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Romans 3:21
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The Old Man Is Dead
The Flesh
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Free from the Penalty
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Romans 8:1-17
Romans 8:18-27
More Than Conquerors
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Romans 8:28-39

 

More Than Conquerors

 

Romans 8:28-39, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called:  and whom he called, them he also justified:  and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  What shall we then say to those things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [King James Version]

 

Romans 8:28-39, “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.  For those God foreknew he also predestinated to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

          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?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  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 shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ [Psalm 44:22]

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

 

We’ve been brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light---what that means

 

“Romans chapter 8, we moved through a lot of groaning last week.  Chapter 8 has brought us to the point where we are no longer subject to the law of sin and of death, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.  And Paul tells us about a higher law that is now a reality within our lives, [for those of us] that have come to Christ and asked forgiveness.  And he goes as far to say that we are given the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry ‘Abba, Father’, the  words of emotion, Abba, the words of position, Father, recognition---and that we’re joint-heirs with Christ.  And then he goes on to  tell us that creation is groaning and travailing, that the believer is groaning, that even the Spirit of God groans within us.  Because when we’re sealed with the Spirit, it says that, we’re given the down-payment, the first-fruits, the engagement ring, the earnest.  Something changes in us forever, and we’re ruined for this world.  We can no longer be happy in this world once the Spirit of Christ comes and indwells us.  We are ruined for this world.  Haven’t you noticed that you can’t go do the same things you used to do, if you’ve tried to do that?  Hope you haven’t.  But if you have, you realize ‘I can’t do that anymore, that is a bummer, I can’t do that.’  I remember struggling when I first got saved, back and forth, and the things that I used to do that would put me in a stupor, that would inoculate me to my surroundings just became heavy on my heart and I thought ‘Lord, this is wrong!---and I hope you don’t come till this gets straightened out’---and you’re just ruined for this world, you’re not happy with this world anymore, because he gives light to us.  The idea is, spiritual light.  In Ephesians it says “Anything that doth make manifest is light”, we see things about ourselves we never saw before that need to change.  And that’s the Holy Spirit working.  We’ve been brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, so part of that light, part of what we see now---he’s taken our hearts of stone, he’s given us hearts of flesh.  We watch the news, we find that tears will come to our  eyes, we see injustice, we see suffering, we see things that are so wrong, and our hearts are broken, because he’s brought us into the light.  We look at the world and everything that’s going on and there’s a groaning, there’s something that’s deep within us that was never there before---and it’s because we’re longing for that other place.  We’ve been given the down-payment, we are longing for things to be straightened out, we’re longing for the day when they’ll be put in order, when Christ comes and he takes up his throne.  Not only that, the very Spirit of Christ is groaning within us, because he’s got to deal with us every day.  Imagine being the Holy---that’s the dead give-away there---Holy Spirit, and having to live in us, every day, and put up with our struggles and our selfishness, and our angry thoughts.  And he has to deal with all of the stuff that goes on inside of there,  even if we don’t let it to the surface.  He’s mingled with it there, he lives with it.  And he is groaning, though, with things that are too deep to be uttered in human language, things that we are not able to vocalize, because we feel them.  We feel, ‘I know Lord this is wrong, I don’t have the power to change it of myself, Lord, I know I need to be more like Jesus, Lord, I don’t want to die a cranky old man, I want to be like Jesus, and I don’t have the power to change myself, and I always fall into this thing, and change seems to be coming so slow Lord, I need your power.’  All of that is going on in an inaudible language that we can’t put into human words, even deeper than that, and it says that “God knows the mind of the Spirit” as he prays within us and through us on our behalf, and that it’s according to the will of God.  Now not only that, it’s going to tell us later in the chapter, Jesus Christ is always making intercession for us.  So we have the Spirit of God within us groaning, offering prayers to God on our behalf that we can’t say in human language, and they are prayers that are proper, and according to the will of God.  And then at the right hand of God, Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach] where he ever lives and makes intercession for the saints---this is a great prayer program.  You’re keeping at least two parts of the Trinity busy all the time, and they’re talking to the third part of the Trinity about those problems.  And you know, in one sense, it’s a great consolation to me, because just kind of for me having a refresher course, coming back to Romans 8, I’m being reminded---“Wow, Lord, even when I don’t have time, even when I’m on the run, Lord if I keep that sense, if I look to you, you hear my prayer Lord, you hear my prayer when I’m driving to church, you hear my prayer when I’m wrestling with a difficulty, you hear my heart when I’m visiting someone that’s sick and I don’t know what to say, Lord.  You hear my heart when I’m standing in the middle of a funeral service, and there are no words to say.’  And what a great comfort comes as we remember that, that there’s a remarkable work of God going on in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, praying, with a language that we can feel and groan, but we can’t say.  Creation groaning, the believer groaning, and even the Spirit of God in our hearts groaning, offering those things to God in a perfect way, and according to his will.  Great plan, I like that.  So that’s where we left off, verses 26 and 27, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.  But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  Now that’s a great consolation.  If I get down to pray sometimes, I run out of stuff fast, I am a novice when it comes to prayer, I don’t know how to pray.  You’re plagued with the same thing, don’t look at me so strange.  [chuckles]  I determine to do it, and you know, if you’re like me, you get up, you set yourself aside, you try to pray, you start seeking God, and the next thing, you’re thinking ‘Inspection’s due’, and then think ‘Wait!, how did I get from heaven to?...you know the human mind is funky, you know, it just, from generation to generation of degeneration, we’ve kind of got the last end of the gene pool here from Eden, in our generation.  And you know that if you turn the 11 O’clock news on, boy, you’re wide awake, if you read your Bible at 11 O’clock, you go ‘Oooh’, you know, there’s a spiritual exercise.  And yet in all of that, God is working within us in a remarkable way.  “He that searches the hearts”, the Lord, “knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because (in that) he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  Now that’s a consolation, particularly, as we move into this next verse.

