Sunday, March 08, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "For Us"

“For Us”
All Roads Lead to Romans
March 8, 2015 :: Romans 8:31-32 

As I’ve been saying for the last several weeks, every single sentence towards the end of Romans chapter 8 could easily become its own sermon. It’s just that good.

Romans 8 is often called “The Great Eight” because of the awesomely incredible truth and nearly unbelievable promises that it contains.

Last week, we read the amazing promise of Romans 8:28 which says, “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.”

God is in the process of working all things to our ultimate good!

For those who love God and have been unstoppably summoned to Him.

God is in the process of working all things to our ultimate good!

Isn’t that wonderful?  I just can’t say how wonderful that is.

I don’t feel like I have adequate words to express it.

And that’s exactly how the rest of this chapter feels. Every step gets even greater with more exalted language and unblushing audacious promises that are unstoppable and sure.

I said to Tim Beck yesterday, “I just don’t have words.”

I just don’t have words for how awesome these promises are.

But we’ll do our best.

Today, I just want to make it through two more verses. I hope, next week, to finish the rest of the chapter in one fell swoop, but today, just verses 31 and 32.

Verse 32 is my absolute favorite in the whole book.

In this last section, verses 31-39, the apostle Paul begins to use some key questions to make his points.

Paul asks three questions in our passage for today (two of them rhetorical where the answer is bound up in the question itself) and then 3 or 4 questions in the last part of the chapter.

Romans 8:31 and 32.

“ What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against 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?”

Do you see what I mean about these verses?

It doesn’t get much better than this!

The title of my message for today is, “For Us.”

Those two little words appear in both verses.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against 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?”

For us.

Now, this passage is not ultimately about us. It’s about God.

But amazingly in these two verses, we find that God is for us. And God has given His son for us.

So those two little words are very important for the application of these verses to our lives today.

In verse 31, Paul begins to sum up his argument. He says (v.31), “What then, shall we say in response to this?”

Now, I think that he’s actually summing up chapters 1 through 8.

You can make the case, that he’s summing up chapter 8 or some part of chapter 8. Maybe 8:28-30 like last week’s message.

But I think that Paul is reaching all the way back to the beginning of his argument in chapter 1, verse 16 about how he’s not ashamed of the gospel and then flowing through his explanation and defense of the gospel of grace from chapters 1 through 8.

The bad news about sin and the wrath to come.
The good news about justification by faith and all of the blessings that come with it.
The answers to objections to the doctrine of justification by faith like should we sin all the more and does this mean the law was bad. That sort of thing. And then ending with the teaching of chapter 8 that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No condemnation because of the Son of God and because of the Spirit of God who brings us life and peace and sonship.

I think that Paul is summing up the first eight chapters of his letter of good news and is saying, “So what?”

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?”

What is the upshot?

What’s the bottom line?

What’s the implication of ALL of what we’ve learned so far?

And Paul sums it all up with these two little words, “For us.”

God is for us.

V.31 again.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us [and He is!], who can be against us?”

God is for us.

That’s an amazing thing to say.

Do you feel that?

Do you feel in your bones that God is for you?

Only Christians can say that.

The “us” in verse 31 is the same as the people in verse 28, those who love God and have been called according to His purposes.

The “us” in verse 31 is the same people as those who are traveling across the golden chain of verses 29 and 30.  Those who were foreknown (those whom God established  a relationship or love with before they even existed), those who were predestined to be made like Jesus in every important way, those who were called–summoned by the Spirit to believe the gospel, those who were justified by faith alone in the sacrifice of Christ alone, and those who are going to be glorified–re-made like Jesus with new hearts in new bodies forever. From God’s point of view, a done deal already. Remember, there are no dropouts!

That’s who the “us” is in verse 31.

You and me if we belong to Jesus.

God is for us.

Do you see why this is the upshot of the gospel presentation that Paul has presented?

When we learned the bad news that the wrath of God was coming, we learned that God was NOT FOR US.

He was against us, and rightly so. We were sinners who deserved the active opposition of God.

But the gospel has changed all of that!

God’s wrath has been satisfied by the propitiating sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for all who believe. All who believe! Jew or Gentile.

So that now God is for us.

And here’s the rhetorical question with a punch in it.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us [because of the gospel], who can be against us?”

What’s the answer to that?

No one and nothing.

Point #1 of two this morning.

Because God is for us:


I think that’s the point of the question, “Who can be against us?”

Because lots of things are against us.  The point is that nothing can be successfully against us.

Nothing can beat us even though it opposes us.

