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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 8:28

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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Faith;   Love;   Predestination;   Righteous;   Scofield Reference Index - Election;   Thompson Chain Reference - Afflicted, Promises, Divine;   Afflictions;   All Things;   Comfort;   Comfort-Misery;   God's;   Holy Spirit;   Knowledge;   Knowledge-Ignorance;   Promises, Divine;   Spirit;   Things, All;   The Topic Concordance - Calling;   Conformity;   Glory;   Help;   Holy Spirit;   Justification;   Love;   Prayer;   Predestination;   Saints;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Call of God, the;   Counsels and Purposes of God, the;   Election;   Love to God;   Privileges of Saints;   Providence of God, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Flesh;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Election;   Evil;   God;   Goodness;   Guidance;   Love;   Providence;   Suffering;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Corinthians, First and Second, Theology of;   Elect, Election;   Heal, Health;   Image of God;   Mediator, Mediation;   Providence of God;   Purpose;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - All-Sufficiency of God;   Love to God;   Mortification;   Sanctification;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Creation;   Elect;   Jacob;   Predestination;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Adoption;   Call, Calling;   Divine Freedom;   Election;   Freedom;   Good;   Life;   Providence;   Romans, Book of;   Sovereignty of God;   Spirit;   Suffering;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Election;   Evil;   Joy;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Providence;   Romans, Epistle to the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Assurance;   Brotherly Love;   Call, Called, Calling;   Call, Calling;   Care, Careful;   Decree;   Election;   Example;   Good;   Good ;   Goodness (Human);   Justification (2);   Knowledge;   Love;   Numbers;   Perseverance;   Predestination;   Resurrection;   Romans Epistle to the;   Trust;   Unity;   Walk (2);   Worldliness;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - 8 To Love, Have Affection for;   11 To Desire, Will, Purpose;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Calling;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Affliction;   Good, Chief;   Intercession;   Providence;   Regeneration;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Love;   Saul of Tarsus;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for September 25;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 21;   Every Day Light - Devotion for July 26;  
Unselected Authors

Clarke's Commentary

Verse 28. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God] To understand this verse aright, let us observe:

1. That the persons in whose behalf all things work for good are they who love God, and, consequently, who live in the spirit of obedience.

2. It is not said that all things shall work for good, but that συνεργει, they work now in the behalf of him who loveth now, αγαπωσι; for both verbs are in the present tense.

3. All these things work together; while they are working, God's providence is working, his Spirit is working, and they are working TOGETHER with him. And whatever troubles, or afflictions, or persecutions may arise, God presses them into their service; and they make a part of the general working, and are caused to contribute to the general good of the person who now loves God, and who is working by faith and love under the influence and operation of the Holy Ghost. They who say sin works for good to them that love God speak blasphemous nonsense. A man who now loves God is not now sinning against God; and the promise belongs only to the present time: and as love is the true incentive to obedience, the man who is entitled to the promise can never, while thus entitled, (loving God,) be found in the commission of sin. But though this be a good general sense for these words, yet the all things mentioned here by the apostle seem more particularly to mean those things mentioned in Romans 8:28-30.

To them who are the called according to his purpose. — Dr. Taylor translates τοις κλητοις, the invited; and observes that it is a metaphor taken from inviting guests, or making them welcome to a feast. As if he had said: Certainly all things work together for their good; for this reason, because they are called, invited, or made welcome to the blessings of the covenant, (which is ratified in eating of the covenant sacrifice,) according to God's original purpose first declared to Abraham, Genesis 17:4: Thou shalt be a father of many nations-and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, Genesis 18:18. Thus this clause is to be understood; and thus it is an argument to prove that all things, how afflictive soever, shall work for our good while we continue to love God. Our being called or invited, according to God's purpose, proves that all things work for our good, on the supposition that we love God, and not otherwise. For our loving God, or making a due improvement of our calling, is evidently inserted by the apostle to make good his argument. He does not pretend to prove that all things shall concur to the everlasting happiness of all that are called; but only to those of the called who love God. Our calling, thus qualified is the ground of his argument, which he prosecutes and completes in the two next verses. Our calling he takes for granted, as a thing evident and unquestionable among all Christians. But you will say: How is it evident and unquestionable that we are called? I answer: From our being in the visible Church, and professing the faith of the Gospel. For always, in the apostolic writings, all that are in the visible Church, and profess the faith of the Gospel, are numbered among the called or invited; i.e. among the persons who are invited to feast on the covenant sacrifice, and who thus, in reference to themselves, confirm and ratify the covenant. As for what is termed effectual calling, as distinguished from the general invitations of the Gospel, it is a distinction which divines have invented without any warrant from the sacred writings. Our calling, therefore, is considered by the apostle in the nature of a self-evident proposition, which nobody doubts or denies; or which, indeed, no Christian ought to doubt, or can call in question, Taylor's notes.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-8.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Christian confidence (8:18-39)

Whatever sufferings believers may experience, they are of little significance when compared with the glory to be revealed on the day of final victory (18). On that day the physical creation, which from the time of Adam has suffered because of human sin (cf. Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 3:17-18), will enter its full glory along with redeemed human life (19-22). All the effects of sin will be removed, and believers will be raised from the dead in imperishable spiritual bodies suited to life in the coming age (23; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-57). Christians, being saved by faith, do not yet experience all that God has promised, but they look to the future with patience and confidence (24-25).

The same Spirit who gives hope for the future gives help in the present. When believers’ prayers are unable to express their deepest thoughts and feelings, the indwelling Spirit pleads to God on their behalf. And God knows the mind of the Spirit (26-27). This concern that God has for his people involves everything. He is at work in all their affairs, right from his eternal choice of them to be his sons to his act of final glorification when they will share the likeness of Jesus Christ (28-30).
Christians need have no doubts about any aspect of their salvation. If God has given the greatest of all gifts, the gift of his Son, nothing is beyond him (31-32). They need not fear any accusations against them, because the one who has declared them righteous is God himself, and he has done so on the basis of the perfect work of Jesus Christ (33-34). Nor should they fear persecution or even martyrdom, because through Christ they are assured of final victory (35-37). No matter what happens to them, nothing can separate them from the unchanging love of God (38-39).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/romans-8.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

All things ... includes all sufferings, sorrows, infirmities, and everything else of a discouraging and calamitous nature which might befall God's child on earth. "For good ..." cannot mean earthly prosperity, success, bodily health, or any other purely mortal benefit, but is rather a reference to the eternal felicity of the soul. Whatever might happen to the Christian in this life, absolutely nothing can happen to HIM, that is, his saved inner self. This is true because God is able to overrule every earthly circumstance in such a manner as to compel its contribution to the eternal redemption that awaits the children of God. As Brunner warned,

No universal optimism is meant - (such as) everything will turn out all right for everybody in any case. There stands here the significant limitation, "to them that love God."[50]

Work together for good ... speaks of a situation in which God is surely at work on the Christian's behalf, but it also speaks' of a situation in which the saved person's reaction to life's woes is a controlled response.

Some ships sail east, and some sail west, By the selfsame winds that blow. It's the set of the sails and not the gales That determines the way they go!

-Anonymous

The reaction of the child of God, or his response, to the ills of mortal life must be one of patience, submission, humility, prayer, love, hope, and faith. Even adversity of the severest kind must be made to yield its precious fruit in the heart of the Christian. It has been proved again and again by Christians that "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New."[51]

Them that love God ... identifies the persons who shall receive the blessing of having all things work together for good on their behalf, this identification being further pinpointed by the last clause, "them that are called according to his purpose." Who are the people who love God? Christ said:

If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. ... He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me (John 14:15,21).

Christ's apostles stressed the same truth:

This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments (1 John 5:3).

This is love, that we should walk after his commandments (2 John 1:1:6).

Them that are called according to his purpose ... At this point, the great Biblical doctrines of calling, foreknowledge, and foreordination (or predestination) begin to emerge, doctrines which have evoked entire libraries of discussions, theories, and explanations, and which, in the fullness of their total meaning, may not be fully comprehensible to finite intelligence. These great teachings point toward God, upward and heavenward, and are like massive mountain peaks reaching up into the clouds, the summits of which extend far beyond the boundaries of human vision. Despite this, the foothills reached by our understanding afford beautiful and breathtaking vistas of these "deep things of the Spirit of God."

Moses E. Lard said that

"Those who are called" is simply another mode of designating the saved. It and the expression "those that love God' are descriptive, not of different persons, but of the same. The two clauses also express important facts in their lives.[52]

Of deep interest is the "calling" mentioned here. Who are the called, and how does the calling occur? Paul gave the answer thus:

Whereunto (unto which salvation) he called you through the gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

In one sense, the totality of human kind are called by the gospel, as indicated by Christ's express command that the divine call should be proclaimed to "the whole creation"; but the phrase "according to his purpose" delimits the persons here spoken of to them that fulfilled God's purpose through their affirmative response to the call.

Called according to his purpose ... means to be called "in one body (the church)" (Colossians 3:15), and that "through the church" there might be made known "the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:10,11). This, properly understood, eliminates the widespread misunderstanding with regard to God's calling of the redeemed. Paul here did not speak of individuals as such, but of the whole body of the saved. That body, composed of the whole number of the redeemed, is indeed called and foreordained to eternal glory; but of an individual person, it must be said that he is called from before all time and predestinated to everlasting life, only if his affirmative response to the divine call has brought him into union with Christ, and if he so continues. See under following verses.

"Purpose ..." here is translated from a Greek term [@prothesis], meaning God's placing all future events before his mind so as distinctly to see them.[53]

Thus, the germ of foreknowledge is found in the very first word of Paul's revelation on this tremendous subject. God's purposing was "kept in silence through times eternal" (Romans 16:25), and was an event prior to the creation of the world, "which in other generations was not made known" (Ephesians 3:5), "which hath been hid for ages and generations" (Colossians 1:26), "which God who cannot lie, promised before times eternal" (Titus 1:2). God's eternal purpose of gathering the saved of all ages into one body "in Christ" was a design "which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory" (1 Corinthians 2:7), which must be identified with "the mystery of God." A careful study of the passages here cited shows that in all of the "mystery" passages Paul was speaking of "the wisdom of God" and of his "eternal purpose" of uniting all people in Christ through the church which is his body.

A further word from Lard on this is:

We now have but little difficulty explaining the clause "called according to his purpose." In the [@prothesis] all things pertaining to man's redemption were set before God, and among them his predetermination that man should be called by the gospel, "to which salvation he called you by our gospel." Hence, to be called according to God's purpose, [@prothesis], is to be called by the gospel. It is therefore not to be called by some secret impulse of the Holy Spirit; neither is it to be called "effectually," or "ineffectually," as the schoolmen phrase it. This call we are absolutely free to accept or reject; and, accordingly, as we do this or that, we shall be saved or lost.[54]

[50] Emil Brunner, op. cit., p. 77.

[51] Sir Francis Bacon, in Bartlett's Quotations, p. 109.

[52] Moses E. Lard, op. cit., p. 280.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., p. 281.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/romans-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And we know - This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all flyings are under the direction of an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.

All things - All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.

Work together for good - They shall cooperate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and lying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit. a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted; Psalms 119:67, Psalms 119:71; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Hebrews 12:11.

For good - For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.

To them that love God - This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing. To others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce complaining, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.

To them who are the called - Christians are often represented as called of God. The word κλητός klētos is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling; Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians; Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. It is evidently used in this sense here - to denote those who were true Christians. The connection as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their heart such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.

According to his purpose - The word here rendered “purpose” πρόθεσις prothesis means properly a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of show-bread; Matthew 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4. Hence, it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or hap-hazard. God does not convert people without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does. he always meant to do. What it is right for him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Jeremiah 51:29. This purpose of saving his people is,

  1. One over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will; Ephesians 1:11.

(2)It is without any merit on the part of the sinner - a purpose to save him by grace; 2 Timothy 1:9.

(3)It is eternal; Ephesians 3:11.

(4)It is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-8.html. 1870.

Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans & 1st Corinthians

8:28: And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, (even) to them that are called according to (his) purpose.

Paul has argued that there are times when the Spirit makes intercession for God’s people. Here he brought to light another truth: All things work together for God’s people. This includes the suffering that is emphasized in this chapter. God can bring good things from the worst tragedies, and His ultimate good (plan) is our being “conformed to the image” of Jesus (verse 29).

It should be understood that “loving God” includes obedience (John 14:15). The promise made in verse 28 is only to those who have obeyed the gospel and continue to be faithful to the Lord. The word for love is agapao, the same term used in places like John 3:16. Here it is a present tense verb. Secular writers rarely spoke of agape love, and when they did, it was never in the sense found in the New Testament (unconditional love).

Towards the end of verse 28, Paul referred to those who have been “called” (kletos). This idea will be further developed in verses 29-30. For now, it should be observed that the promise in 28a is limited to those who are “called according to God’s purpose.” Only those who are called have this and all other spiritual blessings. The method of God’s calling is made known in verses 29-30; here it may be said the Scriptures reflect three aspects of God calling people. (1) All are called to come through Jesus (Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:24). (2) A called person is someone who has obeyed the gospel (John 6:45). (3) Being called is essentially synonymous with being a Christian (Judges 1:1).

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans & 1st Corinthians". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/romans-8.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

28. And we know, etc. He now draws this conclusion from what had been said, that so far are the troubles of this life from hindering our salvation, that, on the contrary, they are helps to it. It is no objection that he sets down an illative particle, for it is no new thing with him to make somewhat an indiscriminate use of adverbs, and yet this conclusion includes what anticipates an objection. For the judgment of the flesh in this case exclaims, that it by no means appears that God hears our prayers, since our afflictions continue the same. Hence the Apostle anticipates this and says, that though God does not immediately succour his people, he yet does not forsake them, for by a wonderful contrivance he turns those things which seem to be evils in such a way as to promote their salvation. If any one prefers to read this verse by itself, as though Paul proceeded to a new argument in order to show that adversities which assist our salvation, ought not to be borne as hard and grievous things, I do not object. At the same time, the design of Paul is not doubtful: “Though the elect and the reprobate are indiscriminately exposed to similar evils, there is yet a great, difference; for God trains up the faithful by afflictions, and thereby promotes their salvation.”

But we must remember that Paul speaks here only of adversities, as though he had said, “All things which happen to the saints are so overruled by God, that what the world regards as evil, the issue shows to be good.” For though what [ Augustine ] says is true, that even the sins of the saints are, through the guiding providence of God, so far from doing harm to them, that, on the contrary, they serve to advance their salvation; yet this belongs not to this passage, the subject of which is the cross.

It must also be observed, that he includes the whole of true religion in the love of God, as on it depends the whole practice of righteousness.

Even to them who according to his purpose, etc. This clause seems to have been added as a modification, lest any one should think that the faithful, because they love God, obtain by their own merit the advantage of deriving such fruit from their adversities. We indeed know that when salvation is the subject, men are disposed to begin with themselves, and to imagine certain preparations by which they would anticipate the favor of God. Hence Paul teaches us, that those whom he had spoken of as loving God, had been previously chosen by him. For it is certain that the order is thus pointed out, that we may know that it proceeds from the gratuitous adoption of God, as from the first cause, that all things happen to the saints for their salvation. Nay, Paul shows that the faithful do not love God before they are called by him, as in another place he reminds us that the Galatians were known of God before they knew him. (Galatians 4:9.) It is indeed true what Paul intimates, that afflictions avail not to advance the salvation of any but of those who love God; but that saying of John is equally true, that then only he is begun to be loved by us, when he anticipates us by his gratuitous love.

But the calling of which Paul speaks here, has a wide meaning, for it is not to be confined to the manifestation of election, of which mention is presently made, but is to be set simply in opposition to the course pursued by men; as though Paul had said, — “The faithful attain not religion by their own efforts, but are, on the contrary led by the hand of God, inasmuch as he has chosen them to be a peculiar people to himself.” The word purpose distinctly excludes whatever is imagined to be adduced mutually by men; as though Paul had denied, that the causes of our election are to be sought anywhere else, except in the secret good pleasure of God; which subject is more fully handled in the first chapter to the Ephesians, and in the first of the Second Epistle to Timothy; where also the contrast between this purpose and human righteousness is more distinctly set forth. (268) Paul, however, no doubt made here this express declaration, — that our salvation is based on the election of God, in order that he might make a transition to that which he immediately subjoined, namely, that by the same celestial decree, the afflictions, which conform us to Christ, have been appointed; and he did this for the purpose of connecting, as by a kind of necessary chain, our salvation with the bearing of the cross.

(268) [ Hammond ] has a long note on the expression, κατὰ πρόθεσιν and quotes [ Cyril ] of Jerusalem, [ Clemens ] of Alexandria, and [ Theophylact ], as rendering the words, “according to their purpose,” that is, those who love God, — a construction of itself strange, and wholly alien to the whole tenor of the passage, and to the use of the word in most other instances. Paul has never used the word, except in one instance, (2 Timothy 3:10,) but with reference to God’s purpose or decree, — see Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9. It seems that [ Chrysostom ], [ Origen ], [ Theodoret ], and other Fathers, have given the same singularly strange explanation. But in opposition to these, [ Poole ] mentions [ Ambrose ], [ Augustine ], and even [ Jerome ], as regarding “the purpose” here as that of God: in which opinion almost all modern Divines agree.

[ Grotius ] very justly observes, that κλητοὶ, the called, according to the language of Paul, mean those who obey the call, ( qui vocanti obediunt ) and refers to Romans 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. And [ Stuart ] says that the word has this meaning throughout the New Testament, except in two instances, Matthew 20:16. and Matthew 22:14, where it means, invited. He therefore considers it as equivalent to ἔκλεκτοι, chosen, elected, or true Christians. — Ed.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-8.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Let's turn to the eighth chapter of Romans. Fasten your seatbelts as we take off.

In the seventh chapter of the book of Romans, Paul has come to the realization that the law is spiritual. While he was a Pharisee he thought of the law as physical, intended to control man's outward actions. But when he came to the realization that the law was spiritual, then he realized that the law actually condemned him to death because, though he had physically kept the law, spiritually he had violated it.

So he said that his problem was that the law was spiritual and he was carnal. Therefore, he found himself in this dilemma, whenever he would intend to do good, evil was present with him. Oftentimes, the good that he would do he didn't do. Many times the evil that he wouldn't do he was doing. Yet, he was fighting against his own spirit, his own mind. For with his mind in his heart he wanted to serve the law of God, but as Jesus said concerning Peter, "The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak" ( Matthew 26:41 ). I think that all of us have experienced that very same struggle. I have not always done for God the things that I would do for God. It isn't that I am not willing. It isn't that my spirit is not willing. It is my flesh is weak.

Paul recognized his problem, and he ends chapter 7 with that cry, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this life controlled by the body?" Then he answers his own question, "Thanks be unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, is my deliverance." So he comes now into that life of victory that one can experience while still living in the flesh. If he will submit his life to the control of the spirit.

Paul had felt the condemnation of the law. It had condemned him to death. Because he had violated that spiritual aspect of the law, though he had never committed adultery, yet he found that he desired his neighbor's wife and he realized that the desire was sin. Thou shalt not desire thy neighbor's wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor, and he had realized that he had violated that. He felt guilty, but now through the work of Jesus Christ he makes this astounding declaration.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ( Romans 8:1 ).

I think that this particular verse has meant more to me than almost any other passage of scripture, because I lived so many years of my Christian life in constant condemnation. Because, though my spirit was indeed willing, my flesh was weak. Week after week I would promise God that I was going to do better next week. Apologizing, repenting for my failure of the past week. "God, next week, I promise. I will read the Bible every day. I will pray every day. God, I am going to do better." I was always feeling guilty because I was always breaking my vow before God. I was not doing those things that I promised God I would do. I was constantly feeling condemnation. But there is therefore now no condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death ( Romans 8:2 ).

There is a new law that is working in me. God said to Jeremiah, "I will make a new covenant with the people, no longer written on the tables of stone, but I will write my law in the fleshly tablets of their hearts." That law of the Spirit of life that God has written in my heart.

God accepts that which is in my heart. My love for Him, my desires to please and serve Him. And God has written His law in my heart by which God now directs and controls even my desire--this new life in the Spirit in Christ.

"If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away and all things become new" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ) and it is interesting how even our desires change so dramatically when we are in Christ.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh ( Romans 8:3 ),

He is talking here of the Mosaic Law, which he said was holy, just and good, but what it could not do, what was the limitation of the law of Moses, or what could it not do, the law of Moses could not make a man righteous before God. So what the law could not do because of my weakness in the flesh, that is because I violated it. So because of the weakness of my flesh it could not make me righteous before God. But what it could not do because of the weakness of my own flesh,

God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh ( Romans 8:3 ):

What I could not do for myself through the Mosaic Law, that is, have a righteous standing before God, God did for me through sending His Son in the flesh.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ( Romans 8:4 ).

So it is not fulfilled by us, but it is fulfilled in us by Jesus Christ.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit ( Romans 8:5 ).

Now man is composed of three parts, an inferior trinity. He is body, mind, and spirit. The mind being synonymous with the soul, the consciousness of man. The consciousness of man is responsive to whatever controls the man. So if a man is controlled by his body appetites, if a man is living predominately after the flesh, then he has what is termed here the mind of the flesh. Or is mindful of fleshly things, or body needs. And this is the state of the natural man apart from Jesus Christ. It is that body consciousness, and you talk to the average person apart from Jesus Christ and they are going to be talking to you about things that relate to the body. They are going to be talking to you about new recipes, exotic new desserts, or they are going to be talking to you about drinks, or they're going to be talking to you about sex, or things that relate to the body appetites. Because that is where the mind of natural man is, because the body is in control, what he is thinking about constantly are those body needs, the body drives.

