Profound Theology, Thrilling Impact
When poised with the question, “What is your favorite section of Scripture?” many Christians will undoubtedly say Romans 8. This is understandable, considering the first verse begins with, “There is now no condemnation,” and the last verse ends with “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.” This chapter in Scripture is “profound in theology, soaring with eloquence, thrilling in impact” (p. xi), so much so that it is almost guaranteed to bring hope and comfort to any weary or worn down Christian.
The richness of Romans 8 has garnered the attention of many who have commented and even written books on this passage. One author in particular is Derek Thomas. His book, How the Gospel Brings us All the Way Home, is filled with truths that will convict, hope that will inspire and, counsel that will lead to growth in Christ. Born out of a sermon series, Derek Thomas brings not only his expertise as a theologian, but also his compassion as a pastor to this writing.
The basic flow of this book is simple. It is a verse-by-verse walk-through Romans 8. There are no tricks, no fancy exegetical hurdles, and no confusing language. It is gospel truth related to every sinner in a way that is understandable. In addition to the book only containing 156 pages, there are also many illustrations, quotes, and applications that make this book an easy read.
Though the book is basically one long sermon through Romans 8, there are 3 key themes that abound: the completed work of Christ, the necessary indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and sovereign grace of God the Father.
The Completed Work of Christ
Thomas begins where every believer’s eyes should be fixed: the completed work of Jesus Christ. In the opening paragraphs of chapter 1, Thomas says we are all guilty in God’s sight (p. 1). This is a significant place to start because under the law, every man and woman is found condemned because of sin. Any hope for freedom must come from outside of ourselves. “It is not a cooperative nature, but one in which (Jesus’) accomplishments alone merit our salvation” (p. 6). This must affect every part of our lives. Though we still sin, the hope that we can continually run to is that our past, present and future sins have all been forgiven through the blood that was shed for those who believe in Christ (p. 118). We now live in grateful holiness for what Christ has done for us (p. 13)
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
The completed work of Christ then allows us to experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thomas reminds us that, “As soon as the Spirit comes, as soon as Jesus dwells in us, we are no longer the same as we were. (We are) no longer the man in Adam but the new man in Christ” (p. 36). Then, through being led by the Spirit, we begin the process of mortifying the flesh. No longer are we slaves to sin, but we are sons of God. It is then through this communion between every believer and the Spirit that we receive the surest indication of our adoption as sons of God (p. 65).
The Sovereign Grace of God the Father
The completed work of Christ and the necessary indwelling of the Holy Spirit both highlight the sovereign grace of God the Father. He is our creator and deserves absolute allegiance from all men. But we are all morally unable to please God. Therefore, we need a spiritual rebirth, one that God alone can provide. Thomas highlights throughout his book that it is God’s work then, from beginning to end which saves us. Romans 8:29-30 lists 5 links in the chain of salvation in explaining how God saves us. God foreknows, He predestines, He calls, He justifies, and He glorifies all whom He saves from sin (98-103). Never is there a break in this order. What God begins; He completes (p. 98).
The Trinity at Work
Thomas does an excellent job of holding the truths of Romans 8 within the context of the Trinity, as it is within this Trinitarian perspective that we gain great hope and joy in knowing that the whole Godhead is at work for our salvation. We must hold to this truth that reminds us that God has provided for sinners like us a substitute, Jesus Christ, who takes our place and bears the consequences of our sin. At the cross, the wrath that our sins deserve was poured out on Him. Justice was satisfied and atonement was given. Our sins were imputed to the substitute; His righteousness (obedience) was imputed to our account. The Holy Spirit then applies these benefits of the cross as we receive them by faith alone (p. 114-115). From here, all the benefits of being a son of God are given to us. We now live with the confidence that a sovereign God governs for our good all the pain and all the pleasure that we will ever experience. This should be an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in our life (p. 92).
How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home will serve anyone in need of a reminder of the gospel. For the counselor looking to lift the eyes of a weak and worn our saint, this book will remind them of God’s grace. For the one who is struggling with the assurance of God’s work in their life, this book displays God’s faithfulness. For the one who is hopeless, this book points to the God of hope. Every believer will benefit from this work, as it is a clear picture of God’s grace shown to sinners from Romans 8. It is the pure and simple gospel expounded upon in verse-by-verse fashion. This book is a clear reminder that we must never move from these truths, because “the moment we drift away from the gospel, we perish. But if we remain on the narrow gospel way, it brings us all the way home (p. 140).