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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole
“GOD IS FOR US”
D. F. Sebastian,
First Baptist Church
Plant City, Florida
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
This text declares the most glorious fact that ever broke upon the consciousness of my soul. “God is for us” —The “if” could be and should be “since.” The text is not expressing a doubtful hope but a settled certainty. “Since God is for us, who can be against us?” It marks the beginning of a glorious climactic conclusion of the first eight chapters of Romans. Paul has shown that all are hopeless, inexcusable, and condemned sinners (chapter 1-3:20). Then he shows that God has provided a sufficient righteousness for sinners in Christ which is received by faith and not by works (3:21-5:11). Then he demonstrates the personal experience of one who receives this righteousness (Chapters 6-7). This eighth chapter begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “No separation”‘ to those in Christ Jesus. Our text is the climax of the glorious doctrine of salvation by grace set forth in the passage: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us?”
I. FIRST OF ALL I WISH TO DRIVE HOME TO OUR HEARTS THE MAIN THOUGHT OF THE TEXT: “GOD IS FOR US.”
In the heavens above us, as we gaze upon the universe of worlds and planets, we are reminded that God is above us. In nature we see that God is around us. In His law we feel that God is against us for we stand guilty before His just and holy law, but in Grace we are assured that “God is for us.” God is our defender, our justifier, our shield, our champion. God for us means that every attribute of His being and every ounce of His inexhaustible power are engaged in our behalf and for our eternal security His immutability guarantees that God will forever be for us. He does not change. He is not fickle in His purposes and He does not leave a task unfinished. “The eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” “I change not” is His own reassuring declaration. “Therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6). The security of the saint is not predicated upon the saint’s steadfastness but upon the unchangeableness of God.
WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?
If God be for us, let hell and earth, darkness and damnation, men and devils do their worst. All their efforts to destroy shall come to naught and our God shall bring them to everlasting confusion. If God is for us why should we fear the face of man? Why should we cower before puny man’s insults? Why should we go about with a defeatest complex? God is for US—God is for US! Hallelujah!
II. WHEN AND HOW IS GOD FOR US?
1. God is for us in eternity past:
(1) For us in His foreknowledge: “Whom He did foreknow.” “Foreknow” means more than a knowledge about us, for He knew about the devil and about all people. It is equal to foreordain, or chosen, or elected. It means that He foreknew with a purpose; foreknew effectually. 1 Peter 1:2 says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” “According” means “measured by” or “in harmony with”, or “in accord with.” His choice of us was according to or measured by or equal to His foreknowledge of us. God knew what He would do for us and He knew what He would do with us. He is for us in foreknowledge. Before we were ever born or did good or evil God was for us in His purposes of Grace.
(2) For us in predestination. God predetermined the destiny and character of everyone of us in eternity past—determined and decreed our destiny. Not merely, decreed our going to heaven, but He also decreed our “conformity to the image of Christ.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” (1 John 3:2).
2. God is for us in Time Present.
(1) In Effectual Calling. “Whom He also called” “called according to His purpose” called just as He purposed in eternity past, and called to accomplish His purpose in eternity future. Sinners are not called by chance nor by good luck but according to the purpose of God. There is a vast difference between a call and an invitation. Preachers give invitation to sinners but God calls sinners from death unto life. There is a general call in the Gospel to every man but there is a particular and effectual call of God to the “Foreknown” and “predestinated”— “Them He also called.”
He calls by the Holy Spirit and the word. He calls to life (regeneration) by the spirit and to justification by the Word. The one is vital, the other is legal and they both take place in the experiences of the sinner when he is saved.
(2) In Justification. “Them he also justified.” Justified means declared just or acquitted before His law. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” When God justifies or declares just His elect no charge shall ever be sustained against them. They may be accused by Satan and maligned by men, but heaven’s declaration shall never be reversed and they shall never be brought into jeopardy for their sins again. “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1).
(3) For us in Providence. “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,” (Rom. 8:28). God is for us through all the experiences of this life. In sickness and health, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, on the land and on the sea. His providence is working all things together for our good—nothing can be against us ultimately. At present the clouds may be dark, or the burden heavy, or the road dreary, but it is all in His plan and purpose working for our good. Who can be against us? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord . . . though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (Ps. 37:23-24). In all these things we are more than conquerors.
3. God is for us in Eternity Future.
(1) In Glorification. “Them he also glorified.” Glorification is in the future. Then we shall be like Him. Then our vile body shall be fashioned like unto His own glorious body. Glorification is the consummation of all the previous purpose and work of Grace. All the threads of foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, sanctification, and providence shall find their place in the divine pattern and be unfolded in the image of Jesus Christ. We shall be like Him, and God the Father shall look upon us as the ultimate product of His eternal redemption.
4. God is for us in one Eternal Present.
All of this is spoken in the past tense as if it had already taken place. God’s purposes are so certain of fulfillment that He expresses them as already accomplished. There can be no shadow of doubt as to our security since God Who cannot lie has already declared the end from the beginning.
Dr. A. C. Dixon says that this passage portrays God’s plan of Eternal Salvation as a great suspension bridge which spans a deep river chasm. The large cables are anchored in the mountain bed rocks on either side and are stretched over the top of great pillars and swung above the river. Large and strong arms of steel hang from these cables and support the bridge structure as constant streams of traffic go across. Foreknowledge and Predestination take their anchor back in the Eternal Counsels of the Triune God before time was—Glorification anchors the cables of Divine Grace in the Eternity yet future-while Calling and Justification take hold of the elect in actual experience here in time as we are carried safely over the turbulent currents of life. God is for us all the way.
III. THE PRACTICAL EFFECT OF THIS DOCTRINE IN OUR LIVES
1. Gives Us a Sense of Security. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” We are no more doubting and fearing saints but shouting and confident people—at rest upon His power and promises.
2. Produces Loyalty and Faithfulness. “For thy sake we are killed all the day long.” Persecution, distress, famine, nakedness, peril or sword do not drive us from our Lord but bring us close to Him. All that Satan may do against us brings us closer to our God—we die rather than be unfaithful to Him.
3. Produces Conquerors. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” This doctrine has been opposed upon the ground that it produces carelessness, indulgence, and laziness on the part of those who believe it. This is Satan’s slander of the saints. No doctrine has ever produced as many martyrs as has this glorious doctrine. Call the roll of martyrs and few Arminians are in the number. Paul, the writer of our text, sealed his testimony with his blood.
4. The Greatest Anchor for the Soul. The greatest source of peace for the mind and the most glorious ground for shouting that my heart has ever experienced is the text: “What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us who can be against us?” Amen and amen!
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