But when a man is born again by the Spirit of God and the spirit, then, is in control in his life, that man, then, is concerned with spiritual things and he is going to be talking about God, his relationship, the work of God within his heart, the work of God, spirit, how to please the Lord, how to serve the Lord. And his conversation is going to be addressed to spiritual things. Now the man who lives dominated by his body appetites is living like an animal, because animals are body-controlled beings. They do have a consciousness that is constantly absorbed with their body needs. Any man who lives controlled by his body needs is living as an animal and that is why the humanists today are so certain that they are related to the animal kingdom. Because they look around and they say, "Will you look at that baboon over there? All he thinks about is his body need. His only concern is feeding himself, and of procreation, and so forth and he looks a little bit like me. I guess I am related to that baboon." And he feels the close affinity to it, because the baboon is living just like he lives. But a man whose spirit has come alive and who is living after the Spirit realizes that he is not related to the animal kingdom, he is related to God. He was made in the image and the likeness of God, and it was from that image the he fell. But he seeks to relate himself again to God, because he is living after the Spirit.

So Paul declares, "They that are after the flesh are constantly mindful of the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit, then, are mindful of the things of the Spirit." But then he went on to declare,

[The mind of the flesh, or] the carnal mind is death ( Romans 8:6 );

That is, spiritual death, which biblically would be interpreted as separation of man's consciousness from God. Man classifies death as the separation of man's consciousness from his body. When the EEG reads flat for twenty-four hours they say, "Well, there is no brain movement or brain activity at all, lets pull the plug and see if anything happens on the monitor." And they pull the plug and you began to have an oxygen deprivation, and so the heart no longer is being pumped artificially. And they watch that monitor, because if there is any life at all then the brain will start searching for oxygen, and you will see a little bit of movement. And quickly they will plug it back in and say, "Well, we thought he was gone, but there is a slight movement." But if the thing stays flat they say, "Well, he is gone. There is no brain activity, the consciousness is gone. He is dead." But the Bible says that if your consciousness is separated from God, that is, you don't have a real consciousness of God, that you are dead, because your consciousness is separated from God. So the mind of the flesh is death, because it is a consciousness that is separated from God and absorbed with the things of my own body and those needs.

whereas the mind of the spirit is life and peace ( Romans 8:6 ).

Spiritual life which results in that glorious peace.

Because the carnal mind [or the mind of the flesh] is enmity against God ( Romans 8:7 ):

It is opposed to God, because God has declared that the spirit is superior to the material. And that man ought to be more concerned with the spiritual realm than the material realm. Now man today, humanism and all is saying just the opposite. Communism is saying just the opposite, man ought to be more concerned with the material realm than the spiritual realm, so the conflict between man and God. God tells you that you ought to be putting the spirit first. So they that have the mind of the flesh find themselves at enmity with God.

for the mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, and neither indeed can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God ( Romans 8:7-8 ).

This to me is an interesting statement, because so often men are seeking to offer to God the works of their flesh, and seeking that God would accept the works of their flesh. But God will no more accept the works of your flesh than He would Cain's, who sought to offer to God the works of his flesh and was rejected by God. But it is interesting how that we so often find ourselves in that place of seeking to offer to God the works of our flesh. But they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Now when we get to the book of Revelation, chapter 4, and God is there upon the throne, surrounded by the twenty-four lesser thrones of the elders and those cherubim, those angelic beings are worshipping the eternal God, the Creator, and are saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which is, which was, and which is to come" and the elders fall on their faces, taking their golden crowns and casting them before the glassy sea, before the throne of God. They declare, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor, for You have created all things," listen carefully, "and for Your pleasure they are and were created." Like it or not, God created you for His own good pleasure. That's the basic purpose for your existence. Man has twisted that and he somehow feels that he should live for his own pleasure, but the Bible tells us that if a person is living for their own pleasure they are really dead while they are still alive. Why? Because you were not answering to the very basic cause of your existence. God created you for His pleasure. Now careful note of that, because they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Thus, if you are living in the flesh and after the flesh your life is doomed to this emptiness and frustration, because you are not answering to God for the very basic purpose of your existence. If I want to have a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, I must live after the Spirit. But then Paul goes on to declare to the saints of God,

Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his ( Romans 8:9 ).

So those who have been born again, that born again is actually being born of the Spirit. When Nicodemus said, "How can a man be born again when he is old? I can't return again to my mother's womb and be born." Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Don't marvel when I say to you, ye must be born again." Even as you have all had a fleshly birth, we are here, it is just as necessary that you have a spiritual birth, for man by nature is alienated from God. It is only through the second birth, the spiritual birth when man's spirit comes alive that man really understands what God intended when He created man. For God did not intend for man to live after the flesh and be a slave to his flesh, but God intended that man should live and walk after the Spirit.

You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if the Spirit of God is dwelling in you. But if any man doesn't have the Spirit of Christ then he is none of His. You really don't belong to Him, unless you have had that second birth, the spiritual birth, which we term born again. Then you really aren't a part of God or His kingdom.

If Christ is in you, then the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also make alive your mortal bodies by his Spirit dwelling in you ( Romans 8:10-11 ).

In other words, even though I am still living in this body I can begin to experience victory over my flesh. I don't have to live as a subject to my flesh anymore. I can begin to live in victory over the flesh, because of that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, it makes me alive in Him.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you are going to die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, then you shall live ( Romans 8:12-13 ).

It is through the help of the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body or that they become subservient and the spirit becomes dominant.

I see the trinity of man in a storied area: upper story, middle story, lower story. And the natural man I see as body, and the upper story ruling, the mind, the middle story always, but in the case where the body is uppermost, the mind being controlled and dominated by the desire and needs of the body, and the spirit dormant or dead. Through the new birth there is an inversion, and man becomes then spirit, soul, and body. Or the spirit and mind now being dominated by the spirit which is in control, and the body down here where God intended it to be, no longer controlling, no longer ruling, no longer exercising its hold over me. But now the body appetites under the control of the spirit as God intended them to be. We, by the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, and thus, experience spiritual life.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God ( Romans 8:14 ).

Now this should be to each of us tonight a very searching verse, and upon reading this, it is important that each of us now make a personal inventory and evaluation and ask ourselves the question: Is my life led by the Spirit of God? As you look at your life, can you honestly say, "Yes, my life is led by the Spirit of God"? We are told to be careful lest we deceive ourselves. We are told that our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it. Thus, this kind of a verse should be a very searching verse and one that we should allow to search out our hearts today. Am I lead by the Spirit of God? For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

There are a lot of people today who are making claims to being sons of God. How can I really know that I am a son of God? Because I will be led by the Spirit of God. But if I am being led by my flesh, dominated by my flesh, then I am only fooling myself if I say I am a son of God.

For you have not received the spirit of bondage ( Romans 8:15 )

That is, that bondage to our flesh any longer. A slave to my own appetite.

but I have received the Spirit [of sonship,] adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father ( Romans 8:15 ).

They are both words for Father.

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God ( Romans 8:16 ):

God is a superior trinity: Father, Son, and the Spirit. Man is an inferior trinity: spirit, soul, and body. And man meets God in the area of the spirit.

When the woman in Samaria said to Jesus, "Our fathers say we are to worship God in this mountain. You say we are supposed to worship God in Jerusalem, and you say we are supposed to worship God in Jerusalem," as does Stanley Goldfoot. Her question to Jesus is, "Where do we worship God?" Jesus said, "Woman, the day is coming, and now is, when they that worship God neither worship in this mountain nor in Jerusalem. For God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" ( John 4:23 ). God is a Spirit, so the place I meet God is the place of the spirit. Now if I am living body, soul, and spirit, then I have no fellowship with God, as long as I'm being dominated by my body appetites and all. I have no fellowship with God, because God will not deal directly with my body. If I am ruled by my body I have the mind of the body which is death, spiritual death.

But when I become inverted, born again by the Spirit of God, and I am spirit, soul, and body, now the superior Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit is joined with the inferior trinity of man. And in the area of the spirit and God's Spirit is bearing witness with my spirit that I am a son of God.

Thus, I am united with God and joined with God and I have fellowship with God in the realm of the spirit, only when the spirit is uppermost. My life is being ruled by the spirit, thus I am being led by the Spirit and in that I have then this joined together with God in the spirit as His Spirit is bearing witness with my spirit. Not bearing witness with my intellect, not bearing witness with my body, bearing witness to my spirit where I have joined with God that I am the child of God. How glorious it is to walk in the Spirit, to be in union with the Spirit of God, to be led by the Spirit of God, and to have that glorious assurance of God's Spirit bearing witness to mine. Hey, you're a child of God.

Now if I am a child, I am an heir; I am an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together ( Romans 8:17 ).

Children will dream. And when I was a child I spent one summer in a home in Montecito where my aunt was the maid. The people who owned the home had gone to Europe for the summer. So I went up to spend some time with my cousin. Oh, what a fabulous time we had as we lived like rich boys. A seven-car garage and all kinds of fancy cars; we would go out and sit in them and pretend that we were driving them. The little kid there had a whole room full of big little books, and you young people won't understand that at all. It was so exciting reading every night. He had one of the most fabulous electric trains, a huge one. They had their own stables, their own pools. And after that time I used to think, wouldn't it be wonderful if some day there would be a knock on the door and there would be a lawyer there and he would say, "Your uncle that you happened not to know who happened to be one of the wealthiest men in the world died, and you were left his fortune." Oh boy, I'd go up an get me a house in Montecito, like that one where I stayed. What fun it would be to be an heir of some wealthy person. How glorious it is to be an heir of God, joint-heir with Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God has become mine. I am an heir to God's kingdom. I shall live in that kingdom, the kingdom of light, and love, joy and peace, an heir of God, joint-heir with Jesus Christ.

Then Paul said,

I reckon that this present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed ( Romans 8:18 ).

As a Christian we will experience suffering, because in reality we have become an alien in the world in which we live. This world that is dominated by the flesh, dominated by men who are dominated by the flesh. We are a minority group. The majority of the people in the world are living after the flesh. We are aliens because we live an entirely different lifestyle as we live after the Spirit. One that they cannot understand, and when a person cannot understand you, you will always become a threat to them. So Jesus said, "Rejoice when you are persecuted for righteousness sake. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven" ( Luke 6:22-23 ). So Jesus, in the hour of suffering or persecution, points us to the glory of that kingdom that we are going to experience for eternity. We are told concerning Jesus, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame" ( Hebrews 12:2 ). Yes, He suffered, but as He suffered He was looking forward to the glory of the kingdom and the joy of being able to redeem lost man. So in suffering we should not be looking at the suffering, but at the glorious kingdom that shall come when our Lord comes to claim His own. For the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.

Paul in writing to the Corinthians, after telling them the whole ten yards that he had gone through, the many beatings and stonings, shipwrecks and imprisonments and all, he said, "But this light affliction which is but for a moment worketh an exceeding eternal weight of glory" ( 2 Corinthians 4:17 ). This light affliction . . . "I was beaten five times with rods and stoned three times and dragged out of the city. They thought I was dead. I was hanging on to a part of the ship for a night and a day out in the middle of the Mediterranean." Light affliction, it is just but for a moment. But oh, I am going to have an eternal weight of glory. I reckon that this suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed.

For the earnest expectation of the creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God ( Romans 8:19 ).

Now, unfortunately, there are those radical groups that take a verse like this and a phrase "manifestation of the sons of God" and they use it to build a whole pernicious doctrine. And this doctrine has a way of cycling. It becomes popular about every forty years. The last time it was popular was 1948, and it is beginning to get popular again, so thirty years. This doctrine of the manifestation of the sons of God is sort of a heavy kind of a doctrine. It surely appeals to a person's flesh, because basically what this doctrine declares is that the whole world is waiting for you to be manifested as the sons of God. That there is going to come in the last days a great power of God's Spirit upon the church and God is going to manifest Himself through you, His church, and you are going to be endowed with all kinds of supernatural powers. And you are going to go over to Moscow and you are going to start pointing at the tanks and they are going to start dissolving. And you are going through the hospital and emptying them all, and the whole world is just waiting for you to be manifested and so the idea is to, "Let's just sit and get perfected and get the church perfected so that God can manifest Himself in the perfected church," and this is in reality the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is not coming physically or bodily, but He is going to be coming in His church to be manifested through His church to the world, and the whole world is just groaning and travailing as waiting for you to be manifested. Sounds pretty wonderful, doesn't it? A powerful finger. Sad that people even give the time of day to such a doctrine.

Paul tells us in just a little bit what the manifestation of the sons of God really is. That is the problem of these people who never read the context, they just grab the phrase that they want out of a verse and never bother to look at the context of that particular verse, and we will see it in its context in a moment.

For the creature [that is, man] was made subject to emptiness, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope ( Romans 8:20 );

When God created man He created him incomplete . . . more ways than one. When God created Adam, God said, "It is not good that man should live alone." He is not complete. "Let's make a woman in order that man might be complete." And gals, we are just not complete without you. We frankly confess it. God saw that there was no companion for man. Man was not complete. It is not good that man shall live alone. So God created the woman that man might have completeness, companionship, love, and beauty. And God brought her to man and she became his wife. But there is another incompleteness of man. There is another emptiness in man and this emptiness only God can fill.

Dr. Henry Drummond who wrote that classic book "The Natural and The Supernatural", declares in that book that there is within the very protoplasm of man those little tentacles that are reaching out for God. Man was made for God. Man can never be satisfied until he is in union with God. Man is incomplete without God. There is a basic emptiness of man apart from God. And so the creature, God created him subject to this emptiness by reason of Him who created him that he might be subjected in hope. God created man with this emptiness so that man would seek after God to find that fulfillment and meaning for life. He has subjected the same in hope because, or for we know,

Because the creature himself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God ( Romans 8:21 ).

One day I am going to be free from this old body in this bondage of corruption and I am going to come into that glorious liberty of freedom.

For we know that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together until now ( Romans 8:22 ).

Not only man, but all of creation is groaning under the curse of sin.

Not only all of creation, but ourselves also, which even have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body ( Romans 8:23 ).

That is what he is talking about, the manifestation of the sons of God, when I have a redeemed body.

In writing to the Corinthians, the second epistle, chapter 5, Paul said, "For we know when this earthly tent, our body, is dissolved, that we then have a building of God that is not made with hands that is eternal in the heavens. So then we who are still living in these bodies do often groan, for we ourselves also groan within ourselves. We groan earnestly desiring to be delivered" ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 ). From what? From this old tent in which I am living. "Not that I would be unclothed or an unembodied creature, but that I might be clothed upon with the body which is from heaven. For I know that as long as I am living in this body I am absent from the Lord, but I would rather be absent from this body and to be present with the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 5:4-6 ).

The same idea that he is presenting here is presented there in II Corinthians 5 , of that groaning earnestly, desiring to be free from this body that is limited and restricted and often seeks to bring me into bondage, the bondage of corruption.

So we ourselves groan, we who are in these bodies do often groan earnestly desiring to be delivered. To move out of them. Not to be an unembodied creature, but to be clothed upon or to move into that body which God has in heaven.

Now interesting, Paul is likening this body to a tent. Whenever you think of a tent you don't think of a permanent place to live. We had to live in a tent for two years our church here, and it had its qualities, I guess. It had its interest. It had its smells of the kerosene heaters. And, of course, the tent blew over and it had holes in it. It got awfully cold at night and there were disadvantages. It was a glorious day when we moved out of that tent and into this new sanctuary. We were able to sit not on those hard metal chairs and not walk on the black asphalt, and not have to be subjected to that loud noise of those blowing heaters and smell the kerosene, but we were able to sit here in the upholstered pews, walk on the carpet, and enjoy the comforts of this more permanent home.

Now there is a likening, but it falls short, because that house that God has for me in heaven is eternal. That new model or that new body that I am going to get is going to be my eternal house. Right now I am living in a tent, this body. It's transient. Hey, it is beginning to have its problems. The threads are beginning to get a little old, rip a lot easier. When it rains, it is starting to leak. It is getting uncomfortable. And we who are in these bodies do often groan earnestly desiring to be delivered, not to be unembodied, but to be clothed upon with the body which is from heaven.

Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. For in My Father's house there are many mansions, and I am going to prepare one for you. And if I go and prepare one for you, then I am going to come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also" ( John 14:2-3 ). Now, what do you picture when Jesus says that? Colonial style, surrounded by beautiful gardens. I really think that Jesus was talking about what Paul had been talking about in II Corinthians 5 , that mansion is that new body that He has prepared for you. I am going to move from this tent into that new mansion, into that new building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Now that new body doesn't grow tired. It doesn't require sleep. Therefore, if I had a new mansion I wouldn't need any bedrooms. We ourselves which have the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves as we wait for this work of God. That is, the redemption of our body.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for it? ( Romans 8:24 )

When you finally see it, it becomes then a rational reality. It is no longer the realm of hope. Hope is always in something not yet seen. So God has subjected us in hope as we hope for that day and we hope for that kingdom.

But we are hoping for that which we see not, then with patience we are waiting for it. Now likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself will make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered ( Romans 8:25-26 ).

So creation is groaning. I am groaning. The spirit is groaning, waiting for that perfect work of God. But the spirit's groaning has a purpose within my life, as the Spirit helps my other weaknesses. Now by the spirit I am mortifying the deeds of my flesh. By the spirit I am receiving that sense of adoption where I am crying Abba Father, for it is the Spirit that is bearing witness to me that I am a child of God. And now the spirit is helping my weakness in my prayer life. Because I don't always know what God's particular will is in a particular situation. And not knowing the will of God then it is difficult often to pray, because it doesn't really make sense to pray against the will of God.

The purpose of prayer is never to accomplish my will; the real purpose of prayer is always to accomplish God's will. If I think of prayer as an instrument by which I can get my will done, I totally misunderstand prayer. As do so many evangelists today. That was never God's intention that prayer should be the instrument by which man can accomplish his will upon the earth. Prayer is the instrument by which we cooperate with God in the accomplishing of His will upon the earth. As Jesus said, "Not my will, but thy will be done," and that is always the real thrust of prayer. But I always do not know what God's will is and therein is where the Spirit steps in and helps me, and He will make intercession for me with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Have you ever groaned in the Spirit? I groan often when I see the conditions of the world around me. I groan often when I see the conditions and needs of people around me, because often I don't know how to pray.

But he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God ( Romans 8:27 ).

You know, to me it is such a simple, beautiful thing. God has made prayer such a simple, beautiful thing. If I don't know how to pray and I want to pray according to the will of God and here is my friend John over here and I don't know really how to pray for his situation. I really don't know what God is doing in his life, but I know John needs prayer. God has made it so simple. I can say, "God, I bring John before you, oh, oh, oh . . . Now, God, you interpret that." You know the amazing thing to me is that God can interpret that as intercession according to His will. That is what we are told here. The Spirit will help our weaknesses through groaning which really cannot be uttered, for He knows what is the mind of the Father and He will make intercession according to His will. Glory! I love it.

Verse Romans 8:28 : "And we know that most things work together for good to them that love God." How many times have you interpreted it that way? "Well, I know, but not this case. I don't see how in this case." Many times I am willing to acknowledge, "Oh yes, God is going to work out good in this. I can see how God is going to work." Most things do work together for good to those that love God. That's not what it says, is it?

And we know that all things ( Romans 8:28 )

You know, I have found such rest and comfort in this verse when I am faced . . . as I am often faced with situations that I can't understand. Disappointments, setbacks, things that I just don't understand, and I am prone to be concerned, or worried, or get upset, and then this verse will come to mind.

And we know that all things are working together for good to those that love God, and are the called according to his purpose ( Romans 8:28 ).

I have rested in this verse over and over and over again. Now as I have told you, you are not going to always understand your circumstances. There are going to be many things that will happen to you of which, though you do your best, you're not going to be able to understand it or figure it out. And when you come against that which you can't understand, it is important that you have certain foundations that you do understand and you fall back on the foundations. What do I understand? I understand that God loves me. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. I understand that God is wiser than I am. I understand that God is in control of all of the circumstances that surround my life. Thus, anything that happens to me only happens to me because God has allowed it to happen to me. It could not happen to me unless God did allow it to happen to me, and God loves me and is working out what is best for me. Thus, I can rest in the most uncomfortable places. I rest in faith that God is even going to use this for my good and His glory.

Now if you will just take this and file it up here to where you will live by it, you won't have to come to Romaine and get his hammer on your head. You know things start going wrong, "Oh, I need to talk to someone," you know. Hey, wait a minute. God is in control. God loves you. And God knows what is going on and God is working even in this situation His good purpose in your life. For all things work together for good to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose.

My father was a salesman. For years he was a sales engineer for the Southern County Gas Company, and then he went into the real estate business and was a realtor here in Santa Ana for many years. The life of a salesman is a life of feast or famine, and potential great feast. I mean, he had some nice deals that if he just could have put together the commission that was just . . . oh, man. And a lot of times you even put a great deal in escrow. When you have got it in escrow you are feeling pretty good about it. You have got a sizeable deposit that is in escrow and, boy, my commission on this is going to be about $35,000 and all right. And it is interesting, you start spending the commission. But it is amazing how sometimes these sure deals can fall out of escrow, and oh, what disappointment. Just the bottom is knocked out. Here I had all my bills paid and I became current and we had the new living room furniture practically delivered, you know. And now it is falling out of escrow and oh God, what are we going to do now? So my dad had a little plaque made with the words "all things" and he had it there on his desk. So that when some big deal would fall out of escrow he would just look at that little plaque, "all things are working together for good." I think it would be good for all of us to make a little plaque and put it on our mirrors or someplace where we are reminded every day that all things are working together for good to those who love God. Not just some of the things, but because you have been called according to His purpose you can rest in the confidence that God is in control and all things are working together for good.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren ( Romans 8:29 ).

