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 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.
Romans chapter 8 is one of the most profound passages of Scripture. It has brought comfort and assurance to the hearts of countless believers for nearly 2000 years. In order to fully appreciate the gem that Romans 8 is though, you need to have studied the preceding 7 chapters first. Paul does not hold back in describing the depravity of humanity as a result of our sin and our rebellion against God. At the same time though, he speaks of the hope we have in Jesus, and chapter 7 ends with these words: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul then answers his own question in the next verse: “Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
As many of you know Romans 8:1 is my favourite verse in the Bible. In this verse Paul basically reviews all he has said in the previous 7 chapters, and proclaims, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This wonderful statement sets the scene for the rest of the chapter where Paul speaks about our deliverance from condemnation, how we are able to overcome the desires of our sinful nature, and he reminds us that we now rejoice in our future inheritance by being adopted into the family of God, as we learn that that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. This powerful chapter ends as Paul speaks of the assurance and security of the Christian because of who Jesus is. Once we are rescued from condemnation and brought into the family of God, we are secure for all eternity. And we learn that nothing can separate us from the love of God or remove us from His care.
During the past month we have been reminded of not only the awful cost of our sin, but of the incredible, amazing grace of God as He paid the price of our sin. Just last Sunday we visited the empty tomb, as we were reminded of the gracious gift of eternal life that God offers us through Jesus. Easter is a highlight of the Christian calendar for very good reasons, not least of which is the hope we have in eternity.
The sermon title today is ‘Easter. What next?’
What next? That’s actually an important question for us to try and answer, because until such time as Jesus returns or calls us home, there is much work to be done. We are the labourers in the vineyard, and the work of the Kingdom needs to continue. There are practical implications for us, and during the next couple of weeks we will be very specific about them as we look at our challenge to make a difference in our own town through the Love Howick weekend.
There are also spiritual answers as we try to answer the question, what next? This is what we will attempt to do this morning.
Most Christians do a lot of soul searching during Holy Week as we consider the very real ways in which we are implicated in the events of Good Friday. The death of Jesus was my fault, and yours too. Then we move to the euphoria of Easter Sunday, where we are reminded that the resurrection of Jesus is our victory too. As I wrote in the bulletin this morning, we have much to look forward to.
For many of us though, life remains a challenge. Each day we face hardships and situations that easily threaten the joy we have in Christ, so this morning we’ll look at just some of the wonderful promises we find in Romans 8.
As comprehensive as it is, the promises Paul lists in this chapter is not an exhaustive list, but it does reveal the abundance we enjoy through Jesus.
Our reading today began with a question. “What, then, shall we say in response to this?” The ‘this’ Paul refers to here is the preceding 7 and a half chapters of his letter. What he is saying is, after all we’ve done to reject and disobey God, and after all He has done by showing us such mercy, so how should we respond to this love and grace? And he answers that question with another question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This is a question with a profound implication. He isn’t necessarily looking for an answer to the question, but rather is challenging us to consider and meditate on the benefit and security of a relationship with Jesus. We know that God is for us. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sin. He has promised us a home in heaven throughout eternity.
So if God is for us, it doesn’t matter who or what is against us, because we are secure in Him!
In verse 32 Paul reminds us that God did not even spare His own Son for us, but “gave Him up for us all.” That’s the value of our lives in God’s eyes.
Prior to all of this, Paul had dealt extensively with the sinful nature of humanity, the separation it brings, and our inability to be reconciled to God through our effort or merit. God is holy and demanded a righteous sacrifice to be offered for our reconciliation. God alone possessed the righteousness He required, so God would have to come in flesh in order to become the sacrifice worthy to atone for sin. So Jesus came. God came in human form, bore our sin and the righteous judgment we deserved as He stood in our place, and offered His body as the sacrifice for sin.
Paul continues by asking, now if God would do that for us, why would He suddenly withhold anything from us? “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?”
If God loves you and me enough to allow His Son to die for our sin, then surely He loves us enough to provide for us while in this life and throughout eternity? He has invested too much in us to simply cast us aside and fail to provide for us for the rest of our earthly lives. After doing what He did on the Cross, for God to just walk away and leave us to find our own way through life is just illogical.
We also need to remember His character and is nature when we think about what and how He will provide for us. God will not offer things contrary to His nature or sovereign will. He will see to it that we have all we need to live a life that honours Him. Remember, this almighty, all-powerful God is for us, so then who could possibly be against us?
While we continue to deal with the struggles of sin, living in a sin cursed world that does not embrace nor accept us, we find comfort in the promise that God is for us.