 

Romans 8:28, the verse we love to quote to others and hate to apply to ourselves

 

Verse 28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”  That’s great plaque material.  Isn’t it?  That’s great plaque stuff.  This is the verse that we love to quote to other people and hate to apply to our own life.  Somebody comes, their life is falling apart, they’re going through all this trouble and we say ‘All work together for the good’ and they feel like slugging us, you know.  But what about when everything’s falling apart and we’re struggling, we’re in our difficulty, and we look up at the plaque on the wall and we rip it down!  ‘All things work together for the good’, we hear our own voice say.  “And we know”---that is, intuitively, it comes from the root oeda, we know, this knowledge is imparted, it’s not learned by experience, we know.  Very important.  Not, ‘And we see’ all things work together for the good, because we don’t.  So many times, we don’t understand.  ‘Lord, why are you allowing this to happen?’  ‘What is going to come out of this?’  ‘Maybe in a busy world of 6 billion people you’ve overlooked me today, so I’m just reminding you, I’m here, and if I was you’---like he has a suggestion box open---‘I would never do this to my kid.’  We don’t always understand.  It doesn’t say ‘And we feel…’  Some of you are like that, people come in for counseling, ‘Well I feel this, and I feel that, and I feel that this happened, and I felt this way’, and I think, ‘I don’t do any of that, don’t talk to me about that, I don’t do that.  Some people, particularly if you have gifts of word of knowledge or word of wisdom, you have those sensitivity gifts, you know, those are great things when they are in the Spirit, but on the other side of the coin, those are the things that haunt you too.  ‘Well I feel that and I feel this.’  Well so what.  I teach the Bible, I don’t care what you feel.  You have to put it through this grid [he must be holding up a Bible].  We’re not saved because we feel saved, we’re saved because  we’re saved.  I get up in the morning, and if I have a headache and the kids are screaming and the house is crazy, I don’t feel like a Christian.  [I love to see he has days like that too.]  [laughter]  I feel like a grouch.  If I get up in the morning and the house is quiet and the coffee is already perc’in and the birds are singing and the sky is blue and I go outside and sit there with my coffee and my Bible, I feel like a Christian.  [laughter]  That has nothing to do with whether I’m a Christian or not.  But some people, that’s where they want to go, all the time.  ‘And we feel that all things work together for the good.’  Well we don’t feel that, that’s a problem.  “And we know”---intuitively, not most things---“all things…”  This is not a verse for unbelievers.  This has nothing to do with people talking about the universal Fatherhood of God, it has nothing to do with that.  “All things work together for good for those who love God…who are the called ones according to his purpose.”  He’s talking about the believer, God’s children.  And I’ll tell you the tough thing about it, in some sense, it’s a bitter pill.  Because the very problem with the verse, for me is, I do know that all things work together for the good.  But he doesn’t give me the two year plan and the five year plan and the ten year plan when that happens to me.  That’s what bothers me about it.  Life is falling apart, you’re rushing to the emergency ward, something’s going on, and somehow in the middle of that, you know this verse.  ‘OK Lord, somehow, I know, that’s what it says.  All things are working together for the good.  I don’t know how, I don’t feel like they are.  I don’t see it.  My problem is, I’m getting confirmation in my heart by your Spirit, I know that they are.  But Lord, I wish that when you would do these things you would fill me in.  Now, as we move on, we’re going to hear some remarkable things.  And of course from God’s perspective, because creation is groaning, because the believer is groaning, he’s placed his very Spirit in our hearts to intercede on a level that we can’t pray, because of these things, because he understands the difficulty we have in the midst of painful situations, even though those situations are working together for the good.  