Yesterday I had the privilege to preach Romans 8:1 in our series through the book of Romans. If Romans is the greatest book in all of the Bible, and I believe it is, we should pay close attention to what it says.If Romans is the greatest book in the Bible, what is the greatest chapter in the book? I believe it’s Romans 8. Since Paul is the greatest church planting pastor-theologian and Romans is the greatest book in the Bible and since in this great book, chapter 8 is the greatest chapter, it means that this is the greatest chapter in all of the Bible! If you were dropped out onto a deserted island and could only take one page from your Bible with you, I would argue that this is the page you should choose.
This grand chapter begins with the glorious truth regarding “no condemnation” and ends with the encouragement of “no separation.” In this one chapter we find the doctrine of justification, sanctification, and glorification. It begins with a blast of encouragement and ends with a climactic explosion of assurance. What a glorious chapter, but as it begins, it likewise starts off with a glorious verse. In this one verse, we find the time of hope, the people of hope, and the source of hope.
The Time of Hope
In the past, we were justified by faith. We see this truth detailed by Paul in the opening chapters of Romans. The great and high theme of justification by faith alone in Christ alone was rightly emphasized from the beginning. The one time legal verdict of justification leads to the present hope of all believers who walk in Christ and live in present hope of present benefits that will ultimately be fulfilled in Christ in the days to come.
We were saved in the past from the penalty of sin (justification), we are being saved daily from the power of sin (sanctification), and we will one day be finally and forever saved from the presence of sin (glorification). What God began in the past has present day significance and realities that point to the future hope. Until then, we have a present hope in our God through Christ. That’s why Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation…” The emphasis is on “now” as we live now in the hope of Christ. John Murray, in his excellent commentary writes, “Condemnation is the opposite of justification and justification implies the absence of condemnation.”
The People of Hope
Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Who is being referenced in this verse? Certainly it wasn’t the entire city of Rome. It wasn’t the whole world without exception. Paul was writing to the church in the city of Rome. Although the city as a whole was wicked and full of all sorts of sin—Paul points to the children of God and describes their standing with God. They are the ones who have true hope in God—something the whole city of Rome didn’t enjoy.
At times we see the Bible refer to the people of God as the “God’s elect” or the implied bride of Christ. On other occasions we see language such as 1 Peter 2:9 that is filled with language that distinguishes God’s people from the whole world. The primary language we see in the New Testament is centered on the church. Although Paul didn’t use the language of “church” here—we know that’s who he has in mind since he was writing this letter to the church in the city of Rome. In many ways, church membership points to who is in and who is not in. This is extremely important. R.C. Sproul has rightly stated, “The church in the New Testament is made up of those who are called out from the world, from darkness, from damnation, from paganism, to become members of the body of Christ.” 
The Source of Hope
Paul makes it clear that the source of hope for the church in Rome was not empty religion or the will of man. Paul didn’t need to fight through the seasons of failure as described in Romans 7 by elevating self esteem or positive thoughts about himself. He understood that the means of hope and encouragement was found in Christ—the Savior of sinners. Paul understood that he had not worked himself to God in the beginning and he was not able to keep himself saved. That was the work of God’s sovereign grace. It was precisely that truth that brought encouragement to Paul and should likewise bring encouragement to us.
Paul points to Christ (the anointed One) Jesus (Savior) as the hope for ruined sinners. Those who have been saved by Christ should daily find their hope in Christ. For every sinner saved by Christ has assurance that they will never be lost (John 10:28-29). In fact, our salvation is so secure that in order for any Christian to go to hell—someone would need to ascend the sovereign throne of God and bodily drag Jesus from the throne and cast him through the gates of hell.
We are all failures who fall short on a daily basis, but we have a sovereign Savior who has promised to bring us all the way home to glory. As we journey each day in Christ, we must find our hope and confidence in him.
- R. C. Sproul, The Purpose of God: Ephesians (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 95.