Take your Bible and turn to Romans chapter 8, and let's stand together and turn to Romans chapter 8; and we're going to stand in reverence to God's word and we're going to read in just a moment beginning in verse 31. And this is our final message from our series, Romans 6, 7 and 8, which we have called "New Life Today," and this is our tenth message from these passages; and what a blessing they have been to my heart. And I really believe we're going to end on a crescendo this morning as we look at this chapter, Romans chapter 8. And thank you for reading it, being attentive. We have some great series of messages coming up around the corner, but we want to finish strong with this one today.
Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh 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 thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 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, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Let us pray.
Father, thank you for the word of God and for the faithfulness that you exhibit to us, even in this passage. Speak to our hearts this morning, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. You may be seated.
Last week we got a glimpse into the foreknowledge of God, the Greek word proginóskó. It taught us that God sees before and God knows before, and he has a will for the life of the believer, even before we are saved. It is his plan that we would conform to the image of his Son, Romans 8:29. And, ultimately, it is his plan that we will be glorified together with him in heaven. And one of the great things about this journey of growth called the Christian life is that not only can we look forward to our ultimate glorification, but also that along the way of the Christian life, as we conform to the image of Christ, that he is for us and he is with us and he is faithful to us, even when we're not as faithful as we should be, that God is always there and always faithful. Sometimes we may feel alone, sometimes we may feel outnumbered, but I want you to know today that in Christ, you and I are on the winning side.
Now one of my favorite hymns is that hymn we sang a moment ago, "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Thomas Chisholm wrote it after the Civil War. He had been through a tremendous difficulty in his life with his health. He was a pastor who was told he could no longer preach.
I can tell you personally that there would be a tremendous heartache in that. There would be a tremendous sorrow in being a called preacher, told that you could not preach. And as his health began to wind down and as his life in some respects people viewed at a miserable life, he wrote the words to the song, "Great is Thy Faithfulness," because he learned that no matter what you experience in life, God is always there; he is always working on our side.
And we come to verse 31 this morning, and as the summary is given to these last three chapters, the Holy Spirit asks, "What shall we say then to these things?" And he's speaking about the things that we have been learning in the previous verses regarding the working of the Holy Spirit. For there is no new life today without the working of the Holy Spirit.
And we learn here in verse 9 of our chapter that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, and we learn in verse 16 that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit. We learned in verse 26 that the Holy Spirit helps us in our time of weakness, that he bears up our infirmities. And we learned in verse 30 that God's Holy Spirit has a plan for our lives. In all of these verses prove to us three great truths that we're going to discover today. All of these point to the fact that God favors his children, that God forgives his children, and that God is faithful to his children. And I want you to see this with me today as we learn about the nature and the faithfulness of our God.
Notice, first of all, the favor of our God. The Bible says in verse 31, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Let's say that together.
Congregation: If God be for us, who can be against us?
Now here we see the favor of God. God is for his children. In fact, we see the word "if" and it is not a statement of doubt. In fact, you could also say in this verse, "Since God is for us." Psalm 118:6, "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do to me, since God is for us." God is for his children.
Now I know that every parent here is for your children. I think of our four children, and we pray for them, and we prayed before they were married for their spouses. We've prayed for their healing, we've prayed for them to walk with God. We pray for our grandchildren.
Terrie got up early yesterday morning and was getting ready to go somewhere. I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "Delanie has a soccer game, I want to go cheer for her." And I'll tell you what, you ever get around some of these parents when their children are playing sports, you know what side they're on; they are for their children. You're for your children, and you should be.
But imagine as much as we are for our children that there is a God in heaven who simply says to us today, "I am for you. I am on your side." I don't know about you, but I find great comfort in that, that he favors his children.
He not only favors his children, he not only is for us, but he will guide his children. And I want you to see this, secondly, "God guides his children." "If God be for us, then who can be against us?"
Now God may at times guide us into trials, and it is during those trials that sometimes the devil says, "Where's your God?" Sometimes an atheistic person might say, "What about God?" when they trials come. And the Bible records for us many who experience trials. Joseph was sold into slavery, and we read of Daniel who was persecuted and those that were thrown in, the three Hebrew children, into the fiery furnace. And we read of our Lord Jesus himself, forsaken and crucified on the cross. Yet we understand that all of this is according to the foreknowledge of God. It's according to the sovereignty of God.