He’s going to talk about peril and the sword and suffering and all of those things, he’s going to bring that into play because somehow all of this works together.  Only God understands that recipe.  You know, when you get up for breakfast, you want to maybe sit down and eat some pancakes.  But you only want to eat them when they’re mixed together in the recipe.  You don’t want to eat the ingredients, eat a couple raw eggs, eat some white flour, eat some sugar, eat some vanilla, you don’t want to sit down and eat those things not mixed together---it’s when they work together that they work together for the good, according to your purpose.  Well God is the one who stands back, we’re going to hear things like “foreknow”, “predestinate”, “called”.  Not that we understand all of those things as much as we make believe we do.  Those are divine understanding things, not human understanding things.  But the idea is, from where God stands, he’s going to talk about us as called, justified, glorified, in tenses that say ‘it’s already complete.’  Where he is, it’s done.   It’s an established fact.  He’s the God that calls things that are not as though they were.  He sees the end from the beginning.  And here we are in time, God dwells in eternity [or as Albert Einstein and David Hawking would say, ‘God dwells outside the physical realm of space and time.]  And eternity is even hard for us to imagine.  Again, it’s not a time line, infinity in one direction and infinity in the other direction, it’s just outside of that altogether.  And yet here’s this little, you know, if you would look at eternity on a timeline, I mean, it goes on for thousands, and millions and zillions of miles, what would human history be in comparison to that?  Not even an inch.  Not even a millimeter.  And yet out of that little space there’s all of this noise and racket, explosions and war and all of this pain and everything, coming out of that little spot.  But from where God stands, it’s over like a snap of the fingers, like that.  Life goes by like a vapor, he says, and it’s gone.  And from where he stands, the ingredients of things that he brings to bear on our lives, because we are the called ones, we’re the ones who love God, when all of this translates into eternity, and we stand there realizing the cry of our hearts, Abba, Father, when we see him face to face---none of those things that we endured here will seem significant.  “Our light affliction which is but for a moment…I  recon that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed…”  And Paul, he’s taking us into that territory.  Now when he talks about all these things, he’s been through them---shipwrecked, beaten, left for dead, he’s been through it.  He’s got nothing to lose at this point.  I haven’t moved into this stuff yet.  I want to learn all of this stuff by a correspondence course, I don’t want to live there.  ‘Lord, I know these lessons, I read about Paul’s life, can’t we just put them in my inventory and just move on to something nice?’  Well, the truth is, “all things do work together for good, for those that are called according to his purpose.”  That can be a bitter pill to swallow.  ‘Lord, here I am at the hospital, Lord, here I am watching my mom or my dad die, they’re a believer, Lord, and why do they have to spend these months in chemotherapy and pain, and why do I have to watch it?  And why do I have to endure this Lord?  And why is my memory filled with painful scenes that rear their heads when I least expect them to, when I was a child?’…I don’t know, I don’t know by experience, I only know intuitively that somehow God’s signature is on all of those things, and that one day, on the other side of all of this, in hindsight, we’ll see his embroidery, we’ll see his weaving, we’ll see his wisdom.  Paul is telling us, ‘Now, search your hearts, God’s Spirit is moving there, groaning, offering you to God, according to his will, “and we know”---intuitively, there deep within us---“that all things”---are taking us to that ultimate consummation---“all things are working together for the good, for those that are called according to his purpose.”

 

Just what does God’s predestination mean in our lives?

 

