I find the following outline to be helpful when studying Romans 8:12-39
1. Five Characteristics of a Saint – Romans 8:12-17
A. Romans 8:12-13 A Saint Puts to Death the Natural Man
B. Romans 8:14 A Saint is led by the Spirit
C. Romans 8:15-16 Adopted into the House of Israel
D. Romans 8:17 A Joint Heir with Christ
E. Romans 8:17 A Saint Suffers with Christ
2. Five Supports For Suffering Saints – Romans 8:18-30
A. Romans 8:18 Our Future Joys > Present Suffering
B. Romans 8:19-22 Our Fallen World Will Be A Celestial Glory
C. Romans 8:23-25 Our Fallen Bodies Will Eventually Stop Rebelling (Safely Dead)
D. Romans 8:26-27 The Holy Ghost Will Help Us When We Pray
E. Romans 8:28-30 God Works All Things For Our Growth
3. God The Father: Paul Addresses Five Doubts – Romans 8:31-39
A. Romans 8:31 Heavenly Father Fights For Us
B. Romans 8:32 He Gave His Son For Us
C. Romans 8:33 No One Can Accuse His Elect
D. Romans 8:33-34 God Has Justified Us
E. Romans 8:33-39 Nothing Can Separate Us From Heavenly Father’s Love!
“[You] shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before” 1
Becoming a Saint is a process. In the Book of Mormon we read that “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). Romans 8:12-17 outline these characteristics of the submissive saint. Through their suffering and yielding their hearts to God, they become “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).
Romans 8:18-30 To Those That Suffer
Paul eloquently states, “For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Paul had a vision of our future glory. The Revelation of John tells us of the glory the great city that will one day descend to earth: “(having) twelve gates… (that were) twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:12-21). If the streets of the heavenly city are constructed of pure gold, we can only imagine the wonderful construction materials used to fashion the mansions of the saints.
Orson Pratt put it this way:
A Saint, who is one in deed and in truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, princes, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, etc; all of which are material. Indeed the saints heaven is a redeemed, glorified celestial material creation, inhabited by glorified material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more. Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the saints eternal heaven. On it they expect to live, with body parts, and holy passions: on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engage in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds: indeed, matter and its qualities and properties are the only being or things with which they expect to associate. If they embrace the father, they expect to embrace a glorified, immortal, spiritual, material personage; if they embrace the Son of God, they expect to embrace a spiritual being of material flesh and bones, whose image is in the likeness of the Father; if they enjoy the society of the Holy Ghost, they expect to behold a glorious spiritual personage, a material body of spirit; if they associate with the spirits of men or angels, they expect to find them material. 2
To those that struggle with the temptations of the flesh, we are given a promise. We are promised that if we are faithful, those temptations will no longer afflict us. We will be “safely dead”, outside of the power of the adversary to try and to tempt us. Elder George Q. Cannon once said:
Satan has power here over us to a certain extent. He can afflict us; he can tempt us; he can annoy us in many ways. These are the consequences of the fall and for a wise purpose belong to our probation here in the flesh. But, if we listen to the Lord, if we strive to keep His commandments, if we seek to be governed by His Spirit, when death comes, Satan’s power ceases. He can no more afflict or torment or tempt or annoy those who are thus faithful. His power over them ceases forever.
But not so with those who disobey God, who keep not His commandments, who yield to the power and spirit of Satan. They are his servants; they are under his influence. He takes possession of them when they pass from this mortal existence, and they experience the torments of hell.
Satan is bound as soon as the faithful spirit leaves this tabernacle of clay and goes to the other side of the veil. That spirit is emancipated from the power and thraldom and attacks of Satan. Satan can only afflict such in this life. He can only afflict those in that life which is to come who have listened to his persuasions, who have listed to obey him. These are the only ones over whom he has power after this life.” 3
It is so good to know that the evil influences of this fallen world will one day be overruled. Paul understood this. This is the hope of the saints, and it motivates them to endure the sufferings of this fallen mortal world.
Romans 8:31-39 Heavenly Father Will Find You
Paul teaches the Roman saints that Heavenly Father will do all he can to save us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul implies that no one will. He says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8:38-39) Heavenly Father will seek us out.
