In the first half of Romans the Apostle Paul painted a glorious picture of gospel transformation on an eight-chapter canvas. Then he wrote these words in chapter 8, verses 31-32:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
What We See
Being a pastor can be overwhelming at times. When we look around the church, we see brokenness everywhere. Broken bodies and spirits: heart attacks, chronic pain, depression, cancer. Broken relationships: parents estranged from children, walls between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters in Christ who avoid one another. Broken finances: just when we think we’re making progress paying off the building, three HVAC units break and need to be replaced. Broken mission: we long to see our chairs filled with folks who are or need to be worshipers of Christ, but we’re not seeing the conversions to Christ we’d like to see. Perhaps you see the same brokenness in your congregation.
It’s enough to make one ask the question, “Is God really for us?” And we’re not the first to ask. The psalmists seemed to regularly wonder whom God was for or against: Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1) How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1) You have rejected us and disgraced us . . . you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. (Psalm 44:9, 19)
What He Says
But if I get my eyes off of my world and into His Word for a moment I’ll find both the proof and promise that He is for His people, His church. The proof that God has made provision for the greatest need of His people helps me believe the promise that He will meet every other need His people have as they carry out His purposes in the world.
God proved that He is for His church by not sparing His own Son, but giving Him up for us all. Someone recently quoted D. A. Carson as saying, “we are fighting the Bible’s entire story line if we do not recognize that our deepest need is to be reconciled to God.” The greatest need of God’s people has been met in the life, death, and resurrected life of Jesus, the Son of God, whom the Father did not spare, but gave up for us. The proof is in the provision.
God’s promise of present and future provision for His church is based on His past provision of His Son. So, Paul reasons, if God has met our greatest need by giving us His Son, how will He not also along with His Son provide for every other need His people have? We have been reconciled to God through the gift of His Son, how will He not also give us what we need to carry out His Son’s mission, the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)? The promise is one of provision for every lesser need based upon the proof of provision for our greatest need. The Gospel is our guarantee!
Lord, I tend to believe what I see more than what You say. I believe, Father, but continue to transform my seeing-is-believing heart into a believing-is-seeing heart. Keep me in the shadow of the cross, within earshot of Christ’s “It is finished,” so that I might believe what You say and not what I see.