First Peter 1:6 says, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." Sometimes God says that these trials are needful. He allowed them in the life of Job for a reason. God may allow trials, but God always has power over the trials. He will never try us above that which we are able. All of the fiery trials our Father filtered. God has a purpose and a plan.
Last Sunday night we were learning about the apostle Paul and how he was there in the Mamertine Prison in Rome; and in a few weeks some of the members of our church will be there and touring these sites. And if you were to go to the Roman Colosseum and come down through the forum, the shopping area, the governance area of Rome, you would come to a place where the prisoners were held. There's a church built atop of it now. Back in the day, the first century, it was simply a cellar-like place where those that were going to die would await their capital punishment. Paul was there because he was a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if you could imagine; and three times he went before the Roman proconsul seeking his defense, and three times he was rejected. And, ultimately, Nero took the life of the greatest man, perhaps, to ever preach the gospel other than Jesus Christ himself. And Paul gives us a testimony about the love of God and these times of trials.
In 2 Timothy 4:16, he says, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by my preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." I love that phrase which says, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me." Let's say it together.
Congregation: Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.
You see, no matter what you go through, no matter how mistreated you are, if you are saved you can know this: the Lord is standing with you. You can have the courage that you need to have in witnessing. You can face the sickness with courage, knowing the Lord is standing with you. You are a favored child of God. If God be for us, then who can be against us? The favor of God is a great blessing today. But we only have that favor for one reason; that's because of the forgiveness of God.
Let's be honest. I'm not any better than the guy out on the streets of Lancaster today. You and I are no better than anyone else. We're no better than the homeless guy. We're all common today; sinners is what we have in common. But there's something else we have in common and that is the forgiveness of God. That is the fact that even though we fell short, God has forgiven us and has raised us up as his sons. And I'm thankful today for the forgiveness of God. And I want you to see it in verse 32. It says, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not be with him also and freely give us all things?"
Now notice the gift of the Father. The gift of the Father was his only begotten Son. And sometimes people say to me, "Well, why doesn't God do anything about all of the sin that's in the world?" and I often say, "God did something about that sin 2,000 years ago when he sent his Son to bring forgiveness into the world." God did not withhold his Son. No doubt, if he favors us, he favored his Son.
But look what the Bible says in verse 32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up." He put him into the hands of those Roman soldiers. "He spared not his own Son." What I want you to understand, that the death of Jesus Christ was no accident, it was not something that Jesus stumbled into. The Bible says in Acts 2:23, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."
In other words, in eternity past it was the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that determined that Jesus Christ would come, that he would be born of the Virgin Mary, that he would live a perfectly sinless life in this world, and that he would go upon the cross and that he would shed his blood on that cross, and that that royal red blood would flow down and that it would bring forgiveness to the world, and that all who put their faith in Jesus Christ can have their sins cleansed away; because there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins; and sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains. And Jesus Christ came to shed his blood so that we could be forgiven and justified and one day have a home in heaven. He did not withhold his Son from us.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Not only did he not withhold his Son, but he will not withhold his blessings from us. Did you know that God has many blessings for you? And, by the way, how many of you would say, "I've already received many blessings from God"? Salvation, a Bible, the promise of a home in heaven, Ephesians 2. And in verse 7 it says, "That in ages to come he might show us the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." You study Ephesians 2 and you realize, "One day I'm going to step into the golden shore. One day I'm going to be in heaven and I'm going to see Jesus face to face, and I'm going to realize, 'Wow, salvation's a whole lot more than just getting saved; there's a whole lot to this when I ask Jesus Christ to save me; and he justified me.'"
And you see, there's a God in heaven who is righteous. He could not let us as sinners into heaven. There's no way that we deserve heaven; we all fall short of the glory of God. Can I get an amen right there? I don't deserve heaven, but God sent his Son to pay for my sin. I should have died on that cross, I should have suffered on that cross; but Jesus, God's Son, took my place. And when I trust Jesus Christ as Savior, I am justified; and now I can have entrance into heaven, not because I deserve it, but because God is righteous in letting the sinner off because of what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary. He forgave me, and he promises to me many wonderful blessings in high places with him.
I heard of a poor family that was trying to get to America from Europe. They saved all of their money. They finally got on a ship. Every day they would gather together a couple of times a day, and the dad would get some crackers and some cheese, and he would give the crackers and cheese to the family. And, finally, their junior-aged boy said, "I am sick and tired of crackers and cheese." He said, "If this is all we have to eat I'm going to die before we ever get to America." His dad reached into his pocket, literally gave him his last nickel. They were literally coming to America with nothing but a dream.