Well, what is his purpose?  And he goes right on to talk about that.  Here it is.  Verses 29-30, “For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”  So, I don’t know if that helps us a lot.  Here we come to some of the major jousting territory in the Church [i.e. the body of Christ], some of these ideas.  I know this, I enjoy these things, I enjoy feeling like God’s elect, I enjoy feeling predestined, I enjoy or rest in the fact that God has always known me, I rejoice in the fact that I feel secure.  I know this, that these things are not given to us to cause division.  I know this, there are whole groups of people who sit in their ivory towers and consider themselves way more theologically correct than anyone else, and in the meantime they’re not winning anybody to Christ, they’re not getting anything accomplished, they’re just so right, they’re dead right [i.e. spiritually dead].  And I know somehow in all of this, God desires to give something to us as his children that’s a comfort for us.  “Now whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed into the image of his Son…”  All these things are working together according to his purpose, and this is it---“whom he did foreknow”, foreknowledge.  Now, some people say that we’re predestined because he foreknew us, and when you foreknow…You know, our knowledge is built on the present or past experience.  But because of where God is, his knowledge is past, present and future.  That’s why he can say to us ‘We’re justified’, that’s past, ‘sanctified’, that’s present, ‘glorified’, that’s future.  Because he’s the one who was, and who is, and is to come.  So he sees us from all those places.  And because of that, he has foreknowledge, knew the end from the beginning.  So, because some say, God doesn’t pick losers---bums me out, because I got picked, I was one---but the idea is, ‘whom he did foreknow’, because to foreknow means to ‘to know as a fact’---it wasn’t ‘that God was hoping’ or ‘God was projecting’, no ‘As a fact, he knew us from the foundation of the world, because he knew as fact, therefore then he predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son.’  Well, that’s ok, except is says ‘Those whom he predestinated he called.’  Now if he only foreknew that we would chose Christ, that of course puts all of the responsibility on us, and it messes with his sovereignty, and then it says, ‘the ones he predestinated, he called’, that doesn’t have anything to do with us, that’s something he did [cf. John 6:44,65], which takes it back into his court again, which means he does everything and we don’t have anything to do with it.  You know, it’s funny, a couple of years ago when people started getting saved here, I never asked, people just started walking forward at the end of a service.  New experience.  Three or four times it happened, I looked at people and said ‘Are you here to be saved?’  ‘Uhuh.’  ‘OK.’  ‘Look’s like this is what the Lord’s doing today, if you want to get saved, you might as well walk down with these fellas.’  And so you pray about that a few weeks, well, I figure ‘the devil’s not doing this, I probably should cooperate with this.’  [This is the principle of leaving room for God to do something in a church service that Pastor Cymbala talks about (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/congregation.htm).]  But then, right away, I have one school of people coming up saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, you don’t ask people to come forward, you don’t no, no they’re predestined, you don’t ask them to get saved, it doesn’t say that in the Bible anywhere…’  So right away, now I have to, you know, walk this tightrope cable that if you didn’t come forward and your heart came forward, you have to make those people happy too---in the mean time I’m trying to figure out my way through all of this.  And I just come to see what the Lord’s going to do.  And I have an idea that where he is, both those things are true.  I heard someone, Warren Weirsby spoke at a Calvary Chapel Pastor’s conference and somebody asked him, and they said “Are you a Calvanist or an Armenianist?” He said “Neither, I’m no man’s disciple, and I don’t want any man to be my disciple.”  “If you’re too much of a Calvanist, you rob man of his responsibility.  If you’re too much of an Armenianist you rob God of his sovereignty and glory.”  He said, “I’m not interested in robbing anybody.”  He said, “Besides that, you guys are pastors, you’re called to feed sheep and not giraffes.”  I like that.  Doesn’t explain it all, but I understand.  He said “Charles Spurgeon was the greatest Calvanist that ever lived, and challenged people to be saved every week.”  Again, and those of you who have been here awhile heard me use this before, Hue Ross, Christian Scientist, brilliant guy, I think he’s in the Theistic evolution technichist bunk, but, he had a photograph of a triangle, two dimensions, height and width, and he was talking about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  He said, ‘No matter how many  times I turn this photograph around it has three angles, three sides, can never be a circle, it’s a triangle.’  But then he showed a photograph of the same object from above, and it was a cone standing on the fat end, like a Dixie cup standing on the fat end.  And he said, “Now, by adding one dimension both things can be true.  Now it can be a circle and a triangle.  What can’t be true in two dimensions can be true in three dimensions.”  And he said, “As a scientist when I read the Bible, and I read of man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty, it tells me that where this was written from enjoys more dimensions than we do.”  Because he said, “Obviously where God wrote this from, both things are true.  And they can’t both be true where we are.  And when you take a position, you take a position against some verse somewhere.”  What does all that mean?  I don’t know, we were in Romans 8 and we were just moving through, I don’t know, I’m trying to figure out my way through all this. 

