Passage Romans 8:31-39.
Supporting passages used Quoted
• Romans 8:26-30
• 1 John 2:1
• Philippians 4:12-13
• 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
• (2 Cor 11:23-29)
• (Psalm 44)
Context 6-7:6 released from slavery to law and sin
7:7-13 law elicits our rebellion and sin
7:14-25 dual natures
8:1-2 no condemnation for those in Jesus
8:2-11 Law working through the flesh could not produce righteousness/life, but the Spirit can.
8:12-17 therefore, an obligation to live by the Spirit. We are God’s children; we will share Jesus’ inheritance if we share his suffering.
8:17-25 waiting for the full realization of our salvation
8:16-39 God is for us and helps us in our waiting. We are secure.
Message theme/Message points None can oppose – God is for us, according to his purpose
None can condemn – God has justified
None can separate – God loves us in Jesus
Application Hope in suffering
Courage in mission
Message Title If God is for us
[Rom 8:31-39 NIV] 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 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 then is the one who condemns? No one. 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 conquerors 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.
[Rom 8:26-30 NIV] 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Happy New Year!
The New Year is a time we look back on the previous year and reflect on what happened, and try to make sense of it and think of what we want to change. And then we make our plans and dreams for the new year.
And so I wonder what will 2018 hold for each one of us, and for Crossroads church as a whole.
So today at the start of 2018, we finish chapter 8 of the book of Romans, where Paul has finished explaining the gospel and now turns to reflect on what it means for us.
As you may remember from chapter 1, the gospel according to Paul is the power of God to save us from sin and death. Making sure that his readers understand it thoroughly and what it means to them practically is one of Paul’s main purposes in writing this letter.
In today’s passage, v31-39, Paul sums up what the gospel means to us, and he is really excited about it.
So I think this is a great place to start the New Year.
So, let’s get right into it.
I: None can oppose – God is for us
● V31 Paul says: Think about what I have been telling you, what does it mean? What is the conclusion?
○ And now he just bursts forth with three amazing claims.
● First: There is none who can oppose us.
○ Why? Because God is our ally, he is for us! If God is on our side, how can anyone stop us!
○ That’s his first statement, but right away we want to say ‘What?! Really?
■ What about the problems I have at work? The people who lied to me when they hired me, or the people who make my life at work miserable?
■ What about the people I wanted as friends, but ignored me? What about the people who discourage me, or dislike me for no reason?
■ What about the person who I liked but marries my best friend?
■ Paul, you say, aren’t you being completely unrealistic?
○ So Paul is not a fool, why does Paul say this?
■ V31 says that he and we can say this because of what Paul has shown us previously.
■ So let’s go back and read what he has been saying. We could go back to maybe verse 16, but let’s start at verse 26 in the interest of time. Let’s look for any hints about how we are not losing when bad events in our life happen.
○ I think the answer is in v28-30.
■ V28 says that God works for our good in all things. So that would include the bad things, right?
■ But again about v28, we say: really? It’s easy to misunderstand what Paul is saying here. God is not necessarily going to give us our dream job, our dream spouse, our dream life.
■ So let’s read a little further to see what Paul is saying.
■ In v29, God thinks of Christians in this way:
● Chosen, before we were born
● Called, when the right time came
● Justified, made acceptable to God
● Glorified, which expresses honor and worthiness
■ So our becoming a Christian is not an accident. And even if you are not yet a Christian, you are not here by accident. God knows us from before we were born, and this is his plan and purpose for us.
■ So if God has chosen me, the purpose and plan for my life is already decided.
■ The purpose to which God has called us is:
● 29 To become like Christ, conformed to his image.
○ Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and when we are conformed to Jesus’ image, we also then reflect the character of God
○ Also, Jesus is the first born, meaning he is the first to receive the new eternal body. We will receive this too, so we can live forever with God.
○ This is part of what it means to receive glory.
● But this is not only a static picture, it is a moving picture!