Another way to look at these verses is to understand that there are times when we are the hands of the Lord, seeking out his lost sheep. There are many times when we will be prompted by the Spirit to seek out the lost, to lift up the hands that hang down. A great video that teaches this concept is Heavenly Father Knows Me. The young lady in this story had felt alone, but as she continued to press forward, came to the realization that Heavenly Father is aware of us, that he is near and will always reach out to us.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
Now we are here. Our memories are veiled. We are showing God and ourselves what we can do. Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us.
God loves us. He is watching us. He wants us to succeed. We will know some day that He has not left one thing undone for the eternal welfare of each of us. If we only knew it, heavenly hosts are pulling for us—friends in heaven that we cannot now remember who yearn for our victory. This is our day to show what we can do—what life and sacrifice we can daily, hourly, instantly make for God. If we give our all, we will get His all from the greatest of all. 4
The following story illustrates the love Heavenly Father has coupled with the determination he has to seek us out and reclaim us. This story is the account of Arthur Parker, a young man who, at the age of six, lost his way along the plains as he traveled with his parents in a handcart company. I love this story!
Arthur Parker’s Rescue
Arthur Parker walked and walked and walked. Even though he was only six years old, he sometimes helped his mother and father pull their loaded handcart. When everybody stopped to rest, he liked to explore. He wandered around to see other people, the prairie grass, a stream, or a grove of trees.
Arthur had one brother and two sisters: Max, 12; Martha Ann, 10; and Ada, 1. The Parkers had sailed from England to America that spring. Now they were traveling west with the McArthur Handcart Company. As Max helped his parents pull the handcart, Martha Ann walked behind, taking care of Arthur and Ada.
But one day Arthur’s father became ill. Martha Ann took his place helping to pull the handcart and sent Arthur to walk with a group of other children in the company. When Arthur sat down to rest beside the trail and fell asleep, the other children didn’t notice. The company moved on without him.
By the time Arthur’s family discovered that he was missing, it was too late and too dark to go looking for him. That night, the cloudy sky burst open. Thunder and lightning raged, and many tents blew over. Water ran across the ground in streams as people huddled in wet clothes. All night long, the Parkers worried about Arthur, lost out in the stormy darkness. They hoped somebody would bring him to their tent, but no one did.
The next morning, search parties went back along the trail to look for Arthur. The handcarts stayed camped all day so the searchers could continue looking. Where was the little boy? Was he hurt in the thunderstorm?
After searching for two days, the company could not wait any longer. They had more than a thousand miles left to go.
Arthur’s parents didn’t give up hope. They decided that Brother Parker would go farther back along the trail to look for Arthur, while Sister Parker and the other children would stay with the company and pull the handcart.
Before Brother Parker left, his wife pinned a bright red shawl around his shoulders. If he found Arthur dead, he would wrap him in the shawl. But if he found Arthur alive, he would wear the shawl on his shoulders or hold it in his hand to signal that Arthur was all right.
The worried father retraced the trail—calling Arthur’s name, searching everywhere he could, and praying. He walked and searched for 10 miles, determined not to leave without finding his son.
Meanwhile, the handcart company moved ahead. Two days went by. Sister Parker kept looking back anxiously, hoping to see her husband and son catching up with them.
At last, Brother Parker came to a mail-and-trading station. He asked if anyone had seen a lost six-year-old boy. Someone said that a boy had been found! He was being cared for by a farmer and his wife. Arthur’s father went to the farmhouse and found his son. How glad they were to see each other!
Arthur told his father that he had spent the first night under some trees, which protected him from the rainstorm. Then he had wandered until he came to the farmhouse. Brother Parker figured out that Arthur had walked about nine miles!
The handcart company was now 60 miles past where Arthur had disappeared. Arthur had been missing for four days, and his mother had hardly slept at all since then. She kept watching the trail behind her, looking for her husband, hoping he would be waving the red shawl.
A few days later, as the sun was setting, she suddenly spotted the red shawl waving in the distance. Arthur was alive! Captain McArthur sent a wagon back to meet the father and son. Everyone in the company rejoiced to see Arthur, but no one felt as happy as his mother. Completely exhausted, she slept soundly for the first time in days. 5
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 347.
2. Orson Pratt, Millennial Star, Vol. 28, p. 722, November 17, 1866.
3. George Q. Cannon, Sept. 1, 1885, Juvenile Instructor 20:264 see also Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 61.
4. President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations, Ensign December, 1988.
5. William G. Hartley, “Where’s Arthur?,” Friend, May 2004, 5. Based on the experiences of Arthur Parker; taken from historical sources.