 

God's foreknowledge is different from our foreknowledge

 

The interesting thing it says in verse 29, “Whom he did foreknow”---which progknosko, we get prognosis from it, to know ahead of time, progknosko, to know ahead of time.  But in Acts chapter 2, verse 23, it says “The Christ was offered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”  And for those of you that are students, there’s something there called the Grandville-Sharps Rule, which says “the predeterminate counsel and foreknowledge”, joined by a participle, means they are the same thing, that “the predeterminate counsel” and “foreknowledge” are both part of the same thing.  You could translate this word “foreknow” as “fore-ordained” and that’s exactly what Peter does in his epistle, he has the same word here, and he says “But we are not bought with silver, gold” so forth, “but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without spot or blemish, who verily was fore-ordained”---instead of “predestined”---“who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, is manifest in these last times.”  The point being, that God’s foreknowledge is different from our foreknowledge.  When God foreknows something, it isn’t just that he knows something, because of who he is it’s always attached to his predetermined counsel.  There’s always an involvement with it.  You know, God knows everything.  So, because God knows everything, he can’t learn.  You ever think of that?  I heard this guy one time saying ‘If you had a car that could travel at the speed of light, would you need headlights?’  God knows everything, that means he can’t learn, and if he knows everything it means he can’t forget---he can chose not to remember, the Bible says.  That’s a choice.  He can’t forget.  If he knows everything, it means he never says “Oops”, it’s impossible.  And then, when you realize that, foreknowledge is always attached to his counsel.  So there’s a beautiful part of this for us to rest in as believers---“that whom he did foreknow”---according to his predeterminate counsel---“he did predestinate”---prooarizo [Strongs 4309], which means to set out our boundaries ahead of time.  I don’t have any trouble with this, he can do this for me.  I like this, that he never makes mistakes and he picked me anyhow.  I’m still trying to get over that.  I realized that the second I got saved, and it’s still blowing my mind today.  I think of my graduating class from High School in 1968, I don’t know anybody else in my class that’s a believer.  And I think Why me?  I was much more of a rascal than most, and there were those that seemed more of a saint, and yet here I am going to heaven [or being given entrance into the kingdom of heaven], and I’m saved not by fate, it isn’t that God was dropping salvation out of heaven and I happened to walk under it, it hit me on the head and I got saved.  He foreknew me.  That was attached to his counsel.  I’m elect.  I like that.  Moody said, “Oh Lord, save the elect, and elect some more.”  You know, maybe you’re sitting here tonight thinking, ‘What the heck is he talking about?’  That’s what we’re thinking too, don’t worry about it.  But maybe you’re thinking, ‘That’s not fair!  You mean only the people that God picks get saved?’  Well, if you don’t think it’s fair, get saved before you leave.  Then you’ll know you were picked.  [applause]  If you’re all blown out about it, and you don’t get saved, you weren’t, and if you don’t think that’s fair, then turn around and get saved, and you were.  I don’t understand the problem.  “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate”---set out our boundaries, horizons, to this end---“to be conformed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  The head of an Order, that is, the idea is of the firstborn there.  It says in Philippians that our bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body. [and in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says,]  ‘This corruption shall put on incorruption, this mortal shall put on immortality.’   We’re going to be conformed, and God’s predestined us to that, into the image of his own Son.  [Want a picture of what that’s going to be like?  Look up and read Revelation 1:13-18.]  Just imagine that, what that’s going to be like.  No more wrestling with the hypocrisy in our hearts [or any sin for that matter], no more wrestling with our selfishness and our anger.  No more wrestling with lust.  No more wrestling with the things that we hate about ourselves, and never seem to have the power in and of ourselves to change.  It isn’t like we’re going to get to heaven and we’re saying, ‘Yeah, maybe he got me there, but I’ll blow it once I get there, I know it.’   No, no you won’t.  Or it wouldn’t be heaven.  That would be hell for me.  Take me to heaven and give me a chance to blow it, that would be hell, that wouldn’t be heaven [or the kingdom of heaven, which Revelation 21 shows will end up on earth after the new heavens and Earth are created by God].  I could never enjoy that.  It would be like that monkey, ‘See no evil, Hear no evil, Do no evil.’  No he’s predestined us to be conformed to the very image and likeness of his Son [not just how Jesus looks, right now, cf. Revelation 1:13-18, but his very character and nature!]. 

 

God sees you already as pure and holy as his Son Jesus Christ, as a finished work

 