So God foreknew me. That always amazes me, but it shouldn't surprise me because He knows everything. But the thing that amazes me is that foreknowing me He predestined that I should be one of His children, that is the thing that amazes me most. He foreknew me, and then predestined that I should be conformed to the image of his Son, that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brethren. In other words, that we might be made the sons of God, but the firstborn is first in prominence, Jesus first in prominence, but He is the firstborn of many brethren. And I have been born again by the Spirit of God.

Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified ( Romans 8:30 ).

Now here God is speaking of things concerning me that are not yet fulfilled. For you do not yet see the glorified Chuck. I am not yet in my glorified state. That is a yet future experience that I am to have. But yet, God puts it in the past tense, which to me is quite interesting. But even as He spoke to Abraham concerning his seed in the past tense, because He knew that Abraham was going to have a son whom He did foreknow. And because God has the foreknowledge, He can speak as Paul said of things as existing even though as yet they do not exist, because He knows they are going to exist. And so God speaks, and this is what thrills me, He speaks of my being glorified, because God knows He is going to do it. He is going to complete that work in me. He which has begun a good work in me shall surely continue to perform it. And so I rest in the fact that God has already spoken in the past tense of my future state of glorified together with Jesus Christ. I have got it made.

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

Now Paul asks a series of questions: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Satan is against us, the world is against us, but the idea is, what is Satan? And what is the world compared with God? As David said, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do to me." If God be for me . . . the glorious truth is this: God is for you tonight. And because God is for you, I don't care what forces of hell may be against you, they are nothing compared to God.

Never think of Satan as the opposite of God. He is not. Not at all the opposite of God. You can't put them in the same category. God is the infinite, the eternal Creator. Satan is a finite created being. In no way is Satan opposite of God. He may be opposite to Michael or to Gabriel, but never to God. Never think of him opposite of God. And thus, though the forces of hell be gathered against you, they are nothing compared with that power that is available to you, because God is for you.

How do I know God is for me? Because,

He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all ( Romans 8:32 ),

That word delivered is speaking of the cross, delivered Him to die.

how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? ( Romans 8:32 )

God delivered His Son to die for my sins. God delivered His Son to suffer, to be despised and rejected, as was prophesied in Isaiah, and to be delivered for my sins.

I didn't fully appreciate that until I became a parent and I watched my own little babies suffer from some of the childhood maladies. And whenever my children would get a fever and become listless and sick, whatever, it would so tear me up inside to see them in that condition. How I hurt to see my children suffer. How I hurt to see my grandchildren suffer. My little granddaughter tonight has got an ear infection and not feeling well, and it just tears me up. How I wish there was some way that I could suffer for her. That I could have that ear infection and I could somehow take her suffering and bear it for her so that she wouldn't have to suffer. And that beautiful, sparkling, darling little gal wouldn't have to lie there listless and crying and thrashing in the bed. Oh, what I wouldn't give if I couldn't take her place and suffer for her.

Then I began to realize the pain the Father must have gone through to see His Son suffering, even more so than Him coming Himself. As a parent you would gladly take the place of your child and suffer for them. But to have to see your child suffer . . . God delivered Jesus up for us all, how much more then shall He not freely give us all things? God is not reluctant to help you. God doesn't have to be begged to come to your assistance. God is more willing to give than we are to receive. God has already demonstrated His willingness to give His only begotten Son, deliver Him up. Then if God is willing to do that much for you, the rest is easy.

Nothing that you might need could possible come close to comparing what God has already demonstrated His willingness to give and do for you because He loves you so much. Our problem is that we just don't understand the depth of God's love for us. How rich, how broad, how expansive is God's love for you tonight. Oh, if you only knew how much God loves you, you would never run away from Him again. You would never try to hide from Him again. If you only knew that God's love for you is broader than the universe, and God's desires for you are only for your good, and it is foolish to run from God. It is foolish to fight God, because you're fighting against the very best for your own life.

The next question,

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? ( Romans 8:33 )

You see, he tells me that God foreknew me, and because He foreknew me, He chose me and then He justified me and then He glorified me. So God elected me. That is what Jesus said, "You didn't choose me, I chose you." God elected me. Then who is going to lay anything to my charge, because God elected me? He has already glorified me as far as He is concerned and, who is going to lay anything to my charge? Who is going to make charges against me? Well, Satan does. He is the accuser of the brethren. People often do. But there is one who isn't making any charges against me, and that is God. Oh, how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity. God doesn't have any black book on me. He doesn't keep a record of my mistakes, my sins, my failures. He has justified me. He has declared me innocent of all charges.

Who is he that condemneth? ( Romans 8:34 )

Well, again, Satan condemns, people condemn, and I condemn myself. We are often so hard on ourselves and are in the position of condemning ourselves, but I can tell you one who is not condemning. Jesus said, "I didn't come to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved. He who believes is not condemned" ( John 3:17-18 ). "There is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus" ( Romans 8:1 ).

Who is the one condemning? Satan is condemning, but why should I worry about that? The world may be condemning me, but why should I worry about that? The one who really counts is not condemning me, because,

he died for me, yea rather, is risen again, in fact he is at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me ( Romans 8:34 ).

You say, "Oh, but I have failed God so miserably. Oh, but I have done this." Hey, wait a minute. You may condemn yourself, but Jesus isn't. He is interceding in your behalf. If you only understood how much God loved you, that's all you need.

Now Paul tells you a little bit about it.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ( Romans 8:35 )

The next question, actually, who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter ( Romans 8:35-36 ).

But can the persecution, the peril, the nakedness, the sword, can these things separate me from the love of Christ?

No, for in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us ( Romans 8:37 ).

It is one thing to be a conqueror. The Rams conquered the 49ers today. They weren't quite sure though. There wasn't much rejoicing until that field goal attempt was blocked in the last three seconds, and then they went wild. Then they conquered. "All right, we conquered," and then was the great elation, rejoicing. Pretty tense there for a little bit. But you know what it is to be more than a conqueror? Hey, it is to have the victory in the midst of the battle. While things are still raging around me, while the outcome still seems to be very uncertain is to have the glorious victory and rejoicing, that is more than a conqueror. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities [which are ranks of angelic beings], nor powers [other ranks], not things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord ( Romans 8:38-39 ).

Paul made the case just as airtight as he possibly could. He put in everything he could think of, and yet, some poor timid soul stands there and quivers thinking God is going to forsake them now. "God surely can't love me anymore. You know, He is through with me. He has had it with me." Wait a minute. Nothing can separate you from that love of God which is in Christ Jesus. No angel, no principality, no power, nothing that has ever been before or shall ever come, things present, things to come, height, depth, any other created being will be able to separate you from God's love in Christ, because God's love for you is constant. It is eternal. And it is not predicated upon you but upon His own nature of love. God's love for me is uncaused on my part. Therefore, it is constant and it remains. God doesn't love me when I am good and hate me when I am bad. God loves me good or bad. For better or for worse, for richer for poorer. In sickness and in health, all of the way. His love is there and constant. Oh, how grateful we are for that love of God for us tonight in Christ Jesus. God help us to comprehend what is the length, the breadth, the depth, the height, and to know that love of Christ that God has for us in Him.

Father, we thank You for Your Word and for the glorious blessings and hope and strength and comfort that is ours tonight because of Your Word. How we appreciate this marvelous position that we have in Christ Jesus where nothing can separate us from Your love. Lord, thank You. What can we say to these things? Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.

May the Lord be with you. May the Lord bless you. May the life, the joy, the love, the peace of Christ just keep your life as you walk in the Spirit, being lead by the Spirit in close communion with God, as His Spirit just bears witness with your spirit of that glorious relationship that you have as God's child, His heir for all eternity. "



Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/romans-8.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

4. Our place in God’s sovereign plan 8:26-30

In the foregoing verses Paul spoke of God’s plan for creation and the believer. In these verses he showed how central a place His children occupy in the plan He is bringing to completion in history.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/romans-8.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

"We have been dealing in the first part of the chapter with the human will and its consent to walk by the Spirit. Not so from the 28th verse to the chapter’s end. It will be all God from now on!" [Note: Newell, p. 330.]

Different translators have interpreted this verse in different ways too. Some saw "God" as the subject and have translated it "God causes . . ." (NASB). Others believed that "all things" is the subject and rendered it "all things God works . . ." (NIV). However the differences are not significant. The whole chapter, even all of Scripture, presents God as sovereign over all the affairs of life. Consequently we know what Paul meant. God orders all the events of life, not just the intercession of the indwelling Spirit, so they culminate in the blessing of His children (cf. Romans 8:26-27).

"All things" means just that: all things. In the context these things include the adversities the believer experiences. The "good" is what is good from God’s perspective, and, in view of Romans 8:18-27, conformity to the Son of God is particularly prominent (Romans 8:29). Those who love God could be a group of believers who love God more than others. However since Paul described them from the divine side as the elect of God, those who love God must refer to all Christians (cf. 1 John 4:19). This is the only place in Romans where Paul wrote of the believer’s love for God; everywhere else he referred to God’s love for the believer.

This verse does not say that God causes all things, period. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that God causes sin or evil. He permits these things, but that is much different than causing them. Therefore when tragedy touches a believer we should not conclude that this is one of the "all things" that God causes. Rather this verse says that God brings good out of all things, even tragedies, for the Christian. The causes of tragedy are Satan, the sinful choices of people, and the consequences of living in a sinful world (cf. James 1:13-14): Satan, sin, and sinners. Even though God permits or allows bad things to happen, Scripture never lays the blame for these things on God, and neither should we.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/romans-8.html. 2012.

Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Chapter 8

THE LIBERATION OF OUR HUMAN NATURE ( Romans 8:1-4 )

8:1-4 There is, therefore, now no condemnation against those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law which comes from the Spirit and leads to life has in Christ Jesus set me free from the law which begets sin and leads to death. As for the impotency of the law, that weakness of the law which resulted from the effects of our sinful human nature--God sent his own Son as a sin offering with that very same human nature which in us had sinned; and thereby, while he existed in the same human nature as we have, he condemned sin, so that as a result the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live our lives not after the principle of sinful human nature, but after the principle of the Spirit.

This is a very difficult passage because it is so highly compressed, and because, all through it, Paul is making allusions to things which he has already said.

Two words keep occurring again and again in this chapter, flesh (sarx, G4561) and spirit (pneuma, G4151) . We will not understand the passage at all unless we understand the way in which Paul is using these words.

(i) Sarx ( G4561) literally means flesh. The most cursory reading of Paul's letters will show how often he uses the word, and how he uses it in a sense that is all his own. Broadly speaking, he uses it in three different ways.

(a) He uses it quite literally. He speaks of physical circumcision, literally "in the flesh" ( Romans 2:28). (b) Over and over again he uses the phrase kata ( G2596) sarka ( G4561) , literally according to the flesh, which most often means looking at things from the human point of view. For instance, he says that Abraham is our forefather kata ( G2596) sarka ( G4561) , from the human point of view. He says that Jesus is the son of David kata ( G2596) sarka ( G4561) ( Romans 1:3), that is to say, on the human side of his descent. He speaks of the Jews being his kinsmen kata ( G2596) sarka ( G4561) ( Romans 9:3), that is to say, speaking of human relationships. When Paul uses the phrase kata ( G2596) sarka ( G4561) , it always implies that he is looking at things from the human point of view.

(c) But he has a use of this word sarx ( G4561) which is all his own. When he is talking of the Christians, he talks of the days when we were in the flesh (en ( G1722) sarki, G4561) ( Romans 7:5). He speaks of those who walk according to the flesh in contradistinction to those who live the Christian life ( Romans 8:4-5). He says that those who are in the flesh cannot please God ( Romans 8:8). He says that the mind of the flesh is death, and that it is hostile to God ( Romans 8:6; Romans 8:8). He talks about living according to the flesh ( Romans 8:12). He says to his Christian friends, "You are not in the flesh" ( Romans 8:9).

It is quite clear, especially from the last instance, that Paul is not using flesh simply in the sense of the body, as we say flesh and blood. How, then, is he using it? He really means human nature in all its weakness and he means human in its vulnerability to sin. He means that part of man which gives sin its bridgehead. He means sinful human nature, apart from Christ, everything that attaches a man to the world instead of to God. To live according to the flesh is to live a life dominated by the dictates and desires of sinful human nature instead of a life dominated by the dictates and the love of God. The flesh is the lower side of man's nature.

It is to be carefully noted that when Paul thinks of the kind of life that a man dominated by the sarx ( G4561) lives he is not by any means thinking exclusively of sexual and bodily sins. When he gives a list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, he includes the bodily and the sexual sins; but he also includes idolatry, hatred, wrath, strife, heresies, envy, murder. The flesh to him was not a physical thing but spiritual. It was human nature in all its sin and weakness; it was all that man is without God and without Christ.

(ii) There is the word Spirit; in Romans 8:1-39 it occurs no fewer than twenty times. This word has a very definite Old Testament background. In Hebrew it is ruach ( H7307) , and it has two basic thoughts. (a) It is not only the word for Spirit; it is also the word for wind. It has always the idea of power about it, power as of a mighty rushing wind. (b) In the Old Testament, it always has the idea of something that is more than human. Spirit, to Paul, represented a power which was divine.

So Paul says in this passage that there was a time when the Christian was at the mercy of his own sinful human nature. In that state the law simply became something that moved him to sin and he went from bad to worse, a defeated and frustrated man. But, when he became a Christian, into his life there came the surging power of the Spirit of God, and, as a result, he entered into victorious living.

In the second part of the passage Paul speaks of the effect of the work of Jesus on us. It is complicated and difficult, but what Paul is getting at is this. Let us remember that he began all this by saying that every man sinned in Adam. We saw how the Jewish conception of solidarity made it possible for him to argue that, quite literally, all men were involved in Adam's sin and in its consequence--death. But there is another side to this picture. Into this world came Jesus; with a completely human nature; and he brought to God a life of perfect obedience, of perfect fulfilment of God's law. Now, because Jesus was fully a man, just as we were one with Adam, we are now one with him; and, just as we were involved in Adam's sin, we are now involved in Jesus' perfection. In him mankind brought to God the perfect obedience, just as in Adam mankind brought to God the fatal disobedience. Men are saved because they were once involved in Adam's sin but are now involved in Jesus' goodness. That is Paul's argument, and, to him and to those who heard it, it was completely convincing, however hard it is for us to grasp it. Because of what Jesus did, there opens out to the Christian a life no longer dominated by the flesh but by that Spirit of God, which fills a man with a power not his own. The penalty of the past is removed and strength for his future is assured.

THE TWO PRINCIPLES OF LIFE ( Romans 8:5-11 )

8:5-11 Those who live according to the dictates of sinful human nature are absorbed in worldly human things. Those who live according to the dictates of the Spirit are absorbed in the things of the Spirit. To be absorbed in worldly human things is death; but to be absorbed in the things of the Spirit is life and peace, because absorption in the things which fascinate our sinful human nature is hostility to God, for it does not obey the law of God, nor, indeed, can it do so. Those whose life is a purely worldly thing cannot please God; but you are not dominated by the pursuits which fascinate our sinful human nature; you are dominated by the Spirit, if so it be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone does not possess the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, even if because of sin your body is mortal, your Spirit has life through righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you he will make even your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit indwelling in you.

Paul is drawing a contrast between two kinds of life.

(i) There is the life which is dominated by sinful human nature; whose focus and centre is self; whose only law is its own desires; which takes what it likes where it likes. In different people that life will be differently described. It may be passion-controlled, or lust-controlled, or pride-controlled, or ambition-controlled. Its characteristic is its absorption in the things that human nature without Christ sets its heart upon.

(ii) There is the life that is dominated by the Spirit of God. As a man lives in the air, he lives in Christ, never separated from him. As he breathes in the air and the air fills him, so Christ fills him. He has no mind of his own; Christ is his mind. He has no desires of his own; the will of Christ is his only law. He is Spirit-controlled, Christ-controlled, God-focused.

These two lives are going in diametrically opposite directions. The life that is dominated by the desires and activities of sinful human nature is on the way to death. In the most literal sense, there is no future in it--because it is getting further and further away from God. To allow the things of the world completely to dominate life is self extinction; it is spiritual suicide. By living it, a man is making himself totally unfit ever to stand in the presence of God. He is hostile to him, resentful of his law and his control. God is not his friend but his enemy, and no man ever won the last battle against him.

The Spirit-controlled life, the Christ-centred life, the God-focused life is daily coming nearer heaven even when it is still on earth. It is a life which is such a steady progress to God that the final transition of death is only a natural and inevitable stage on the way. It is like Enoch who walked with God and God took him. As the child said: "Enoch was a man who went on walks with God--and one day he didn't come back."

No sooner has Paul said this than an inevitable objection strikes him. Someone may object: "You say that the Spirit-controlled man is on the way to life; but in point of fact every man must die. Just what do you mean?" Paul's answer is this. All men die because they are involved in the human situation. Sin came into this world and with sin came death, the consequence of sin. Inevitably, therefore, all men die; but the man who is Spirit-controlled and whose heart is Christ-occupied, dies only to rise again. Paul's basic thought is that the Christian is indissolubly one with Christ. Now Christ died and rose again; and the man who is one with Christ is one with death's conqueror and shares in that victory. The Spirit controlled, Christ-possessed man is on the way to life; death is but an inevitable interlude that has to be passed through on the way.

ENTRY INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD ( Romans 8:12-17 )

8:12-17 So then, brothers, a duty is laid upon us--and that duty is not to our own sinful human nature, to live according to the principles of that same nature; for, if you live according to the principles of sinful human nature, you are on the way to death; but if by the spirit you kill the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are guided by the Spirit of God, these, and only these, are the children of God. For you did not receive a state whose dominating condition is slavery so that you might relapse into fear; but you received a state whose dominating characteristic is adoption, in which we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. If we are children then we are also heirs; and if we are the heirs of God then we are joint-heirs with Christ. If we suffer with him we shall also be glorified with him.

Paul is introducing us to another of the great metaphors in which he describes the new relationship of the Christian to God. He speaks of the Christian being adopted into the family of God. It is only when we understand how serious and complicated a step Roman adoption was that we really under stand the depth of meaning in this passage.

Roman adoption was always rendered more serious and more difficult by the Roman patria potestas. This was the father's power over his family; it was the power of absolute disposal and control, and in the early days was actually the power of life and death. In regard to his father, a Roman son never came of age. No matter how old he was, he was still under the patria potestas, in the absolute possession and under the absolute control, of his father. Obviously this made adoption into another family a very difficult and serious step. In adoption a person had to pass from one patria potestas to another.

There were two steps. The first was known as mancipatio, and was carried out by a symbolic sale, in which copper and scales were symbolically used. Three times the symbolism of sale was carried out. Twice the father symbolically sold his son, and twice he bought him back; but the third time he did not buy him back and thus the patria potestas was held to be broken. There followed a ceremony called vindicatio. The adopting father went to the praetor, one of the Roman magistrates, and presented a legal case for the transference of the person to be adopted into his patria potestas. When all this was completed, the adoption was complete. Clearly this was a serious and an impressive step.

But it is the consequences of adoption which are most significant for the picture that is in Paul's mind. There were four main ones. (i) The adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. In the most binding legal way, he got a new father. (ii) It followed that he became heir to his new father's estate. Even if other sons were afterwards born, it did not affect his rights. He was inalienably co-heir with them. (iii) In law, the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out; for instance, all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with which the past had nothing to do. (iv) In the eyes of the law he was absolutely the son of his new father. Roman history provides an outstanding case of how completely this was held to be true. The Emperor Claudius adopted Nero in order that he might succeed him on the throne; they were not in any sense blood relations. Claudius already had a daughter, Octavia. To cement the alliance Nero wished to marry her. Nero and Octavia were in no sense blood relations; yet, in the eyes of the law, they were brother and sister; and before they could marry, the Roman senate had to pass special legislation.

That is what Paul is thinking of. He uses still another picture from Roman adoption. He says that God's spirit witnesses with our spirit that we really are his children. The adoption ceremony was carried out in the presence of seven witnesses. Now, suppose the adopting father died and there was some dispute about the right of the adopted son to inherit, one or more of the seven witnesses stepped forward and swore that the adoption was genuine. Thus the right of the adopted person was guaranteed and he entered into his inheritance. So, Paul is saying, it is the Holy Spirit himself who is the witness to our adoption into the family of God.

We see then that every step of Roman adoption was meaningful in the mind of Paul when he transferred the picture to our adoption into the family of God. Once we were in the absolute control of our own sinful human nature; but God, in his mercy, has brought us into his absolute possession. The old life has no more rights over us; God has an absolute right. The past is cancelled and its debts are wiped out; we begin a new life with God and become heirs of all his riches. If that is so, we become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, God's own Son. That which Christ inherits, we also inherit. If Christ had to suffer, we also inherit that suffering; but if Christ was raised to life and glory, we also inherit that life and glory.

It was Paul's picture that when a man became a Christian he entered into the very family of God. He did nothing to deserve it; God, the great Father, in his amazing love and mercy, has taken the lost, helpless, poverty-stricken, debt-laden sinner and adopted him into his own family, so that the debts are cancelled and the glory inherited.

