The Promise of Victory
July 26, 2014 | Brian Bill
I love those lyrics – “He is with you when your faith is dead and you can’t get out of bed…when nothing else is left and you take your final breath…He is with you.”
There’s a lot going on in our world that is cause for concern and questions.
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Israel and Hamas.
- Christian persecution in Iraq. Rise of Isis as they are now telling Christians to convert to Islam, leave, pay a tax or die. Listen to this reflection from an Iraqi Christian: “The extremists replaced the cross on our church in Mosul with the black flag of the Islamic State. They are doing a call of Islamic prayer from our church. They have turned it into a mosque.”
- Iran. Miriam Ibrahim released! But now three U.S. journalists are being held in Iran.
- Syria situation.
- Russia and Ukraine.
- Comfort for families after plane shot down in Ukraine. Total of three planes went down in one week.
- Border crisis in our country.
- Two huge solar flares in the past month from the sun that could have disrupted communications.
World and national events make us very unsettled, don’t they?
Listen to these words of comfort from Psalm 2: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed…Now therefore, O kings be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12)
With all the catastrophes around us, I take comfort from Psalm 46.
1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
On top of all that is going on around us, some of us have some personal stuff happening inside of us. My mom has been in the hospital for over a week and had surgery on Thursday. Our family has some questions about what will happen next. And I was faced with a really hard question two weeks ago: Can a father of the bride really walk down the aisle and not cry? I think not.
I asked Pastor Tim for some advice several weeks ago because I knew that he officiated at his daughters’ weddings. He suggested that I get to the church real early and have a good cry before everyone arrived. I asked him if it helped him and he said, “Not really.” I took his advice and he was right…it didn’t help at all.
I’m glad that Pastor Brown and Pastor Dan preached the past two weekends. They sure did a great job, didn’t they? I listened to both sermons on the EBC app.
Here’s where we’re headed today: Because God is faithful, He is for you.
As we come to the end of Romans 8, we come to a crescendo of questions in verses 31-37. Please turn to this passage. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
What Then Shall We Say?
The Apostle Paul is utilizing a Q&A format in a rapid-fire manner as he moves quickly from one question to the next. We could call them, “Frequently Asked Questions” or FAQs.
The first question really helps frame the entire passage. As a preacher Paul has been giving a lot of teaching related to justification and sanctification in the first eight chapters of Romans. If you want to learn more about God’s plan for Israel check out chapters 9-11. Chapters 12-16 deal with how to put everything into practice. Chapter 8 begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” As he wraps up this chapter he’s moving from information to application to transformation: “What then shall we say to these things?”
Two thoughts come to mind in response to this question: What then shall we say to these things?
- Nothing. Have you ever received a totally undeserved gift and you couldn’t even find words to express how grateful you were? That’s happened to our family many times. In light of everything that God has done, what really can we say?
- Everything. We should be filled with praise and never stop thanking God for all that He has done. Because He’s given everything to us we should also give him everything that we have, including our very lives.
Like water cascading over a waterfall, these questions serve to celebrate our security in Christ and the victory that is ours – no matter what happens around us, and no matter what happens within us. We’re going to summarize the five FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) in this passage and respond with a corresponding FAP (Faithfully Answered Promise) for each one. I want you to notice that these questions are personal (“who”), not impersonal (“what”). Because God is faithful, He is for you.
FAQ #1: Who Opposes Us?
FAP #1: God Protects Us!
Others may intimidate us, but we have the Almighty on our side
The first question is found in verse 31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The meaning is not so much “if” but is rather “since” or “because.” It literally reads this way: “Because God for us, who against us?” Since God is for us, what difference does it make who is against us? Others may intimidate us, but we have the Almighty on our side.
I was pretty small in elementary school and would get picked on by some of the bigger boys. I learned quickly that if I hung out with a guy named Dave Theider, the rest of the guys would leave me alone. Why was that? Because Dave was the BMOC (big man on campus).