Because we have plenty of enemies. This is not teaching that Christians have no enemies.

It’s teaching that the enemies of Christians cannot beat the Christians.


I say ultimately because of course Christian can lose in the short run.

Christians can lose their health, their prosperity, their status, their jobs, their relationships, their families, even their lives.

But they can’t lose anything really important.

In the end, they can’t lose.  We can’t lose.

Because God is for us.

This is ultimate reality. It’s not talking about what we normally see and feel.

We feel lots of things against us.

The new atheists are against us. ISIS is against us.

Satan is against us. The world system is against Christians.

Our own flesh is against us. We are often our own worst enemies.

But none of those foes will ultimately beat us.

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.

And if God is for us, nothing will beat us.

Is that helpful to you?  It sure is to me.

Because I often feel beaten. I often feel like I’m on the losing team.

It’s not obvious that our team is winning the battle of the world.

That’s why I need this verse.

It’s why we need eschatology. Why we need the book of Revelation. We need to be reminded of the end of the story. God wins! And because God wins, we win.

Nothing will beat us.

And that’s happening now.

Last week, my wife said that I talked a little too much about how God will work everything to our good and left out that God is working it all to our good right now.

And she’s right.

And that means that we are winning right now because we’re on the winning side.

It may not feel like it, and there might be terrible set backs. But all of those setbacks are all set ups our for comeback.

Because if God is for us, who can be against us?

Who can beat God?

Nobody and nothing. And because of Jesus, God is FOR US.

That’s where Paul goes next. He points out how deep this promise is grounded. V.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?”

Notice that all things in verse 32 is the same all things as verse 28.

We’re talking about everything here. Every single thing.

Point #2 of two.

Because God gave His own son FOR US:


Nothing will beat us and everything will be given to us.

I love Romans 8:32.

It has become one of, if not the, most precious verses in the whole Bible for me.

I preached it once before from this pulpit. It was April 25, 1999.

How many remember that sermon?

You might remember it because it was a week after our first daughter died.

I hadn’t been your pastor yet for a full year, and we were only 25 years old. Heather was six months pregnant with a bouncy little girl. She was really active. She loved to tumble around in her mommy’s belly. And when Heather was cooking at the stove, she would react to the heat off the burner.

She was our delight and we couldn’t wait to meet her.

And then she stopped moving.

We had traveled to Ohio for the Allegheny District Conference but Heather couldn’t feel the baby moving any more. Something was wrong.

So, we went to the emergency room in the pouring rain. Praying the whole way and reminding ourselves of Romans 8:32.

I had just read a chapter about Romans 8:32 in this book Future Grace by Pastor John Piper and it had captured my attention and carried me along as we got our very bad news.

We went to the ER for testing and the doctor told us that our baby had died in the womb.

It turned out to be a cord accident. Her umbilical cord had wrapped too tightly and oxygen had not gotten to her so that she died. Nothing that could have been prevented or fixed.

I have never cried as hard as I did in that emergency room. I can still taste the salt flowing down through my tears into my mouth, as I held Heather and wailed.

We drove all the way home the next day so that Heather’s doctor here could deliver our little girl at Centre Community Hospital in State College.

And we got to hold her, and see her face, and say goodbye. But she was already gone.

So far, that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?

This isn’t a contest. Don’t try to compare with my story. Yours might be much more horrific or not. That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m saying, what is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?

Is it possible that that worst thing will be worked together for your good?

And that it might actually be given to you, ultimately, as a gift?

Not that it will be good itself but that God’s grace will be evident in it for you forever?

Let’s look at the precious logic of Romans 8:32.

“He who did not spare his own Son [whose that? God the Father did not spare his own Son], but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him [along with Jesus], graciously give us all things?”

Do you see the logic?

In Latin, philosophers call that logic “majori ad minus” which is just a big word that means arguing from the greater to the lesser.

If the greater thing is true, then how much more will the lesser thing come true.

If God did the greater, harder thing, then what would keep God from doing the lesser things that He promised.

Does that make sense?

What is the hardest thing for God to do in this verse?

The hardest thing, the greater thing for God to do was to keep from sparing His own son and give Him up for us all.

Do you see that?

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all...”

It’s incredible to think that God didn’t spare his own Son.

I would spare my son. I have three sons and I love them. I wouldn’t give any of them for you if I could help it.

Do you think that God loved His Son more or less than I love mine?

“This is my son with whom I am well pleased.”

But He didn’t protect Him.

He didn’t spare Him.

He didn’t hold Him back from pain and suffering and death.