THE GLORIOUS HOPE ( Romans 8:18-25 )

8:18-25 For I am convinced that the sufferings of this present age cannot be compared with the glory which is destined to be disclosed to us. The created world awaits with eager expectation the day when those who are the sons of God will be displayed in all their glory. For the created world has been subjected to chaos, not because of its own choice, but through him who passed the sentence of such subjugation upon it, and yet it still has the hope that the created world also will be liberated from this slavery to decay and will be brought to the freedom of the glory of the children of God; for we know that the whole creation unites together in groans and agonies. Not only does the created world do so, but so do we, even though we have received the first-fruits of the spirit as a foretaste of the coming glory, yes, we too groan within ourselves earnestly awaiting the full realization of our adoption into the family of God. I mean the redemption of our body. For it is by hope that we are saved; but a hope which is already visible is not a hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then in patience we eagerly wait for it.

Paul has just been speaking of the glory of adoption into the family of God; and then he comes back to the troubled state of this present world. He draws a great picture. He speaks with a poet's vision. He sees all nature waiting for the glory that shall be. At the moment creation is in bondage to decay.

"Change and decay in all around I see."

The world is one where beauty fades and loveliness decays; it is a dying world; but it is waiting for its liberation from all this and the coming of the state of glory.

When Paul was painting this picture, he was working with ideas that any Jew would recognize and understand. He talks of this present age and of the glory that will be disclosed. Jewish thought divided time into two sections--this present age and the age to come. This present age was wholly bad, subject to sin, and death and decay. Some day there would come The Day of the Lord. That would be a day of judgment when the world would be shaken to its foundations; but out of it there would come a new world.

The renovation of the world was one of the great Jewish thoughts. The Old Testament speaks of it without elaboration and without detail. "Behold I create new heavens and a new earth" ( Isaiah 65:17). But in the days between the Testaments, when the Jews were oppressed and enslaved and persecuted, they dreamed their dreams of that new earth and that renovated world.

"The vine shall yield its fruit ten thousand fold, and on each

vine there shall be a thousand branches; and each branch shall

produce a thousand clusters; and each cluster produce a thousand

grapes; and each grape a cor of wine. And those who have

hungered shall rejoice; moreover, also, they shall behold marvels

every day. For winds shall go forth from before me to bring every

morning the fragrance of aromatic fruits, and at the close of the

day clouds distilling the dews of health" (Baruch 29:5).

"And earth, and all the trees, and the innumerable flocks of

sheep shall give their true fruit to mankind, of wine and of

sweet honey and of white milk and corn, which to men is the most

excellent gift of all" (Sibylline Oracles 3: 620-633).

"Earth, the universal mother, shall give to mortals her best

fruit in countless store of corn, wine and oil. Yea, from heaven

shall come a sweet draught of luscious honey. The trees shall

yield their proper fruits, and rich flocks, and kine, and lambs

of sheep and kids of goats. He will cause sweet fountains of

white milk to burst forth. And the cities shall be full of good

things, and the fields rich; neither shall there be any sword

throughout the land or battle-din; nor shall the earth be

convulsed any more with deep-drawn groans. No war shall be any

more, nor shall there be any more drought throughout the land,

no famine, or hail to work havoc on the crops" (Sibylline

Oracles 3: 744--756).

The dream of the renovated world was dear to the Jews. Paul knew that, and here he, as it were, endows creation with consciousness. He thinks of nature longing for the day when sin's dominion would be broken, death and decay would be gone, and God's glory would come. With a touch of imaginative insight, he says that the state of nature was even worse than the state of men. Man had sinned deliberately; but it was involuntarily that nature was subjected. Unwittingly she was involved in the consequences of the sin of man. "Cursed is the ground because of you," God said to Adam after his sin ( Genesis 3:17). So here, with a poet's eye, Paul sees nature waiting for liberation from the death and decay that man's sin had brought into the world.

If that is true of nature, it is still truer of man. So Paul goes on to think of human longing. In the experience of the Holy Spirit men had a foretaste, a first instalment, of the glory that shall be; now they long with all their hearts for the full realization of what adoption into the family of God means. That final adoption will be the redemption of their bodies. In the state of glory Paul did not think of man as a disembodied spirit. Man in this world is a body and a spirit; and in the world of glory the total man will be saved. But his body will no longer be the victim of decay and the instrument of sin; it will be a spiritual body fit for the life of a spiritual man.

Then comes a great saying. "We are saved by hope." The blazing truth that lit life for Paul was that the human situation is not hopeless. Paul was no pessimist. H. G. Wells once said: "Man, who began in a cave behind a windbreak, will end in the disease soaked ruins of a slum." Not so Paul. He saw man's sin and the state of the world; but he also saw God's redeeming power; and the end of it all for him was hope. Because of that, to Paul life was not a despairing waiting for an inevitable end in a world encompassed by sin and death and decay; life was an eager anticipation of a liberation, a renovation and a recreation wrought by the glory and the power of God.

In Romans 8:19 he uses a wonderful word for eager expectation. It is apokaradokia ( G603) and it describes the attitude of a man who scans the horizon with head thrust forward, eagerly searching the distance for the first signs of the dawn break of glory. To Paul life was not a weary, defeated waiting; it was a throbbing, vivid expectation. The Christian is involved in the human situation. Within he must battle with his own evil human nature; without he must live in a world of death and decay. Nonetheless, the Christian does not live only in the world; he also lives in Christ. He does not see only the world; he looks beyond it to God. He does not see only the consequences of man's sin; he sees the power of God's mercy and love. Therefore, the keynote of the Christian life is always hope and never despair. The Christian waits, not for death, but for life.

ALL IS OF GOD ( Romans 8:26-30 )

8:26-30 Even so, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray, if we are to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings which baffle speech to utter; but he who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because it is by God's will that he intercedes for those whose lives are consecrated to God. We know that God intermingles all things for good for those who love him, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he knew long ago he long ago designed to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers. Those whom he long ago designed for this purpose, he also called; and those whom he called he put into a right relationship with himself; and those whom he put into a right relationship with himself he also glorified.

Romans 8:26-27 form one of the most important passages on prayer in the whole New Testament. Paul is saying that, because of our weakness, we do not know what to pray for, but the prayers we ought to offer are offered for us by the Holy Spirit. C. H. Dodd defines prayer in this way--"Prayer is the divine in us appealing to the Divine above us."

There are two very obvious reasons why we cannot pray as we ought. First, we cannot pray aright because we cannot foresee the future. We cannot see a year or even an hour ahead; and we may well pray, therefore, to be saved from things which are for our good and we may well pray for things which would be to our ultimate harm. Second, we cannot pray aright because in any given situation we do not know what is best for us. We are often in the position of a child who wants something which would be bound only to hurt him; and God is often in the position of a parent who has to refuse his child's request or compel him to do something he does not want to do, because he knows what is to the child's good far better than the child himself.

Even the Greeks knew that. Pythagoras forbade his disciples to pray for themselves, because, he said, they could never in their ignorance know what was expedient for them. Xenophon tells us that Socrates taught his disciples simply to pray for good things, and not to attempt to specify them, but to leave God to decide what the good things were. C. H. Dodd puts it in this way. We cannot know our own real need; we cannot with our finite minds grasp God's plan; in the last analysis all that we can bring to God is an inarticulate sigh which the Spirit will translate to God for us.

As Paul saw it, prayer, like everything else, is of God. He knew that by no possible human effort can a man justify himself; and he also knew that by no possible effort of the human intelligence can a man know for what to pray. In the last analysis the perfect prayer is simply, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Thine be done."

But Paul goes on from there. He says that those who love God, and who are called according to his purpose, know well that God is intermingling all things for good to them. It is the experience of life for the Christian that all things do work together for good. We do not need to be very old to look back and see that things we thought were disasters worked out to our good; things that we thought were disappointments worked out to greater blessings.

But we have to note that that experience comes only to those who love God. The Stoics had a great idea which may well have been in Paul's mind when he wrote this passage. One of their great conceptions was the logos ( G3056) of God, which was God's mind or the reason. The Stoic believed that this world was permeated with that logos ( G3056) . It was the logos ( G3056) which put sense into the world. It was the logos ( G3056) which kept the stars in their courses and the planets in their appointed tracks. It was the logos ( G3056) which controlled the ordered succession of night and day, and summer and winter and spring and autumn. The logos ( G3056) was the reason and the mind of God in the universe, making it an order and not a chaos.

The Stoic went further. He believed that the logos ( G3056) not only had an order for the universe, but also a plan and a purpose for the life of every individual man. To put it in another way, the Stoic believed that nothing could happen to a man which did not come from God and which was not part of God's plan for him. Epictetus writes: "Have courage to look up to God and to say, 'Deal with me as thou wilt from now on. I am as one with thee; I am thine; I flinch from nothing so long as thou dost think that it is good. Lead me where thou wilt; put on me what raiment thou wilt. Wouldst thou have me hold office or eschew it, stay or flee, be rich or poor? For this I will defend thee before men.'" The Stoic taught that the duty of every man was acceptance. If he accepted the things that God sent him, he knew peace. If he struggled against them, he was uselessly battering his head against the ineluctable purpose of God.

Paul has the very same thought. He says that all things work together for good, but only to them that love God. If a man loves and trusts and accepts God, if he is convinced that God is the all-wise and all-loving Father, then he can humbly accept all that he sends to him. A man may go to a physician, and be prescribed a course of treatment which at the time is unpleasant or even painful; but if he trusts the wisdom of the man of skill, he accepts the thing that is laid upon him. It is so with us if we love God. But if a man does not love and trust God, he may well resent what happens to him and may well fight against God's will. It is only to the man who loves and trusts that all things work together for good, for to him they come from a Father who in perfect wisdom, love and power is working ever for the best.

Paul goes further; he goes on to speak of the spiritual experience of every Christian. The King James Version rendering is famous. "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called them he also justified; and whom he justified them he also glorified." This is a passage which has been very seriously misused. If we are ever to understand it we must grasp the basic fact that Paul never meant it to be the expression of theology or philosophy; he meant it to be the almost lyrical expression of Christian experience. If we take it as philosophy and theology and apply the standards of cold logic to it, it must mean that God chose some and did not choose others. But that is not what it means.

Think of the Christian experience. The more a Christian thinks of his experience the more he becomes convinced that he had nothing to do with it and all is of God. Jesus Christ came into this world; he lived; he went to the Cross; he rose again. We did nothing to bring that about; that is God's work. We heard the story of this wondrous love. We did not make the story; we only received the story. Love woke within our hearts; the conviction of sin came, and with it came the experience of forgiveness and of salvation. We did not achieve that; all is of God. That is what Paul is thinking of here.

The Old Testament has an illuminating use of the word to know. "I knew you in the wilderness," said God to Hosea about the people of Israel ( Hosea 13:5). "You only have I known of all the families of the earth," said God to Amos ( Amos 3:2). When the Bible speaks of God knowing a man, it means that he has a purpose and a plan and a task for that man. And when we look back upon our Christian experience, all we can say is, "I did not do this; I could never have done this; God did everything." And we know well that this does not take freewill away. God knew Israel, but the day came when Israel refused the destiny God meant her to have. God's unseen guiding is in our lives, but to the end of the day we can refuse it and take our own way.

It is the deep experience of the Christian that all is of God; that he did nothing and that God did everything. That is what Paul means here. He means that from the beginning of time God marked us out for salvation; that in due time his call came to us; but the pride of man's heart can wreck God's plan and the disobedience of man's will can refuse the call.

THE LOVE FROM WHICH NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US ( Romans 8:31-39 )

8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? The very God who did not spare his own Son but who delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall impeach the elect of God? It is God who acquits. Who is he who condemns? It is Jesus Christ who died, nay rather, who was raised from the dead, and who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trial, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it stands written, "For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are reckoned as sheep for the slaughter." But in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor the present age, nor the age to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is one of the most lyrical passages Paul ever wrote. In Romans 8:32 there is a wonderful allusion which would stand out to any Jew who knew his Old Testament well. Paul says in effect: "God for us did not spare his own Son; surely that is the final guarantee that he loves us enough to supply all our needs." The words Paul uses of God are the very words God used of Abraham when Abraham proved his utter loyalty by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at God's command. God said to Abraham: "You have not withheld your son, your only son, from me" ( Genesis 22:12). Paul seems to say: "Think of the greatest human example in the world of a man's loyalty to God; God's loyalty to you is like that." Just as Abraham was so loyal to God that he was prepared to sacrifice his dearest possession, God is so loyal to men that he is prepared to sacrifice his only Son for them. Surely we can trust a loyalty like that for anything.

It is difficult to know just how to take Romans 8:33-35. There are two ways of taking them and both give excellent sense and precious truth.

(i) We can take them as two statements, followed by two questions which give the inferences to be made from these statements. (a) It is God who acquits men--that is the statement. If that be so who can possibly condemn men? If man is acquitted by God, then he is saved from every other condemnation. (b) Our belief is in a Christ who died and rose again and who is alive for evermore--that is the statement. If that be so, is there anything in this or any other world that can separate us from our Risen Lord?

If we take it that way two great truths are laid down. (a) God has acquitted us; therefore no one can condemn us. (b) Christ is risen; therefore nothing can ever separate us from him.

(ii) But there is another way to take it. God has acquitted us. Who then can condemn us) The answer is that the Judge of all men is Jesus Christ. He is the one who has the right to condemn--but so far from condemning, he is at God's right hand interceding for us, and therefore we are safe.

It may be that in Romans 8:34 Paul is doing a very wonderful thing. He is saying four things about Jesus. (a) He died. (b) He rose again. (c) He is at the right hand of God. (d) He makes intercession for us there. Now the earliest creed of the Church, which is still the essence of all Christian creeds, ran like this: "He was crucified dead and buried; the third day he rose again from the dead; and sitteth at the right hand of God from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." Three items in Paul's statement and in the early creed are the same, that Jesus died, rose again, and is at the right hand of God. But the fourth is different. In the creed the fourth is that Jesus will come to be the judge of the quick and the dead. In Paul the fourth is that Jesus is at God's right hand to plead our case. It is as if Paul said: "You think of Jesus as the Judge who is there to condemn; and well he might for he has won the right. But you are wrong; he is not there to be our prosecuting counsel but to be the advocate to plead our cause."

I think that the second way of taking this is right. With one tremendous leap of thought Paul has seen Christ, not as the Judge but as the lover of the souls of men.

Paul goes on with a poet's fervour and a lover's rapture to sing of how nothing can separate us from the love of God in our Risen Lord.

(i) No affliction, no hardship, no peril can separate us. ( Romans 8:35.) The disasters of the world do not separate a man from Christ; they bring him closer yet.

(ii) In Romans 8:38-39 Paul makes a list of terrible things.

Neither life nor death can separate us from Christ. In life we live with Christ; in death we die with him; and because we die with him, we also rise with him. Death, so far from being a separation, is only a step into his nearer presence; not the end but "the gate on the skyline" leading to the presence of Jesus Christ.

The angelic powers cannot separate us from him. At this particular time the Jews had a highly developed belief in angels. Everything had its angel. There was an angel of the winds, of the clouds, of the snow and hail and hoarfrost. of the thunder and the lightning, of cold and heat, of the seasons. The Rabbis said that there was nothing in the world, not even a blade of grass, that had not got its angel. According to the Rabbis there were three ranks of angels. The first included thrones, cherubim and seraphim. The second included powers, lordships and mights. The third included angels and archangels and principalities. More than once Paul speaks of these angels ( Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:24). Now the Rabbis--and Paul had once been a Rabbi--believed that they were grudgingly hostile to men. They believed that they had been angry when God created man. It was as if they did not want to share God with anyone and had grudged man his share in him. The Rabbis had a legend that when God appeared on Sinai to give Moses the law he was attended by his hosts of angels, and the angels grudged Israel the law, and assaulted Moses on his way up the mountain and would have stopped him had not God intervened. So Paul, thinking in terms of his own day, says, "Not even the grudging, jealous angels can separate us from the love of God, much as they would like to do so."

No age in time can separate us from Christ. Paul speaks of things present and things to come. We know that the Jews divided all time into this present age and the age to come. Paul is saying: "In this present world nothing can separate us from God in Christ; the day will come when this world will be shattered and the new age will dawn. It does not matter; even then, when this world has passed and the new world come, the bond is still the same."

No malign influences (powers) will separate us from Christ. Paul speaks about height and depth. These are astrological terms. The ancient world was haunted by the tyranny of the stars. They believed that a man was born under a certain star and thereby his destiny was settled. There are some who still believe that; but the ancient world was really haunted by this supposed domination of a man's life by the influence of the stars. Height (hupsoma, G5313) was the time when a star was at its zenith and its influence was greatest; depth (bathos, G899) was the time when a star was at its lowest, waiting to rise and to put its influence on some man. Paul says to these haunted men of his age: "The stars cannot hurt you. In their rising and their setting they are powerless to separate you from God's love."

No other world can separate us from God. The word that Paul uses for other (heteros, G2087) has really the meaning of different. He is saying: "Suppose that by some wild flight of imagination there emerged another and a different world, you would still be safe; you would still be enwrapped in the love of God."

Here is a vision to take away all loneliness and all fear. Paul is saying: "You can think of every terrifying thing that this or any other world can produce. Not one of them is able to separate the Christian from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ, Lord of every terror and Master of every world." Of what then shall we be afraid?

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

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Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/romans-8.html. 1956-1959.

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 8:28

And we know -- Introducing another source of consolation and support.

that to them that love God -- To obedient believers. See John 14:15; John 14:23. [Most translations change the order of the Greek here.]

all things -- The "all things" should be taken in the context of the things he is currently speaking on in this context.

    "All things" would include:

1) v.27, the Spirit’s intercession for the saints

2) v.26, the Spirit helping in our weakness

3) v.25, persevering in hope

4) v.23, the redemption of our bodies

5) v.21, the glorious liberty of the children of God

6) our adoption as children of God’

    And etc.

Are the "all things" that work together to be understood as 1) the afflictions, trials, persecution, and calamities which we endure. OR, 2) the to what God has done for us, as: the incarnation; the cross, the resurrection, the plans for the church?

"all things work together for good." -- This verse is grossly taken out of context and made to apply to any and every thing that may happen to a Christian. Some things that we don’t understand may happen for our good, but that’s not the significance of this passage.

work together for good -- Paul does not say "all these things are good" that happen to a Christian.

Many religious people often take a true statement or a verse out of it contextual meaning and make an axiom out of it and a different application. Such as Romans 8:28; Romans 10:13; James 4:17, etc.

according to his purpose -- God in his providence sends us the things we most need that will make us better people.

to them who are called -- Christians are often represented as the "called" of God. Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 17:14. It is evidently used in this sense here.

    Called out from the world, called to be a people different, called to submit to God and obey His voice.

    "To those who love God, to those who are called" are two expressions describing the class class.

The next two verses show that those who would be called was determined from the time God promised a Deliverer for sinning mankind. He would save (justify) those who loved Him and imitated the same character as His Son in their holiness.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gbc/romans-8.html. 2021.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And we know that all things work together for good,.... There is a temporal good, and a spiritual good, and an eternal one. Temporal good is what the men of the world are seeking after, and generally have the greatest share of, and the saints the least; and yet they have as much as is needful for them, and what they have, they have with a blessing; and even sometimes afflictions work for the temporal good of God's children: spiritual good lies in a lively exercise of grace and a conformity of the soul to God; and is what the men of the world least regard, and the saints most; and sometimes afflictions issue in this sort of good, as they do also in eternal good, for they work for us an exceeding weight of glory: by "all things" may be meant, all beings good and bad: all good beings eternal or created: eternal, as Jehovah the Father, all his perfections, purposes, promises, provisions, and performances; Jehovah the Son, as the mighty God, and as Mediator, all that he is in himself, all that he has in himself, all that he has done, or is doing, all his titles, characters, and relations; Jehovah the Spirit, in his person, offices, and operations; these all have worked together in the council of peace, in the covenant of grace, and in redemption; and they do work together in sanctification, and so they will in glorification, and that for the good of the saints: all created ones, as good angels, good magistrates, good ministers of the Gospel: all evil beings, as devils, persecuting magistrates, heretics, and false teachers: all things, good and bad: all good things, outward peace and prosperity, external gifts, the ministry of the word, the administration of ordinances, church censures, admonitions, and excommunications; all evil things, sin the evil of evils: original sin, or the fall of Adam, which contains all other sins in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences, yet has been overruled for good; hereby a Saviour became necessary, who was sent, came, and wrought out salvation; has brought in a better righteousness than Adam lost; entitled his people to a better life than his was, and makes them partakers of the riches both of grace and glory: actual sin, inward or outward; indwelling sin; which is made use of, when discovered, to abate pride, to lead to an entire dependence on Christ, to teach saints to be less censorious, to depend on the power and grace of God to keep them, and to wean them from this world, and to make them desirous of another, where they shall be free from it; outward sins, of others, or their own; the sins of others, of wicked men, which observed, raise an indignation in the saints against sin, and a concern for God's glory, and to look into their own hearts and ways, and admire the grace of God to them, that this is not their case; of good men, which are recorded, and may be observed, not for example and encouragement in sin, but for admonition, and to encourage faith and hope under a sense of it; of their own, for humiliation, which issues in weakening the power of sin in themselves, and the strengthening of the graces of others: but from all this it does not follow, that God is the author of sin, only that he overrules it to wise and gracious purposes; nor should any take encouragement to sin, to do evil that good may come; nor is sin itself a real good; nor is it to be said that it does no hurt; for though it cannot hinder the everlasting salvation of God's people, it does a great deal of hurt to their peace and comfort; and that it is made to work in any form or shape for good, is not owing to its own nature and influence, which is malignant enough, but to the unbounded power and unsearchable wisdom of God: all evils or afflictions, spiritual and temporal, work together for good; all spiritual ones, such as the temptations of Satan, which are made useful for humiliation, for the trial of grace, to show us our weakness, our need of Christ, and to conform us to him, and also to excite to prayer and watchfulness; the hidings of God's face, which make his presence the more prized when enjoyed, and the more desirable. Temporal afflictions, afflictions in body, name, or estate, nay even death itself, all work together for the good of God's people. The Jews tell us of one Nahum, the man Gamzu, who, they say, was k so called, because of everything that happened to him he used to say, גם זו לטובה, "Gam zu letobah", "this is also for good": and they give instances of several misfortunes which befell him, upon which account he used these words, and how they proved in the issue to his advantage: agreeably to this is the advice given by them,

"for ever (say they l) let a man be used to say, all that the Lord does, לטב עביד, "he does for good".''