Friend, with God on your side, there is nothing that anyone else can do to you. Psalm 118:6: “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Paul is not suggesting that we have no opposition because we all have adversaries. The point he is making is that every opponent is puny compared to how big God is. When I was here to candidate a year and a half ago, one of the sermons I preached was called, “Facing Your Fears” based on the story of David and Goliath. Here’s what we learned: Focus on giants – you stumble; Focus on God – your giants tumble.
Unfortunately, many of us judge whether God is for us by how events or circumstances turn out. If something goes bad, some of us immediately think that God is against us and when things go well, we think He’s for us. If you’re a born again believer, God is always for you, no matter what happens.
In order to make this promise more personal, I’d like you to insert your name into this verse right now: “God is for .” Let’s try that together. I’ll say the first three words and then you shout out your name to complete the sentence. Now, turn to the person next to you and ask their name if you haven’t met and then put their name in the verse: “God is for .”
When you feel like someone or something is against you, remember that God is for you. God is your proponent and He is bigger than any opponent you may be facing. In the midst of your problems, claim the first FAP that God is for you and that He protects you.
Because God is faithful, He is for you.
FAQ #2: Who Withholds From Us?
FAP #2: God Provides for Us!
The second frequently asked question is framed in verse 32: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” The gift of God’s Son is the promise and pledge that He not only protects us – He also provides for us. Notice the phrase “His own.” This emphasizes the Father’s possession of His Son, who He freely gave up to die on the Cross. He gave him “for us all” which means that Jesus died in our place, instead of us, for our benefit.
This argument is from the greater to the lesser (in Latin, “a fortiori”). Since God did not hesitate to give His greatest gift, certainly He will give us lesser gifts. It would be like a dad building a full-length basketball court for his son and then refusing to give him a basketball to play with. That would be absurd, wouldn’t it? 2 Peter 1:3 is one of my favorite verses: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Several years ago the Lord opened up an opportunity when we lived in central Illinois. I was asked to serve as a chaplain for a football game. I was eager to do this because I’d be able interact with up to 50 guys who I might not normally hang out with. As I started praying about this, the Lord impressed upon me an idea to give out copies of Tony Dungy’s book called, Quiet Strength to each of the participants.
The leaders of our church approved funds to purchase these books. But before I could do this, I needed to check with the guy in charge of the event to see if it would be OK. When I asked him, he said “Absolutely. This is exactly what I want you to do.” And then he asked me to not only pray before and after the game, but to also give a 20-25 minute talk to the guys! This was the start of a six-year opportunity as I was able to share the gospel before each game. I kept thinking about this verse– “God freely gives us all things!”
God protects and He provides. That leads to the third question and answer.
FAQ #3: Who Accuses Us?
FAP #3: God Purifies Us!
Check out verse 33: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Galatians 5:15 states that believers sometimes “bite and devour” each other. Some of you are experiencing that right now. In addition, many of you hear the accusing anthem of guilt and shame that plays in your own mind on a daily basis.
On top of that, we know from Revelation 12:10 that Satan, whose name means “Slanderer,” brings charges against Christians “before our God day and night.” Satan brings every flaw, every sin, and every shortcoming up before God all the time. But none of it sticks because we have been justified, or declared righteous. God knows what we’ve done but he has forgiven all Christ-followers. We are pure before Him.
A number of Edgewood students went out to Colorado two weeks ago to learn how to share their faith at, “Lead the Cause University.” Sam Anderson posted something on his Facebook page that I wanted to pass along because it shows how powerfully Christ does His work of purifying people.
“These past two days 400 students and youth leaders have gone into Denver to street witness. Yesterday two students approached two men. They quickly found out they were drug dealers that had drugs with them and were armed. These two young men had the courage to continue to talk to them. The drug dealers quickly told these young men of their struggles. One of them recently lost his brother and the other lost his father…Soon the drug dealers were in tears. These young men hugged the dealers and they accepted Christ. But the story doesn’t stop there…The new Christians then proceeded to take all their drugs and alcohol they had with them and dumped them into the river.”
