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Sunday, March 15, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "Who?"

“Who?”
All Roads Lead to Romans
March 15, 2015 :: Romans 8:33-39 

Romans eight has been so full of glorious gospel truth that it was important for us to slow down and savor each step.

Starting with verse 1. Say it again with me–“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No condemnation. Has that truth sunk into you yet?  We’re going to return to it today because Paul does in verse 34.

Then Paul went on in Romans 8 to talk about the role of the Spirit who is living inside of us who brings us life and peace and the ability to kill sin and to know that we are the children of God and have help in our prayers. The Spirit of Sonship.

And then it got even better! Paul began to tell us just how good the good news is. Because we are joined to Christ, everything–even the bad things–are being worked to our ultimate good and God’s ultimate glory.

We know this.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

And then last week, we saw Paul begin to sum up his argument by saying that because God is for us then nothing will ever beat us and everything will be given to us. He said:

“What, then, shall we say in response to [all of] 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?”

All things! Everything is ours because of Jesus.

And today, we finish off the chapter, and it doesn’t slow down in the slightest. It gets bigger and better and more glorious and more good.  And it soars. And it sings!

This is a very familiar passage and is so comforting to every believing heart.

In verses 33-39, Paul asks some more key questions to make his points.

And all three questions begin with the same little word which we’ll make the title of today’s message. The word, “Who?”

W-H-O.

He used it in verse 31 and now Paul asks three “who” questions rapid-fire. Verse 33, verse 34, and verse 35.

And the answer he gives and then elaborates on is the same for all three questions.

The answer is “No one.”

That could have been the title for today’s message, as well. “No one.” “Nobody.”

“Nobody” is the answer to all three of these key questions, and that’s such good news for you and me today.

I’d like to take the first two of Paul’s Who questions together because I think they work together to make the same point.

I’ll summarize it like this in point #1 of 2.

#1. WHO WILL SUCCEED IN CONDEMNING US?

And what’s the answer, “Nobody!” That’s right. Let’s see how Paul says it as we pick him up in verse 33.

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”

Do you hear it?

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?”

Well, lot’s of people, right?

Just like last week we saw that many people and things can be against us but not successfully against us.

Lots of people can bring a charge against us. Can lay a charge at our feet.

Satan certainly does, right? Satan loves to levy charges at believers.

Satan loves to bring accusations.

And they are often true.

Very often Satan says, “You are a wretched sinner. You did this, and you did this, and you did this, and you did that.”

And he’s right.

And when Satan isn’t doing the charging, I’m happy to do it for him. It easy to fall into self-recrimination.

And the world wants into the act, as well.

The entire world of social media loves to bring shame on those that it considers shameworthy.

Spend a little time on social media and you will see people laying a charge.

And often a deserved one.

But the answer is still “Nobody.”

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?”

Nobody.

That is, to those people whom God has chosen, to God’s children, to faith-followers of Jesus Christ, no charge will stick. No charge will carry the day in the highest court.

Why? Last sentence in verse 33. “It is God who justifies.”

Now, I’m often tempted to pass over these two verses quickly and get right to the inseparable love of God. Because that’s the good stuff.

And it is really good stuff.  But this is the step we need to take to get to that love.

Justification.

That’s been our big word throughout Romans, hasn’t it?

The Greek word here is “Dikaoan.” The one who justifies. It’s related to that word “righteousness” that we saw Paul using again and again in chapters 1 through 4. “Dikaiousunai.”

Paul is saying, “It is God who declares us righteous.”

That’s why no charge will stick! Even the true ones. Because the ultimate judge has ruled in our favor.

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”

The verdict is not guilty.

How can this be? Why are the charged dropped? Why is there no evidence to convict?

Why are we not condemned? V.34

“Who is he that condemns?”  What’s the answer to that?  “Nobody,” right?

The one who could bring condemnation has brought salvation instead. V.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.”

Who will succeed in condemning us? Nobody. No one. No how.

Why?  Because “Therefore there is not no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

You see how Paul is bringing the chapter together?

Our condemnation landed on Jesus at the Cross. “Christ Jesus, who died.”

He died for our condemnation.

That’s what we will be remembering on Good Friday.

But Paul says it was more than that. He was raised to life. That first Resurrection Sunday!

And because He’s alive, He can intercede for us. He stands between the wrath of God and us forever pleading the merits of His blood.

So we sing:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

God the Risen Son is interceding for us with God the Just Father.

So nobody, nowhere, no how can bring a charge that will succeed in condemning us.

Amen?

And it’s because of that forensic fact. Because of that verdict of “no condemnation” from the ultimate Judge, that we experience the unstoppable inseparable love of God in Christ Jesus. V.35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

What’s the answer to that one?

“Nobody!”

Come and try. You will fail.

#2. WHO WILL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST?

Paul gives seven possibilities. V.35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Now, that’s a sobering verse.

Because those are live options for Christians.
Those are all possibilities.
Those are all normal for Christ-followers in this broken world.

He’s not listing them because they are far out there or something that Christians never experience.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Well, it’s not like Christians ever have trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or extreme poverty or danger or death?

Do they?

I thought that Christians lived the #blessed life?  Right?

No, suffering is normal for Christians and has been for a very long time.

Anyone who tells you something different is selling you something.

That’s why Paul quotes the Old Testament here. Psalm 444, verse 22. Our verse 36.