Now that all things do work together for good, the saints "know", and are firmly persuaded of; both from the word and promises of God, and from the instances of Jacob, Joseph, Job, and others, and also from their own experience: and it is to be observed, that it is not said that all things "have" worked together, and so they may again, or that they "shall" work together, but all things work together for good; they "now" work together, they are always working together, whether it can be observed or not: prosperity and adversity, whether in things temporal or spiritual, work "together", and make an intricate woven work in providence and grace; which will be viewed with admiration another day: one copy reads, "God works together", or "causes all things to work together for good"; and so the Ethiopic version, "we know that God helps them that love him, to every good thing": and to this agrees the Syriac version, "we know that to them that love God, he in everything helps them to good"; and certain it is, that God is the efficient cause, that makes all things work together for his people's good. The persons to whom all things work together for good, are described as such

that love God; a character, which does not agree with all the sons and daughters of Adam: love to God is not naturally in men; it is wrought in the soul in regeneration, and is an evidence of it; it grows up with faith, which works by it; without it, a profession of religion is vain; and where it is once wrought, it lasts for ever; it ought to be superlative and universal, constant, warm and ardent, hearty and sincere: such who have it, show it by a desire to be like to God, and therefore imitate him, by making his glory the supreme end of their actions; by being careful not to offend him; by delighting in his presence, in his people, word, ordinances, ways, and worship; and by undervaluing the world, and all things in it, in comparison of him; who is to be loved for the perfections of his being, the characters and relations he stands in and bears to his people, and on account of the love with which he has loved them, and which is indeed the spring and source of theirs. They are further described, as such

who are the called according to his purpose. The called of God and of Jesus Christ; not to any office, or by the external ministry of the word only, but by special grace; from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, from the company of sinful men to fellowship with Christ, from a trust in their own righteousness to a dependence on his, to grace here, and glory hereafter; which is done according to the purpose of God: the persons called are fixed upon by God; none are called but whom God purposed to call; those who are called can assign no other reason of it than the will of God; and no other reason but that can be given why others are not called; the time when, the place where, the means whereby persons are called, are all settled and determined by the will, and according to the purpose of God.

k T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 21. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 108. 2. Cosri, fol. 151. 1. l T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 60. 2.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-8.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Believer's Privileges. A. D. 58.

      26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.   27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.   28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

      The apostle here suggests two privileges more to which true Christians are entitled:--

      I. The help of the Spirit in prayer. While we are in this world, hoping and waiting for what we see not, we must be praying. Hope supposes desire, and that desire offered up to God is prayer; we groan. Now observe,

      1. Our weakness in prayer: We know not what we should pray for as we ought. (1.) As to the matter of our requests, we know not what to ask. We are not competent judges of our own condition. Who knows what is good for a man in this life?Ecclesiastes 6:12. We are short-sighted, and very much biassed in favour of the flesh, and apt to separate the end from the way. You know not what you ask,Matthew 20:22. We are like foolish children, that are ready to cry for fruit before it is ripe and fit for them; see Luke 9:54; Luke 9:55. (2.) As to the manner, we know not how to pray as we ought. It is not enough that we do that which is good, but we must do it well, seek in a due order; and here we are often at a loss--graces are weak, affections cold, thoughts wandering, and it is not always easy to find the heart to pray,2 Samuel 7:27. The apostle speaks of this in the first person: We know not. He puts himself among the rest. Folly, and weakness, and distraction in prayer, are what all the saints are complaining of. If so great a saint as Paul knew not what to pray for, what little reason have we to go forth about that duty in our own strength!

      2. The assistances which the Spirit gives us in that duty. He helps our infirmities, meant especially of our praying infirmities, which most easily beset us in that duty, against which the Spirit helps. The Spirit in the world helps; many rules and promises there are in the word for our help. The Spirit in the heart helps, dwelling in us, working in us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, especially with respect to the infirmities we are under when we are in a suffering state, when our faith is most apt to fail; for this end the Holy Ghost was poured out. Helpeth, synantilambanetai--heaves with us, over against us, helps as we help one that would lift up a burden, by lifting over against him at the other end--helps with us, that is, with us doing our endeavour, putting forth the strength we have. We must not sit still, and expect that the Spirit should do all; when the Spirit goes before us we must bestir ourselves. We cannot without God, and he will not without us. What help? Why, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, dictates our requests, indites our petitions, draws up our plea for us. Christ intercedes for us in heaven, the Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts; so graciously has God provided for the encouragement of the praying remnant. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for, as a sanctifying Spirit works and excites praying graces, as a comforting Spirit silences our fears, and helps us over all our discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all our desires and breathings towards God. Now this intercession which the Spirit makes is, (1.) With groanings that cannot be uttered. The strength and fervency of those desires which the Holy Spirit works are hereby intimated. There may be praying in the Spirit where there is not a word spoken; as Moses prayed (Exodus 14:15), and Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:13. It is not the rhetoric and eloquence, but the faith and fervency, of our prayers, that the Spirit works, as an intercessor, in us. Cannot be uttered; they are so confused, the soul is in such a hurry with temptations and troubles, we know not what to say, nor how to express ourselves. Here is the Spirit interceding with groans that cannot be uttered. When we can but cry, Abba, Father, and refer ourselves to him with a holy humble boldness, this is the work of the Spirit. (2.) According to the will of God,Romans 8:27; Romans 8:27. The Spirit in the heart never contradicts the Spirit in the word. Those desires that are contrary to the will of God do not come from the Spirit. The Spirit interceding in us evermore melts our wills into the will of God. Not as I will, but as thou wilt.

      3. The sure success of these intercessions: He that searches the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,Romans 8:27; Romans 8:27. To a hypocrite, all whose religion lies in his tongue, nothing is more dreadful than that God searches the heart and sees through all his disguises. To a sincere Christian, who makes heart-work of his duty, nothing is more comfortable than that God searches the heart, for then he will hear and answer those desires which we want words to express. He knows what we have need of before we ask, Matthew 6:8. He knows what is the mind of his own Spirit in us. And, as he always hears the Son interceding for us, so he always hears the Spirit interceding in us, because his intercession is according to the will of God. What could have been done more for the comfort of the Lord's people, in all their addresses to God? Christ had said, "Whatever you ask the Father according to his will he will give it you." But how shall we learn to ask according to his will? Why, the Spirit will teach us that. Therefore it is that the seed of Jacob never seek in vain.

      II. The concurrence of all providences for the good of those that are Christ's, Romans 8:28; Romans 8:28. It might be objected that, notwithstanding all these privileges, we see believers compassed about with manifold afflictions; though the Spirit makes intercession for them, yet their troubles are continued. It is very true; but in this the Spirit's intercession is always effectual, that, however it goes with them, all this is working together for their good. Observe here.

      1. The character of the saints, who are interested in this privilege; they are here described by such properties as are common to all that are truly sanctified. (1.) They love God. This includes all the out-goings of the soul's affections towards God as the chief good and highest end. It is our love to God that makes every providence sweet, and therefore profitable. Those that love God make the best of all he does, and take all in good part. (2.) They are the called according to his purpose, effectually called according to the eternal purpose. The call is effectual, not according to any merit or desert of ours, but according to God's own gracious purpose.

      2. The privilege of the saints, that all things work together for good to them, that is, all the providences of God that concern them. All that God performs he performs for them, Psalms 57:2. Their sins are not of his performing, therefore not intended here, though his permitting sin is made to work for their good, 2 Chronicles 32:31. But all the providences of God are theirs--merciful providences, afflicting providences, personal, public. They are all for good; perhaps for temporal good, as Joseph's troubles; at least, for spiritual and eternal good. That is good for them which does their souls good. Either directly or indirectly, every providence has a tendency to the spiritual good of those that love God, breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, fitting them for heaven. Work together. They work, as physic works upon the body, various ways, according to the intention of the physician; but all for the patient's good. They work together, as several ingredients in a medicine concur to answer the intention. God hath set the one over against the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14): synergei, a very singular, with a noun plural, denoting the harmony of Providence and its uniform designs, all the wheels as one wheel, Ezekiel 10:13. He worketh all things together for good; so some read it. It is not from any specific quality in the providences themselves, but from the power and grace of God working in, with, and by, these providences. All this we know--know it for a certainty, from the word of God, from our own experience, and from the experience of all the saints.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/romans-8.html. 1706.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

The True Christian's Blessedness

A Sermon

(No. 159)

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, October 18, 1857, by the

REV. C. H. Spurgeon

at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

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"We know that all things work together far good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 .

I. WE have here the description of a true Christian, and a declaration of that Christian's blessedness. We have him first very succinctly, but very fully described in these words "Them that love God, them who are the called according to his purpose." These two expressions are the great distinguishing marks whereby we are able to separate the precious from the vile, by discovering to us who are the children of God.

The first contains an outward manifestation of the second "Them that love God." Now, there are many things in which the worldly and the godly do agree, but on this point there IS a vital difference. No ungodly man loves God at least not in the Bible sense of the term. An unconverted man may love a God, as, for instance, the God of nature, and the God of the imagination; but the God of revelation no man can love, unless grace has been poured into his heart, to turn him from that natural enmity of the heart towards God, in which all of us are born. And there may be many differences between godly men, as there undoubtedly are; they may belong to different sects, they may hold very opposite opinions, but all godly men agree in this, that they love God. Whosoever loveth God, without doubt, is a Christian; and whosoever loveth him not, however high may be his pretensions, however boastful his professions, hath not seen God, neither known him for "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." True believers love God as their Father; they have "the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry Abba, Father." They love him as their King, they are willing to obey him, to walk in his commands is their delight; no path is so soft to their feet as the path of God's precepts, the way of obedience thereunto. They love God also as their Portion, for in him they live and move and have their being; God is their all, without him they have nothing, but possessing him, however little they may have of outward good, they feel that they are rich to all the intents of bliss. They love God as their future Inheritance, they believe that when days and years are past they shall enter into the bosom of God; and their highest joy and delight is the full conviction and belief, that one day they shall dwell for ever near his throne, be hidden in the brightness of his glory, and enjoy his everlasting favor. Dost thou love God, not with lip-language, but with heart-service? Dost thou love to pay him homage? Dost thou love to hold communion with him? Dost thou frequent his mercy-seat? Dost thou abide in his commandments, and desire to be conformed unto his Image? If so, then the sweet things which we shall have to say this morning are thine. But if thou art no lover of God, but a stranger to him, I beseech thee do not pilfer to-day and steal a comfort that was not intended for thee. "All things work together for good," but not to all men; they only work together for the good of "them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Note the second phrase, which contains also a description of the Christian "the called according to his purpose." However much the Arminian may try to fritter away the meaning of this 8th chapter of the Romans we are obliged as long as we use terms and words to say, that the 8th chapter of the Romans and the 9th, are the very pillars of that Gospel which men now call Calvinism. No man after having read these chapters attentively, and having understood them, can deny that the doctrines of sovereign, distinguishing grace, are the sum and substance of the teaching of the Bible. I do not believe that the Bible is to be understood except by receiving these doctrines as true. The apostle says that those who love God are "the called according to his purpose" by which he means to say two things first, that all who love God love him because he called them to love him. He called them, mark you. All men are called by the ministry, by the Word, by daily providence, to love God, there is a common call always given to men to come to Christ, the great bell of the gospel rings a universal welcome to every living soul that breathes; but alas! though that bell hath the very sound of heaven, and though all men do in a measure hear it, for "their line is gone out into all the earth and their Word unto the end of the world" yet there was never an instance of any man having been brought to God simply by that sound. All these things are insufficient for the salvation of any man; there must be superadded the special call, the call which man cannot resist, the call of efficacious grace, working in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. Now, all them that love God love him because they have had a special, irresistible, supernatural call. Ask them whether they would have loved God if left to themselves, and to a man, whatever their doctrines, they will confess

"Grace taught my soul to pray,

Grace made my eyes o'erflow,

'Tis grace that kept me to this day

And will not let me go."

I never heard a Christian yet who said that he came to God of himself, left to his own free-will. Free-will may look very pretty in theory, but I never yet met any one who found it work well in practice. We all confess that if we are brought to the marriage-banquet

"'Twas the same love that spread the feast

That gently forced us in

Else we had still refused to taste,

And perished in our sin."

Many men cavil at election; the very word with some is a great bug ear; they no sooner hear it than they turn upon their heel indignantly. But this know, O man, whatever thou sayest of this doctrine, it is a stone upon which, if any man fall, he shall suffer loss, but if it fall upon him it shall grind him to powder. Not all the sophisms of the learned, nor all the legerdemain of the cunning, will ever be able to sweep the doctrine of election out of Holy Scripture. Let any man hear and judge. Hearken ye to this passage in the 9th of Romans! "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid! For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor! What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." These are God's words; if any man doth cavil at them, let him cavil; he rejecteth the testimony of God against himself. If I promulgated the doctrine on my own authority, I could not blame you if you should turn against me, and reject it; but when, on the authority of Holy Scripture, I propound it, God forbid that any man should quarrel therewith.

I have affirmed, and I am sure most Christians will bear witness, that what I said was the truth, that if any man loveth God he loves him because God gave him grace to love him. Now, suppose I should put the following question to any converted man in this hall. Side by side with you there sits an ungodly person; you two have been brought up together, you have lived in the same house, you have enjoyed the same means of grace, you are converted, he is not; will you please to tell me what has made the difference? Without a solitary exception the answer would be this "If I am a Christian and he is not, unto God be the honor." Do you suppose for a moment that there is any injustice in God in having given you grace which he did not give to another? I suppose you say, "Injustice, no; God has a right to do as he wills with his own; I could not claim grace, nor could my companions, God chose to give it to me, the other has rejected grace wilfully to his own fault, and I should have done the same, but that he gave 'more grace,' whereby my will was constrained." Now, sir, if it is not wrong for God to do the thing, how can it be wrong for God to purpose to do the thing? and what is election, but God's purpose to do what he does do? It is a fact which any man must be a fool who would dare to deny that God does give to one man more grace shall to another; we cannot account for the salvation of one and the non-salvation of another but by believing, that God has worked more effectually in one man's heart than another's unless you choose to give the honor to man, and say it consists in one man's being better than another, and if so I will have no argument with you, because you do not know the gospel at all, or you would know that salvation is not of works but of grace. If, then, you give the honor to God, you are bound to confess that God has done more for the man that is saved than for the man that is not saved. How, then, can election be unjust, if its effect is not unjust? However, just or unjust as man may choose to think it, God has done it, and the fact stands in man's face, let him reject it as he pleases. God's people are known by their outward mark: they love God, and the secret cause of their loving God is this God chose them from before the foundation of the world that they should love him, and he sent forth the call of his grace, so that they were called according to his purpose, and were led by grace to love and to fear him. If that is not the meaning of the text I do not understand the English language. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Now, my hearers, before I proceed to enter into the text, let the question go round. Do I love God? Have I any reason to believe that I have been called according to his purpose? Have I been born again from above? Has the Spirit operated in my heart in a manner to which flesh and blood never can attain? Have I passed from death unto life by the quickening agency of the Holy Ghost? If I have, then God purposed that I should do so, and the whole of this great promise is mine.

II. We shall take the words one by one, and try to explain them.

1. Let us begin with the word "work." "We know that all things work." Look around, above, beneath, and all things work. They work, in opposition to idleness. The idle man that folds his arms or lies upon the bed of sloth is an exception to God's rule; for except himself all things work. There is not a star though it seemeth to sleep in the deep blue firmament, which doth not travel its myriads of miles and work; there is not an ocean, or a river, which is not ever working, either clapping its thousand hands with storms, or bearing on its bosom the freight of nations. There is not a silent nook within the deepest forest glade where work is not going on. Nothing is idle. The world is a great machine, but it is never standing still: silently all through the watches of the night, and through the hours of day, the earth revolveth on its axis, and works out its predestinated course. Silently the forest groweth, anon it is felled; but all the while between its growing and felling it is at work. Everywhere the earth works; mountains work: nature in its inmost bowels is at work; even the center of the great heart of the world is ever beating; sometimes we discover its working in the volcano and the earthquake, but even when most still all things are ever working.

They are ever working too, in opposition to the word play. Not only are they ceaselessly active, but they are active for a purpose. We are apt to think that the motion of the world and the different evolutions of the stars are but like the turning round of a child's windmill; they produce nothing. That old preacher Solomon once said as much as that. He said "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits." But Solomon did not add, that things are not what they seem. The world is not at play; it hath an object in its wildest movement. Avalanche, hurricane, earthquake, are but order in an unusual form; destruction and death are but progress in veiled attire. Everything that is and is done, worketh out some great end and purpose. The great machine of this world is not only in motion, but there is something weaving in it, which as yet mortal eye hath not fully seen, which our text hinteth at when it says, It is working out good for God's people.

And once again, all things work in opposition to Sabbath. We morally speak of work, especially on this day, as being the opposite of sacred rest and worship. Now, at the present moment all things work. Since the day when Adam fell all things have had to toil and labor. Before Adam's fall the world kept high and perpetual holiday; but now the world has come to its work-days, now it hath to toil. When Adam was in the garden the world had its Sabbath: and it shall never have another Sabbath till the Millennium shall dawn, and then when all things have ceased to work, and the kingdoms shall be given up to God, even the Father, then shall the world have her Sabbath, and shall rest; but at present all things do work.

Dear brethren, let us not wonder if we have to work too. If we have to toil, let us remember, this is the world's week of toil. The 6,000 years of continual labor, and toil, and travail, have happened not to us alone, but to the whole of God's great universe; the whole world is groaning, and travailing. Let us not be backward in doing our work. If all things are working, let us work too "work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh when no man can work." And let the idle and slothful remember that they are a great anomaly; they are blots in the great work-writing of God; they mean nothing; in all the book of letters with which God has written out the great word "work," they are nothing at all. But let the man that worketh, though it be with the sweat of his brow and with aching hands, remember that he, if he is seeking to bless the Lord's people, is in sympathy with all things not only in sympathy with their work, but in sympathy with their aim.

2. Now, the next word, "All things work together." That is in opposition to their apparent confliction. Looking upon the world with the mere eye of sense and reason, we say, "Yes, all things work, but they work contrary to one another. There are opposite currents; the wind bloweth to the north and to the south. The world's barque, it is true, is always tossed with waves, but these waves toss her first to the right and then to the left; they do not steadily bear her onward to her desired haven. It is true the world is always active, but it is with the activity of the battle-field, wherein hosts encounter hosts and the weaker are overcome." Be not deceived; it is not so; things are not what they seem; "all things work together." There is no opposition in God's providence; the raven wing of war is co-worker with the dove of peace. The tempest strives not with the peaceful calm they are linked together and work together, although they seem to be in opposition. Look at our history. How many an event has seemed to be conflicting in its day, that has worked out good for us? The strifes of barons and kings for mastery might have been thought to be likely to tread out the last spark of British liberty; but they did rather kindle the pile. The various rebellions of nations, the heavings of society, the strife of anarchy, the tumults of war all, all these things, overruled by God, have but made the chariot of the church progress more mightily; they have not failed of their predestinated purpose "good for the people of God." I know my brethren, it is very hard for you to believe this. "What!" say you? "I have been sick for many a day, and wife and children, dependent on my daily labor, are crying for food: will this work together for my good?" So saith the word, my brother, and so shalt thou find it ere long. "I have been in trade," says another, "and this commercial pressure has brought me exceedingly low, and distressed me: is it for my good?" My brother, thou art a Christian. I know thou dost not seriously ask the question, for thou knowest the answer of it. He who said, "all things work together," will soon prove to you that there is a harmony in the most discordant parts of your life. You shall find, when your biography is written, that the black page did but harmonize with the bright one that the dark and cloudy day was but a glorious foil to set forth the brighter noon-tide of your joy. "All things work together." There is never a clash in the world: men think so, but it never is so. The charioteers of the Roman circus might with much cleverness and art, with glowing wheels, avoid each other; but God, with skill infinitely consummate, guides the fiery coursers of man's passion, yokes the storm, bits the tempest, and keeping each clear of the other from seeming evil still enduceth good, and better still; and better still in infinite progression.

