By Mike Willis
One of the themes of the book of Romans is to show that the gospel provides for man an assurance of salvation that perfect law keeping cannot provide. Perhaps we have not emphasized that Christians have an assurance of salvation sufficiently to give God-fearing children of God confidence that the victory is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. I would like to consider some of the texts that emphasize the on-going work of the Lord in assuring our salvation. His work on Calvary is completed, but his work in heaven is on-going and is a source of assurance to us that we truly shall be saved.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
This passage reminds us of the grace of God in sending Jesus to die for our sins while we were yet his enemies. He extols the love of God by showing how rare it is that one would die for his enemies. One does not usually give his life for a “righteous man” (dikaios: the point is that this is a man who gives to everyone his due), although for a good man (agathos: one who is a benefactor, giving to others what they do not deserve) some would even dare to die. But Jesus went beyond this in that while we were yet sinners, yet his enemies, he died for us so that we might be reconciled to God.
The next phrase says, “much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” The “much more then” forms a contrast. If Christ died for us while we were his enemies, how much more then will he do those things needed for our salvation now that we have been reconciled to him and adopted by God as his children! “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). This passage calls attention to Christ’s resurrected life and continued existence in heaven as an assurance of our salvation.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
This text is designed to reassure Christians who are faced with the “sufferings of this present world” (Rom. 8:18) that God will help them through the difficulties of life. We may not understand everything that the Holy Spirit does to assist us, but this much is promised by the word of God. During those times that we are struggling through some problem and our sufferings are so great that we cannot find adequate words to express them (“groanings which cannot be uttered”), the Holy Spirit who knows our hearts makes intercession in our behalf to the throne of God.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? 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.
The crucifixion of Christ shows us that “God is for us.” If God is for the salvation of man, who can be against us? What power does anyone have to withstand God? He is the Almighty. Then he adds what God will do in addition to the sacrifice on Calvary: “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?” (Rom. 8:32). The sense of this text is that God will provide whatever is necessary for the Christian’s salvation in his on-going providential care for the soul of man. Not only does the Holy Spirit make intercession for us, the risen Christ who is seated at the right hand of God also makes intercession for us.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
Jesus personally reassured the disciples that he would keep them by saying that he would “lose nothing” of those who had been committed to his care.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Jesus will protect his children. No man can pluck them out of his hand. (Compare to the promise in Romans 8:31- 39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God.) The Lord promises those who are faithfully serving him a protection from the assaults made against their soul.
What Jesus Does For Us In Heaven
There are several passages that speak of Jesus’ on-going work in the salvation of man’s soul. Consider what the Bible says that Jesus does :
1. He ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” This text speaks of Jesus’ work in heaven. How encouraging is the knowledge that Jesus in heaven looks down and sees the needs of one of his saints and approaches the Father to make intercession in behalf of that saint.
2. He is our divine advocate (1 John 2:1-2). “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” This passage states that Jesus is an “advocate” (parakletos: “1. one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant; an advocate. . . 2. one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor. . . 3. in the widest sense, a helper, succorer, aider, assistant,” Thayer 483). How thankful one should be that he has an advocate in heaven pleading for his forgive- ness when he stumbles into sin.
3. He helps those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18). “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” The assistance that is provided for us during temptation is spoken of in the fol- lowing passages:
a. He leads us out of temptation (Matt. 6:13). “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Jesus taught his disciples to pray for this divine help to overcome temptation. The Father has promised to lead his children away from temptation and to deliver them from evil. This divine help, whether it proceeds from the Father or the Son, should give us confidence in being victorious over sin. John 17:15 offers the same promise, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).
b. He will protect in temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The three promises of this text show God’s continuing care for his children: (a) The Lord will not give you any temptation but such as is common to man (others have faced the same temptations before us and endured them successfully); (b) God will not allow one to be tempted above his ability to bear; (c) God guarantees that a way of escape will always be available to us so that we can withstand temptation.
4. He serves as our High Priest in heaven (Heb. 7:26; 8:1; 10:21). Jesus is described as our present High Priest who is serving on behalf of his saints in heaven. The argument drawn from his on-going priestly work is that we can have courage to draw near to the throne of God to find grace to help in time of need. “And having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21-22).
My Lord who loved me enough to die on Calvary lives in heaven. He wants his children to be saved, as exhibited by his sacrificial death. He ever-lives, seated at the right hand of God, to care for those for whom he died. He will do whatever is necessary to save his dear children, short of denying their own free-will.
I draw confidence that I can be saved knowing that Jesus is continuing his work in heaven to help me make it through the troubles and temptations of life. We will never fail for want of divine grace. May saints be encouraged to continued faithfulness by the assurance of the victory that is ours in Christ.