○ Just as God gave Jesus a mission, we are called to do the good works God has created us to do.
○ As we saw a few weeks ago, God’s intention is that we be restored to our role as ruler of this world as God’s deputy. God gave that role to Adam and Eve, and God does not change his mind.
● As we saw earlier in ch 8, the whole cosmos is waiting for this event.
■ This is what we were made to be. This is who we are in God’s eyes:
Creatures who will be made to be like Christ, and share his glory (v17).
○ So what does this mean for us, with all our hopes and dreams?
■ God does not promise that our dreams will come true.
■ But he promises to make us like his Son
■ He promises to give our life meaning and hope.
○ So, understanding this perspective, what does Paul mean when he says God is on our side, and so nothing can oppose us?
■ It means there is nothing that can stop God from accomplishing his purpose in us.
■ There is nothing that can stop us from becoming what God intends for us.
■ There is nothing that can stop the work that God has given us to do.
■ That’s what it means to have God on our side.
God is the ally of our true self and of our true purpose
○ Let me give a personal illustration
■ When I was 18, I became a Christian while traveling. It was clear that it was God’s plan for that to happen.
■ My Father, who is anti-Christian, found out I became a Christian.
■ He forced me to leave the Christians I was staying with and come home. Then eventually he kicked me out of the house.
■ I think he just wanted to change me back to the way I was before. He was not being cruel, he was simply opposing God in my life.
■ But God provided another family, some Roman Catholics, for me to stay with for a few months. My Dad was angry at them too.
■ My point is that my Father was unable to oppose God’s work in my life.
■ Over 40 years later, I am still standing here with my God.
○ Sometimes the forces against us are hugely powerful.
■ Governments may oppose us, and sometimes very clearly like in Muslim countries, or communist countries. It is illegal to build churches in some countries, or to evangelize, or even to worship in your own home. You can be imprisoned or killed.
■ Society may oppose us. We see this in some Western countries, where pressure is put on people to keep their faith hidden, or conform to social norms that go against our faith.
■ Satan opposes us, and puts temptations in our way to destroy our faith or our effectiveness.
○ But Paul tells us that nothing can win against us.
■ In China, believers meet to worship outdoors even in winter, while the police harass them.
■ Even in places like North Korea, believers evangelize despite great danger to them and their whole families.
■ Muslims in Islamic countries meet Jesus in dreams.
○ With such opposition, how can we be sure that God is our ally? How far will he go for us?
■ V32 The proof of God being our ally is that God gave his most precious son for us.
○ If God gave himself to us, that is proof God is serious about us and his plan to rescuing us.
■ Just think of the disciples. Jesus chose to come and be with them, even though they were sinful, weak, cowardly, stupid and unbelieving, and ordinary in every way. But he loved them. And then he gave his life for them and for us on the cross.
■ And for us today, we are given God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, to live in us.
○ So we should ask ourselves: will God do something like that and then be stingy?
■ Paul says, clearly no! God will gladly give us everything we need.
■ We read that before didn’t we: God gave everything to Jesus as his heir, and Jesus is given to us the church.
○ If God gave Jesus for his enemies, God will give you, his beloved, what you need.
○ If God can and will raise the dead, he can accomplish his amazing purpose in us as individuals and as a church.
II. None can condemn – God has justified
● V33 A little more quickly now, let’s move to Paul’s second statement:
“No one can accuse us before God”.
○ No one can condemn you for your past, present or future failures. No one can say you are no good.
■ Why? Because, God has declared us justified!
■ We know people’s opinions change about us.
● Have you ever had the experience that one day people think you are great, and then a while later, they think you stink? I have.
● Have you ever had the experience that one day, you feel great about yourself, and the next day that you are a total loser, and your life is worthless? I have.
■ So other people may condemn us.
■ Satan also loves to make us feel guilty. That’s what his name means, ‘Accuser’.
■ And he loves to make us feel worthless.
■ But it is God’s opinion that counts, not anyone else. And God has declared us justified.
