ISSUE: 2019, Volume 16, Issue 4
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Many aspects of life include persuasion. From trivial matters, such as choosing one brand over another when shopping, to the important decisions of life, being persuaded, or convinced, is key to arriving at a conclusion.
In Paul's Epistle to the Romans, he uses the phrase 'I am persuaded' three times in relation to important spiritual matters. First, in chapter 8, Paul is persuaded that nothing 'shall be able to separate us from the love of God', Rom. 8. 38, 39; this is about the absolute security of believers. In chapter 14 verse 14, he is 'persuaded by the Lord Jesus'; personal conviction, but in harmony with other believers' convictions. In chapter 15 verse 14, Paul is 'persuaded' of his brethren, appreciating them for their good works.
Let us focus on the first reference in Romans chapter 8.
'For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord', Rom. 8. 38, 39.
In the first eight chapters of his letter to the Romans, Paul sets out God's plan of redemption for mankind in Jesus Christ. Romans chapter 8 is the climax of this first section of the letter. It explains the greatness of the gospel that Paul preached. The chapter ends with the statement, 'I am persuaded'. This emphasizes that Paul had absolute confidence in what he taught. Before considering what Paul was convinced about, let us consider the content of chapter 8 and then apply the lessons for us as believers today.
Having dealt with justification by faith and its results, Paul begins chapter 8 with teaching about the Holy Spirit, showing that believers are helped to live to please God by the Spirit's power. From verse 28, he sums up with words of great confidence, 'we know'. Paul says that, 'all things work together for good to them that love God'.
The Christians at Rome are directed to the purposes of God in eternal matters. The past, present and future are covered concerning the people of God:
• Past – those God 'did foreknow, he also did predestinate';
• Present – 'he also called and . . . them he also justified';
• Future – 'them he also glorified'.
The outcome of the gospel is that the Lord Jesus is glorified and 'might be the firstborn among many brethren', v. 29. What a dignity, to be linked with the Lord Jesus in the purpose of God!
Paul then answers the question, 'if God be for us, who can be against us?' v. 31, by showing that no one can lay a charge, v. 33, condemn, v. 34, or 'separate us from the love of Christ', v. 35. Paul explains that even in the greatest challenges of life 'we are more than conquerors through him that loved us', v. 37.
Wuest explains that, '"I am persuaded" is from the Greek word peith? and, in the perfect tense, can be translated "I have come through a process of persuasion to a settled conclusion"'.
Paul became settled in his conclusion about the love of God by considering every possible element that could try to separate him from that love:
• death, life – death of the body, or continuing in life with all its temptations and dangers;
• angels, principalities, powers – fallen angels including Satan, the demons occupying the air around us, Eph. 2. 2, and the forces of this world;
• things present, things to come – time, from the present to all things future;
• height, depth – the vast, limitless aspects of space and the universe;
• any other creature – anything possible that hadn't already been included!
Paul was absolutely convinced, beyond a shadow of doubt, that nothing 'shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.
Paul lived in the benefit of having thought through the truth of God carefully and become convinced. This is an important example to us because we need to carefully work through the word of God and become convicted about its teaching on matters, particularly those relating to our salvation. It is possible for people who are genuinely saved to go through life without getting to grips with important truths about their salvation and, thus, when difficult times come, they are prone to doubts and don't enjoy the fullness of what God has done for them. Like Paul, we need to 'be persuaded'.
Today, we could start with our security in God's love and think through the possibilities that Paul considered: death, life, cosmic powers, the present, the future. Let us reach the conclusion that once saved, it is impossible to be separated from the 'love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' by any of these things. This is sure to increase our enjoyment of the Christian life both today and in the future and cause us to be even more thankful to God for what He has done.
Work through the other times Paul is 'persuaded', Rom. 14. 14; 15. 15. Think through the conviction that Paul has reached and see how you can reach a settled conclusion in the same way.