More than conquerors
More than conquerors (ROM 8:31-39)
We have reached the end of Rom 8 and come to what is really the climax of Paul’s systematic presentation of the gospel. The climax of God’s plan of redemption is the hope, the confidence, the security we have in God’s unconditional, covenant love. The top of the mountain, as it were, has a sign on it with 3 words written in bold and with all the spotlights shining on it, “God loves you.” Rest in it, be motivated by it, be strengthened and encouraged by it, rejoice in it, walk in it, live to make much of it.
This is why Paul could say when writing to the Ephesians – this is my constant prayer for you – that you might be given the grace to grasp how great and how wide and how deep is God’s love toward you (Eph 3:14-18). The origin of the gospel is God’s unconditional love, the golden thread running throughout every chapter is God’s unconditional love and the fulfillment of the gospel is the realization of that love. If there’s one thing you must understand from the message of the gospel it is this – God loves you, and that love is specific and personal and powerfully directed toward you. That love originated in the past, sustains you in the present, culminates in the future and continues forever.
Read Rom 8:31-38
5 GREAT REALITIES THAT FLOW FROM GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TOWARD US IN CHRIST.
1: God will always be for you (31)
2: God will always supply for you (32)
3: God will always forgive you (33-34)
4: God will always accompany you (35-36)
5: God will always enable you (37-38)
1: God will always be for you (31)
What shall we say to these things. “These things” must refer to everything Paul has just been saying – so let’s do a quick review so that we can have “these things” fresh in my mind as we hear Paul’s conclusion to these things.
· How did Paul start this letter? Rom 1:1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus. How could the office of slave be regarded as such a high privilege and calling? Because of the one we serve, Christ Jesus. It is a privilege to serve the one who has first loved and served us.
· This calling wasn’t just for him, in 1:5 we see that it was to bring about the obedience of faith for the glory of Christ among all nations. 1:6 we see that the believers in Rome are also called to belong to Jesus Christ – that’s the language of covenant love, which is why 1:7 goes on to say they are loved by God and called, set apart, to be saints.
· So the letter starts with this special calling, this setting apart to belong to Jesus Christ, to be loved by Him and to serve Him, which is the privilege of every believer.
· Paul goes on to present the depth and extent of our depravity and a grace that is greater even than that.
· In chapter 5 he begins to draw out the implications – we are unconditionally loved, completely secure and comprehensively delivered by that love. Rom 5:6-7 says while we were weak and helpless to save ourselves, while we were still dead in our sins and transgressions, while we were still shaking our fists in rebellion against God – Christ died for the ungodly. Vs 8 Christ’s death becomes a tangible demonstration of the nature of God’s love toward us. Vs 9 Christ’ death for us becomes the basis of our deliverance, not just from sin, but from God’s wrath, not just in the future, but in the present. Vs 10 – by God’s own initiative, God’s enemies are made His children.
· So Chapter 8 provides a summary of our hope, our confidence. It provides a summary all that God has done, is doing and will do for us as an outworking of His unconditional covenant love:
o 8:1 we no longer condemned, we have been forgiven
o 8:2 God has set us free from sin and death
o 8:4 The righteous requirements of the law have been and are being fulfilled in us who are being led by God’s Spirit
o 8:9 God has given His Spirit to be with us and in us permanently and 8:11 His Spirit will certainly accomplish a renewing work in our souls and bodies and ultimately resurrect us to eternity.
o 8:15 we have been adopted as God’s children and have access to Him and a new freedom in approaching him
o 8:17 we have become heirs together with Christ
o 8:18, 21 we have the hope of future glory and comprehensive redemption
o 8:26 we have the ever present help of the Spirit and His constant intercession on our behalf
o 8:28 we have God providentially working all things, all circumstances all events together for our good
o 8:29-30 we have this unbreakable chain of God’s good intentions toward us that began in eternity past and will certainly be fulfilled in eternity future.
8:31 what then shall we say to all these things….. All these things must refer to all these things I’ve reviewed – this magnificent plan of redemption which God plans and purposes before the creation of the world and brings about at such great cost through the death of His son.
This plan which is not just sweeping and overarching, but personal and specific and directed toward you, whom he personally and specifically chooses to become the object and recipient of His love.