○ V34 Again, Jesus is the foundation of this.
■ Firstly, Jesus died and was raised to life
● As Paul has told us previously, we have died and been reborn with Christ.
○ The sin in us was judged on the cross, it has died and we are freed from it.
● Jesus died naked on a cross, like a condemned criminal, and took his last breaths in front of a jeering crowd.
○ But Christ’s shameful death is wiped away by his glorious resurrection, and so our shame too is erased.
■ Secondly, Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us
● Sometimes, especially newer Christians wonder if God will condemn them if they sin after accepting Jesus and being forgiven.
● It says here that Jesus is interceding with God for us even now.
● So if we sin now, Jesus is acting as our priest to take away our guilt.
● 1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
● We should not sin, but it is God who continues to justify us even when we do.
○ So there is no condemnation from God, because we are in Christ.
III. None can separate – God’s love for us in Jesus
● This is the third and final point. It is the peak of Paul’s outburst of joy.
● V35 Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
○ No circumstances can separate us from God. And here Paul lists some things:
■ Trouble and hardship; Persecution; Famine and nakedness; Danger and sword
○ This is not theory; these are experiences from Paul’s own life. He writes about these things in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. Please look it up if you have time.
○ Besides our own failure, it is most often circumstances that shake our faith, isn’t it?
■ When things go wrong, we wonder – does God really care? Does he really exist?
■ When something comes which is so hard that our heart feels like it will break, God’s love seems very abstract and far away.
● But in the midst of our suffering, God promises to be with us.
○ We are not alone. We are not separated from God.
○ V26-27 God’s Spirit is with us even in our suffering and weakness, groaning with us, and interceding for us.
○ We are not alone. God feels our suffering.
○ And even if we find it hard to pray, or what not to pray, or how to pray, the Spirit prays for us according to God’s will.
● V36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 here.
■ The psalm is a cry for God’s deliverance from enemies.
■ God’s people are being faithful, but they are being oppressed.
■ Their suffering is because they are God’s people.
■ All their efforts are failing, and the enemy looks like he is winning.
■ The writer remembers God’s saving acts in the past, but now God seems to have deserted them.
■ The psalm ends by crying out to God to act and save them.
● Paul knows there is suffering, and failure, and God does not always act quickly.
● V37 But Paul knows that in fact God has answered. God has acted through Christ.
● And as a result, we are super-conquerors even in this suffering.
○ Again, let’s look at Paul’s experience:
○ Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
○ 2 Cor 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
○ Suffering can draw us closer to God and make us more like Christ, if we understand why God allows it.
○ This is why Paul can say we are conquerors even in the midst of suffering.
● V38-39 And so there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love.
■ Death or life: whether we live or die
■ Angels or demons: the influence of spiritual powers
■ Present or future: where-ever we are in life’s journey.
● We don’t need to be anxious about the future
■ Any powers: anything that can exert power
● Government, or society, or our bosses at work, or our families or friends, etc.
■ Heights or depths: acclaim and prosperity or disgrace and poverty
○ Because it is God’s love expressed and mediated through Christ Jesus our Lord.
● So what does this passage mean to us?
● First, let us take comfort when hard things come into our life
○ God has accepted us, despite our faults and failures.
○ We are loved, with a love that will produce the best in us.
○ Everything that happens, God allows, and his purpose is to use it to make us like Christ so that we will share his glory.
○ God has not abandoned us when we suffer.
○ Suffering, if we let it drive us to Christ, is to our benefit.
○ This is not an easy thing. It is not a quick thing.
■ But it is an eternal thing, and our ancestors in the faith have lived it before us.
● Secondly, let us take courage in mission
○ We are God’s workmanship, created for good works.
○ Jesus is King, seated at God’s right hand. His command is to make disciples of all nations.
■ Let us not draw back in fear, but take courage and obey.
○ God will give us what we need for our mission.
■ So let’s pray to him for what we need.
■ And let us wait patiently for his answer.
If God is for us, who can be against us?