We must understand the word "together," also in another sense. "All things work together for good:" that is to say, none of them work separately. I remember an old divine using a very pithy and homely metaphor, which I shall borrow to-day. Said he, "All things work together for good; but perhaps, any one of those 'all things' might destroy us if taken alone. The physician," says he, "prescribes medicine; you go to the chemist, and he makes it up; there is something taken from this drawer, something from that phial, something from that shelf: any one of those ingredients, it is very possible, would be a deadly poison, and kill you outright, if you should take it separately, but he puts one into the mortar, and then another, and then another, and when he has worked them all up with his pestle, and has made a compound, he gives them all to you as a whole, and together they work for your good, but any one of the ingredients might either have operated fatally, or in a manner detrimental to your health." Learn, then, that it is wrong to ask, concerning any particular act of providence; is this for my good? Remember, it is not the one thing alone that is for your good; it is the one thing put with another thing, and that with a third, and that with a fourth, and all these mixed together, that work for your good. Your being sick very probably might not be for your good only God has something to follow your sickness, some blessed deliverance to follow your poverty, and he knows that when he has mixed the different experiences of your life together, they shall produce good for your soul and eternal good for your spirit. We know right well that there are many things that happen to us in our lives that would be the ruin of us if we were always to continue in the same condition. Too much joy would intoxicate us, too much misery would drive us to despair: but the joy and the misery, the battle and the victory, the storm and the calm, all these compounded make that sacred elixir whereby God maketh all his people perfect through suffering, and leadeth them to ultimate happiness. "All things work together for good."

3. Now we must take the next words. "All things work together for good." Upon these two words the meaning of my text will hinge. There are different senses to the word "good." There is the worldling's sense: "Who will show us any good?" by which he means transient good, the good of the moment. "Who wilt put honey into my mouth? Who will feed my belly with hid treasures? Who will garnish my back with purple and make my table groan with plenty?" That is "good," the vat bursting with wine, the barn full of corn! Now God has never promised that "all things shall work together" for such good as that to his people. Very likely all things will work together in a clean contrary way to that. Expect not, O Christian, that all things will work together to make thee rich; it is just possible they may all work to make thee poor. It may be that all the different providences that shall happen to thee will come wave upon wave, washing thy fortune upon the rocks, till it shall be wrecked, and then waves shall break o'er thee, till in that poor boat, the humble remnant of thy fortune thou shalt be out on the wide sea, with none to help thee but God the Omnipotent. Expect not, then, that all things shall work together as for thy good.

The Christian understands the word "good" in another sense. By "good," he understands spiritual good. "Ah!" saith he, "I do not call gold good, but I call faith good! I do not think it always for my good to increase in treasure, but I know it is good to grow in grace. I do not know that it is for my good that I should be respectable and walk in good society; but I know that it is for my good that I should walk humbly with my God. I do not know that it is for my good that my children should be about me, like olive branches round my table, but I know that it is for my good that I should flourish in the courts of my God, and that I should be the means of winning souls from going down into the pit. I am not certain that it is altogether for my good to have kind and generous friends, with whom I may hold fellowship; but I know that it is for my good that I should hold fellowship with Christ, that I should have communion with him, even though it should be in his sufferings. I know it is good for me that my faith, my love, my every grace should grow and increase, and that I should be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ my blessed Lord and Master." Well, Christian, thou hast got upon the meaning of the text, then. "All things work together," for that kind of good to God's people. "Well!" says one, "I don't think anything of that, then." No, perhaps thou dost not; it is not very likely swine should ever lift their heads from their troughs to think aught of stars. I do not much wonder that thou shouldst despise spiritual good, for thou art yet "in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity;" a stranger to spiritual things, and let thy despising of spiritual things teach thee that thou art not spiritual, and therefore thou canst not understand the spiritual, because it must be spiritually discerned. To the Christian, however, the highest good he can receive on earth is to grow in grace. "There!" he says, "I had rather be a bankrupt in business than I would be a bankrupt in grace; let my fortune be decreased better that, than that I should backslide; there! let thy waves and thy billows roll over me better an ocean of trouble than a drop of sin, I would rather have thy rod a thousand times upon my shoulders, O my God, than I would once put out my hand to touch that which is forbidden, or allow my foot to run in the way of gainsayers." The highest good a Christian has here is good spiritual.

And we may add, the text also means good eternal, lasting good. All things work together for a Christian's lasting good. They all work to bring him to Paradise all work to bring him to the Saviour's feet. "So he bringeth them to their desired haven," said the Psalmist by storm and tempest, flood and hurricane. All the troubles of a Christian do but wash him nearer heaven; the rough winds do but hurry his passage across the straits of this life to the port of eternal peace. All things work together for the Christian's eternal and spiritual good.

And yet I must say here, that sometimes all things work together for the Christian's temporal good. You know the story of old Jacob. "Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and now ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me," said the old Patriarch. But if he could have read God's secrets, he might have found that Simeon was not lost, for he was retained as a hostage that Joseph was not lost but gone before to smooth the passage of his grey hairs into the grave, and that even Benjamin was to be taken away by Joseph in love to his brother. So that what seemed to be against him, even in temporal matters, was for him. You may have heard also the story of that eminent martyr who was wont always to say, "All things work together for good." When he was seized by the officers of Queen Mary, to be taken to the stake to be burned, he was treated so roughly on the road that he broke his leg; and they jeeringly said, "All things work together for good, do they? How will your broken leg work for your good?" "I don't know," said he, "how it will, but for my good I know it will work, and you shall see it so." Strange to say, it proved true that it was for his good; for being delayed a day or so on the road through his lameness, he just arrived in London in time enough to hear that Elizabeth was proclaimed queen, and so he escaped the stake by his broken leg. He turned round upon the men who carried him, as they thought, to his death, and said to them, "Now will you believe that all things work together for God?" So that though I said the drift of the text was spiritual good, yet sometimes in the main current there may be carried some rich and rare temporal benefits for God's children as well as the richer spiritual blessings.

4. I am treating the text as you see, verbally. And now I must return to the word "work" to notice the tense of it. "All things work together for good." It does not say that they shall work, or that they have worked; both of these are implied, but it says that they do work now. All things at this present moment are working together for the believer's good. I find it extremely easy to believe that all things have worked together for my good. I can look back at the past, and wonder at all the way whereby the Lord hath led me. If ever there lived a man who has reason to be grateful to Almighty God, I think I am that man. I can see black storms that have lowered o'er my head, and torrents of opposition that have run across my path, but I can thank God for every incident that ever occurred to me from my cradle up to now, and do not desire a better pilot for the rest of my days, than he who has steered me from obscurity and scorn, to this place to preach his word and feed this great congregation. And I doubt not that each of you, in looking back upon your past experience as Christians, could say very much the same. Through many troubles you have passed, but you can say, they have all been for your good. And somehow or other you have an equal faith for the future. You believe that all things will in the end work for your good. The pinch of faith always lies in the present tense. I can always believe the past, and always believe the future, but the present, the present, the present, that is what staggers faith. Now, please to notice that my text is in the present tense. "All things work," at this very instant and second of time. However troubled, downcast, depressed, and despairing, the Christian may be, all things are working now for his good; and though like Jonah he is brought to the bottom of the mountains, and he thinks the earth with her bars is about him for ever, and the weeds of despair are wrapped about his head, even in the uttermost depths all things are now working for his good. Here, I say again, is the pinch of faith. As an old countryman once said to me, from whom I gained many a pithy saying "Ah! sir, I could always do wonders when there were no wonders to do. I feel, sir, that I could believe God; but then at the time I feel so there is not much to believe." And he just paraphrased it in his own dialect like this "My arm is always strong, and my sickle always sharp, when there is no harvest, and I think I could mow many an acre when there is no grass; but when the harvest is on I am weak, and when the grass groweth then my scythe is blunt." Have not you found it so too? You think you can do wondrous things; you say,

"Should earth against my soul engage,

And hellish darts be hurled,

Now I can smile at Satan's rage,

And face a frowning world."

And now a little capful of wind blows on you and the tears run down your cheeks, and you say, "Lord, let me die; I am no better than my fathers." You, that were going to thrash mountains, find that molehills cast you down.

It behoveth each of us, then, to comfort and establish our hearts upon this word "work." "All things work." Merchant; though you have been sore pressed this week, and it is highly probable that next week will be worse still for you, believe that all things even then are working for your good. It will cost you many a pang to keep that confidence; but oh! for thy Master's honor, and for thine own comfort, retain that consolation. Should thine house of business threaten to tumble about thine ears so long as thou hast acted honourably, still bear thy cross. It shall work, it is working for thy good. This week, mother, thou mayest see thy first-born carried to the tomb. That bereavement is working for thy good. O man, within a few days, he that hath eaten bread with thee may lift up his heel against thee. It shall work for thy good. O thou that art high in spirits to-day, thou with the flashing eye and joyous countenance, ere the sun doth set some evil shall befal thee, and thou shalt be sad. Believe then that all things work together for thy good; if thou lovest God, and art called according to his purpose.

5. And now we close by noticing the confidence with which the apostle speaks. "A fiction!" says one; "a pleasant fiction, sir!" "Sentimentalism!" says another; "a mere poetic sentimentalism." "Ah!" cries a third; "a downright lie." "No," says another, "there is some truth in it, certainly; men do get bettered by their afflictions, but it is a truth that is not valuable to me, for I do not realize the good that these things bring." Gentlemen, the apostle Paul was well aware of your objections; and therefore mark how confidently he asserts the doctrine. He does not say, "I am persuaded;" he does not say, "I believe;" but with unblushing confidence he appears before you and says, "We" (I have many witnesses) we know that all things work together." What Paul are you at? So strange and startling a doctrine as this asserted with such dogmatic impudence? What can you be at? Hear his reply! "'We know;' In the mouth of two or three witnesses it shall all be established; but I have tens of thousands of witnesses." "We know," and the apostle lifts his hand to where the white-robed hosts are praising God for ever. "These," says he, "passed through great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: ask them!" And with united breath they reply, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, all the mighty ones that have gone before, tell out the tale of their history, write their autobiography, and they say, "We!" It is proven to a demonstration in our own lives; it is a fact which runs like a golden clue through all the labyrinth of our history "All things work together for good to them that love God." "We," says the apostle again and he puts his hand upon his poor distressed brethren he looks at his companions in the prisonhouse at Rome; he looks at that humble band of teachers in Rome, in Philippi, in all the different parts of Asia, and he says, "We!" "We know it. It is not with us a matter of doubt; we have tried it, we have proved it. Not only does faith believe it, but our own history convinces us of the truth of it." I might appeal to scores and hundreds here, and I might say, brethren, you with grey heads, rise up and speak. Is this true or not? I see the reverend man rise, leaning on his staff, and with the tears "uttering his old cheeks, he says, "Young man it is true, I have proved it; even down to grey hairs I have proved it; he made, and he will carry; he will not desert his own!" Veteran! you have had many troubles, have you not? He replies, "Youth! troubles? I have had many troubles that thou reckest not of, I have buried all my kindred, and I am like the last oak of the forest, all my friends have been felled by death long ago. Yet I have been upheld till now, who could hold me up but my God!" Ask him whether God has been once untrue to him and he will say, "No; not one good thing hath failed of all that the Lord God hath promised; all hath come to pass!" Brethren, we can confidently say, then, hearing such a testimony as that, "We know that all things work." Besides, there are you of middle age, and even those of us who are young: the winter has not spared our branches, nor the lightnings ceased to scathe our trunk; yet here we stand; preserved by conquering grace. Hallelujah to the grace that makes all things work together for good!

O my hearer, art thou a believer in Christ? If not, I beseech thee, stop and consider! Pause and think of thy state; and if thou knowest thine own sinfulness this day, believe on Christ, who came to save sinners, and that done, all things shall work for thee, the tumbling avalanche, the rumbling earthquake the tottering pillars of heaven, all, when they fall or shake, shall not hurt thee, they shall still work out thy good. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved," for so runneth the gospel. The Lord bless you! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/romans-8.html. 2011.

Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

The circumstances under which the epistle to the Romans was written gave occasion to the most thorough and comprehensive unfolding, not of the church, but of Christianity. No apostle had ever yet visited Rome. There was somewhat as yet lacking to the saints there; but even this was ordered of God to call forth from the Holy Ghost an epistle which more than any other approaches a complete treatise on the fundamentals of Christian doctrine, and especially as to righteousness.

Would we follow up the heights of heavenly truth, would we sound the depths of Christian experience, would we survey the workings of the Spirit of God in the Church, would we bow before the glories of the person of Christ, or learn His manifold offices, we must look elsewhere in the writings of the New Testament no doubt, but elsewhere rather than here.

The condition of the Roman saints called for a setting forth of the gospel of God; but this object, in order to be rightly understood and appreciated, leads the apostle into a display of the condition of man. We have God and man in presence, so to speak. Nothing can be more simple and essential. Although there is undoubtedly that profoundness which must accompany every revelation of God, and especially in connection with Christ as now manifested, still we have God adapting Himself to the very first wants of a renewed soul nay, even to the wretchedness of souls without God, without any real knowledge either of themselves or of Him. Not, of course, that the Roman saints were in this condition; but that God, writing by the apostle to them, seizes the opportunity to lay bare man's state as well as His own grace.

Romans 1:1-32. From the very first we have these characteristics of the epistle disclosing themselves. The apostle writes with the full assertion of his own apostolic dignity, but as a servant also. "Paul, a bondman of Jesus Christ" an apostle "called," not born, still less as educated or appointed of man, but an apostle "called," as he says "separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets." The connection is fully owned with that which had been from God of old. No fresh revelations from God can nullify those which preceded them; but as the prophets looked onward to what was coming, so is the gospel already come, supported by the past. There is mutual confirmation. Nevertheless, what is in nowise the same as what was or what will be. The past prepared the way, as it is said here, "which God had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, [here we have the great central object of God's gospel, even the person of Christ, God's Son,] which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (ver. 3). This last relation was the direct subject of the prophetic testimony, and Jesus had come accordingly. He was the promised Messiah, born King of the Jews.

But there was far more in Jesus. He was "declared," says the apostle, "to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" ( ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν , ver. 4). It was the Son of God not merely as dealing with the powers of the earth, Jehovah's King on the holy hill of Zion, but after a far deeper manner. For, essentially associated as He is with the glory of God the Father, the full deliverance of souls from the realm of death was His also. In this too we have the blessed connection of the Spirit (here peculiarly designated, for special reasons, "the Spirit of holiness"). That same energy of the Holy Ghost which had displayed itself in Jesus, when He walked in holiness here below, was demonstrated in resurrection; and not merely in His own rising from the dead, but in raising such at any time no doubt, though most signally and triumphantly displayed in His own resurrection.

The bearing of this on the contents and main doctrine of the epistle will appear abundantly by-and-by. Let me refer in passing to a few points more in the introduction, in order to link them together with that which the Spirit was furnishing to the Roman saints, as well as to show the admirable perfectness of every word that inspiration has given us. I do not mean by this its truth merely, but its exquisite suitability; so that the opening address commences the theme in hand, and insinuates that particular line of truth which the Holy Spirit sees fit to pursue throughout. To this then the apostle comes, after having spoken of the divine favour shown himself, both when a sinner, and now in his own special place of serving the Lord Jesus. "By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith." This was no question of legal obedience, although the law came from Jehovah. Paul's joy and boast were in the gospel of God. So therefore it addressed itself to the obedience of faith; not by this meaning practice, still less according to the measure of a man's duty, but that which is at the root of all practice faith-obedience obedience of heart and will, renewed by divine grace, which accepts the truth of God. To man this is the hardest of all obedience; but when once secured, it leads peacefully into the obedience of every day. If slurred over, as it too often is in souls, it invariably leaves practical obedience lame, and halt, and blind.

It was for this then that Paul describes himself as apostle. And as it is for obedience of faith, it was not in anywise restricted to the Jewish people "among all nations, for his (Christ's) name: among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ" (verses 5, 6). He loved even here at the threshold to show the breadth of God's grace. If he was called, so were they he an apostle, they not apostles but saints; but still, for them as for him, all flowed out of the same mighty love, of God. "To all that be at Rome, beloved of God, called saints" (ver. 7). To these then he wishes, as was his wont, the fresh flow of that source and stream of divine blessing which Christ has made to be household bread to us: "Grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (ver. 7). Then, from ver. 8, after thanking God through Jesus for their faith spoken of everywhere, and telling them of his prayers for them, he briefly discloses the desire of his heart about them his long-cherished hope according to the grace of the gospel to reach Rome his confidence in the love of God that through him some spiritual gift would be imparted to them, that they might be established, and, according to the spirit of grace which filled his own heart, that he too might be comforted together with them "by the mutual faith both of you and me" (vv. 11, 12). There is nothing like the grace of God for producing the truest humility, the humility that not only descends to the lowest level of sinners to do them good, but which is itself the fruit of deliverance from that self-love which puffs itself or lowers others. Witness the common joy that grace gives an apostle with saints be had never seen, so that even he should be comforted as well as they by their mutual faith. He would not therefore have them ignorant how they had lain on his heart for a visit (ver. 13). He was debtor both to the Greeks and the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise; he was ready, as far as he was concerned, to preach the gospel to those that were at Rome also (ver. 14, 15). Even the saints there would have been all the better for the gospel. It was not merely "to those at Rome," but "to you that be at Rome." Thus it is a mistake to suppose that saints may not be benefited by a better understanding of the gospel, at least as Paul preached it. Accordingly he tells them now what reason he had to speak thus strongly, not of the more advanced truths, but of the good news. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (ver. 16).

Observe, the gospel is not simply remission of sins, nor is it only peace with God, but "the power of God unto salvation." Now I take this opportunity of pressing on all that are here to beware of contracted views of "salvation." Beware that you do not confound it with souls being quickened, or even brought into joy. Salvation supposes not this only, but a great deal more. There is hardly any phraseology that tends to more injury of souls in these matters than a loose way of talking of salvation. "At any rate he is a saved soul," we hear. "The man has not got anything like settled peace with God; perhaps he hardly knows his sins forgiven; but at least he is a saved soul." Here is an instance of what is so reprehensible. This is precisely what salvation does not mean; and I would strongly press it on all that hear me, more particularly on those that have to do with the work of the Lord, and of course ardently desire to labour intelligently; and this not alone for the conversion, but for the establishment and deliverance of souls. Nothing less, I am persuaded, than this full blessing is the line that God has given to those who have followed Christ without the camp, and who, having been set free from the contracted ways of men, desire to enter into the largeness and at the same time the profound wisdom of every word of God. Let us not stumble at the starting-point, but leave room for the due extent and depth of "salvation" in the gospel.

There is no need of dwelling now on "salvation" as employed in the Old Testament, and in some parts of the New, as the gospels and Revelation particularly, where it is used for deliverance in power or even providence and present things. I confine myself to its doctrinal import, and the full Christian sense of the word; and I maintain that salvation signifies that deliverance for the believer which is the full consequence of the mighty work of Christ, apprehended not, of course, necessarily according to all its depth in God's eyes, but at any rate applied to the soul in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not the awakening of conscience, however real; neither is it the attraction of heart by the grace of Christ, however blessed this may be. We ought therefore to bear in mind, that if a soul be not brought into conscious deliverance as the fruit of divine teaching, and founded on the work of Christ, we are very far from presenting the gospel as the apostle Paul glories in it, and delights that it should go forth. "I am not ashamed," etc.

And he gives his reason: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith." That is, it is the power of God unto salvation, not because it is victory (which at the beginning of the soul's career would only give importance to man even if possible, which it is not), but because it is "the righteousness of God." It is not God seeking, or man bringing righteousness. In the gospel there is revealed God's righteousness. Thus the introduction opened with Christ's person, and closes with God's righteousness. The law demanded, but could never receive righteousness from man. Christ is come, and has changed all. God is revealing a righteousness of His own in the gospel. It is God who now makes known a righteousness to man, instead of looking for any from man. Undoubtedly there are fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, and God values them I will not say from man, but from His saints; but here it is what, according to the apostle, God has for man. It is for the saints to learn, of course; but it is that which goes out in its own force and necessary aim to the need of man a divine righteousness, which justifies instead of condemning him who believes. It is "the power of God unto salvation." It is for the lost, therefore; for they it is who need salvation; and it is to save not merely to quicken, but to save; and this because in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.

Hence it is, as he says, herein revealed "from faith," or by faith. It is the same form of expression exactly as in the beginning of Romans 5:1-21 "being justified by faith" ( ἐκ πίστεως ). But besides this he adds "to faith." The first of these phrases, "from faith," excludes the law; the second, "to faith," includes every one that has faith within the scope of God's righteousness. Justification is not from works of law. The righteousness of God is revealed from faith; and consequently, if there be faith in any soul, to this it is revealed, to faith wherever it may be. Hence, therefore, it was in no way limited to any particular nation, such as those that had already been under the law and government of God. It was a message that went out from God to sinners as such. Let man be what he might, or where he might, God's good news was for man. And to this agreed the testimony of the prophet. "The just shall live by faith" (not by law). Even where the law was, not by it but by faith the just lived. Did Gentiles believe? They too should live. Without faith there is neither justice nor life that God owns; where faith is, the rest will surely follow.

This accordingly leads the apostle into the earlier portion of his great argument, and first of all in a preparatory way. Here we pass out of the introduction of the epistle. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (ver. 18). This is what made the gospel to be so sweet and precious, and, what is more, absolutely necessary, if he would escape certain and eternal ruin. There is no hope for man otherwise; for the gospel is not all that is now made known. Not only is God's righteousness revealed, but also His wrath. It is not said to be revealed in the gospel. The gospel means His glad tidings for man. The wrath of God could not possibly be glad tidings. It is true, it is needful for man to learn; but in nowise is it good news. There is then the solemn truth also of divine wrath. It is not yet executed. It is "revealed," and this too "from heaven." There is no question of a people on earth, and of God's wrath breaking out in one form or another against human evil in this life. The earth, or, at least, the Jewish nation, had been familiar with such dealings of God in times past. But now it is "the wrath of God from heaven;" and consequently it is in view of eternal things, and not of those that touch present life on the earth.

