Romans 8: Christ Our Security

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11

We come now to what, according to the early church Father Chrysostom, is “the most encouraging hope to the hearer, giving him a sense of security from what happened to Christ.”[1] Remember, Paul is aiming at giving his readers assurance in Christ, assurance that believers are indeed redeemed by Christ but also, as the chapter will triumphantly end, they will never be separated from Christ. Never? What about when we die? What happens then? Paul’s argument in verse 11 addresses this and what he says is absolutely staggering.

You must remember that the main point Paul has been arguing in Romans 8 verses 1-8 is that our union with Christ, our being found in Christ, is what allows us to participate in all the redemptive blessings of Christ. Our righteousness, our life, our peace, these are all blessings which belong to Christ and we only receive them by receiving Jesus – by believing into Jesus. And so Paul is reminding Christians here in verse 11 that his resurrection is also now our resurrection! That’s the point Paul is making. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, never to die again, so too will we be raised from the dead and in Christ enjoy eternal life.

He’s already made the point that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made all who are in Christ to be people who have overcome the power of sin. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death… if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (vs. 2, 10). The Holy Spirit has made us born-again (or, spiritually resurrected) in order to be no longer bound to the power of sin. But now Paul is arguing that the Spirit will do the same with us concerning the power of death. There is another resurrection – a bodily one, this time – which all believers will experience. Just as the Spirit of Christ gives life to our spirits (verse 10) so too will He give life to our bodies (verse 11).

Listen to how Paul makes the point back in chapter 6. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-5). Again, Paul is absolutely sold on a theology of union. By faith we become one with Christ and thus we become partakers of all that happened to Christ and all that is in Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Listen again to Chrysostom. “We must first die and be buried, and then we shall become immortal. This has already been done in baptism… The man who is dead to this life is thus the one who is most truly alive.”[2] His point is a good one. If we want to participate in that final resurrection where we overcome death and participate in the new and everlasting life, a physical and material resurrection, then we must first die to self and be spiritually resurrected, that is born again. Outside of Christ one can only expect death and then eternal death; the eternal consciousness of Hell. But not so the believer. Christ is his life both here and after.

John Stott comments: “This does not mean that our dead bodies will be revivified or resuscitated, and so restored to their present material existence, only to die again. No, resurrection includes transformation, the raising and changing of our body into a new and glorious vehicle of our personality, and its liberation from all frailty, disease, pain, decay and death.”[3]

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15 are perhaps his most famous concerning this theme and it would serve you well to just sit and read and wonder at what Paul says there concerning our resurrection. It’s glorious! That chapter also ends in triumphant praise where he says, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).

What a marvelous power this is – the power to overcome death. It is a power that only God can exert and Paul’s great comfort to us here is that we have that power indwelling us in the person of the Holy Spirit. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Paul is clearly emphasizing the indwelling ministry of the Spirit; twice he mentions this at both the beginning and the end of this verse. And because we will never lose the Spirit – we saw this in the last verse – then it is a foregone conclusion that the Spirit will raise us up on the Last Day. Paul’s logic here is tight; he makes the connection that what happened to Jesus will happen to us because we have and will not always have the Spirit of Christ with us.

Again, this is meant to encourage you, dear saint. And it should, especially in a time where death is flexing its muscle in an unusually fierce way and consuming the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve in a large-scale pandemic. Nonetheless, there is One whom death could not conquer, and He’s alive now and He’s given his Spirit to give that same resurrection life to anyone and everyone who believes in his name, Jesus Christ.

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary) serves at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Maricel and their two children, Ambrose and Lilou.



[1] John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, NPNF 1 11:436

[2] Ibid.

[3] John Stott, The Message of Romans (InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 227

 

Stephen Unthank

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