Romans 8:31-39 is a series of seven questions about the logic of love, the logic of God’s grace in Christ, and the assurance that comes to those in Christ. The deep structure is this: God’s promise leads to the believer’s assurance. The first four questions are connected:
What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not withhold his own Son… will he not give us everything else?
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?
The answer to number 1 and 4 is simple: “Nobody!”
If God’s gracious redemptive work starts in God’s redemptive will and carries through to glorification, who can be against us? Nobody! And, as Wright shows, Paul had plenty of things to worry about: Jerusalemites who thought he was off his rocker, opponents in his churches, natural forces on the sea, powermongers in Rome, and unknown things out in Spain. Still, God is with him and “Nobody!” can do anything about it.
If God gave his Son (anchoring the Cross in the Father’s gracious love) — as Abraham gave his son, then will he not give us everything? Absolutely. Hidden this is the most important thing for a theory of atonement: “with him.” What we get, we get because we are “in Christ.” Union with Christ is the foundation of atonement.
If God is the judge, who will stand on that Day and bring charges against God’s people? Nobody! This, friends, just is such great news.
Justification — notice this — justification is the work of the God who is the Judge and he has pronounced his Son “faithful” and that means all who are “in Christ” are “justified.” If the Judge has said “Innocent/forgiven/OK/accepted,” then there can be no charge against God’s people.
Do I hear an “Amen!”?