God is for us (31)
God is literally thundering from the heavens in the loudest clearest way possible – I love you, I am always and only for you.
• God is on our side
• God is working for us, on behalf of us
• God always has our back.
• He’s our most ardent supporter and is always working for our eternal good.
God's love for His elect
• Note the personal pronouns throughout this section: God is for us, God gave his son for us, charge against God's elect, Christ is interceeding for us, all these things we are more than conquerers.
• This whole section is about the us, who are God's elect -the ones whom God has selected, chosen, singled out from amongst others (vs 33).
• 1: We undermine the force of this passage when we equate this with the kind of love God has for all people and all of His creation.
◦ See there is a great multitude of people who will spend eternity in hell as the objects of God' wrath. And it’s not because God's love toward them failed or was defeated by their sin or Satan or this evil world – it’s simply that God never chose to love them with this same kind of unconditional, irresistable, unconqerable love with which He loves His elect.
◦ They are in hell because of their sin and rebellion and we would be there too if it were not for God's unconditional love toward us in Christ.
• 2: So too, we undermine the very nature of God's love here when we make it conditional. God only shows this kind of love toward us because we first loved Him.... That is the implication of Arminian theology -it was our choice to believe in God and to love God that then resulted in His decision to love us in this way.
◦ And if that be the case, then God's love toward us is not unconditional and it is not all powerful. If it can be thwarted and resisted by our unbelief and sin before salvation, then how can we ever know that it cannot be resisted and thwarted by our unbelief and sin after salvation?
◦ But as Rom 8:28-30 made clear and as Rom 9 will make even more clear – this love is completely unconditional, irresistable and unstoppable. It is the love with which God loved us before the creation of the world, before we did anything good or bad.
◦ To say God is “for us” is another way to say God unconditionally loves us – always and only.
Implication #1 = you will face opposition
And therefore nothing and no-one can stand against us. If God has chosen to set His love on us.... who can stand against us? Doesn't mean that nobody will stand against us, they most certainly will – But they will not succeed in their opposition.
There has been a thread running throughout this gospel presentation – 8:18 we have the hope, the sure confidence of glory, but we also have the certainty of present sufferings. All creation is groaning and we ourselves are groaning – longing for our full and final redemption. We will be opposed, but not overcome. We will be opposed.
· We will face persecution. I hope you have been following the events in Afghanistan and praying for our brothers and sisters and fellows pastors who are being hated and hunted down and killed just because they belong to Jesus Christ. Christians through every age have been persecuted.
· We will face sickness and physical weakness, and pain
· We will face financial hardship and lose our jobs and lose that contract or that sale because we don’t belong to the world and won’t enter into their bribery and corruption.
· We will face rejection. Those who hate God will hate us and mistreat us and falsely accuse us
· We will face loss of every kind and have our possessions taken and our pride broken and often feel weak and overwhelmed….
· But none of this will ultimately prevail over us.
• Can they prevail against you, yes – but they cannot prevail against the most powerful Being in all the universe, who designed and created and upholds everything we see without any effort by the mere Word of His mouth – and He is 100% on your side all the way...
2: God will always Supply for you (8:32)
What is the affirmation here?
• God will graciously give us all things.
• God will, in keeping with His grace = unearned, unmerited, undeserved favour
• give us all things.
All “spiritual things”
He is drawing a contrast.
• If God has given us Christ to demonstrate His love, to fulfill His loving purposes for us, to address our greatest need
• Then surely he will also, “WITH HIM” give us all things.
• The implication being all other things necessary to demonstrate his love and fulfill his loving purposes for us.
• Clearly the emphasis is on spiritual things- gave us Christ, along with Him give us all other things – all the other spiritual things that come along with being in Christ, having Christ.
• Although the emphasis is on spiritual things – the implication is quite clearly – that God will withhold from us no good thing – nothing that is in keeping with His loving purposes for us.
God has given the greater
• God has given the most priceless gift, at the greatest cost to meet our greatest need.
• If has given His very own Son on our behalf – what would He possibly withhold now in fulfilling His love toward us?...