“As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’”

Followers of God face death. They face persecution. Our chief leader was a sacrificial lamb, why wouldn’t we expect to be killed like a sheep, as well?

The point Paul is making is not that true believers escape all of that suffering but that all of that suffering does not and cannot separate them from the love of Christ.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall trouble [No!] or hardship [No!] or persecution [No!] or famine [No!] or nakedness [No!] or danger [No!] or sword? [No!]”

Those things may well come, but they won’t take us away from the love of Christ.

Verse 37.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Precious. “In all these things.” There’s that “all things” again! In all of this list, we are more than conquerors. Or super-conquerors. It’s the word for conqueror or victor with an intensifier on it. Mega-victors. More than conquerors.

That doesn’t meant that we will be rescued from the sword.

It means that the sword, even if they take off our heads, will not separate us from Jesus and His love.

I think this is important to get into our heads as Christians, especially in America.

We have lived so long with a positive status in this nation. A “Most favored religion” status. Because of the rich Christian heritage that our country has enjoyed.

So we are taken by surprise when we find out that the world hates us.

And there are plenty of preachers out there who will tell you that God wants you healthy, wealthy, and prosperous.

So if you are suffering. If then you must not have enough faith. Or you must have done something to bring it on. Or you must be out of the will of God.

But the Bible says that followers of Jesus should expect to experience suffering. Sometimes massive suffering.

And not whine about it.

But also to not worry about it.

Because it can’t take us away from the love of Christ.

What could?

What could take us away from the love of Christ?

Being condemned to Hell could do it.

But all those whom God has chosen will be those who are glorified, right?

We saw that back in verses 29 and 30. The Golden Chain?

Those who belong to God through faith in Christ Jesus have been justified.

So now, there is no force on earth that can take away God’s love for us. V.38

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”

Amen?

Let’s pick that apart. Verse 38.

“For I am convinced.”

This is settled for Paul. Is it settled for you?

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life” can do this separation.

If you kill me, I go to be with Christ.
If I live, I live with Christ.

Do you see how this works?

I am convinced that “neither angels nor demons” can do this separation.

Angels wouldn’t want to and demons are powerless to effect it.

If you belong to Christ then a demon can’t take you away from Christ.

Think about that.

The most powerful demon earth cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

I am convinced that “neither the present nor the future” can do this separating.

There is nothing happening right now or nothing that could happen in the future to separate me from God’s love.

Do you believe that? Do you feel that?

This is supposed to get right down into the core of our beings and become our operating system.

Neither the present nor the future, “nor any powers.” I’m not sure what he means exactly or why there is no word paired with it like all of the others. Maybe he’s just putting an exclamation mark in there. There is no power! No power can separate us from God’s love.

“Neither height nor depth.” No dimension, no spatial quality. Go as far in any direction as you might. Get kidnapped and taken to the far end of the universe, and you will not separate me from God’s love.

And just in case Paul missed anything. V.39

“...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Go ahead and fill in the blank with your worry.

What have you worried at times would separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord?

Depression?
Some sin in your background?
Something you worry that you didn’t do right?
Some powerful person?
Cancer?
Fill in the blank there with verse 39.

“nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Who?

Nobody.

Absolutely nobody.

The only person who could is God Himself and God is the one who has chosen you and sent His Son to died for you, and raised His Son from the dead for you, and loves the intercession of His Risen Son for you, and who justified you and has promised to see you through.

Nobody else can stop God from loving you!

Do you remember the first message in this series?

You might not, it was 19 sermons ago back in September.

But one of the applications of that first message was to remind yourself that you are the beloved of God.

I am loved by God.

I told you to write that on bathroom mirror.

“I am loved by God.”

And nothing can stop my being loved by God.

Three points of application as we close.

#1. Be Convinced.

Paul was convinced (v.38), but we need to be convinced, as well.

For some of us, that includes getting saved in the first place.

Putting our faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.

That’s where it all starts.

You can’t be sure that you are inseparably connected to the love of God if you are not (v.39) “in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That’s where the love is.

Some people think that God loves everybody all the same and that everybody is okay because God loves the world.

But God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son so that whoever believes in HIM will not perish but have everlasting life.

It starts with faith in Christ.

But if you have faith in Christ, then get this settled in your mind and heart.

“Nothing can separate me from God’s love.”
“Nothing can separate me from God’s love.”
“Nothing can separate me from God’s love.”

No matter how bad life gets.

“Nothing can separate me from God’s love.”

Be convinced. Let this soak into your heart so that it becomes your operating system.

Be convinced.

#2. Be Comforted.

Isn’t this amazing truth?

Nobody can succeed in condemning us.
Nobody can succeed in separating us.

That should be massively comforting.

You’re going to suffer. If you haven’t yet, get ready, because it’s coming.

But it’s nothing compared to having the love of Jesus.

If you have that, you have everything.

Be comforted.

And #3. Be Conquerors.

And by that, I mean rise above the bad things that are coming your way.

Believing that they cannot ultimately harm you, that they are in fact being worked to your ultimate good, and will one day be given to you as a gift of God’s grace, means that nothing can shake you, nothing should be able to stop you from doing what God has called you to do.

Nothing can keep you from taking risks for God’s kingdom and loving others with abandon.

Because nothing can stop you now. You are invincibly connected to the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You can even taunt the world, the flesh, and the devil, because they cannot beat you.

You can taunt trouble, hardship, persecution, nakedness, danger, and sword!

Because “all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Let’s live like it.


***

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
18. For Us

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