Assurance of Salvation in Romans 8

Summarized by Steve Irons from Romans, An Interpretive Outline, by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas.

The justified, though plagued with sin and affliction while in this world, are nevertheless secure "in Christ". To all who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit salvation is certain, for the Spirit's work in them is proof of their having been predestined to eternal glory - nothing can separate them from God's love, Romans 8:1-39.

A. Through their identification with Christ, believers (though sinful in themselves) have been freed from the law and therefore cannot be condemned. Hence their salvation is certain, Rom 8:1-4:

1. There is "no condemnation" for those who are "in Christ Jesus" (joined to him by faith).

2. The reason there is no condemnation for those "in Christ" is that they have been freed (Greek, "justified") from the law of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hodge interprets verses 1 and 2 as follows: "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, because they have been freed in Him by the gospel of the life-giving Spirit from the Law which, although good in itself, is, through our corruption, the source of sin and death."

3. In order to free believers from the guilt or condemnation of sin, God sent His own Son into the world (in a nature like man's sinful nature, but not itself sinful). Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and thereby legally put sin away and thus freed His people from its guilt.

4. As a result of Christ's sacrificial work, the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to Him. This of course is because of the fact that what Christ did, He did as their substitute or representative, and it is therefore counted (imputed) to them as if they themselves did it.

B. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit ,who has regenerated them, who is sanctifying them, and who in the last day will resurrect them, 8:5-11. The Holy Spirit's work in the Christian has a threefold aspect - past, present, and future. Through regeneration, the Holy Spirit made the unbeliever spiritually alive and caused him to believe in Jesus Christ. The Spirit continues His work through the process of sanctification by which He imparts spiritual strength and guidance to the believer. Sanctification begins at regeneration and does not end until death. In the resurrection the Spirit will give life to the saint's mortal body when He raises him from the dead.

1. Those who "walk according to" vs. 4; "live according to" v. 5; and "set their minds on" v. 6, the flesh are dead spiritually and therefore hostile to God and His law, v. 7 and 8. The term "flesh" is used to denote man's fallen sinful nature. Although the Christian is still influenced by the flesh (his fallen nature), the "flesh" no longer dominates him. It does not characterize his life as it did before he was made alive and energized by the Holy Spirit.

2. The believer "walks" and "lives" according to the Spirit, v. 4, 5, 6, 9-11. The saved man does not live by the standards and dictates of the flesh, but his life is regulated or influenced by the Holy Spirit who dwells within him and who is the dominant ruler of the "inner man." He is still troubled by indwelling sin, but he is not ruled by it as he was before regeneration. Though his body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, his spirit is alive because of the righteousness which has been imputed to him.

C.  Believers (through adoption) are, in their present state, the children of God and therefore heirs with Christ, Rom 8:12-17 By the Spirit, believers are to put to death the deeds of the body (i.e. the works of the flesh, see Gal. 5:16-24). Only those who resist sin, who are led by the Spirit, and who suffer with Christ are true believers. v. 13, 14, 17.

D.  Believers, though they must suffer various afflictions while in this life, are sustained through them all by the encouragement and help that comes from God, Rom 8:18-28

E.  Believers are assured of final salvation, for they have been predestined to eternal glory, Rom 8:29,30. Each individual who has been called by God's Spirit and justified by faith can be assured that he was loved by God before the foundation of the world and marked out (ordained) for everlasting life. For as Romans 8:29, 30 show, being "called" and "justified" are the result and therefore the evidence of one's having been predestined to eternal glory.

Believers have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son. This conformity (being made like Christ) will take place when the saints are glorified in the resurrection, at Christ's second coming. (Compare Romans 8:17-23; I Cor. 15:49, 51-57; Phil. 3:20,21; I John 3:2.) They have been predestined to this end so that Christ "might be the first-born among many brethren." See Heb. 2:10-17. Compare also Col 1:15,18; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5.

Note the chain of events:

1. Those whom God knew or fixed His heart upon in ages past (foreloved),

2. He marked out or ordained, and

3. In time He called (effectually - He calls outwardly by the gospel and inwardly by His Spirit thus giving them life and faith)and

4. He justified - declares them righteous on the ground of Christ's work, and

5. He glorified - He will glorify them in the resurrection at the last day.

So indissoluble is the chain that the last link is here viewed as an accomplished fact because the first links are so. The exact number known by God before the world began shall be glorified, no more, no less, and all of them must and will pass through each of these five steps. To illustrate: Suppose God foreknew 100 individuals, then He predestined 100, He called 100, He justified 100, and He glorified 100 individuals. God will bring to salvation each individual whom He set His heart on (loved) before the world began.

F.  God is for believers - no one can effectually be against them, Rom 8:31-34.

1.That God is for believers is undeniably true since He has already given His own Son to die for their sins. Certainly, God would not give His most precious possession for His elect and then withhold from them blessings of a lesser nature.

2.God's people have been cleared in His court of justice from all of their sins. Since God's justice has been completely satisfied, who is there to charge or condemn believers? Would Christ Jesus condemn the very people He loved and gave Himself for, was raised for, and even now intercedes for?

G.  God's love for His people is infinite and unchangeable, and nothing in all creation can separate believers from it, Rom 8:35-39

This is the last step in the climax of the apostle's argument; the very summit of the mount of confidence, whence he looks down on his enemies as powerless, and forward and upward with full assurance of a final and abundant triumph. No one can accuse, no one can condemn, no one can separate us from the love of Christ.

In the contemplation of himself as a sinner, he mournfully exclaims, 'O wretched man that I am!' In the contemplation of himself as justified in Christ, he boldly demands, 'Who shall lay anything to my charge? Who is he that condemns?' Well may the man who loves God defy the universe to separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus his Lord. Although at present the whole creation groans and travails in pain together, although even he himself groans within himself, yet all things are working together for his good.

1. The Holy Spirit is interceding for him in his heart;

2. Jesus Christ is interceding for him before the throne;

3. God the Father has chosen him from eternity, has called him, has justified him, and will finally crown him with glory.

The Apostle had begun this chapter by declaring that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus; he concludes it with the triumphant assurance that there is no separation from His love. The salvation of believers is complete in Christ, and their union with Him indissoluble.

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