Illustrated: injured leg lift to Cape Town
If you have injured your leg and need to have a special operation in America. If say to you, listen – I will hire a full time nurse to dress your wounds and administer medication so that you don't get infection. And I will pay for the specialist fees and all the hospital fees so that you can have the operation. And I will hire a private jet and take 2 weeks off work to fly over with you to America to ensure that the operation is performed quickly and safely. Then you know that I intend to do you good.
Wouldn't it be ridiculous if when we arrive at the hospital and you ask me if I can help you up the stairs – if at that point I said, help yourself up the stairs, what do you think this is... I'm going for coffee.
It would be completely inconsistent, having done the greater thing for your good, to deny you the lesser thing, the almost inconsequential things of helping you up the stairs.
That's the point here – if God didn't spare His own Son, His one and only, precious Son in order to fulfill His loving purposes for us – could there be anything that He would now withhold from us?....
What could be more valuable or important than God's own Son?.... If God has given His Son to fulfill His loving purposes toward you, is there anything else that He would withhold?... Of course not.
IMPLICATION #2: you have everything you need
The questions in this text are meant to make us pause and reflect…..How these truths should change our perspective…..
The basis of contentment is understanding that in God's perfect love for me – I lack nothing
• If I don't have it, it’s because God has determined that it is not good for me, that it would not be loving to give that to me – God knows better.
• God I need this for my sanctification, need this for my ministry on your behalf, need this in order to glorify your name – can have great confidence that God will supply our every need – when He doesn't, we can have great confidence that I didn't need it, at least not yet.
• When we are discontent, we are calling into question God's love for me. We are saying, in essence that though God has given me Christ, if He really loved me, He would also have given me good health, or that promotion, or that house...We are downgrading and downplaying the significance and value of what God has already given us in Christ.
1: God is always for you 2: God will always supply for you
3: God will always Forgive you (8:33-34)
Who shall bring any accusation: legal term, case, charge.
God justifies = declared us not guilty, in fact not just innocent, but having positive merit, having the perfect righteousness of Christ credited to our account.
It is God who has done this, who has chosen to apply the merits of Christ to our benefit. Again, the work of God our Father on behalf of His elect
Not only God the Father who is justifying, but Christ the Son is ever living to make intercession for us, to plead our case.
Series of participles which detail the work of Christ on our behalf
• Died for our sin
• Raised to demonstrate the sufficiency of His payment – it has been fully paid for – once for all time
• Seated at the right hand of the Father = ascended to the place of highest honour and power. Co-regent with the Father
• There at the Father's side He is a continual living testimony that God's wrath toward us has been fully and finally satisfied.
• Just for completeness, this is the same word used in 8:26 where the Spirit too is interceding our cause.
• We have the whole trinity in full agreement that all our sin has been fully punished in Christ – there remains nothing for us to pay, or do in order to be right with God and remain in a right standing before God.
• We can never fall out of favour with God....
• We can never do anything that will cause Him to remove His love for us, to diminish His love for us.
• God is not only for us, but we have the guarantee that He can and will only be for us forevermore.
IMPLICATION #3: YOU WILL FACE CONDEMNATION
Vs 34 Who is to condemn? Again the question implies that there will be many and various attempts to condemn us. One of the greatest forms of opposition that a believer will face is condemnation, accusation.
In Rev 12:10 Satan is called the accuser of the brethren and it says that he accuses us day and night before God, but it goes on to say that we have conquered him by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony – by the gospel and by holding it fast.
· You are not a Christian…
· How can you call yourself a Christian?
· You are not good enough, holy enough, you don’t really believe
· Look what you’ve done, again! God is not going to forgive you this time
From the world and from the flesh and from the devil – our faith, our standing in Christ is continually and relentlessly assaulted. And when it is, it is to these great gospel truths that we must return, the “these things” that Paul has been pointing us to.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. Grace, grace,God’s grace – grace that is greater than all my sin…– and nothing and no-one can prevail against such gospel grace. Jesus is always pleading our innocence at the right hand of God!
• We can't make up for our sin, we can't justify our sin, we can't ignore or deny our sin, we can't punish ourselves or do some kind of penance for our sin – this would be an insult to the love of God in Christ
• All we can do is confess it – by that we are not telling God what we did wrong, He already knows that. We are confessing what is true concerning our sin.