That little boy came back a while later and he had a big smile on his face. They said, "Where have you been? We've been worried for you." He said, "I've been down in the galley." He said, "I had three ice cream cones and a steak." They said, "You got all of that for a nickel? How did that work?" He said, "Oh, no." He said, "The food is free, it comes with the ticket." They'd been eating the cheese and the crackers not realizing that they could have it all because they had the ticket.
And I want to tell you something: the ticket for your salvation was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." And God not only wants to save you, but God helps you with sanctification; and God not only helps you with sanctification, but he's going to help you with glorification. He's going to give you a home in heaven; and all of these promises he freely gives as his gift. Notice the gift of the Father.
Notice, secondly, the grace of the Father. The Bible says in verse 33, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Now think about this for a moment. The world will accuse you. The world will tell you that you are not worthy. They'll tell you that you're a hypocrite. They charge God's elect; that means the saved.
Satan will accuse you, and he's accused some of you, perhaps, even today, "Well, you're not as good as this other person," or, "You don't belong." That's what Satan says. In fact, the Bible says, "He's the accuser of the brethren," Revelation chapter 12. The Bible says that he brings accusation against us, even before the Father. But the Lord Jesus is our mediator and he shows forth the scars of his hands and of the blood that was shed, and he makes mediation for us, and he is our justifier. And we see here that while the world accuses and while Satan accuses, God will forgive. It says in verse 33 that, "It is God that justifieth."
"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again." You see, the Scriptures say, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Yes, we sin, and yes, we fall short of God's glory; but we can have justification because of the blood that Jesus Christ shed.
And so, this morning we see the favor of God, the favor of God. He says, "I'm for you." We see the forgiveness of God. He says, "I know way back when, in my foreknowledge I knew that you would be a sinner; but I still died for you." But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He said, "I've got forgiveness for you."
How many of you are thankful for the mercy of God today? Folks, if we had to get to heaven because of our good works we'd never go. You see, the Bible says all of our righteousness is like a filthy rag. Have you ever tried to wash your car with a greasy rag? It just never gets it clean. It never works. But, oh, Jesus Christ cleanses us from all of our unrighteousness, and so we have the forgiveness of God.
But notice, finally, this morning. Not only the favor of God, not only the forgiveness of God, but I want you to hear about the faithfulness of God today. We serve a faithful God. Verse 34, "Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." I want you to notice that Jesus is our faithful advocate, that he is making intercession for us, that he is risen again, that he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, that by sitting down he is indicating to us that his work is already done. Hebrews 10:12, "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right of God." Do you remember when Jesus was on the cross, the last saying of Jesus? He said, "It is finished!" I want you to understand that and let it settle into your heart, that when he sat down at the right hand of God the Father, he indicates to us that the atoning work for our sin is done.
What I want you to understand is that when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior, it is finished. It's not something that has to be done again and again and again. Look, my friend, you don't need to keep going to a confessional booth and telling some man your sin. You don't need to buy your way into heaven. You don't need to work your way into heaven. If you trust Christ as your Savior, it is finished.
"This man, after he had offered once for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God." His blood was the final sacrifice for our sin; and what a blessing to know that. It's not about religion, it's about Jesus. And Jesus is making intercession for us today. "My little children," John said, "these things write I unto you, that you sin not." God says, "I don't want you to sin. I didn't save you so you could just sin and get forgiveness." But he says, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
How many of you are thankful you can come to the Lord Jesus and say, "Lord, I want to confess to you my sin. I want to restore fellowship with you"? And how many of you are thankful that he's already making intercession for us at that time? He's our advocate, our faithful advocate. But he's also our inseparable comforter.
Notice this in verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
Have you ever had a relationship with someone and you felt a little insecure about where you stood with them? Have you ever wondered? Have you ever been maybe like the boy in high school with the daisy, "She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not"? You're not really sure.
The world has a way of creating insecurity; that's why there's so many struggling with anxiety and depression and so many different kinds of opiates that seem to take the edge off of that feeling of not belonging. And the Bible asks a very important question: "Can anyone separate us from the love of God?" Maybe you've had times like that where the devil even tried to get you to believe that you didn't matter to God; or maybe you weren't really saved.
You see, we have an enemy who seeks to separate us from the love and security of Christ. And so, the Bible says, "Who shall separate us from the love of God?" And notice the question. It says here in verse 35, "Shall tribulation?" I mean, can you have enough trouble in your life that God's not there, and maybe you've created enough trouble in your life that God does not care?