He gave Him up...what? FOR US.

That’s what the Cross is all about. As we go into this season of contemplating the Cross. Some people call it “Lent” but that doesn’t mean much.

Passion Season. Cross season. As we focus this time of year on Jesus’ suffering and the Cross, we are reminded that God gave Jesus up for us.

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

God gave Him up for us all.

Jew and Gentile. For us all.

That’s the hard thing. That’s the big, greater thing.

Now, follow the logic.

“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?”

How would God fail to do the easy stuff if He did the hard stuff?

What’s the easy stuff?

Graciously giving us all things.

Turning everything to our good.

Fulfilling every single promise He’s ever made.

Giving us everything.

Everything with a bow on top.

With Jesus.

“[H]ow will he not also, along with him [along with giving us Jesus], graciously give us all things?”

He will.

He will.

We won’t fail to give us everything.

Now, do I understand how that works?

Do I understand how that works with the loss of our daughter?

Not really. I can see a lot of the ways that God has used that tragedy in our life.

I grew up a lot really fast. I became more mature.
I am able to help others in ways that I couldn’t have before our daughter.
I appreciate the daughter and the sons that I have been given in the ensuing years much more than I ever would have if I hadn’t had to say goodbye to our first.

But those things don’t add up enough for me to have chosen it.

I still would go back and change it.

But believe that even that worst thing that ever happened to me (so far, there could worse some day around the corner but even that) will be stripped of its evil and given to me as a gift for all eternity.

That God, in His sovereignty and goodness, will work it all together for my good and His glory and “graciously give” it to me.

The Greek word translated “graciously give” is charisetai.

So that’s what we named our daughter.

We named her Charis, the word for grace.

Because we believe that God–mysteriously, unexplainably, beyond our comprehension, but truly–ultimately gives us everything as a gift of His grace.


All things.

And we know it because God did the hard thing of giving up His son.

If He could find it in Himself to do that, He’ll make sure that all of the pain and suffering and opposition and animosity that we experience in this short life will be worth it all and worked to our good and made to be grace.

“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?”

That’s not a bumper sticker.

That’s not a glib little saying.

“God is for me, who can be against me. Get out of my way!”

It’s a deep truth. Some of the deepest truth in the universe.

God is for us.

And because of that nothing will beat us and everything will be given to us.

Two points of application.

First, you’ve to believe in Jesus for God to be for you.

These deep truths are not for everyone.

They are only for those who have been justified by faith in Christ Jesus.

They are only for those who believe the good news.

The gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe.

And for all who believe, God is for us.

But if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, God is against you.

Turn from your sin and put your faith in Christ and Christ alone.

Don’t trust in yourself or your good works or your religion or your relationship with any church. Trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.

Trust in His sacrifice on the Cross. And you will be saved and God will be for you.

Don’t stand outside of this and look in.

Come in.

And second application, live inside of these truths.

Make these precious promises, your home.

Memorize them. Trust in them. Bank on them. Believe them.

This truth is strong enough to build your entire life upon.

In my message from 1999, I closed by saying this:
We will despair if we do not live inside of this verse.  Because in this life, we do have many enemies–cancer, racism, war, poverty, sin, and Satan. But take heart, Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.”  And He did that at the Cross.
And because of the foundation of God's willing sacrifice of his beloved Son, we can trust God to do the easy thing, giving us ALL THINGS with Jesus as gracious gifts.  Just like my daughter Charis Mitchell.
Do you believe this verse?  If not, that's why your life is so flimsy.
Ask God for the faith to believe this verse, and you can make it through the worst thing that ever happened to you.  You can make it through–even with joy–the worst thing that will ever happen to you. If you don't believe, you need to petition God for more faith. And he will graciously give it to you along with all things and Jesus.
I invite you to join with me in believing God for all things because of the unshakable foundation of the great sacrifice of His Son.
John Piper wrote in Future Grace, "The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life."  (Piper, 123)
That's what Heather and I are learning through all of this. That God is trustworthy to take the worst thing that has ever happened to us, strip it of its destructive power, and turn it to our benefit, our ultimate good with Jesus.
Live inside of this verse, and you will experience an unshakable life.”
That was true for us in 1999, and I believe it is still true in 2015, and will be until God brings everything together in the fulfillment of all of His good promises.

“ What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against 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?”


Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham
09. The Blessings of Justification
10. How Much More
11. New You
12. Slaves Of...?
13. A Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ
14. No Condemnation
15. If the Spirit Lives in You
16. The Spirit of Sonship
17. We Know