The 500th Anniversary of the New Testament in the Language of the People 1522 – 2022
The Bible in 3-D
Our Victory Lap!
Strategies for Life’s Most Challenging Struggles
Romans 8:31-39: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Martin Luther on Romans 8:
St. Paul comforts fighters of sinful desires. He tells us that Christ has given us his Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit makes us spiritual and restrains the flesh. The Holy Spirit assures us that we are God’s children no matter how furiously sin may rage within us, so long as we follow the Spirit and struggle against sin in order to kill it. Because nothing is so effective in deadening the flesh as the cross and suffering, Paul comforts us in our suffering. He says that the Spirit, love and all creatures will stand by us; the Spirit in us groans and all creatures long with us that we be freed from the flesh and from sin.
Luther made four points for us to think about.
First, “in this way [God] wants to make us conformed to the image of his dear Son, Christ, so that we may become like him here in suffering and there in that life to come in honor and glory.” So, we suffer in this life, so that we would be like our Lord Jesus who suffered in this life. Being like Him here in this life, we will be like Him in the life to come, with honor and glory.
Second, “even though God does not want to assault and torment us, the devil does, and he cannot abide the Word.” What does Luther mean ? He means that the devil wants us to suffer because of God’s Word, but God uses this suffering so that we may learn that the Word is greater than the devil: “Then our Lord God looks on for a while and puts us in a tight place, so that we may learn from our own experience that the small, weak, miserable Word is stronger than the devil and the gates of hell.”
Third, Luther says, “it is also highly necessary that we suffer not only that God may prove his honor, power, and strength against the devil, but also in order that when we are not in trouble and suffering this excellent treasure which we have may not merely make us sleepy and secure.” God gives suffering so that we wouldn’t get sleepy in this life, but always look to the treasure we have in Jesus and His eternal promises which will be ours forever—as Paul says, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
Lastly, Luther says, “Christian suffering is nobler and precious above all other human suffering because, since Christ himself suffered, he also hallowed the suffering of all his Christians.” When Christians suffer, it is a suffering which Christ Himself has made holy for them.
In fact, Luther says, “when people without faith run into affliction and suffering, they have nothing to comfort them, for they do not have the mighty promises and the confidence in God which Christians have. Therefore, they cannot comfort themselves with the assurance that God will help them to bear the affliction, much less can they count on it that he will turn their affliction and suffering to good.”
There is a special component to sufferings for the Christian. Not only has Christ made their suffering holy, but there is also special hope. There is the hope that points to this work of God, this work which conforms us to the image of Jesus. This work points to God’s own words and promises to overcome the world and the evil one. This work draws us to eternal hope. There is hope in who this God is as the Almighty One who loves us and cares for us. He is the God who proved His love and sent His Son to suffer and die for us. If He has done this, will He not certainly in His love do what is best for us in all things? Yes, yes, it shall be so.
On a personal note, my wife and I selected this Bible verse for our wedding as a reminder that we would always remain connected to God and His love in the face of unknown challenges we might face together in this life.