Here’s how Sam concludes his post: “There’s no way someone can say that God isn’t real. He is. Christ is. He changes lives.”
Friends, because God is faithful, He is for you.
FAQ #4: Who Condemns Us?
FAP #4: Jesus Prays for Us!
God protects us, He provides for us, and He purifies us. We see in verse 34 that Jesus also prays for us: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Our sins deserve condemnation but Christ now commends us. Check out this short course on Christology, based on four deep truths right from this verse:
- Because of His crucifixion: “It is Christ who died…” The cross of Christ is the basis for our confidence.
- Because of His resurrection: “…and furthermore is also risen…” The resurrection is proof that God the Father accepted the payment of His Son, who conquered sin and death.
- Because of His ascension: “…who is even at the right hand of God…” This is the place of exaltation and honor. 1 Peter 3:22 says that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”
- Because of His intercession: “…who also makes intercession for us.” He is like our divine defense attorney. Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
In the midst of accusation and condemnation, we have an Advocate who is interceding for us. I love what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:10-11: “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
According to Romans 8:26, the Holy Spirit is interceding in our hearts and in verse 32 we have the Son interceding for us in Heaven. The perfect one is praying for those He has purified. Isaiah 54:17: “‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the LORD.”
\We’re protected, provided for, purified and prayed for. There’s one more promise…
FAQ #5: Who Separates Us?
FAP #5: Jesus Preserves Us!
Friends, verses 35-36 tell us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of Christ because He preserves us: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’”
We will never be cut off from Christ, no matter what we go through
To “separate” means to place a wedge between and was also used as a synonym for “amputate.” There is absolutely nothing that can get in the way of the Lord loving us. We will never be cut off from Christ, no matter what we go through. Paul could personally attest to this as he faced profound persecution in his life (see 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 11:23-29).
We all face trouble within and hardship without. None of this can separate us from the Savior. Nothing can break the bond between us and God. Those who are persecuted for their faith will never be severed from the love of Christ. Persecution in Iraq, Iran, Syria and many other places have led to threats that are increasing. Many believers certainly are “killed all day long.”
Seven years later, many of the Romans who heard these words would see them come true in their own lives as the Emperor Nero threw Christians to the lions and burned believers at the stake. Death does not separate us from God. One pastor captured this well: “The only things that trouble can take away from you are the things that don’t ultimately matter. The things that really matter, trouble cannot touch.”
Because God is faithful, He is for you.
I understand that one of the cool words today is “uber.” This comes from German and means “above” or “over” and is used to communicate something that is “intensely super” much like the Green Bay Packers. In verse 37 Paul declares that we should be doing more than just surviving, we should be thriving; we’re called to not just cope, we’re called to be conquerors: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We need five words “we are more than conquerors” to translate what is just one word in Greek. It carries the idea of being a “super-conqueror.”
For many of us Americans we think of victory in terms of winning. We tend to look at the successful, the beautiful and the wealthy as winners. The context however is that God uses apparent defeat to produce ultimate victory as He accomplishes His purposes through our problems. That means you can be an “uber-conqueror” even when you’re dealing with health issues, relational ruptures, financial trouble, stress on the job and whatever persecution you are experiencing because of your faith. The key is to think less about the power of things over you and more about the power of Christ within you.
Let’s go over the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and the FAPs (Faithfully Answered Promises) again so they go down deep in our hearts. Savor the security you have because of what the Savior has accomplished.
FAQ #1: Who Opposes Us? FAP #1: God Protects Us!
FAQ #2: Who Withholds From Us? FAP #2: God Provides for Us!
FAQ #3: Who Accuses Us? FAP #3: God Purifies Us!
FAQ #4: Who Condemns Us? FAP #4: Jesus Prays for Us!
FAQ #5: Who Separates Us? FAP #5: Jesus Preserves Us!
I close with one more question…and it’s a big one. It’s actually the question. Have you been saved by the Savior? Don’t delay a decision. Receive Jesus Christ into your life right now. It’s time to come to the Cross. Because God is faithful, He is for you.