“Moreover” verse 30, now I couldn’t handle that much, now here’s “Moreover” [On  top of that], “Moreover who he did predestinate, them he also called [cf. John 6:44], and whom he called”---we’re the elect, and this is in a tense that says, speaks of it as already being completed, it’s a reality---“them he also justified, and whom he justified, he also glorified.”  If you can imagine that, that you are called, not you’re gonna be---you is.  You are, tonight, justified.  When God looks down upon your life, he sees that value that Christ imparted to you, he sees you as pure and holy as his Son Jesus Christ.  That is what’s on you.  Not deserved, not earned, not worked for, salvation, through grace, through faith.  And, when he looks at us, he sees us glorified.  I’m already glorified.  [laughter]  You might think, ‘You don’t look like it.’  ‘Well, you don’t either.’  [laughter]  Jesus said this in John 17, “And the glory which Thou gavest me, I have given them”, past tense, “that they may be one, even as we are One.”  Jesus says, he’s already given us that glory.  So, it speaks of something that still has to manifest from within.  You know, Jesus in the transfiguration, he morphed, metamorphosis.  What he really was shone out through his physical frame.  [The Holy Spirit actually invisibly glows within us, invisible to humans, that is, not to God and angelic beings.]  And some day when we’re released, we’re going to shine like the stars of heaven.  [Some believe, and the Bible really doesn’t make it all that clear, but some believe 1 Corinthians 15 and Daniel 12:1-3 show that we actually receive spirit bodies, entirely, not just spirit-drive bodies which are made of physical matter.  Some believe spirit---the spirit that makes up the frame of angels, and God himself perhaps, the spirit horses we come riding back to earth on---Revelation 19---is actually more dense than physical matter, which physicists have proven is more like sponge cake.  We’ll have to wait and see.  We have  been allowed to discover and understand the physics of matter, but not of the spirit realm which God dwells in, the angels dwell in, outside of  the Space & Time Continuum.  But if this glorification being talked about refers to Jesus and the Father residing in us through the indwelling, and yes, glowing Holy Spirit, then this makes sense.]   The light that is within us is going to break forth like the stars of heaven.  What a remarkable thing.  What a remarkable day [that will be].  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%2018-20.htm

and scroll to the paragraph title “two views, a physics lesson” and read that paragraph.]

 

Since God is for us, who can be against us?---He’s on your side!

 

Now look at what Paul does.  Verse 31, “What shall we then say to these things?”  How about “Hallelujah!”  How about “Glory to God!”  How about “I love you Jesus!”  How about “Wow!”  “What shall we say to these things?”  And I don’t think it just means what he’s saying here alone, I think he means the whole thing he’s built since [Romans] chapter 1.  I mean, Paul just is freaking out here.  He just couldn’t take any more of his own writing at this point.  The Holy Spirit got him through predestination, foreordained, called, and he just passed out and woke up and said “What do we say to these things?”…“If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Now let me tell you something.  A lot of us want to ruin it, right there again.  ‘I don’t know, that’s true, if God is for us…I go to church and see a lot of Christians, I know he’s for them, but I’m in the if [category], if he’s for me, I hope he is.’  No, no, the class [grammatical] condition is, since God is for us.  The language [Greek] is way more complicated, there’s an “if”, and it ain’t, there’s an “if”, that’s an “if”, and there’s an “if”, and it is.  This is the “if” and it is, which means “since”.  Since God is for us, who can be against us?”  Isn’t that remarkable?  God, now you just think about this.  This is your homework.  Go away this week and think about this.  God is for you, in your marriage, in your child-raising, in your mistakes, in your struggles, in the stupid things you do when you’re like me in traffic.  God is for you, he’s on your side.  You know, and some of us never get past [the thought that] we feel God is stuck with us.  [Some of us feel] Not for us, ‘our Bibles say, God is stuck with me, I’m part of some package program, and ah, he’s happy about a lot of people that get in, and sure, God’s up in heaven saying ‘I gave my Son so that anybody could get saved, but I never thought that one would take me up on it, you know.’   And we walk around thinking God’s stuck with me, you know, I’m the part of the family he don’t want to talk about.  You know, he’s gonna let me in and say ‘Look, you’re not really good for my rep, you stay over there somewhere in the corner of the city, you know.  The very opposite is true, and because no one loves us that way [the way God does], no one has ever loved us that way.  No one will ever love us that way but him.  There are no strings attached.  There isn’t anything to be earned.  Someone else did that on the cross.  There isn’t anything that we can merit or improve upon the completed work of Christ.  And we struggle with that.  ‘Lord, I do, forgive me.  Oh how I want to embrace, Lord, this kind of love, wholeheartedly Lord, I’m enjoying more of it today than I ever have, but I know Lord it’s endless.  I know I’m so aware, so often still of the things that are wrong inside of me, that human beings would not be for me, that they would turn away from me in all my failings and my short-comings, their love is so conditional, Lord it’s so hard for me just to rest in and to take hold of with all of my heart the completed work that Lord, you’re for me.  And since you’re for me, who can be against me?  Who can be  against me?’  I’m God’s kid.  My Dad’s the King.  I’m an heir to the Kingdom.  And if they knew that, they’d treat me differently in traffic, I know that.  [laughter]  I just don’t realize who I am.  God’s for us, what shall we say to these things, these remarkable things he’s brought us through?  Since God is for us, who can be against us?  The question.  Since God is for us, who can be against us?  Now he asks a series of questions here now as he brings us to a close. 

