Scripture
Romans 8:31-39
Date
February 18, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

 

Greeting: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

 

Text: 31) What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  32) He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?  33) Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  34) Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  36) As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37) No, in all these things we are more than conqueror’s through Him who loved us.  38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39) neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Introduction: “So, what is my view?  Are you for this or against it?”  That is the language of a person who is taking a position on something.  It is something we all do on a fairly regular basis.   Life confronts us with issues that require us to form an opinion and take a stand.  We have positions on all kinds of things – how relationships should work, how to handle money, what to do with leisure time, etc.  During the Lenten season and its focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to think: “What is my view of what Jesus did?”   “What is my opinion of Christ?”  Or in other words, “What is my position on God?”  Am I for Him or am I against Him?  This is a very important thing to ponder, very important.  And it is also very hard to answer correctly unless we first consider an every more important policy matter.  That is the issue of God’s position on us.

 

Let’s consider: What is God’s position toward you?  Is He for you or is He against you?  How do you answer that one?  One might say: “I think that God is mostly for me.  I am a good person.  I try to live a good life.  I think God approves of me.”   On the other hand, a person might decide: “I think that God has to be against me.  I have broken His commands.  I have done many bad things.  He is just and I don’t see how he could love me or approve of me.”    Is God for me or against me?  If we form our opinion based only on our assessment of our behavior, we can have a position – but it many not be the right one or it may not be the one we want.   If we are going to get a solid and satisfying answer to the question: “What is God’s position toward me?”, we have to base it on more than our guesses.   We must consider what God Himself says about the subject.  And in Romans 8, God has spoken very clearly – and very beautifully.   Saint Paul records a very decisive statement that announces: GOD IS FOR US!   In words that sound like the lyrics to a song of victory and certainty,  Paul unfolds three sweet stanzas that testify to his basic point.   What is God’s position on us?   Paul speaks to our wondering hearts and says: God is for us.  He gives us Jesus – and everything else!  He has told us sinners His verdict of innocence.  He holds us with a love that will not let us get lost.

 

1. He Gives Us Jesus – And Everything Else!

 

Is God for us?   Listen as Paul writes:  What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  32) He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?   In a very open and powerful statement, Paul announces:  God has given us His own Son.  Think about that.   God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.  The greatest thing that God could possibly give, He gave to us.  In great love, God sent His Son to life and die for our welfare.   Jesus Christ is the dearest thing God has.  There is nothing greater that God could do for us.   Jesus is God’s resounding statement that His is definitely for us.  And to help us along in our appreciation, Paul adds this thought: “How will God not graciously give us all things?   He reasons with us this way: “If God will give us His most precious Son, surely we can count on the fact that He will also give us all His lesser blessings.   If God would give us the most and best He has, He will also give us everything else as well.

 

Consider what this promise means.  Jesus, whose name “Immanuel” means “God is with us” assures us that God cares deeply about all our needs – large and small.  What is it that we need: relief from stress,  rest for weariness, strength for weakness, refuge from assaults, confidence for a doubting heart, answers to questions, solutions to problems, guidance for confusion, provision for my earthly needs?   Whatever it is, God promises that He will graciously (that is willingly and in love) give us all things.   What is God’s position?  He is for us.  Here is proof number one:  He has given us Jesus – and everything else.

 

2. He Has Told Us Sinners His Verdict Of Innocence

 

There is more.  Listen to the second stanza of Paul’s song of victory and certainty: 33) Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  34) Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.    Again Paul emphasizes that God is for us.   He demonstrates that God shows His favor for us in the wonderful, decisive way that He deals with our sins.

 

Paul’s language about charges and condemnation point out that sin is a crime.   In St. John’s first letter, he tells us “sin is lawlessness.”  To sin is to break the law. – and not just any law.  To sin is to break God’s law – to violate the divine standards set for our conduct.  There is no denying that we are sinners.  Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 8:20)  The list of our sins is long.   Unjust anger, lust, greed, revenge, impatience and ingratitude.   Deceiving, blaming, berating, insulting, despising, and mocking are just a few of the many ways we break God’s laws.   We have lived and are even now living quite a life of crime.

 

Now it is the hope of the criminal to avoid detection and escape justice.  The crimes have been committed and cannot be undone.   The criminal’s wish is that he/she not be caught and put on trial for them.   But our crimes against God do catch up with us.  The God who searches the heart and knows all things finds us out.   There are plenty of charges and accusations that can be brought against us.  We have no defense.  All of us have a dark, sinful past.  We are guilty.  The just Judge should sentence us to eternal death. 

 

But God does something surprising.  He brings Jesus into our case and allows Christ to plead His perfect life and punishment-bearing death on our behalf.  God accepts the plea and, on the basis of Jesus’ work, announces to us that since He has found Jesus guilty and has punished Him for our crimes, He finds us innocent and free to go.  He has settled our case.  So now, Paul writes: “Who can bring any further charge against us?  The Judge has already settled things.  He has justified us or found us innocent.  Jesus has offered His redeeming work on our behalf.  Each day He prays for us asking God to continue to accept His payment for our sins.  No one can condemn us.   There can be no doubt that God is for us.  Look at what He has done for criminals like us.  He has given us His verdict of innocence and that verdict will stand.

 

3. He Holds Us With A Love That Won’t Let Us Get Lost

 

Paul concludes his song of victory and certainty with some of the most beautiful verses of Scripture.   He says: 35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  36) As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37) No, in all these things we are more than conqueror’s through Him who loved us.  38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39) neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

In these verses, Paul announces that the God who is for us will continue to be for us in the future.  It is very kind of God to think about the future of our relationship with Him.  We learn from personal experience that some relationships just don’t last.  They may seem promising at the start, but then something goes wrong and it all falls apart.   One of the things we want to know is God’s intentions toward us in the days to come.   He may well love us today, but will He keep on loving us tomorrow?  Will God keep loving us even when we are more hassled and stressed than we are now?  Will God keep loving us when we are weak and fragile and not at our best?   Will God keep loving us when times are tougher and dangers are greater?  

 

The answer that God gives to all those questions is a resounding: “Yes!”  God will keep loving us – in all times and in all ways in the future.   Paul emphasizes that there is no power, no problem, no pressure that can separate us from Him.   We may face challenges and difficulties that may tempt us to think that God no longer cares, but God’s love for us is constant through it all.  God loves us deeply and powerfully.  He holds on to us tightly so that we remain with Him.  When we think about the hold God has on us, we shouldn’t picture it as a gentle holding of the hands, but the strong embrace of someone who knows that powerful forces threaten to take us away from Him and that He will not allow it to happen.  God’s loving hold on us is strong and tight, powerful and determined, mighty and tenacious.   He will allow no one and nothing to have strength that surpasses His.  He will allow nothing to separate us from Him.  God is for us and always will be.

 

This is God’s position.   He is not against us.  He is for us.   As we think about our needs, He tells us “I give you, Jesus, and everything else you need.”  As we think about our sins, He tells us: “I announce my verdict of innocence on your life.”  As we think about our future, He tells us: “I hold you with a love that will not let you get lost.”  What a gracious position He takes.  What a wonderful position that put us in.  And it also leads us to conclude: God is for me.  And now, I am sure that I am also for Him.  Amen.