Paul’s straightforward answer to this question is God. It is possible to think of God in many ways, but often it can be done in an abstract manner. We are familiar with the way philosophers reduce God to a concept for discussion as if they could possibly be the judges as to his existence or not. Or we can recall how a claim to be serving God moved many of the political ideas and reforms of the past and present. So what does Paul want us to think about when he says that God is for us?
When Paul asks, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’, he is stating a proposition that every thinking person would accept. God is the most powerful being that exists, who possesses infinite energy and strength, and who can treat with disdain the strongest exhibition of earthly or creaturely power. It is logically true that if God is for a person, then it does not matter who is against that person. If God acts on behalf of a person, that person is going to win.
Paul here however points to a very tangible and indisputable way in which God helped every one of his people and that is to think about what he did at Calvary. There he gave his Son in order to benefit all his people. The Father gave up his Son willingly and fully. Of course, we must ask to what was the Son given up. The answer to that question is astounding – the Son was given up by the Father to his wrath. So we can see that Paul is asking his readers to remind themselves continually that God has dealt with their biggest problem already, which was the punishment that their sins deserved.
We could ask, ‘Why did God give his own Son for us?’ One answer would be that God did so because he loves us, but this answer requires us to ask in what way or ways did he love us. A more expansive answer is that God loves us as part of his eternal plan in which the Trinity arranged for what each of them would do in order to provide salvation. His love for us involved more than giving his Son for his people. The giving of his Son removed the barrier to God giving anything to those he loved. Now that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins God will perform everything else he has planned.
I liked the comment of C. H. Mackintosh on this verse: ‘The language of unbelief is, “How shall He?” The language of faith is, ‘How shall He not?’ We will think tomorrow about some of the other things that he will give to his people.