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:3, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." God says, "I see the mess that you're in and I want to comfort you in that time."
The first physician to die of the AIDS virus was a British doctor. He was a young Christian. Just about a year before traveling over to Africa to Zimbabwe, he had accepted Christ as his Savior. He came in contact with the disease, and through his research he came back to England; they were trying to tend to him. He got to the place where he could not talk; he could hardly move. He kept trying to write something on a piece of paper, and his wife kept trying to understand it, and she would guess; and finally, she thought that it was the letter J, and she guessed and tried. And the day came and she looked at him and she said, "Does this mean Jesus?" to which he simply pointed up.
You see, if you base your faith on a lack of affliction, and if you base your feeling of security on the days when there's no trials, then you'll have a very shallow faith that is always on the brink of extinction in which you're always wondering whether or not God loves you. God says, "Let's get the record straight on this. Nothing, nothing can separate me from you."
If you would tell your child, "No matter what, I love you," how much more does God love you? How much more does the one who shed his blood love you? How much more does the one whose Spirit has sealed your eternal destiny love you? He said, "Nothing's going to separate you from me, nothing: no tribulation, no distress, no anguish of mind of body, no kind of persecution, no nakedness, no peril, no sword. Nothing is going to keep me from loving you and being with you."
Years ago, I visited the prison camp in Dachau in Germany. And I had really honestly had read some about Hitler and the atrocities of his regime, but I came to face with it that day looking at the prison and seeing where hundreds of thousands of Jews had suffered in these camps and millions were killed; seeing where they slept; seeing where they walked them into certain rooms and said, "This is your shower room." Then they turned the gas on, then they would incinerate their bodies and throw the incinerated remains out into the gardens. It was amazing to me to see the satanic result of that hateful time in world history.
But it was there at Dachau that I read about a man by the name of Martin Niemöller. Martin Niemöller was a pastor. He was a courageous German pastor who had tried to help the Jewish people. He had brought them to his home and hidden them. He had nurtured them. He had spoken out against Hitler. He was a courageous man; and for his courage, this pastor was placed in the very same prison where the Jewish people were suffering.
He spent years in this concentration camp. He spent years wasting away physically and waiting. Throughout that time, he memorized many Scriptures. And there were times when he would have a Bible; it would be found, it would be taken away. While he had a copy, he would memorize and write. And this is what he said in the last days of his life: "What did this Book mean to me during the long and weary years of solitary confinement in Dachau? The word of God was simply everything to me: comfort and strength, guidance and hope, master of my days and companion of my nights."
You see, nothing can separate you from the love of God: not a prison camp, not cancer, not divorce. Nothing can separate you from the love of God who always is seeking you and wanting you and comforting you. We have an enemy who seeks to separate us; but we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ. The Bible says in verse 36, "As it is written, 'For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep to the slaughter.' Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
I'm here to remind you this morning that nothing can separate you from the love of God. And you may feel lonely, and you may feel ill, and you may wonder what God is doing; but never wonder whether or not God is there. His Spirit is there as your comfort and as your guide; and nothing can separate you from the love of God. The Bible says in verse 38, "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, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Here was a man fully persuaded. And some of you need to get fully persuaded that there's a God who loves you, and that, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world," and that he will walk with you through the fires of this life and the floods of this life. He says, "Nothing can separate us." He says, "Death cannot separate us."
Oh, do you understand this this morning? "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." Do you understand that when you came alive in the spirit, that that is an eternal life, that the life of the spirit is not for this world only, but it's for eternal life, and that death cannot separate us from the love of God. "For to me, to live is Christ," Paul said, "and to die is gain."
"The angels cannot separate us," speaking here of the fallen angelic beings who followed Lucifer, they cannot separate you from the love of God, "things present," they cannot separate you, "things tomorrow," they cannot separate you, "nor height, nor depth." Jesus came down through the very vastness of his own creation into the form of a man to tell us that height, nor depth, or the expanse of the universe cannot separate us from the very love of God.
Do you understand this morning he has promised you, "I will never leave you and I will never forsake you"? And what I want you to have in your mind this morning is that there is a God in heaven who favors you, and he forgives you, and he will be faithful to you. You can trust him; he's there for you. And may we never doubt the wonderful love of our Lord. And may we who have such a faithful Father, may we this week be a faithful people to him as we live in this Southern California area for his honor and his glory.
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