 

The evidence that God is for us

 

Verse 32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,”---isn’t that a great word?---“how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  Well, what’s the major proof?  Since God is for us, who can be against us.  ‘God’s for us?  God’s for us?  Lord, if you’re for me, Lord, let me get this raise, and I’ll know you’re for me.  Lord, if you really want to prove your love, gold, gold, big nuggets of gold, Lord.   Diamonds, they’re a girl’s best friend Lord.  The lottery, you really love me?  You’ll remove this pressure from me?  If I win 20 million, I’ll split it with you.  [laughter]  10 percent, we’ll split it Lord.  Lord, if you love me, if you love me, you’ll give me this man to be my husband.’  And  then it’s ‘Lord, if you love me, and you gave me this man to be my husband?’  [laughter]  And you have to understand, how many times after church we have people come up and pray, and they say ‘Pray for me.’  ‘Are you saved?’  ‘No.’  ‘You want prayer?’  ‘Yes, my girlfriend broke up with me.’  No, no, this is not the dating game.  That’s not what Jesus, Yeshua’s about, not about patching up dating relationships.  He’s a savior, he died for your sins, you’re a rotten sinner, you’re going to hell and he shed his blood for you, that’s the good news.  That’s what this is about.  God is for us.  The very first evidence Paul holds out is---he gave  his own Son, and if he’s given his best, how shall he not also give us with him, all things freely?  Again, we have to understand what that means.  Because there are some serious things in life.  He’s going to talk about them.  Distress, famine, nakedness, peril, the sword, death, life, principalities, angels, heights, depths, things to come, things present, and in all of those things we find the things that make us doubt the fact that he does love us.  In all of that pain and all of that suffering, so often, we’re left wondering, ‘Lord, you’ve got me groaning Lord.  You’ve put the Spirit of adoption Lord in my heart crying out Abba, Father, you say that your Spirit’s in me, you say Lord that you foreknew me, you predestinated me to be conformed to the image of your Son.  If you’re for me, Lord, and nothing can be against me, then why all this suffering?’  Well it says ‘He’s for us, we know that because he gave his own Son, in his eternal counsels.’  He sent his Son into the world, born in a manger, human frame, watched his son in Gethsemane sweat great drops of blood, and cry ‘Father, if there’s any other way that people can be saved, but if not, if not Father, I’ll drink this cup.’  Watched his Son beaten beyond human recognition.  Now see, we’re starting to talk about love.  What would it cost me, I’ve got two sons and two daughters, if I had all the power in the universe, to restrain myself while I watched somebody beat one of my children beyond human recognition for an enemy?  We were with enmity with God, that’s where we were.  And not just that, and to spit in his face, to rip out his beard, to lay thirty nine stripes on his back, to strip him naked and nail him to a cross.  And then, the things that we can’t even imagine, for the Father to take all the sin of the world, Eric Harris, Dillon Cliebold, Adolf Hitler, every abortion, every child pornographer, every selfish and lustful thought we’ve ever had, all of our sin, the sin of the world the Father then took and placed upon his Son, spotless Son.  You know what it’s like to have a son that you’re proud of, a son that has great character?  And then have someone tell you, ‘Oh, he’s really a child pornographer.’  ‘He’s really a womanizer.’  ‘He’s really a drug addict.’  All of that was placed on him.  And then to hear his Son cry ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’  What would it cost me to listen to my son scream to me ‘Dad, why?  If you’ve all the power in the universe, why have your forsaken me?’  Jesus at that moment was stepping into someplace that he had never known throughout eternity.  He never asked why, because he always knew.  The Father doesn’t do anything without telling me.  “Father I know you know before I ask, but I ask out loud for those who are standing by.”  When he said that word “Why?” he had stepped into our place so that you and I never have say “Why hast thou forsaken me?”  And then the unimaginable, then God the Father firing all of his holy wrath down upon that sin upon his Son.  That’s unimaginable, three hours of darkness that all eternity was suffered there.  But when it was done, he said it was finished, today you will be with me in paradise, it was no more to tell us, I paid in full.  1st John it would say ‘In this is the love of God manifest, not that we loved him but that he first loved us and sent his Son to the world to be the propitiation for our sins,’ the one who would satisfy the holy wrath of God.  God, he says, is for us.  If he’s for us, who can be against us?  How do we know he’s for us?  “He that spared not his own Son.”  Oh, he’s not going to prove his love because he gives us a husband or a wife, or a lottery ticket or a car, or even because he heals a disease or…he’s already done the greatest thing and it will never be improved upon.  “He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” verse 32.  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”---you see “it is” is in italics, the idea is---“God that justifieth.”  That’s the last time “justifieth” is used in the book of Romans, God who justifieth?  Is he going to lay anything to our charge?  No he’s not going to lay anything to our charge, he’s the one who’s justifying, he wouldn’t justify us and charge us of being guilty at the same time.  And when we’re brought before the Court of Heaven, for you and I, our Dad is the Judge, Jesus, Yeshua is our Lawyer, the Holy Spirit is our Helper, this thing’s all tied up.  Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  God?  No, he’s the one who justifies.  Verse 34, “Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”    Is Christ condemning us?  No, he’s not, he’s the one who died and rose again, ascended to the Father, who’s making intercession for us right now.  He wouldn’t intercede and condemn us.  Who is he that condemns us?  Well, there’s enough.  Satan condemns us.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t condemn us, Satan condemns us.  Condemnation is of the devil.  Somebody writes me a letter, and I learned this from my pastor, it’s great.  [this letter said] “You’re doing this wrong, and you’re doing this  wrong, and you’re doing that wrong…” and I flip it over, there’s no signature.  Well, I figure it’s a coward, why should I read it.  They didn’t want to put their name and phone number, it goes in the shredder.  Just put it right in there, grind that baby up.  God doesn’t condemn us, the Holy Spirit convicts us, that’s something different.  Both of them [condemnation and conviction] feel lousy.  Conviction drives you to the Lord, condemnation drives you away from the Lord.  That’s how you tell the difference.  Satan, it says, condemns us night and day, before the throne of God.  And the interesting thing is, his accusations are well founded.  We are what he says we are.  Except, that we’re called, we’re justified, and glorified, the whole issue has already been settled.  But he has accusations to make.  People have accusations to make, you know that.  If you’re not living in sin, you’re not compromising, this is the way Satan always comes, through the tongue, and if that doesn’t happen, all you got to do is get up in the morning and look in the mirror, you’ll condemn yourself.  I don’t need much help, I’m always feeling bad about something without anybody helping me.  But it isn’t God and it isn’t Christ. 