We are now righteous because God says so. Paul asks in verse 33, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” I love the way the NLT translates this verse: “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own?”
satan stands as our accuser, as he tries to discredit our relationship and our worth before God. The world may find little value in our faith, and ridicule and even condemn us for our faith, but God will have the final say. Those who are in Christ are justified by God. You have been declared righteous by God because He said so, so don’t listen to the lies of those who condemn you.
There is no doubt we were all guilty of sin and worthy of condemnation. We had no hope within ourselves and no way to obtain the righteousness God demanded. However, because of Jesus, what He did and because of your faith in Him, everything has changed. In salvation your debt was paid in full, and the charges against you were annulled, never to be remembered again.
God has declared us righteous, and because of His declaration, satan’s feeble attempts to condemn us are just empty words.
Of course, we still hear the accusations though, don’t we? There are many people out there who bring charges against us. Our faith is ridiculed and belittled, and while these accusations and words do hurt, we can take comfort that Christ alone has the power to condemn.
Jesus died and rose again in order to purchase our redemption, providing for our salvation and eternal life. The world may continue to condemn and accuse, but we are secure in Christ through our relationship with Him. Remember, we are in Christ, so there is no more condemnation for us.
Charges may be brought, and some of them might be deeply hurtful, but in Christ we rise above them, because the righteous Judge has declared us justified.
Not only that, but on top of us having no need to fear condemnation, we also enjoy the benefit of Jesus making intercession for us at the right hand of God the Father. He ascended back to heaven after the resurrection, but His work in Heaven on our behalf continues. Jesus is actively engaged in the lives of those who belong to Him. He stands as our representative, our advocate before the Father. When the accuser brings accusations before the throne, Jesus stands as our defence attorney, interceding on our behalf and pleading our case. Just picture the scene for a moment: You give in to temptation, and you fall into sin. Immediately satan points this out to God the Father, accusing you because of your sin. But what does Jesus do? He stands in the way, intercedes for you, and declares that the debt of that sin has already been paid in full. You have been cleansed by His atoning blood, so the charges are dropped because your righteousness has been secured by Jesus.
We are never without representation before God the Father. Jesus is our continual, eternal advocate, always pleading our case. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”
In the closing verses of Romans 8, Paul deals with the assurance and security of the Christian. Regardless of what we face, we are secure in Christ. He reminds us that that nothing - absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
He lists the kind of things that do drag us down; the things that we face each day that have a tendency to rob us of the joy of our salvation. (Quoting again from the NLT) “Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”
These struggles and difficulties were a very real threat for Christians in Paul’s day, and they remain a real threat to many Christians today. Many were persecuted for their faith and suffer because of their relationship with Jesus. Even today in some parts of the world Christians are being systematically murdered because they have the courage to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. For now, we are sheltered from such violence, but there are no guarantees that we will continue to be able to meet to worship in public. The Bible never promised our lives would be void of difficulty or adversity just because we belong to Jesus. Some mistakenly believe that God has somehow given up on those who endure hardship and difficulty. These struggles are part of life. We all face them to one degree or another. Our relationship with Jesus does not shield and protect us from adversity.
But we are assured that no difficulty or hardship will separate us from the love of Christ. We may face adversity and pain at the hands of others, but we will never be forsaken by Jesus.
His love was proven on Calvary and it will remain steadfast for eternity. We have the assurance that His love will remain when we have nothing else. If no one else cares, Jesus does.
Our victory is certain. In the words of verse 37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Paul then goes on to list a number of things that have the appearance of being able to separate us from the love of Christ, but can’t.
He ends this chapter with a powerful statement of faith and trust in God. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul knew he belonged to Jesus in life and He would remain in Him even through death.
There is nothing this world and satan and his demons can throw at us that can destroy our relationship with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. The love of Jesus to the Christian is a permanent and an eternal reality.
We see things in the physical realm. We see the things like sickness, sin and personal tragedies that threaten to separate us from the love of Christ, but there is another realm that although we are aware of, we don’t fully understand. There is a spiritual war going on that we are involved in. There are countless forces of evil and powers of darkness at work in this spiritual realm that also threaten to separate us from the love of Jesus. satan will use every trick in the book against us, but we remain secure in God’s love. Make no mistake, the devil is a powerful enemy. He remains a determined and powerful foe, but we need not fear, because not even the forces of hell itself can separate us from God.
In the words of Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:1-12)
There is no place, both physically and spiritually that we can go where we will find ourselves separated from the love of Christ, jeopardising our salvation. Jesus conquered death and hell as He rose from the grave and He ascended to the heights of heaven. He is Lord of all and we are secure in Him. As long as we are in the hand of Almighty God, we are secure. He purchased our redemption through His shed blood and we remain in His care and provision. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Whatever challenges you are facing today, and whatever challenges lie in wait for you tomorrow, just remember this: none of those things - absolutely nothing, has the power to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus your Lord.