Passage: Romans 8:31-39
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
In the gospel, God gives us the strong assurance that his love for us is unbreakable—no matter what we need, how we sin, or what we suffer. And yet, as strong as God’s love is, we need to be continually persuaded of it anew, because of our proneness to doubt it. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul raises three potential obstacles that could create a separation between us and God, and assures us that neither these, “nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:39).
The first obstacle is our need: we think that our endless need may eventually wear out God’s willingness to keep lovingly giving to us. Arguing from the greater to the lesser, Paul assures Christians that if God did not withhold his best gift from us—his own Son—“but gave him up for us all”, then we can trust that God will “graciously give us all things” (8:32). God is tireless in giving us what we need, because his love for us is covenantal. This means that his love is not based on any prior worth in us, but actually creates our worth! Christians who rest in this love become people with “buoyant” relationships—able to stand the test of time.
The second obstacle is our guilt: perhaps we’ve failed our way out of the love of God. To this, Paul responds with the reminder that God is the judge who justifies us, and Christ is our defense attorney, always representing us perfectly, on the unassailable merit of his own finished work. Christians who believe this can rest in the clean conscience that God gives.
Finally, Paul raises the obstacle of our suffering: our suffering can tempt us to believe the lie that God has abandoned us. And yet, to this obstacle, too, Paul brings the assurance that nothing we have gone through in the past, are going through in the present, or will go through in the future, has any ability to separate us from Christ’s love. Knowing this makes us a hopeful, steadfast people, even as we mourn the sufferings of this life.
Truly do we need the constant reminders of God’s love “beat into our head continually!” (Martin Luther)
- God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Need Too Much (8:31-32)
- God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Fail Too Much (8:33-34)
- God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Suffer Too Much (8:35-39)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Romans 8:31-39)
God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Need Too Much (8:31-32)
Q) Even the strongest Christians go through times of doubting God’s love for them. In his sermon, Pastor Bobby gave three “obstacles” that can cause Christians to doubt God’s love for them—namely, our neediness, our sinfulness, and our suffering. In your experience, which of these three “obstacles” has the strongest tendency to cause you to doubt God’s love for you? Can you give an example of a time or season when this happened to you?
Q) Re-read Romans 8:31-32. How would you explain Paul’s argument in these verses in your own words? How is giving us Jesus the ultimate proof that God will continue to “graciously give us all things”?
Q) Romans 8:32 says that God will “graciously give us all things.” If this is true, how do we explain unanswered prayer? What are the “all things” that God promises to give us here?
Q) In his sermon, Pastor Bobby said that God’s love for us is “covenantal”. How would you explain the idea of a covenant in your own words? What are the qualities of “covenant love” and how is it different than other types of love we see in our culture today?
Q) In his sermon, Pastor Bobby quoted Tim Keller, who said: “Jesus did not die because we were lovely; he died to make us lovely.” Why is this distinction important? If you believed this more firmly, what practical impact do you think it would have on your relationships?
God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Fail Too Much (8:33-34)
Q) Re-read Romans 8:33-34. These verses are meant to give us confidence that our sins cannot separate us from the love of God. Meditate on these verses together, and ask yourselves:
- How are Christians described in these verses? How does this give us confidence?
- What does God the Father do in these verses? How does this give us confidence?
- What does Christ do in these verses? How does this give us confidence?
Q) What tends to happen in our lives when we forget that Jesus is “interceding for us”? What are some attitudes that result? What are some behaviors that result?
God’s Love is Unbreakable—Even When We Suffer Too Much (8:35-39)
Q) Re-read Romans 8:35-39. In these verses, Paul lists several examples of sufferings that may tempt a person to doubt God’s love, including some of his own sufferings. Can you describe a time when a “tribulation” caused you to doubt the constancy of God’s love for you? When was it? What did the trial tempt you to believe about God? About yourself?
Q) Re-read Romans 8:37. In this verse, Paul doesn’t just call us people who “endure”, but people who “conquer.” Why do you think Paul calls Christians “more than conquerors?”
Q) In Romans 8:38, Paul says that neither “things present, nor things to come” can separate us from the love of God. What aspect of your future do you need to entrust to God?
Q) What is one practical step you can take this month to regularly remind yourself of God’s unbreakable love for you?
Q) CASE STUDY: You are talking to your close friend who has grown up in the church. Your friend has suffered with chronic health issues for many long years. “I feel useless to God”, they share with you. “I know the gospel, so I know better than to believe what I’m about to say…but, I am tired of feeling so needy…almost like I’m even too needy for God. I used to serve in so many ministries in the church, but now I barely have enough energy to even watch the Livestream, much less serve. I feel almost guilty that I’m not ‘giving anything back’ to others—and haven’t for a while. Though I know I shouldn’t feel this way, I do, more often than not.” Based on the truths from this passage/sermon in particular, how might you gently encourage your friend?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.