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In Romans 8.31-39, Paul asks five questions whose answers express the heart of Christian faith.
Here are the five questions:
- If God is for us, who can be against us? (verse 31)
- He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us allâ..how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (verse 32)
- Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (verse 33)
- Who is he that condemns? (verse 34)
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (verse 35)
Letâ..s study the first question today: If God is for us, who can be against us?
The obvious answer is, â..No one!â. And, of course, thatâ..s the right answer too. But we shouldnâ..t take false comfort from it. Because God is for us, no one can be against us ultimately. The devil cannot drag us down to hell. Nor can persecution bar our entry to heaven. Some can be against us immediately, however. Christians experience temptation and suffering in at least the same measure as everyone else. God being for us, then, does not guarantee an easy life now. It only guarantees an eternal life in Paradise.
Karl Marx thought that belief in eternity turned people away from the pressing work of reforming the world. He referred to religion as the opiate of the people. And even though most people donâ..t subscribe to Marxism (thank God!), many still are wary of a heavenly mindedness that is of no earthly good.
I understand their wariness, but I donâ..t share it. I believe that confidence in your eternal destiny gives you confidence to change the world. Knowing, in other words, that your future with God is safe makes you willing to take risks to improve the world.
Jesus certainly acted that way. According to Philippians 2.6-8, he was â..in very nature God.â. He possessed â..equality with God.â. But he did not â..considerâ. these things â..something to be graspedâ. or used to his own advantage. Rather, he â..made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.â. And that incarnation led him to â..the cross,â. by means of which we are saved. Jesus undertook great personal risk for us precisely because he was confident in his relationship with God the Father.
Some people also fear that talking about God being â..for usâ. might mean that heâ..s â..against others.â. In an age when religious extremists crash planes into buildings and detonate bombs on crowded city streets, I can understand their fear. But Christianity doesnâ..t underwrite violence. God is â..for us,â. yes, but heâ..s also â..for others,â. even â..for our enemies.â. The message of Jesus Christ is love, not hatred.
Our mission is to share that love with others, even if it entails personal risk. As C. T. Studd once put it:
Some wish to live within the sound
Of Church or Chapel Bell.
I want to run a rescue shop
within a yard of Hell.