Romans 8:29 (CSB) For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
When we speak of Romans 8, most Christians rightfully cling to the verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But Romans 8:1 is not the very first line of this epistle from Paul to the church in Rome. What I am getting to is that idea didn’t just come out of nowhere. What was Paul responding to? Perhaps we can look at the verses right before:
Romans 7:24–25 (CSB) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.
Seem familiar? Don’t we hear the same desperation in anyone, who by the grace of God, see their own sins as an affront and treason against holy and loving God? It is the great cry of the tax collector, “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” 1
Even more than that, it seems to be the same question Isaiah asked:
Isaiah 64:5–6 (CSB) You welcome the one who joyfully does what is right;
they remember you in your ways.
But we have sinned, and you were angry.
How can we be saved if we remain in our sins?
All of us have become like something unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment;
all of us wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
Isaiah the great prophet, to whom Christ unraveled his glory before him and Christ then sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal and cleansed his soul from all unrighteousness even asked, “Shall we be saved?”
I know that Paul answers all the cries of all the saints who clearly see their own sin before a glorious God, “THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!”
Let that be one of the many banners over our souls and hearts: “THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION BECAUSE I AM IN CHRIST AND HE IS IN ME FOREVER!”
But this is not some standalone “theory” that we have to do doctrinal gymnastics in order to arrive at this point. The world wants to make the Bible more difficult than it needs to be. By either claiming to be nonsense, or it is a book filled with fantasy, or that God is an angry god or there are just too many contradictions. To such counters I will say two things: One, you cannot understand any gift of God without the Holy Spirit of God2. Two, once you have the Holy Spirit and by his will, power and wisdom alone, you can now begin to grasp the Bible for it really is—the word of God. All of a sudden, when we read passages like Luke 24 when Jesus taught his disciples about all the Scriptures, we realize that the Bible is really all about Him.
If the Bible is all about Jesus, then logic and reason dictate that salvation comes through Christ alone.
Let’s see what the rest of the Bible says:
Acts 4:12 (CSB) There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”
John 1:12–13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Romans 5:9-10 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
1 Corinthians 15:1–11 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Ephesians 2:1–10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Titus 3:3–7 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
And the Old Testament says nothing less about it even despite our “Age of Information” brains who can only search by keywords. Go back and start at the beginning.
Genesis - beginning of the promise of Jesus Christ
Exodus - Jesus will save his people from their sins
Leviticus - the weight of the holy law upon the shoulders of Christ
Numbers - the progressive sanctification of his people or to put it into other words, being conformed to the image of His Son.
But how do we know that Christ was the Savior of those in the Old Testament when they didn’t even know His name? Paul says that in Romans 3 that God put Jesus Christ forward as a propitiation with Christ’s own blood to be received by faith. Not only with us the New Testament saints but the Old Testaments as well. God was passing over their sins in divine forbearance because those saints believed in Christ Jesus.3
Saints of old and saints of new were all perfectly saved by Christ alone.
We know that those old saints were under the burden of the law with sacrifices and shedding of blood. But the shedding of the blood of ox and goats or even following the law perfect never intended to save God’s people.4
Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over everyone, everywhere, and everything.
And Christ rules, reigns and saved his people because He went to the cross in humility and joy.
Jesus Christ is the literal crux where God’s steadfast love and God’s faithfulness meet and He is where His righteousness and His perfect peace kiss each other.5
Because of all that he has done and because of what he is doing now and will do, there will be one fine day that I will stand in the presence of my Savior, just as Joshua did before the Commander of the Most High or as the adulteress caught red-handed and thrown before this King of Kings. I saw my Savior’s beautiful face but can I approach him? I can say nothing. But I fall to the ground in worship and in true awe before the one who saved me.
But then, the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit, “Father of Lights, this is your precious son!”
And I can imagine Christ turning to his Father and the Father’s voice booms the heavens, “THIS IS MY SON IN WHOM I AM WELL-PLEASED!”
And upon that declarative state, Christ descends from his rightful throne, lifts me up to stand with him and finishes the holy judgment before angels, elders, and the other saints:
NO CONDEMNATION! Come and enter in the joy of your master.
It is then and only then that I will have a chance to hold my lovely Saviour’s face, look deeply into his eyes and kiss him a thousand kisses all because of what He has done for me.
Christian Standard Bible.
Holmon Publishing. 2020.
ESV Study Bible.
by John Calvin.
No Condemnation in Christ Jesus: As Unfolded in the Eighth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
by Octavius Winslow.
Banner of Trust. 1991.
Romans: An Expositional Commentary.
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publishing. 2019.
The Letter to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT)).
by Douglas Moo.
New Testament Commentary: Romans: Chapters 1-16.
by William Hendriksen.
by William S. Plumer.
Romans: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary).
by Robert Mounce.
Holmon Reference. 1995.
Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 6).
Edited by Gerald L. Bray.
IVP Academic. 2005.
Commentary on Romans.
by Martin Luther.