Our Hope in Christ

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 8:1

ONE of the principal themes of the Book of Romans is the manner in which God’s people may be assured of their favorable standing with him through Christ Jesus their Redeemer. This theme appears very early in the epistle. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16) Obedience to the Gospel of Christ is the means by which we receive its inspirational powers and the assurance that through our redemption provision is made for our acceptance with God.

In his opening remarks of the epistle Paul writes, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:1-4) Here Paul refers to the Gospel of Christ as the Gospel of God—the Gospel which God had promised through his prophets in the Old Testament Scriptures.

One of the outstanding Gospel promises of the Old Testament is Genesis 12:1-3, which reads, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

In his epistle to the Galatians Paul quotes God’s promise to Abraham and refers to it as the Gospel. He said, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”—Gal. 3:8,9

It is abundantly clear from this reference by Paul that it is essential, in order to receive the justification provided through the Gospel, to exercise faith in God’s promise. We must exercise faith therein, even as “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3) Abraham demonstrated his faith by doing the things which God asked him to do. Thus he became the friend of God. Principal among the things which God has asked us to do is to accept the provision of life made for us through Christ Jesus our Lord, and to dedicate ourselves to his service. Thus doing, we may also become the friends of God, and more than that, his sons.


The theme of enjoying God’s favor is expressed in the Book of Romans in different ways. It is expressed as justification by faith. Paul wrote, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) The thought here is that we are no longer alienated from God through wicked works. The condemnation of death which stood against us because of our membership in the fallen race has been set aside and we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then Paul adds other thoughts. He says, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This is our hope in Christ. It is a hope of glory—the glory of God. It is beyond our full comprehension, but nevertheless the apostle sets forth clearly and unmistakably that we do have such a hope—a hope of partaking of God’s glory.

The resurrected Jesus made a promise bearing on this hope of glory. He said, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21) To occupy a position with the Heavenly Father is part of what is involved in partaking of the glory of God.

To this the apostle adds, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” (Rom. 5:3,4) The Revised Standard Version of this passage reads, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” How wonderful is this assurance that even our trials contribute to our glorious hope in the sense that they are testing our fidelity, our worthiness of being partakers of the glory of God!

Jews and Gentiles

The church at Rome was a mixed group, made up of Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ. Many of the newer Jewish converts in the Early Church found it difficult to break away entirely from the regulations of the Old Covenant. It seemed difficult for them to realize that they could have a standing with God and receive salvation entirely through Christ and apart from the Law. So in the 7th chapter of Romans Paul addresses himself to those who were having this difficulty and goes into some detail to show the futility of the Law so far as attaining a state of justification before God is concerned.

He uses his own experience to illustrate this point. In verses 4-6 of this chapter Paul writes, “My brethren, ye also are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Reading this, one who had been depending upon the Law to give him a standing before God, and the hope of life, could easily ask, as Paul does here on his behalf, “Is the Law sin?” Answering this question, Paul says, “God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the Law: for I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the Law sin was dead. For I was alive without the Law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”—vss. 7-9

No Salvation through the Law

Beginning with verse 14, Paul continues, “For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good.”—vss. 14-16

Summing up this confession or failure under the Law, Paul says, “For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God: but with the flesh the law of sin.”—vss. 22-25

Paul here speaks of his own body as a body of death. Some commentators suggest that he is here likening himself as being strapped to a dead body from which he cannot deliver himself. Phillips’ translation reads, “I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

No Condemnation

It is against this background, depicting failure in his efforts to keep the Law, that Paul begins to present that gloriously bright hope of favor with God and of salvation which we find in chapter 8. This chapter opens with the words, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for [a] sin [offering], condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”—Rom. 8:1-4

Paul makes it very clear, however, that the fact of one’s failure to keep the Law and thus gain God’s favor, does not offer an excuse for laxity in struggling against the sins and imperfections of the flesh. He says, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”—vss. 13,14

Here is a very reassuring thought. Surely the sons of God have the favor of God! We can believe without reservation that God takes care of his children. He supplies all their needs. He gives them strength to walk in the narrow way. He guides them. He supplies them with spiritual sustenance. Indeed, we cannot think of any need that would not be supplied by God to his children.

And Paul affirms that as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. The Holy Spirit leads God’s children through his Word. It leads in the way of holiness and of obedience to the will of God. It leads in the way of sacrifice, never in the way of self-gratification. It leads in the footsteps of Jesus, and if we follow in his footsteps, we will complete our course in death even as he did.

The Spirit’s Witness

Paul continues, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God … if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Notice how Paul associates the witness of the Spirit with the privilege of suffering with Christ. This is the scriptural viewpoint. In I Peter 1:11 we are told that the Holy Spirit, speaking through the prophet, testified concerning the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. If we are suffering with Christ because of our faithfulness in following in his footsteps, it means that we are in the prophetic picture outlined by the Holy Spirit through the prophets. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is testifying that upon this condition it is bearing witness to us that we are the children of God.

