. May we go and tell every person that they too can have the same opportunity as we if they will but respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and know that in Christ, God will always be there for them. 

No comments:

Post a Comment