Hence, as God's wrath is revealed from heaven, it is against every form of impiety "against all ungodliness." Besides this, which seems to be a most comprehensive expression for embracing every sort and degree of human iniquity, we have one very specifically named. It is against the "unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." To hold the truth in unrighteousness would be no security. Alas! we know how this was in Israel, how it might be, and has been, in Christendom. God pronounces against the unrighteousness of such; for if the knowledge, however exact, of God's revealed mind was accompanied by no renewal of the heart, if it was without life towards God, all must be vain. Man is only so much the worse for knowing the truth, if he holds it ever so fast with unrighteousness. There are some that find a difficulty here, because the expression "to hold" means holding firmly. But it is quite possible for the unconverted to be tenacious of the truth, yet unrighteous in their ways; and so much the worse for them. Not thus does God deal with souls. If His grace attract, His truth humbles, and leaves no room for vain boasting and self-confidence. What He does is to pierce and penetrate the man's conscience. If one may so say, He thus holds the man, instead of letting the man presume that he is holding fast the truth. The inner man is dealt with, and searched through and through.

Nothing of this is intended in the class that is here brought before us. They are merely persons who plume themselves on their orthodoxy, but in a wholly unrenewed condition. Such men have never been wanting since the truth has shone on this world; still less are they now. But the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against them pre-eminently. The judgments of God will fall on man as man, but the heaviest blows are reserved for Christendom. There the truth is held, and apparently with firmness too. This, however, will be put to the test by-and-by. But for the time it is held fast, though in unrighteousness. Thus the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against (not only the open ungodliness of men, but) the orthodox unrighteousness of those that hold the truth in unrighteousness.

And this leads the apostle into the moral history of man the proof both of his inexcusable guilt, and of his extreme need of redemption. He begins with the great epoch of the dispensations of God (that is, the ages since the flood). We cannot speak of the state of things before the flood as a dispensation. There was a most important trial of man in the person of Adam; but after this, what dispensation was there? What were the principles of it? No man can tell. The truth is, those are altogether mistaken who call it so. But after the flood man as such was put under certain conditions the whole race. Man became the object, first, of general dealings of God under Noah; next, of His special ways in the calling of Abraham and of his family. And what led to the call of Abraham, of whom we hear much in the epistle to the Romans as elsewhere, was the departure of man into idolatry. Man despised at first the outward testimony of God, His eternal power and Godhead, in the creation above and around him (verses 19, 20). Moreover, He gave up the knowledge of God that had been handed down from father to son (ver. 21). The downfall of man, when he thus abandoned God, was most rapid and profound; and the Holy Spirit traces this solemnly to the end ofRomans 1:1-32; Romans 1:1-32 with no needless words, in a few energetic strokes summing up that which is abundantly confirmed (but in how different a manner!) by all that remains of the ancient world. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man," etc. (verses 22-32.) Thus corruption not only overspread morals, but became an integral part of the religion of men, and had thus a quasi-divine sanction. Hence the depravity of the heathen found little or no cheek from conscience, because it was bound up with all that took the shape of God before their mind. There was no part of heathenism practically viewed now, so corrupting as that which had to do with the objects of its worship. Thus, the true God being lost, all was lost, and man's downward career becomes the most painful and humiliating object, unless it be, indeed, that which we have to feel where men, without renewal of heart, espouse in pride of mind the truth with nothing but unrighteousness.

In the beginning ofRomans 2:1-29; Romans 2:1-29 we have man pretending to righteousness. Still, it is "man" not yet exactly the Jew, but man who had profited, it might be, by whatever the Jew had; at the least, by the workings of natural conscience. But natural conscience, although it may detect evil, never leads one into the inward possession and enjoyment of good never brings the soul to God. Accordingly, in chapter 2 the Holy Spirit shows us man satisfying himself with pronouncing on what is right and wrong moralizing for others, but nothing more. Now God must have reality in the man himself. The gospel, instead of treating this as a light matter, alone vindicates God in these eternal ways of His, in that which must be in him who stands in relationship with God. Hence therefore, the apostle, with divine wisdom, opens this to us before the blessed relief and deliverance which the gospel reveals to us. In the most solemn way he appeals to man with the demand, whether he thinks that God will look complacently on that which barely judges another, but which allows the practice of evil in the man himself (Romans 2:1-3). Such moral judgments will, no doubt, be used to leave man without excuse; they can never suit or satisfy God.

Then the apostle introduces the ground, certainty, and character of God's judgment (verses 4-16). He "will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: to them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile."

It is not here a question of how a man is to be saved, but of God's indispensable moral judgment, which the gospel, instead of weakening asserts according to the holiness and truth of God. It will be observed therefore, that in this connection the apostle shows the place both of conscience and of the law, that God in judging will take into full consideration the circumstances and condition of every soul of man. At the same time he connects, in a singularly interesting manner, this disclosure of the principles of the eternal judgment of God with what he calls "my gospel." This also is a most important truth, my brethren, to bear in mind. The gospel at its height in no wise weakens but maintains the moral manifestation of what God is. The legal institutions were associated with temporal judgment. The gospel, as now revealed in the New Testament, has linked with it, though not contained in it, the revelation of divine wrath from heaven, and this, you will observe, according to Paul's gospel. It is evident, therefore, that dispensational position will not suffice for God, who holds to His own unchangeable estimate of good and evil, and who judges the more stringently according to the measure of advantage possessed.

But thus the way is now clear for bringing the Jew into the discussion. "But if [for so it should be read] thou art named a Jew," etc. (ver. 17.) It was not merely, that he had better light. He had this, of course, in a revelation that was from God; he had law; he had prophets; he had divine institutions. It was not merely better light in the conscience, which might be elsewhere, as is supposed in the early verses of our chapter; but the Jew's position was directly and unquestionably one of divine tests applied to man's estate. Alas! the Jew was none the better for this, unless there were the submission of his conscience to God. Increase of privileges can never avail without the soul's self-judgment before the mercy of God. Rather does it add to his guilt: such is man's evil state and will. Accordingly, in the end of the chapter, he shows that this is most true as applied to the moral judgment of the Jew; that uone so much dishonoured God as wicked Jews, their own Scripture attesting it; that position went for nothing in such, while the lack of it would not annul the Gentile's righteousness, which would indeed condemn the more unfaithful Israel; in short, that one must be a Jew inwardly to avail, and circumcision be of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose praise is of God, and not of men.

The question then is raised in the beginning ofRomans 3:1-31; Romans 3:1-31, If this be so, what is the superiority of the Jew? Where lies the value of belonging to the circumcised people of God? The apostle allows this privilege to be great, specially in having the Scriptures, but turns the argument against the boasters. We need not here enter into the details; but on the surface we see how the apostle brings all down to that which is of the deepest interest to every soul. He deals with the Jew from his own Scripture (verses 9-19). Did the Jews take the ground of exclusively having that word of God the law? Granted that it is so, at once and fully. To whom, then, did the law address itself? To those that were under it, to be sure. It pronounced on the Jew then. It was the boast of the Jews that the law spoke about them; that the Gentiles had no right to it, and were but presuming on what belonged to God's chosen people. The apostle applies this according to divine wisdom. Then your principle is your condemnation. What the law says, it speaks to those under it. What, then, is its voice? That there is none righteous, none that doeth good, none that understandeth. Of whom does it declare all this? Of the Jew by his own confession. Every mouth was stopped; the Jew by his own oracles, as the Gentile by their evident abominations, shown already. All the world was guilty before God.

Thus, having shown the Gentile in Romans 1:1-32 manifestly wrong, and hopelessly degraded to the last degree having laid bare the moral dilettantism of the philosophers, not one whit better in the sight of God, but rather the reverse having shown the Jew overwhelmed by the condemnation of the divine oracles in which he chiefly boasted, without real righteousness, and so much the more guilty for his special privileges, all now lies clear for bringing in the proper Christian message, the. gospel of God. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets" (verses 20, 21).

Here, again, the apostle takes up what he had but announced in chapter 1 the righteousness of God. Let me call your attention again to its force. It is not the mercy of God., Many have contended that so it is, and to their own great loss, as well as to the weakening of the word of God. "Righteousness" never means mercy, not even the "righteousness of God." The meaning is not what was executed on Christ, but what is in virtue. of it. Undoubtedly divine judgment fell on Him; but this is not "the righteousness of God," as the apostle employs it in any part of his writings any more than here, though we know there could be no such thing as God's righteousness justifying the believer, if Christ had not borne the judgment of God. The expression means that righteousness which God can afford to display because of Christ's atonement. In short, it is what the words say "the righteousness of God," and this "by faith of Jesus Christ."

Hence it is wholly apart from the law, whilst witnessed to by the law and prophets; for the law with its types had looked onward to this new kind of righteousness; and the prophets had borne their testimony that it was at hand, but not then come. Now it was manifested, and not promised or predicted merely. Jesus had come and died; Jesus had been a propitiatory sacrifice; Jesus had borne the judgment of God because of the sins He bore. The righteousness of God, then, could now go forth in virtue of His blood. God was not satisfied alone. There is satisfaction; but the work of Christ goes a great deal farther. Therein God is both vindicated and glorified. By the cross God has a deeper moral glory than ever a glory that He thus acquired, if I may so say. He is, of course, the same absolutely perfect and unchangeable God of goodness; but His perfection has displayed itself in new and more glorious ways in Christ's death, in Him who humbled Himself, and was obedient even to the death of the cross.

God, therefore, having not the least hindrance to the manifestation of what He can be and is in merciful intervention on behalf of the worst of sinners, manifests it is His righteousness "by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" (ver. 22). The former is the direction, and the latter the application. The direction is "unto all;" the application is, of course, only to "them that believe;" but it is to all them that believe. As far as persons are concerned, there is no hindrance; Jew or Gentile makes no difference, as is expressly said, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the [passing over or praeter-mission, not] remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (verses 23-26). There is no simple mind that can evade the plain force of this last expression. The righteousness of God means that God is just, while at the same time He justifies the believer in Christ Jesus. It is His righteousness, or, in other words, His perfect consistency with Himself, which is always involved in the notion of righteousness. He is consistent with Himself when He is justifying sinners, or, more strictly, all those who believe in Jesus. He can meet the sinner, but He justifies the believer; and in this, instead of trenching on His glory, there is a deeper revelation and maintenance of it than if there never had been sin or a sinner.

Horribly offensive as sin is to God, and inexcusable in the creature, it is sin which has given occasion to the astonishing display of divine righteousness in justifying believers. It is not a question of His mercy merely; for this weakens the truth immensely, and perverts its character wholly. The righteousness of God flows from His mercy, of course; but its character and basis is righteousness. Christ's work of redemption deserves that God should act as He does in the gospel. Observe again, it is not victory here; for that would give place to human pride. It is not a soul's overcoming its difficulties, but a sinner's submission to the righteousness of God. It is God Himself who, infinitely glorified in the Lord that expiated our sins by His one sacrifice, remits them now, not looking for our victory, nor as yet even in leading us on to victory, but by faith in Jesus and His blood. God is proved thus divinely consistent with Himself in Christ Jesus, whom He has set forth a mercy-seat through faith in His blood.

Accordingly the apostle says that boast and works are completely set aside by this principle which affirms faith, apart from deeds of law, to be the means of relationship with God (verses 27, 28). Consequently the door is as open to the Gentile as to the Jew. The ground taken by a Jew for supposing God exclusively for Israel was, that they had the law, which was the measure of what God claimed from man; and this the Gentile had not. But such thoughts altogether vanish now, because, as the Gentile was unquestionably wicked and abominable, so from the law's express denunciation the Jew was universally guilty before God. Consequently all turned, not on what man should be for God, but what God can be and is, as revealed in the gospel, to man. This maintains both the glory and the moral universality of Him who will justify the circumcision by faith, not law, and the uncircumcision through their faith, if they believe the gospel. Nor does this in the slightest degree weaken the principle of law. On the contrary, the doctrine of faith establishes law as nothing else can; and for this simple reason, that if one who is guilty hopes to be saved spite of the broken law, it must be at the expense of the law that condemns his guilt; whereas the gospel shows no sparing of sin, but the most complete condemnation of it all, as charged on Him who shed His blood in atonement. The doctrine of faith therefore, which reposes on the cross, establishes law, instead of making it void, as every other principle must (verses 27-31).

But this is not the full extent of salvation. Accordingly we do not hear of salvation as such in Romans 3:1-31. There is laid down the most essential of all truths as a groundwork of salvation; namely, expiation. There is the vindication of God in His ways with the Old Testament believers. Their sins had been passed by. He could not have remitted heretofore. This would not have been just. And the blessedness of the gospel is, that it is (not merely an exercise of mercy, but also) divinely just. It would not have been righteous in any sense to have remitted the sins, until they were actually borne by One who could and did suffer for them. But now they were; and thus God vindicated Himself perfectly as to the past. But this great work of Christ was not and could not be a mere vindication of God; and we may find it otherwise developed in various parts of Scripture, which I here mention by the way to show the point at which we are arrived. God's righteousness was now manifested as to the past sins He had not brought into judgment through His forbearance, and yet more conspicuously in the present time, when He displayed His justice in justifying the believer.

But this is not all; and the objection of the Jew gives occasion for the apostle to bring out a fuller display of what God is. Did they fall back on Abraham? "What shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." Did the Jew fancy that the gospel makes very light of Abraham, and of the then dealings of God? Not so, says the apostle. Abraham is the proof of the value of faith in justification before God. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. There was no law there or then; for Abraham died long before God spoke from Sinai. He believed God and His word, with special approval on God's part; and his faith was counted as righteousness (ver. 3). And this was powerfully corroborated by the testimony of another great name in Israel (David), in Psalms 32:1-11. "For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."

In the same way the apostle disposes of all pretence on the score of ordinances, especially circumcision. Not only was Abraham justified without law, but apart from that great sign of mortification of the flesh. Although circumcision began with Abraham, manifestly it had nothing to do with his righteousness, and at best was but the seal of the righteousness of faith which he had in an uncircumcised state. It could not therefore be the source or means of his righteousness. All then that believe, though uncircumcised, might claim him as father, assured that righteousness will be reckoned to them too. And he is father of circumcision in the best sense, not to Jews, but to believing Gentiles. Thus the discussion of Abraham strengthens the case in behalf of the uncircumcised who believe, to the overthrow of the greatest boast of the Jew. The appeal to their own inspired account of Abraham turned into a proof of the consistency of God's ways in justifying by faith, and hence in justifying the uncircumcised no less than the circumcision.

But there is more than this in Romans 4:1-25 He takes up a third feature of Abraham's case; that is, the connection of the promise with resurrection. Here it is not merely the negation of law and of circumcision, but we have the positive side. Law works wrath because it provokes transgression; grace makes the promise sure to all the seed, not only because faith is open to the Gentile and Jew alike, but because God is looked to as a quickener of the dead. What gives glory to God like this? Abraham believed God when, according to nature, it was impossible for him or for Sarah to have a child. The quickening power of God therefore was here set forth, of course historically in a way connected with this life and a posterity on earth, but nevertheless a very just and true sign of God's power for the believer the quickening energy of God after a still more blessed sort. And this leads us to see not only where there was an analogy with those who believe in a promised Saviour, but also to a weighty difference. And this lies in the fact that Abraham believed God before he had the son, being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform. and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. But we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. It is done. already. It is not here believing on Jesus, but on God who has proved what He is to us in raisin, from among the dead Him who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification (verses 13-25).

This brings out a most emphatic truth and special side of Christianity. Christianity is not a system of promise, but rather of promise accomplished in Christ. Hence it is essentially founded on the gift not only of a Saviour who would interpose, in the mercy of God, to bear our sins, but of One who is already revealed, and the work done and accepted, and this known in the fact that God Himself has interposed to raise Him from among the dead a bright and momentous thing to press on souls, as indeed we find the apostles insisting on it throughout the Acts. Were it merely Romans 3:1-31 there could not be full peace with God as there is. One might know a most real clinging to Jesus; but this would not set the heart at ease with God. The soul may feel the blood of Jesus to be a yet deeper want; but this alone does not give peace with God. In such a condition what has been found in Jesus is too often misused to make a kind of difference, so to speak, between the Saviour on the one hand, and God on the other ruinous always to the enjoyment of the full blessing of the gospel. Now there is no way in which God could lay a basis for peace with Himself more blessed than as He has done it. No longer does the question exist of requiring an expiation. That is the first necessity for the sinner with God. But we have had it fully in Romans 3:1-31. Now it is the positive power of God in raising up from the dead Him that was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justifying. The whole work is done.

The soul therefore now is represented for the first time as already justified and in possession of peace with God. This is a state of mind, and not the necessary or immediate fruit of Romans 3:1-31, but is based on the truth of Romans 4:1-25 as well as 3. There never can be solid peace with God without both. A soul may as truly, no doubt, be put into relationship with God be made very happy, it may be; but it is not what Scripture calls "peace with God." Therefore it is here for the first time that we find salvation spoken of in the grand results that are now brought before us in Romans 5:1-11. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." There is entrance into favour, and nothing but favour. The believer is not put under law, you will observe, but under grace, which is the precise reverse of law. The soul is brought into peace with God, as it finds its standing in the grace of God, and, more than that, rejoices in hope of the glory of God. Such is the doctrine and the fact. It is not merely a call then; but as we have by our Lord Jesus Christ our access into the favour wherein we stand, so there is positive boasting in the hope of the glory of God. For it may have been noticed from chapter 3 to chapter 5, that nothing but fitness for the glory of God will do now. It is not a question of creature-standing. This passed away with man when he sinned. Now that God has revealed Himself in the gospel, it is not what will suit man on earth, but what is worthy of the presence of the glory of God. Nevertheless the apostle does not expressly mention heaven here. This was not suitable to the character of the epistle; but the glory of God he does. We all know where it is and must be for the Christian.

The consequences are thus pursued; first, the general place of the believer now, in all respects, in relation to the past, the present, and the future. His pathway follows; and he shows that the very troubles of the road become a distinct matter of boast. This was not a direct and intrinsic effect, of course, but the result of spiritual dealing for the soul. It was the Lord giving us the profit of sorrow, and ourselves bowing to the way and end of God in it, so that the result of tribulation should be rich and fruitful experience.

Then there is another and crowning part of the blessing: "And not only so, but also boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation." It is not only a blessing in its own direct character, or in indirect though real effects, but the Giver Himself is our joy, and boast, and glory. The consequences spiritually are blessed to the soul; how much more is it to Teach the source from which all flows! This, accordingly, is the essential spring of worship. The fruits of it are not expanded here; but, in point of fact, to joy in God is necessarily that which makes praise and adoration to be the simple and spontaneous exercise of the heart. In heaven it will fill us perfectly; but there is no more perfect joy there, nor anything. higher, if so high, in this epistle.

At this point we enter upon a most important part of the epistle, on which we must dwell for a little. It is no longer a question of man's guilt, but of his nature. Hence the apostle does not, as in the early chapters of this epistle, take up our sins, except as proofs and symptoms of sin. Accordingly, for the first time, the Spirit of God fromRomans 5:12; Romans 5:12 traces the mature of man to the head of the race. This brings in the contrast with the other Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have here not as One bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, but as the spring and chief of a new family. Hence, as is shown later in the chapter, Adam is a head characterized by disobedience, who brought in death, the just penalty of sin; as on the other hand we have Him of whom he was the type, Christ, the obedient man, who has brought in righteousness, and this after a singularly blessed sort and style "justification of life." Of it nothing has been heard till now. We have had justification, both by blood and also in virtue of Christ's resurrection. But "justification of life" goes farther, though involved in the latter, than the end of Romans 4:1-25; for now we learn that in the gospel there is not only a dealing with the guilt of those that are addressed in it; there is also a mighty work of God in the presenting the man in a new place before God, and in fact, too, for his faith, clearing him from all the consequences in which he finds himself as a man in the flesh here below.

It is here that you will find a great failure of Christendom as to this. Not that any part of the truth has escaped: it is the fatal brand of that "great house" that even the most elementary truth suffers the deepest injury; but as to this truth, it seems unknown altogether. I hope that brethren in Christ will bear with me if I press on them the importance of taking good heed to it that their souls are thoroughly grounded in this, the proper place of the Christian by Christ's death and resurrection. It must not be, assumed too readily. There is a disposition continually to imagine that what is frequently spoken of must be understood; but experience will soon show that this is not the case. Even those that seek a place of separation to the Lord outside that which is now hurrying on souls to destruction are, nevertheless, deeply affected by the condition of that Christendom in which we find ourselves.

Here, then, it is not a question at all of pardon or remission. First of all the apostle points out that death has come in, and that this was no consequence of law, but before it. Sin was in the world between Adam and Moses, when the law was not. This clearly takes in man, it will be observed; and this is his grand point now. The contrast of Christ with Adam takes in man universally as well as the Christian; and man in sin, alas! was true, accordingly, before the law, right through the law, and ever since the law. The apostle is therefore plainly in presence of the broadest possible grounds of comparison, though we shall find more too.

But the Jew might argue that it was an unjust thing in principle this gospel, these tidings of which the apostle was so full; for why should one man affect many, yea, all? "Not so," replies the apostle. Why should this be so strange and incredible to you? for on your own showing, according to that word to which we all bow, you must admit that one man's sin brought in universal moral ruin and death. Proud as you may be of that which distinguishes you, it is hard to make sin and death peculiar to you, nor can you connect them even with the law particularly: the race of man is in question, and not Israel alone. There is nothing that proves this so convincingly as the book of Genesis; and the apostle, by the Spirit of God, calmly but triumphantly summons the Jewish Scriptures to demonstrate that which the Jews were so strenuously denying. Their own Scriptures maintained, as nothing else could, that all the wretchedness which is now found in the world, and the condemnation which hangs over the race, is the fruit of one man, and indeed of one act.

