“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?”
In teaching us to pray, Jesus does not instruct us to begin only with “our Father”; rather, He adds the qualifier “in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). This is not a phrase our Savior introduces merely to locate God in a spatial sense (as if that could be done, for He is omnipresent, Ps. 139:7–12). Instead, as the Heidelberg Catechism indicates, the words “in heaven” call attention to God’s “heavenly majesty” and remind us that His “almighty power” can give us anything and everything we need for body and soul (Q&A 121). The catechism is right to make this connection because Scripture often speaks of God being “in heaven” or “in the heavens” to emphasize His transcendent power. Because the Lord “is in the heavens,” He “does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3). We must not speak rashly but say few words because “God is in heaven” and we “are on earth” (Eccl. 5:2). In other words, He has the right to say what He will, and we, out of reverence, must recognize our need to choose our words carefully. Heaven “is the throne of God,” the seat from which He exercises His authority (Matt. 5:34). John Calvin comments on Matthew 6:9 that to speak of God being in heaven “separates him from the rank of creatures, and reminds us that, when we think of him, we ought not to form any low or earthly conceptions: for he is higher than the whole world.” Christians need not be terrified to come before God, for He is our Father (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2). Yet we must approach Him with reverent awe, for He is in heaven and has all power and authority. This is a comforting truth indeed, for it reminds us that the One whom we approach in prayer never lacks the ability or right to do all His holy will. It means that when He answers “no” to our prayer, the issue is not that He is unable to do what we ask but that what we ask is not in line with His sovereign will. Paul, in today’s passage, makes this point with a rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31b). The answer, obviously, is no one. Moreover, we can be confident that the Lord will do only what furthers our ultimate good. To do this, after all, is a logical consequence of the great sacrifice He made when He gave up His Son for us on the cross (v. 32). If He could do that, then surely He would never do anything that would make that sacrifice worthless. He would never deny us any of the blessings that are promised to us on account of Christ’s atoning work.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Dr. R.C. Sproul comments on today’s passage: “Paul is not suggesting that if God is for us, nobody will ever stand to oppose us. The import of his declaration is simple: all the human opposition that rises against us is meaningless in the final analysis, because all the opposition in the world cannot overthrow the glory that God has laid up for His saints from the foundation of the world” (Romans, p. 293). We will face trials in this life, but they cannot finally defeat us if the Lord is on our side.