To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:
Lead your group in a discussion of verses 28-30.
What does verse 28 tell us about God’s providence—that is, God’s benevolent rule over all of life? And what do verses 28-30 tell us about God’s purpose for us?
Refer to the verse-by-verse commentary to help explain the more difficult words and concepts in these verses.
Now lead your group in a discussion of verses 31-39.
As we read in the verse-by-verse commentary, in Romans Paul often teaches by posing rhetorical questions. These are questions for which the answer should be obvious to the reader. But it is important that we answer them if we are to understand Paul’s meaning.
If your class members have student books, have them take a minute to underline Paul’s rhetorical questions. (Or you could photocopy the Scripture page from your teacher’s manual.) Then discuss the questions one at a time.
Here are the questions, followed by the responses in the teacher’s book:
First question: What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
In other words, what should our reaction be to our present sufferings and to our future hope of glorification? The answer is implied in the next question.
Second question: If God is for us, who can be against us?
No one who matters, for Almighty God is the one who is in control of all things.
Third question: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Paul answers this within the question itself by reminding us that God has already given us his greatest treasure: his own Son. It stands to reason that if God did not withhold the life of his precious Son, then it is unimaginable that God will withhold anything else.
Fourth question: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
The answer is the same as for the second question: no one that matters. God is the ultimate and final judge, and he has justified us. This means God counts us as innocent of all charges that might be brought to bear. God’s judgments are consistent, so we do not need to fear he will change his mind.
Fifth question: Who then is the one who condemns?
In other words, who even has the right to judge us guilty and therefore ineligible for eternal life? One possibility is Christ himself, the man untainted by sin who now sits in a position of judgment “at the right hand of God.” But such a condemnation by Christ is unthinkable, for even though he has the right to condemn us, he died and rose again to do the opposite. He “is also interceding for us” as he pleads our case.
Sixth and final question: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Paul gives an emphatic answer to the multiple conditions of hardship he has set forth. We are not defeated by these very real trials, and we are not mere survivors either. Rather, “we are more than conquerors.”
Paul ends, in verses 38 and 39, with four additional sets of possibilities for being separated from the love of Christ. God has shown us that he has no inclination or intention to withhold his love for us. God has proven this love through the giving of his precious Son as the necessary sacrifice for our sins. Since we do not have to doubt God’s love, we do not need to fear any possible scenario where we can be separated from this mighty, marvelous love.
To encourage personal application:
Testimony Time. Encourage the members of your group (or those who are comfortable doing so) to share a personal testimony about experiencing the reality of some promise contained in this powerful passage.
For example, they might share about a difficult time when they came to “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (v. 28).
Or a time when they felt that others were against them, but then realized that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31).
Or a time when they felt they were being condemned by others—or themselves—but then recognized, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (v. 34).
Or a time when they felt separated from God’s love, but then became convinced that nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 35-39).
Close with a prayer thanking God for the ways he has made us more than conquerors through his great, amazing love.