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 likeness of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
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.
1 John 5:1-13
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
I want to begin this morning by asking some questions which we would do well to consider in our own hearts.
Do you know without a doubt that you are saved?
Are pretty sure you are saved?
Or are you not really sure either way?
Do you think that God wants us to go through life not knowing if we are saved?
Do you think God wants us to have doubts concerning our salvation?
If you believe in Jesus you HAVE eternal life.
John says he wants us to know this with absolute certainty. The word he uses in the original Greek for ‘know’ in verse 13 is not the word that just means to perceive, but it means to know with absolute knowledge.
In fact, in this brief letter broken up into 5 short chapters, the words ‘know’ or ‘known’ are used 30 times.
If you belong to Jesus, then you need to know without a doubt that you are saved.
Though doubts come and shake us, though we sometimes falter in our faith, though life challenges us, we do not have to worry or wonder about where we are going at the end of this life. As Christians we have a blessed assurance which the world cannot offer us.
One of the reasons many people do not serve God as much as they can is because they are not quite sure about their relationship with Him.
They don’t want to commit themselves to serving a God when they don’t know exactly where they stand with Him. Many Christians have no joy in their lives for the same reason.
All over the world people sit in Churches week after week. They hear the gospel preached. They believe what they hear, and apply some things to their lives. And yet, if you were to ask them: “Are you certain? Are you sure? Are you confident that if you were to die right now you would go to heaven?” many of them would say: “Well, I think so, I hope so, I’m not sure, or I used to feel I would.”
The final verses of Romans 8 are well known by most Christians, and I don’t believe it is a coincidence that I’ve been led to spend some time during this past week studying them a little closer.
During the last week or I’ve been drawn consistently to the fundamental truth that despite what we might think or feel, and certainly despite what the world may tell us, the promise to Christians that our eternal salvation in Jesus is firm and cannot be shaken.
It’s amazing how often you’ll hear a Christian saying that they hope to go to heaven when they die. Where do those doubts come from? Because they are not Biblical. The Bible speaks clearly about the firm hope and absolute promise which we have.
The setting of Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Rome is against a backdrop of terrible suffering, and he wrote to them to remind them that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
They needed to be reassured of the perfect security they had in the grace and plan of God. He assured them that God works in all things for the good of those who love Him, and he reminded them that God, whose purpose of redemption is eternal, would not be stopped from accomplishing His perfect plan for their lives.
The Roman Christians faced incredible difficulties, and while Paul did not make any empty promises that physically they would be okay, he chose instead to focus on their spiritual, eternal security. And he did this in an interesting way – by asking them a series of questions.
The answers to these questions are either clearly spelt out or implied, but he does answer them. The purpose of each question is to affirm that there will be no accusation brought against them on that great day when they stand before God.
And those same promises apply to us today. In Christ, we have nothing to fear.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
When Paul asks these questions, he is actually looking back at the entire letter he had written to this point. The book of Romans does not pull any punches. Paul calls sin what it is: The first chapter in particular makes us squirm in our seats, but then later on he draws our attention to the amazing grace of God, and you can sense that he is almost breathless when he asks how we can possibly respond to all of this.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” He answers this question in the very next verse. God loves us so much, that He gave Jesus as a sacrifice for 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?”
In other words, He has given us Himself in Jesus, so what could possibly improve on that? If God is gracious enough and loves us enough to give us Christ, then it stands to reason that He will hold nothing back for us.
In verse 33 Paul asks “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” That can be paraphrased like this: “Who dares to challenge God by accusing us – the very people God has redeemed?”
Do you ever feel that you’re not good enough for God? Read Romans 8:33.
In the second part of that verse, Paul reminds us that it is God Himself who has justified us. It is not up to us to impress God. In effect, by offering Jesus as a sacrifice for us, God is saying that He knows we cannot make ourselves right with Him, so He does it for us instead.
The first time I really understood this concept of atonement, it quite literally took my breath away. God was saying directly to me, “Your sin abhors me. I created you to spend eternity with me, but you have destroyed that plan because of what you have become. And there is nothing you can do to fix it. But I’ll tell you what I’m prepared to do for you. I love you so much that I will sacrifice my own Son in order to buy you back.”
Once that truth sunk in, I finally realised that nothing and no-one can ever accuse me again. I belong to God, and He has adopted me as His own son.
The same theme is echoed in 1 John 5:13, one of my favourite verses in the Bible: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The next question Paul asks is in verse 34: “Who is he that condemns?”
Certainly Jesus will not condemn us. We can be sure of this on the basis of at least four facts: Christ died for us, Christ is risen again for our justification, Christ is at the right hand of God exalted and triumphant, and Christ makes intercession for those who trust Him. There is this mistaken idea which many have that God is watching our every move, just waiting for us to blow it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just look at what Jesus went through, and is doing right now for us.
Why would He do all of that, only to wait for the first opportunity to condemn us? Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and present ministry of interceding on our behalf should give us an overwhelming sense of security in the grace of God.
Twice in 1 Corinthians Paul tells us that we were bought at a price – a price of infinite cost, which gives us infinite value in God’s eyes.
Someone once said that you can’t ‘out-sin’ the love and grace of God.
For the rest of Romans 8, there is a change in the theme of the questions Paul asks. Up to this point he has been dealing with our security as far as the past and the present are concerned.
But what about the future?
Paul mentions a frightful possibility, and a question which haunts many people, including many Christians: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
He then lists seven possible threats which trouble us:
Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword.
Will tribulation and cruel oppression separate us from the love of God? Will distress, anguish and pain that people often experience separate us from the love of Christ? Will persecution and ridicule by the enemies of God separate us from the love of Christ? Will famine or hunger be interpreted as the withdrawal of the love of Christ? Will poverty be interpreted as an absence of God’s love? And what about death itself? Is death the final withdrawal of God’s love?
You can sense that Paul as he asks these questions, is preparing to answer them by saying “Now sit down and listen to me. Let me make this absolutely clear.”
Then come the answers in verses 37 to 39.
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And 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.” (NLT)
Do you have regrets about bad choices and decisions you have made in the past? Of course you do. But don’t let those things distract you from the firm hope of salvation which God has promised you, and has sealed with the blood of His own Son.
So often we waste time looking in the rear-view mirror of our lives, but when we do we miss out on the things God is doing in our lives right now. And more importantly, we easily forget the eternal promises which He has in store for us.
One of our Scripture readings last Sunday was from Isaiah 61. We were reminded that God wants to bestow on us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
As we let go of the ashes, the Lord gives us beauty. Those ashes represent broken dreams, disappointments, our hurts and failures. We all have our share of ashes, and God wants to give us beauty in exchange for them. We have to let Him have our ashes. That’s when He exchanges beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Don’t let go of the promise of salvation you have in Christ. You have been given the gift of His Holy Spirit. Jesus said it would happen, and it did at Pentecost, and when you accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord, you were filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit.
That’s why, regardless of our current circumstances and struggles, we’re able to face each day, blessed with the assurance that we are not powerless, but empowered, not only for this life, but we are assured of our ultimate home in Heaven at the end of this life.
You might not feel like it right now, but it’s true because Jesus said so. And that settles it.