Justification and Assurance (a) The Brightest Gem in the Cluster
The theme of this epistle, as we have observed is Justification by Faith. This doctrine lies at the heart of the Gospel which has saved our souls and which we in turn must proclaim to others. Let us recap on Paul’s development of this truth in this epistle thus far:
Chapter 1v16 – Chapter 3v20; The Need for Justification
Chapter 3v21 – Chapter 4; Justified by Faith
Chapter 5; The Effects of Justification
Chapter 6 – Chapter 7; Sanctification the Logical Outcome of Justification.
Chapters 6 and 7 in reality belong to the same section as chapter 5 because Sanctification is a result of Justification. The 8th chapter too belongs to this section because the subject material here describes what is an outcome of Justification. In fact, this chapter deals with a very important aspect of sanctification which connects it powerfully to the 6th and 7th chapters. In these chapters the apostle examined the new life that we have in Christ, the relation the believer has with sin and the law and the battle that every Christian has with sin on a daily basis. These are vital aspects of Sanctification.
The theme of Romans 8 is assurance; this too is a vital aspect of sanctification. Our growth in grace will be hindered if we are unsure of our salvation. As our walk with God is developed through sanctification we actually become more sure and more convinced of our salvation. In other words, our faith increases. Therefore Justification leads to assurance and sanctification is helped by assurance and goes onto produce greater assurance.
Therefore it is right that we isolate Romans 8 and examine it with the theme of assurance in mind. This chapter is most helpful in relation to our Christian experience. Every believer has an interest in assurance because if our faith shifts then our reason for being is undermined, our peace and joy will also evaporate. Some of God’s people have struggles where this very issue is concerned. All of this makes Romans 8 a most vital portion of Scripture.
Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “…that in the whole of the Scriptures the brightest and the most lustrous and flashing stone , or collection of stones is this Epistle to the Romans, and that of these this is the brightest gem in the cluster.” He described the 8th Chapter as the “most moving” in the entire book.
John Calvin called this a chapter of “consolation”; “After having described the contest that the godly have perpetually with their own flesh…”.
Martin Luther entitled Romans 8 as “The Blessedness of God’s Dear Children in Christ”.
Dr Ian Paisley in the commentary he penned while in prison, struck an important note when he commented, “Without a doubt this is the chapter of the Spirit of God”. As we will observe this is an important statement because assurance is the product of the Spirit’s work in our hearts, as is sanctification.
F. Godet, A Swiss commentator, called this chapter great because it commences with “no condemnation” and concludes with “no separation”.
Another writer C.A. Fox added that in between “no condemnation” and “no separation” there is “no defeat”.
This series began with an introduction to Romans entitled “The Greatest Letter Ever Written”. James Montgomery Boice in writing a chapter on Romans 8 called it “The Greatest Chapter in the Bible”. This is no exaggeration, nor does it undermine the rest of the Bible.
The questions “What is a Christian?” and “How can I be sure that I am a Christian?” are answered in this chapter in a way that no other Biblical passage does. These are pivotal questions in relation to our salvation.
We will study this chapter using the following outline:
1: No Condemnation v1-4
2: Not in the Flesh, but in the Spirit v5-14
3: We Are the Children of God v15-16
4: Heirs of God v17-25
5: The Spirit Maketh Intercession v26-27
6: If God be for us who can be against us? v28-39