◦ Call it sin – because God loves don't have to hide, be afraid that won't love you anymore
◦ Call it forgiven – because God love, can know that has forgiven you and nothing can change your right standing before Him
◦ Call on God to change you – because He loves you, He has promised to deliver you from sin, to lead you in victory over it.
That is what Christians do and that is the only thing we do with our sin
1: God is always for you 2: God will always forgive you
4: God will always Accompany you (8:35-36)
35, 39 : Nothing can separate us from the God who is always and only loving us in Christ. The love of God is not an abstract reality, it is a personal reality – it is God always being with us and acting in love toward us.
I am with you
When God wants to give His people comfort and assurance and security – then He simply declares “I am with you....” That is God's answer to our every need and every obstacle – I, I the almighty, everliving, sovereign creator and owner of the universe am with you... Nothing more need be said.
• God uses these simple words to encourage: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Zerubbabel, and Paul when he was being persecuted.
• It is His comfort to His people Israel even when they are being disicplined for their sin, listen to these words of Is
◦ Isaiah 41:8-11 8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off"; 10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. - Again we see the close connection between God's choice of Israel and His promise that He is with Israel
◦ Isaiah 43:5-7 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. 6 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
◦ Jeremiah 15:20-21 20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD.
Do you understand the significance of the fact that God is for us and God is with us!...
It means nothing and no-one can touch us unless it fulfills God's loving purposes for our life.
When a lost and fearful child runs to their parent and is taken up in their arms – all is instantly well….Except that we never have to run to God, we never leave His arms.
IMPLICATION #4 YOU WILL FEEL ABANDONED
In vs 35 he provides a long list of things that might make us think God is not with us and is His loving purposes toward us are not being accomplished. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, violence and crime and ill health and poverty and hunger – these things often shout at us – God doesn’t love you, God doesn’t care, God has abandoned you.
In vs 36 he quotes from PS 44:22, which even the Jewish Rabbi's applied to the death of martyrs. It is not something new that God's people are subjected to suffering and hardship in this world. This has been true of all of God's servants from the earliest times.
We will often feel vulnerable, and abandoned, like sheep going to the slaughter. We will often feel weak and overwhelmed in this world. We will often feel like the world is winning and God is absent and we are alone.
But our feelings are not the measure of reality – Christ is. And despite how we feel, despite all these realities – God’s love toward us has not changed and His loving purposes toward us have not been thwarted.
Suffering doesn't mean God is not there or God doesn't love me – as we so often assume. The first bit of pain and we call into question God's love or God's power... Instead we should re-interpret our experience and our circumstances beginning with what we know to be true.
God is always for me – the gospel proves it.
God will always provide for me – the gospel demonstrates it
God will always forgive me – the gospel promises it
God will always accompany me – the gospel assures and secures me
Which brings me to the final point:
5: God will always Enable you (8:37-39)
In all these things – trouble, distress, hardship, danger, nakedness, sword....
We are hyper-nikao – hyper conquerers. We overwhelmingly conquer. We don't survive, we don't endure, we don't crawl across the finish line – we blaze a trail of magnificent victory all the way through them.
How,... by our own cleverness, and endurance? By picking ourselves up by the bootstraps? ….
Through Him who loved us…. God is the one who causes us to conquer. Everything in this whole section is about all that God is doing in us, through us and for us.
Implication #5 = You will persevere and overcome and conquer
This is God's work. God's name and reputation is at stake here – if you are His – then if He is going to glorify His own great name, He must cause you to stand, to conquer, to overcome.
Nothing in physical existence, spiritual existence, temporal existence, spacial existence – nothing at all in the entire created universe can cause Gods' loving purposes toward you to be thwarted.
Nothings in all of creation….even you yourself, cannot separate yourself from God's love.
As Paul said in 2 Cor 4:8
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in dispair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. - we are weak, But God's grace toward us is sufficient.
This is the summary:
Because God has determined to love us, He will always provide for our every need, forgive our every sin, be with us in every circumstance and strengthen us through every trial until every loving purpose of His is fully fulfilled in our union with Jesus Christ
To God be the glory, great things He has done!