For the Love of God, Volume 1/August 18
From Gospel Translations
1 Samuel 10; Romans 8; Jeremiah 47; Psalms 23—24
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR Christians to be “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)? A considerable body of thought pictures a special group of illustrious Christians who “live above it all,” powerful in confronting temptation, victorious in their prayer lives, fruitful in their witness, mature and faithful in their relationships. And none of that is what the text says.
First, the “us” to whom the apostle refers includes all Christians. All Christians are the ones whom God has foreknown, “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,” called, justified, glorified (8:29-30). The people referred to are not the elite of the elect; they are ordinary Christians, all genuine Christians.
Second, the actual evidence that they are “more than conquerors” is that they persevere regardless of all opposition. That opposition may take the form of horrible persecution, of the kind that Scripture describes (8:35-38). It may be some other hardship, all the way to famine. The glories of life will not finally seduce them; the terrors of death will not finally sway them; neither the pressures of the present nor the frustrations of the future will destroy them (8:38). Neither human powers nor anything else in all creation, not even all the powers of hell unleashed, can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:39).
Third, as the last sentence already makes clear, that from which Christians cannot be finally separated is the “love of Christ” (8:35) or the love of God in Christ (8:39). At one level, of course, that is simply saying that no power can stop Christians from being Christians. That is why we are “more than conquerors.” But that point could have been made a lot of different ways. To make it this way, with an emphasis on the love of Christ as that from which we cannot be separated, reminds us of the sheer glory and pleasure that is ours, both now and in eternity, to be in such a relationship. We are not simply acquitted; we are loved. We are loved not simply by a peer, but by God himself. Nor is this a reference to the general love that God has for his entire creation. What is at stake here is that special love that attaches to “all who have been called according to his purpose” (8:28).
Fourth, the guarantee that we shall prevail and persevere, and prove to be “more than conquerors” in this sense, is nothing other than the sovereign purposes of God (8:29-30), manifest in the death of his Son on our behalf (8:31-35). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:32). No greater security is imaginable.