On the Right Side of History?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31–39).
“What shall we say to these things?” We should say that it is an amazing thing to have God on our side. Today’s progressives, who have eliminated the very notion of God, speak with great certainty about being on the right side of history. But how do they know what is “right” in general or what is “right” in history? In their trendy way of speaking, “right” is the unfounded, non-scientific, always-dashed hopes of a humanly-created utopia, where we are supposed to believe that everyone suddenly becomes selfless and willingly gives to “each according to his needs,” as the Marxists always said (but never accomplished). As George Orwell puts it in Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others!
In our world some things are “right.” Were Beethoven, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Christopher Wren, and Jesus of Nazareth really just the result of chance? Isn’t there design everywhere in the cosmos? Don’t our consciences warn us when we are motivated and moved by lust and anger and greed? We know right from wrong. So we know that we are guilty and helpless creatures, who must answer to the Almighty Creator, the God of light. We know of him especially through his Son Jesus Christ. And our sinless Lord is the final and ultimate proof of the existence of God.
A Christian view of utopia does not depend on flawed human creatures or imaginative visions but on the plans of an all-powerful God against whom no human opposition can stand. If God is for us, says the text, nothing can be against us—not times of weakness or even death, because “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (verse 37). God is for us and loved us in a very precise, historical way, in an event that happened on the right side of history. God “spared not his own Son” in order to spare us. He “gave him up” in order to “give us all things.” This is an amazing deal, especially since all things includes the gift of his Son as our friend, Savior and Lord.
The term all things, which occurs a number of times in this text, has a precise meaning in Scripture, suggesting completeness and victory. In the first psalm, the believer is promised a life of blessing “in all that he does” (literally in all things; Psalm 1:3). Believers in Christ are allied with the Son, under whose feet God has placed all things (as Psalm 8:6 predicts). This means that nothing is out of his control. As Paul says in verses 38–39 above: “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This mind-blowing promise is based on the all-powerful character of God, the Creator, who says: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV).
Jesus knew he shared with his Father this all-inclusive divine power, for he says: “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). Jesus’ words here give content to verse 31, cited above: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” God is in control. Paul echoes this in his epistle to the Ephesians when he writes: “And God put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22).
When your friends ask if you are on the right side of history, you may want to ask them, “Which history? Fallible, human, hope-dashing history, or God’s certain glorious history?”