Now, if it was righteous in God (and who will gainsay it?) to deal with the whole posterity of Adam as involved in death because of one, their common father, who could deny the consistency of one man's saving? who would defraud God of that which He delights in the blessedness of bringing in deliverance by that One man, of whom Adam was the image? Accordingly, then, he confronts the unquestionable truth, admitted by every Israelite, of the universal havoc by one man everywhere with the One man who has brought in (not pardon only, but, as we shall find) eternal life and liberty liberty now in the free gift of life, but a liberty that will never cease for the soul's enjoyment until it has embraced the very body that still groans, and this because of the Holy Ghost who dwells in it.

Here, then, it is a comparison of the two great heads Adam and Christ, and the immeasurable superiority of the second man is shown. That is, it is not merely pardon of past sins, but deliverance from sin, and in due time from all its consequences. The apostle has come now to the nature. This is the essential point. It is the thing which troubles a renewed conscientious soul above all, because of his surprise at finding the deep evil of the flesh and its mind after having proved the great grace of God in the gift of Christ. If I am thus pitied of God, if so truly and completely a justified man, if I am really an object of God's eternal favour, how can I have such a sense of continual evil? why am I still under bondage and misery from the constant evil of my nature, over which I seem to have no power whatever? Has God then no delivering power from this? The answer is found in this portion of our epistle (that is, from the middle of chapter 5).

Having shown first, then, the sources and the character of the blessing in general as far as regards deliverance, the apostle sums up the result in the end of the chapter: "That as sin hath reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life," the point being justification of life now through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is applied in the two chapters that follow. There are two things that might make insuperable difficulty: the one is the obstacle of sin in the nature to practical holiness; the other is the provocation and condemnation of the law. Now the doctrine which we saw asserted in the latter part ofRomans 5:1-21; Romans 5:1-21 is applied to both. First, as to practical holiness, it is not merely that Christ has died for my sins, but that even in the initiatory act of baptism the truth set forth there is that I am dead. It is not, as in Ephesians 2:1-22, dead in sins, which would be nothing to the purpose. This is all perfectly true true of a Jew as of a pagan true of any unrenewed man that never heard of a Saviour. But what is testified by Christian baptism is Christ's death. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death?" Thereby is identification with His death. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The man who, being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or Christian baptism, would assert any license to sin because it is in his nature, as if it were therefore an inevitable necessity, denies the real and evident meaning of his baptism. That act denoted not even the washing away of our sins by the blood of Jesus, which would not apply to the case, nor in any adequate way meet the question of nature. What baptism sets forth is more than that, and is justly found, not in Romans 3:1-31, but inRomans 6:1-23; Romans 6:1-23. There is no inconsistency in Ananias's word to the apostle Paul "wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." There is water as well as blood, and to that, not to this, the washing here refers. But there is more, which Paul afterwards insisted on. That was said to Paul, rather than what was taught by Paul. What the apostle had given him in fulness was the great truth, however fundamental it may be, that I am entitled, and even called on in the name of the Lord Jesus, to know that I am dead to sin; not that I must die, but that I am dead that my baptism means nothing less than this, and is shorn of its most emphatic point if limited merely to Christ's dying for my sins. It is not so alone; but in His death, unto which I am baptized, I am dead to sin. And "how shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" Hence, then, we find that the whole chapter is founded on this truth. "Shall we sin," says he, proceeding yet farther (ver. 15), "because we are not under the law, but under grace?" This were indeed to deny the value of His death, and of that newness of life we have in Him risen, and a return to bondage of the worst description.

In Romans 7:1-25 we have the subject of the law discussed for practice as well as in principle, and there again meet with the same weapon of tried and unfailing temper. It is no longer blood, but death Christ's death and resurrection. The figure of the relationship of husband and wife is introduced in order to make the matter plain. Death, and nothing short of it, rightly dissolves the bond. We accordingly are dead, says he, to the law; not (as no doubt almost all of us know) that the law dies, but that we are dead to the law in the death of Christ. Compare verse 6 (where the margin, not the text, is substantially correct) with verse 4. Such is the principle. The rest of the chapter (7-25) is an instructive episode, in which the impotence and the misery of the renewed mind which attempts practice under law are fully argued out, till deliverance (not pardon) is found in Christ.

Thus the latter portion of the chapter is not doctrine exactly, but the proof of the difficulties of a soul who has not realised death to the law by the body of Christ. Did this seem to treat the law that condemned as an evil thing? Not so, says the apostle; it is because of the evil of the nature, not of the law. The law never delivers; it condemns and kills us. It was meant to make sin exceeding sinful. Hence, what he is here discussing is not remission of sins, but deliverance from sin. No wonder, if souls confound the two things together, that they never know deliverance in practice. Conscious deliverance, to be solid according to God, must be in the line of His truth. In vain will you preach Romans 3:1-31, or even 4 alone, for souls to know themselves consciously and holily set free.

From verse 14 there is an advance. There we find Christian knowledge as to the matter introduced; but still it is the knowledge of one who is not in this state pronouncing on one who is. You must carefully guard against the notion of its being a question of Paul's own experience, because he says, "I had not known," "I was alive," etc. There is no good reason for such an assumption, but much against it. It might be more or less any man's lot to learn. It is not meant that Paul knew nothing of this; but that the ground of inference, and the general theory built up, are alike mistaken. We have Paul informing us that he transfers sometimes in a figure to himself that which was in no wise necessarily his own experience, and perhaps had not been so at any time. But this may be comparatively a light question. The great point is to note the true picture given us of a soul quickened, but labouring and miserable under law, not at all consciously delivered. The last verses of the chapter, however, bring in the deliverance not yet the fulness of it, but the hinge, so to speak. The discovery is made that the source of the internal misery was that the mind, though renewed, was occupied with the law as a means of dealing with, flesh. Hence the very fact of being renewed makes one sensible of a far more intense misery than ever, while there is no power until the soul looks right outside self to Him who is dead and risen, who has anticipated the difficulty, and alone gives the full answer to all wants.

Romans 8:1-39 displays this comforting truth in its fulness. From the first verse we have the application of the dead and risen Christ to the soul, till in verse 11 we see the power of the Holy Ghost, which brings the soul into this liberty now, applied by-and-by to the body, when there will be the complete deliverance. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." A wondrous way, but most blessed! And there (for such was the point) it was the complete condemnation of this evil thing, the nature in its present state, so as, nevertheless, to set the believer as before God's judgment free from itself as well as its consequences. This God has wrought in Christ. It is not in any degree settled as to itself by His blood. The shedding of His blood was absolutely necessary: without that precious expiation all else had been vain and impossible. But there is much more in Christ than that to which too many souls restrict themselves, not less to their own loss than to His dishonour. God has condemned the flesh. And here it may be repeated that it is no question of pardoning the sinner, but of condemning the fallen nature; and this so as to give the soul both power and a righteous immunity from all internal anguish about it. For the truth is that God has in Christ condemned sin, and this for sin definitely; so that He has nothing more to do in condemnation of that root of evil. What a title, then, God gives me now in beholding Christ, no longer dead but risen, to have it settled before my soul that I am in Him as He now is, where all questions are closed in peace and joy! For what remains unsolved by and in Christ? Once it was far otherwise. Before the cross there hung out the gravest question that ever was raised, and it needed settlement in this world; but in Christ sin is for ever abolished for the believer; and this not only in respect of what He has done, but in what He is. Till the cross, well might a converted soul be found groaning in misery at each fresh discovery of evil in himself. But now to faith all this is gone not lightly, but truly in the sight of God; so that he may live on a Saviour that is risen from the dead as his new life.

Accordingly Romans 8:1-39 pursues in the most practical manner the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. First of all, the groundwork of it is laid in the first four verses, the last of them leading into every-day walk. And it is well for those ignorant of it to know that here, in verse 4, the apostle speaks first of "walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The latter clause in the first verse of the authorised version mars the sense. In the fourth verse this could not be absent; in the first verse it ought not to be present. Thus the deliverance is not merely for the joy of the soul, but also for strength in our walking after the Spirit, who has given and found a nature in which He delights, communicating withal His own delight in Christ, and making obedience to be the joyful service of the believer. The believer, therefore, unwittingly though really, dishonours the Saviour, if he be content to walk short of this standard and power; he is entitled and called to walk according to his place, and in the confidence of his deliverance in Christ Jesus before God.

Then the domains of flesh and Spirit are brought before us: the one characterized by sin and death practically now; the other by life, righteousness, and peace, which is, as we saw, to be crowned finally by the resurrection of these bodies of ours. The Holy Ghost, who now gives the soul its consciousness of deliverance from its place in Christ, is also the witness that the body too, the mortal body, shall be delivered in its time. "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by [or because of] his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

Next, he enters upon another branch of the truth the Spirit not as a condition contrasted with flesh (these two, as we know, being always contrasted in Scripture), but as a power, a divine person that dwells in and bears His witness to the believer. His witness to our spirit is this, that we are children of God. But if children, we are His heirs. This accordingly leads, as connected with the deliverance of the body, to the inheritance we are to possess. The extent is what God Himself, so to speak, possesses the universe of God, whatever will be under Christ: and what will not? As He has made all, so He is heir of all. We are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

Hence the action of the Spirit of God in a double point of view comes before us. As He is the spring of our joy, He is the power of sympathy in our sorrows, and the believer knows both. The faith of Christ has brought divine joy into his soul; but, in point of fact, he is traversing a world of infirmity, suffering, and grief. Wonderful to think the Spirit of God associates Himself with us in it all, deigning to give us divine feelings even in our poor and narrow hearts. This occupies the central part of the chapter, which then closes with the unfailing and faithful power of God for us in all our experiences here below. As He has given us through the blood of Jesus full remission, as we shall be saved by this life, as He has made us know even now nothing short of present conscious deliverance from every whit of evil that belongs to our very nature, as we have the Spirit the earnest of the glory to which we are destined, as we are the vessels of gracious sorrow in the midst of that from which we are not yet delivered but shall be, so now we have the certainty that, whatever betide, God is for us, and that nothing shall separate us from His love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Then, in Romans 9:1-33; Romans 10:1-21; Romans 11:1-36, the apostle handles a difficulty serious to any mind, especially to the Jew, who might readily feel that all this display of grace in Christ to the Gentile as much as to the Jew by the gospel seems to make very cheap the distinctive place of Israel as given of God. If the good news of God goes out to man, entirely blotting out the difference between a Jew and a Gentile, what becomes of His special promises to Abraham and to his seed? What about His word passed and sworn to the fathers? The apostle shows them with astonishing force at the starting-point that he was far from slighting their privileges. He lays down such a summary as no Jew ever gave since they were a nation. He brings out the peculiar glories of Israel according to the depth of the gospel as he knew and preached it; at least, of His person who is the object of faith now revealed. Far from denying or obscuring what they boasted of, he goes beyond them "Who are Israelites," says he, "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever." Here was the very truth that every Jew, as such, denied. What blindness! Their crowning glory was precisely what they would not hear of. What glory so rich as that of the Christ Himself duly appreciated? He was God over all blessed for ever, as well as their Messiah. Him who came in humiliation, according to their prophets, they might despise; but it was vain to deny that the same prophets bore witness to His divine glory. He was Emmanuel, yea, the Jehovah, God of Israel. Thus then, if Paul gave his own sense of Jewish privileges, there was no unbelieving Jew that rose up to his estimate of them.

But now, to meet the question that was raised, they pleaded the distinguishing promises to Israel. Upon what ground? Because they were sons of Abraham. But how, argues he, could this stand, seeing that Abraham had another son, just as much his child as Isaac? What did they say to Ishmaelites as joint-heirs? They would not hear of it. No, they cry, it is in Isaac's seed that the Jew was called. Yes, but this is another principle. If in Isaac only, it is a question of the seed, not that was born, but that was called. Consequently the call of God, and not the birth simply makes the real difference. Did they venture to plead that it must be not only the same father, but the same mother? The answer is, that this will not do one whit better; for when we come down to the next generation, it is apparent that the two sons of Isaac were sons of the same mother; nay, they were twins. What could be conceived closer or more even than this? Surely if equal birth-tie could ensure community of blessing if a charter from God depended on being sprung from the same father and mother, there was no case so strong, no claim so evident, as that of Esau to take the same rights as Jacob. Why would they not allow such a pretension? Was it not sure and evident that Israel could not take the promise on the ground of mere connection after the flesh? Birthright from the same father would let in Ishmael on the one hand, as from both parents it would secure the title of Esau on the other. Clearly, then, such ground is untenable. In point of fact, as he had hinted before, their true tenure was the call of God, who was free, if He pleased, to bring in other people. It became simply a question whether, in fact, God did call Gentiles, or whether He had revealed such intentions.

But he meets their proud exclusiveness in another way. He shows that, on the responsible ground of being His nation, they were wholly ruined. If the first book in the Bible showed that it was only the call of God that made Israel what they were, its second book as clearly proved that all was over with the called people, had it not been for the mercy of God. They set up the golden calf, and thus cast off the true God, their God, even in the desert. Did the call of God. then, go out to Gentiles? Has He mercy only for guilty Israel? Is there no call, no mercy, of God for any besides?

Hereupon he enters upon the direct proofs, and first cites Hosea as a witness. That early prophet tells Israel, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-ammi were of awful import for Israel; but, in presence of circumstances so disastrous, there should be not merely a people but sons of the living God, and then should Judah and Israel be gathered as one people under one head. The application of this was more evident to the Gentile than to the Jew. Compare Peter's use in1 Peter 2:10; 1 Peter 2:10. Finally he brings in Isaiah, showing that, far from retaining their blessing as an unbroken people, a remnant alone would be saved. Thus one could not fail to see these two weighty inferences: the bringing in to be God's sons of those that had not been His people, and the judgment and destruction of the great mass of His undoubted people. Of these only a remnant would be saved. On both sides therefore the apostle is meeting the grand points he had at heart to demonstrate from their own Scriptures.

For all this, as he presses further, there was the weightiest reason possible. God is gracious, but holy; He is faithful, but righteous. The apostle refers to Isaiah to show that God would "lay in Zion a stumbling-stone." It is in Zion that He lays it. It is not among the Gentiles, but in the honoured centre of the polity of Israel. There would be found a stumblingstone there. What was to be the stumbling-stone? Of course, it could hardly be the law: that was the boast of Israel. What was it? There could be but one satisfactory answer. The stumbling-stone was their despised and rejected Messiah. This was the key to their difficulties this alone, and fully explains their coming ruin as well as God's solemn warnings.

In the next chapter (Romans 10:1-21) he carries on the subject, showing in the most touching manner his affection for the people. He at the same time unfolds the essential difference between the righteousness of faith and that of law. He takes their own books, and proves from one of them (Deuteronomy) that in the ruin of Israel the resource is not going into the depths, nor going up to heaven. Christ indeed did both; and so the word was nigh them, in their mouth and in their heart. It is not doing, but believing; therefore it is what is proclaimed to them, and what they receive and believe. Along with this he gathers testimonies from more than one prophet. He quotes from Joel, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He quotes also from Isaiah "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." And mark the force of it whosoever." The believer, whosoever he might be, should not be ashamed. Was it possible to limit this to Israel? But more than this "Whosoever shall call." There. is the double prophecy. Whosoever believed should not be ashamed; whosoever called should be saved. In both parts, as it may be observed, the door is opened to the Gentile.

But then again he intimates that the nature of the gospel is involved in the publishing of the glad tidings. It is not God having an earthly centre, and the peoples doming up to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. It is the going forth of His richest blessing. And where? How far? To the limits of the holy land? Far beyond. Psalms 19:1-14 is used in the most beautiful manner to insinuate that the limits are the world. Just as the sun in the heavens is not for one people or land alone, no more is the gospel. There is no language where their voice is not heard. "Yea verily, their sound went forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." The gospel goes forth universally. Jewish pretensions were therefore disposed of; not here by new and fuller revelations, but by this divinely skilful employment of their own Old Testament Scriptures.

Finally he comes to two other witnesses; as from the Psalms, so now from the law and the prophets. The first is Moses himself. Moses saith, "I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people," etc. How could the Jews say that this meant themselves? On the contrary, it was the Jew provoked by the Gentiles "By them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you." Did they deny that they were a foolish nation? Be it so then; it was a foolish nation by which Moses declared they should be angered. But this does not content the apostle, or rather the Spirit of God; for he goes on to point out that Isaiah "is very bold" in a similar way; that is, there is no concealing the truth of the matter. Isaiah says: "I was found of them who sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." The Jews were the last in the world to take such ground as this. It was undeniable that the Gentiles did not seek the Lord, nor ask after Him; and the prophet says that Jehovah was found of them that sought Him not, and was made manifest to them that asked not after Him. Nor is there only the manifest call of the Gentiles in this, but with no less clearness there is the rejection, at any rate for a time, of proud Israel. "But unto Israel he saith, All day long have I stretched out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."

Thus the proof was complete. The Gentiles the despised heathen were to be brought in; the self-satisfied Jews are left behind, justly and beyond question, if they believed the law and the prophets.

But did this satisfy the apostle? It was undoubtedly enough for present purposes. The past history of Israel was sketched inRomans 9:1-33; Romans 9:1-33; the present more immediately is before us inRomans 10:1-21; Romans 10:1-21. The future must be brought in by the grace of God; and this he accordingly gives us at the close of Romans 11:1-36. First, he raises the question, "Has God cast away his people?" Let it not be! Was he not himself, says Paul, a proof to the contrary? Then he enlarges, and points out that there is a remnant of grace in the worst of times. If God had absolutely cast away His people, would there be such mercy? There would be no remnant if justice took its course. The remnant proves, then, that even under judgment the rejection of Israel is not complete, but rather a pledge of future favour. This is the first ground.

The second plea is not that the rejection of Israel is only partial, however extensive, but that it is also temporary, and not definitive. This is to fall back on a principle he had already used. God was rather provoking Israel to jealousy by the call of the Gentiles. But if it were so, He had not done with them. Thus the first argument shows that the rejection was not total; the second, that it was but for a season.

But there is a third. Following up with the teaching of the olive-tree, he carries out the same thought of a remnant that abides on their own stock, and points to a re-instatement of the nation, And I would just observe by the way, that the Gentile cry that no Jew ever accepts the gospel in truth is a falsehood. Israel is indeed the only people of whom there is always a portion that believe. Time was when none of the English, nor French, nor of any other nation believed in the Saviour. There never was an hour since Israel's existence as a nation that God has not had His remnant of them. Such has been their singular fruit of promise; such even in the midst of all their misery it is at present. And as that little remnant is ever sustained by the grace of God, it is the standing pledge of their final blessedness through His mercy, whereon the apostle breaks out into raptures of thanksgiving to God. The day hastens when the Redeemer shall come to Zion. He shall come, says one Testament, out of Zion. He shall come to Zion, says the other. In both Old and New it is the same substantial testimony. Thither He shall come, and thence, go forth. He shall own that once glorious seat of royalty in Israel. Zion shall yet behold her mighty, divine, but once despised Deliverer; and when He thus comes, there will be a deliverance suited to His glory. All Israel shall be saved. God, therefore, had not cast off His people, but was employing the interval of their slip from their place, in consequence of their rejection of Christ, to call the Gentiles in sovereign mercy, after which Israel as a whole should be saved. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first liven to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever."

The rest of the epistle takes up the practical consequences of the great doctrine of God's righteousness, which had been now shown to be supported by, and in no wise inconsistent with, His promises to Israel. The whole history of Israel, past, present, and future falls in with, although quite distinct from, that which he had been expounding. Here I shall be very brief.

Romans 12:1-21 looks at the mutual duties of the saints. Romans 13:1-14; Romans 13:1-14 urges their duties towards what was outside them, more particularly to the powers that be, but also to men in general. Love is the great debt that we owe, which never can be paid, but which we should always be paying. The chapter closes with the day of the Lord in its practical force on the Christian walk. In Romans 14:1-23 and the beginning ofRomans 15:1-33; Romans 15:1-33 we have the delicate theme of Christian forbearance in its limits and largeness. The weak are not to judge the strong, and the strong are not to despise the weak. These things are matters of conscience, and depend much for their solution on the degree to which souls have attained. The subject terminates with the grand truth which must never be obscured by details that we are to receive, one another, as Christ has received us, to the glory of God. In the rest of chapter 15 the apostle dwells on the extent of his apostleship, renews his expression of the thought and hope of visiting Rome, and at the same time shows how well he remembered the need of the poor at Jerusalem. Romans 16:1-27; Romans 16:1-27 brings before us in the most. instructive and interesting manner the links that grace practically forms and maintains between the saints of God. Though he had never visited Rome, many of them were known personally. It is exquisite the delicate love with which he singles out distinctive features in each of the saints, men and women, that come before him. Would that the Lord would give us hearts to remember, as well as eyes to see, according to His own grace! Then follows a warning against those who bring in stumbling-blocks and offences. There is evil at work, and grace does not close the eye to danger; at the same time it is never under the pressure of the enemy, and there is the fullest confidence that the God of peace will break the power of Satan under the feet of the saints shortly.

Last of all, the apostle links up this fundamental treatise of divine righteousness in its doctrine, its dispensational bearings, and its exhortations to the walk of Christians, with higher truth, which it would not have been suitable then to bring out; for grace considers the state and the need of the saints. True ministry gives out not merely truth, but suited truth to the saints. At the same time the apostle does allude to that mystery which was not yet divulged at least, in this epistle; but he points from the foundations of eternal truth to those heavenly heights that were reserved for other communications in due time.

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Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Romans 8:28". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/romans-8.html. 1860-1890.