The Privilege of Being a Christian
Paul wrote Romans from the house of his friend Gaius during a stay in Corinth. Neither Paul nor the Christians in Rome knew how soon they would need the comfort of Romans 8.
Opinion varies, but many scholars estimate that Romans was written in AD 57-58. Within a decade, many of the Roman Christians to whom the letter was addressed were brutally slaughtered in the Roman amphitheaters. The original readers of Romans faced a terrible dilemma: they could deny Jesus or profess Him knowing that, if they did, they faced certain death. Tacitus’ account, written half a century later, and with unmeasured contempt for Nero, is often cited: “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered in the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or doomed to the flames.”
Think about it: Paul initially wrote Romans 8 for Christians who had to face the possibility of unspeakably brutal deaths.
Some were crucified in mockery of their faith in Jesus.
Some were mauled to death by wild beasts.
Some were covered in tar and set ablaze.
Paul himself was killed outside the city at Tre Fontane. As a Roman citizen, he was spared the horror of crucifixion, being thrown to wild animals, or being burned alive. Most likely, he was beheaded with a sword. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall . . . [the] sword?” (Rom. 8:35, emphasis added).
No, a sword did not sever Paul from the love of Jesus Christ. Nothing could come between the apostle and the certainty of heaven that awaited him.
The same promise was given to every Roman Christian who died in these appalling circumstances. They knew a love that would not let them go—the love of the Father and of the Son made known by the Holy Spirit, a love that did not spare Jesus.
As a Christian, I am not only “in Christ,” but Christ is “in me” (Gal. 2:20). This means, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “I am convinced that there is no aspect of Christian truth that has been so sadly neglected in this century.”
Oh, the privilege of being a Christian. Can you imagine anything greater than this—that you have been loved from eternity; that “in Christ” you are loved right now?
“O Love that wilt not let me go. . . .”
This excerpt is taken from How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas.