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Bible: What Does Romans 8:19-39 Teach Us About God's Sovereignty in Salvation?

Updated on September 8, 2016

The Glory of Creation

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Paradise Restored

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Romans 8:19-39: The Blessedness of Believers

The Creation Waits Eagerly

Having broached the doctrine of the future glorification of believers, the apostle next examines how the rest of creation links with and relates to this phenomenon.

Using personification, Paul describes the creation’s present “attitude” as “earnest expectation”; in other words, it eagerly waits for God to reveal the glory of His sons (v. 19).

He explains why it desires so much to see this event.

After the Fall God cursed creation (that is, He subjected it to “futility”), so that human beings could still manage it to some degree (v. 20; cf. Gen. 3:17-19).

Apart from the glorification of the “new humanity,” it cannot fulfill the purpose of its existence; therefore, it “cannot wait” until God completes the redemption of His people.

In that glorious future when “the children of God” have total freedom to serve the Lord, God will restore creation to its original pristine condition (v. 21).

The Potter and the Clay

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God's Sovereignty in Salvation

Paul reminds these believers of God’s care for them, telling them that He has so ordered His universe that every created thing cooperates to bring about “good” for His children (“those who love God,” “those who are the called according to His purpose.”) [v. 28]

[“Good” ultimately points to their glorification.

Paul equates lovers of God with those whom the Father has called to salvation; only these people can claim this promise.

God purposed to save them, and He will bring His eternal decree to fruition.]

In eternity past, the Father “knew” His children intimately (foreknowledge). He chose to make certain that they would all ultimately be conformed to “the image of His Son” (become exactly like Christ in character and share in His glory).

Christ would remain preeminent (“firstborn”) among them, and they themselves would never become God or gods [v. 29].

God planned every believer’s eternal destiny; having foreknown them, the Lord would certainly glorify them (v. 30).

God Will Preserve His Chosen Ones

Continuing his argument in familiar fashion (cf. 4:4; 6:1; 7:7), Paul rhetorically asks in verse 31a how people should respond to his latest point about God’s gracious plan of salvation—a point he summarizes concisely with the protasis of the conditional clause in verse 31b (“If God is for us”).

Having established that the Christian’s advocate is God Himself, the apostle (in the apodosis) not only inquires into the identity of the believer’s adversary, but also implies this enemy’s inferiority and sure defeat (v. 31b).

Opponents Cannot Thwart God's Love

Paul offers a threefold argument that demonstrates the futility of the opponent’s attempts to circumvent God’s loving purposes.

First, he points out that the One who sacrificed His most precious Child to save His people will surely provide them with everything else they need (v. 32).

Second, after issuing a challenge (rhetorically) to anyone who would seek to convict and condemn God’s chosen ones, he asserts that the Father has already declared His people righteous through the merits of the death, resurrection, enthronement and intercession of Christ; therefore, He will not reverse His eternal decision about His people (vv. 33-34).

Third, Paul avers that no amount or degree of suffering the enemy can heap upon the righteous will succeed in separating them from Christ’s love (v. 35).

The apostle quotes Psalm 44:22 to show that those who worship the LORD have always been the objects of persecution (v. 36).

Despite all of these battles, Paul concludes, believers in the Father overwhelmingly win the war (v. 37).

He delineates ten possible forces in creation that may seek to separate the believer from God’s love in the sphere of His Son, and asserts his conviction that none will succeed (vv. 38-39).

[At least three forces are spiritual entities/personalities—angels, principalities, powers.

“Death” is the physical end to life, and “life” refers to mundane suffering.

Present circumstances and future uncertainties, height (heaven) and depth (hell) all try but fail to cause God to turn from His children.]

Resurrection

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Waiting for Our Resurrection

Paul notes the common knowledge that not only does creation moan and wail in pain now, but Christians, who have not yet attained to their completed adoption, also groan within themselves while they wait for the day when God will resurrect their bodies (vv. 22-23).

When God initially saved them, He placed them in the sphere of this hope (that is, of bodily redemption).

By definition, an object of hope is invisible; no one still hopes for what he sees (v. 24).

Believers eagerly wait for God to bring this invisible object into the light, and they do so with perseverance (v. 25).

The Witness and Intercession of the Spirit

Besides enabling Christians to mortify the deeds of their body (v. 13), thereby leading them as God’s sons (v. 14), and assuring them of their sonship by bearing witness with their spirit (v. 16), the Spirit of God helps them when they do not know how to pray intelligently about life situations.

He intercedes for them with groanings “which cannot be uttered” (NKJV)/ “too deep for words” (NASB [v. 26].

God the Father (“He who searches the hearts”) already knows the needs of His children; He understands the Spirit’s mind perfectly, for the Spirit always intercedes for believers according to the Father’s will (v. 27).

© 2013 glynch1

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