To this Paul adds that if, or since, we are children of God, then we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, which means that all the precious promises concerning our being partakers of the glory of God are made yea and amen to us. To realize what this means we need only recall some of the precious promises to the Lord’s children—promises of glory, honor, and immortality—promises of the future privilege of living and reigning with Christ for the blessing of all the families of the earth. How rewarding it is to have the assurance, through the Holy Spirit, that we are the children of God!

Further along in this wonderful 8th chapter of Romans we have that encouraging promise, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Here is what we might refer to as an all-purpose promise of God, for it covers every possible situation and pertains to all things, assuring us that they work together for good, not to everyone, but to those who love God and who, in addition, are called according to his purpose.

That purpose of our calling, the apostle explains, is that we might be conformed to the image of God’s Son, the firstborn among many brethren. Here again we are reminded that, while not under the Law of commandments, we are under obligation to serve God with our whole heart and to yield obediently to every aspect of his will, that we might indeed be conformed to the image of his Son. Otherwise, we have no assurance that all things are working together for our good.

What Shall We Say?

Going on to verse 31, we read, “If God be for us, who can ne against us? Some translations read, “Since God is for us.” Certainly there is no question about God’s being for his children. And since he is for us, no one or no thing can successfully be against us.

One of the ways in which God is for us is through the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. Paul wrote, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (vs. 32) We cannot imagine that God, who gave his Son to suffer and to die for us, would stop with this. He does not. He freely gives us all things that we need in order to attain to that great salvation which was spoken by our Lord and confirmed to us by those who heard him. Yes, God is for us!

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” The Scriptures indicate that Satan is the great accuser of the brethren. Our concern is not that God will listen to him, but that we do not forward his accusations to others. Paul adds, “It is God that justifieth.” Certainly the one who justifies would not at the same time lay charges against us. He who justifies through Christ will not condemn. So we can know for a certainty that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”—vss. 31-34

No Separation

Paul asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Can affliction or hardship? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, or the sword? If one decides upon pursuing a certain course in life, whether it be in business or otherwise, it often does not require a great deal of persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, or the sword to turn one from his goal, especially if it becomes true, as the New English Translation states, “We are being done to death.”

But it is very different when the trials, the afflictions, the hardships, the nakedness, and the hunger, and our “being done to death” is for the Lord’s sake. Then, if our faith is strong and we realize that we are being led by the Spirit, whatever calamities may come upon us or be directed against us will but strengthen our resolution to continue on in the footsteps of Jesus, that we may attain finally a position on Mount Zion with him.—Rev. 14:1

Continuing, Paul says—and we quote from the New English Translation, “I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths—nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

A Living Sacrifice

Beginning with chapter 9 we find a parenthesis in the discussion as far as the general theme of the epistle is concerned, and Paul takes time to assure those to whom he is writing that he loves his brethren according to the flesh—the unbelieving Jews, that is. This parenthesis continues for three chapters. At the beginning of chapter 9 Paul says, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises.”—vss. 1-4

Chapter 10:1 reads, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” And then, in the 11th chapter, Paul discusses the unbelieving Israelites from the standpoint of being branches broken off from an olive tree, and finally points out that they will be saved in another age in the further outworking of God’s plan. It is in reflecting on this aspect of God’s plan of salvation for Israel and the world that Paul writes.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”—Rom. 11:33-36

Then Paul comes back to his original theme with these well-known words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” We clearly get the thought here that Paul is emphasizing the ultimate of what is involved in being acceptable to God during the present age. It is, based upon the mercies of God, the privilege we have of presenting our bodies a living sacrifice which, as Paul asserts, is our reasonable service.

The thought of sacrifice takes us back to the sacrifices of the tabernacle. But in our case it is not the offering of animals, as it was in the type, but the offering of our own bodies—and with the assurance that through Christ this offering is acceptable to God. Paul continues, “And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Actually, there is more to our service of the Lord than just rendering a sacrifice—even a sacrifice of ourselves. It has to be done, not in harmony with the standards of the world, but in keeping with a high standard of righteousness which is attained by the renewing of our minds, bringing them into harmony with that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

From here on we find in the epistle several chapters in which Paul presents the details of what is involved in the renewing of our minds. We will quote but one of these details: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

The viewpoint of the world usually is to build up one’s own ego, even if it is to the point beyond that which is justified. “We have to make something of ourselves,” is the thought. But in doing this we are continuing to be conformed to the world. It is only as we think soberly concerning ourselves, and take God into our thinking, that we are being transformed into the image of Christ.

We suggest a careful reading of all the details Paul presents in chapters 12, 13, and 14—particularly as to what is involved in proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Thus we will get the total picture, not only of how the Gospel of Christ makes possible our relationship as sons of God, but how the task which the Lord has given us also contributes to knowing and doing the will of God. Thus, we will have a firm foundation for our hope in and of living and reigning with Christ a thousand years.

Christ—that hope of glory, and honor, and immortality.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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