Why do bad things happen to good people? The fundamental problem with that common question is that it’s back to front. The right approach is to ask why good things happen to bad people. That question reflects an accurate reading of Scripture and an honest evaluation of ourselves.
We are sinful by nature and sinners by action. And we can’t avoid our day in court before the great Judge to whom we are accountable. We are all in desperate need of finding some way to gain right standing with our Creator before that inevitable day. That’s why the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans.
The great theme of Romans is justification by faith. That glorious doctrine—how God justifies undeserving sinners—is what fuels Paul’s opening salvo in chapter 8: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). There is a wealth of theology in that verse. It draws together all the threads of truth about justification that the apostle had been weaving in the preceding chapters.
Paul had been teaching the Romans that justification is a forensic event whereby God forgives the sins of those who believe and instead imputes to them a perfect righteousness. In chapter 4, for example, he spoke of believers as “those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered” (Romans 4:7). The Lord does not take their sins into account (Romans 4:8). And what’s more, righteousness is reckoned to their account (Romans 4:11). Therefore, they stand before God without fear of His righteous judgment (Romans 8:1).
All this hinges on the fact that they are “in Christ;” that is, they have been united with Him by faith as Paul points out in Romans 6:3–5.
So consider the implications of justification: Those who are in Christ have their sins completely forgiven; they have all the merit of Christ Himself imputed to their account. God Himself has undertaken to justify them. Christ has accomplished redemption on their behalf. They stand in God’s favor solely because He decided to show grace to them, not because of anything they did to earn it. Therefore, Paul asks, if God declares them not guilty, who is going to condemn them? “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?” (8:33–34).
There’s a tremendous amount of security in the doctrine of justification by faith. It is because of this doctrine that we can rest in our salvation as an accomplished and unalterable fact. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). As Paul says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, emphasis added). It is a done deal, not a goal we work toward. Eternal life is a present possession, not a future hope. And our justification is a declaration that takes place in the court of heaven, so no earthly judge can alter the verdict. When God Himself says “not guilty,” who can say otherwise?
Our Heavenly High Priest Intercedes for Us
The ongoing work of Christ is yet another reason we cannot fall out of favor with God. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34).
Did you realize that Jesus makes continuous intercession for all believers? Hebrews 7:25, echoing Paul’s thought in Romans 8:34, says, “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Jesus’s ongoing intercession on our behalf guarantees our salvation “forever”—literally, to the uttermost.
How does Christ pray on our behalf? Surely what He prays is similar to the great high-priestly prayer recorded in John 17. He prays for our security (John 17:11–12). He prays that we might be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14–15). He prays that we might be kept from evil (John 17:15). He prays for our sanctification (John 17:17). He prays that we will be one with Him, one with the Father, and one with one another (John 17:21–23). In short, He is praying that we will be kept in the faith, that we might “never perish,” and that no one would snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).
Will that prayer be answered? Certainly. In fact, to deny that the believer is secure in Christ and secure in the love of God is to deny that Christ’s priestly work is sufficient. And to doubt whether the believer might fall out of favor with God is to misunderstand God’s love for His elect.
Christ’s substitutionary death in our place and His ongoing intercession on our behalf should destroy all doubt in God’s power to save us, keep us, and ultimately bring us to glory.
As you may be aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full effect on 25th May 2018. GDPR is the new European privacy regulation, which will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 in the UK and the equivalent legislation across the EU Member States.
Here at Grace to You Europe we take our data protection responsibilities very seriously and, as you would expect, have undertaken a significant programme of work to ensure that we are ready for this important legislative change.
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