 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?---No one, nothing!

 

Verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation”---which speaks of stress.  Is stress going to separate you from the love of Christ?  You may think it is, but the Scripture says it doesn’t.  ‘Well I feel like it is, Pastor Joe!’  I don’t care.  Heaven and Earth is going to pass away, his Word is going to stand forever.  And his Word says, stress is not going to separate you from the love of God.  Then he uses the next word---“or distress”---which means “narrowness”.  ‘I feel like I’m being squeezed!  I feel like I can’t move, I feel like I can’t escape.’---“or persecution”---Paul’s been through all of these things.  He’s talking from experience---“or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  Hey, the Church has been here for almost 2,000 years and survived all these things.  Isn’t it interesting, because these kinds of outward experiences are the things that so often make us doubt the love of God.  Well that’s why he said “God’s for us.”  The evidence of that?  “He spared not his own Son.”  Yes, we’re groaning now.  Yes, these things aren’t right now.  Yes, we’re longing for a release and to step into his kingdom, waiting for that day.  And that is the will and purpose of God, he’s foreknown us and predestinated us to become conformed into the image of his Son.  That’s the program.  But now we have to realize, none of these things [the bad things just quoted] will separate us from the love of God.  “As it is written” verse 36, “for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”  We look at that and think, ‘What?!  Why did you write that in there, I’m having hard enough time following you along.  What in the world does that have to do with anything?’  Well, he’s quoting Psalm 44, where Israel, as a nation, feels cast off from God, that God has cast them off and he’s finished with them.  Well, we’re going to come to chapter 11, and Paul’s going to say “Hath God cast off Israel?  God forbid.”  He’s saying, “As it is written”.  That’s exactly how Israel felt, ‘God’s cast us off, he’s done with us.’  No, he’s going to go and make three chapters to make a point, ‘No, that’s not true at all.’  God isn’t done with them, God has a plan.  When you’re his covenant people he’s never done with you.  For you and I though, we go through these experiences and nothing separates us from his love.  He says in verse 37, no, none of these things will separate us.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  Verse 38-39, “For I am persuaded”---and that’s passive.  That means, we can be persuaded too, and should be---“that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature”---literally, “created thing”---“shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  That sounds like a pretty airtight case to me.  Paul says “You think something can separate you?”  Let’s go through the universe and have a look around.  Can death separate us from the love of God?  No, death is the very thing that ushers us into the presence of God, where he puts his arms around us and wipes the tears away from our eyes.  Can life, the present, separate us from the love of God?  No, he’s with us always, even to the end of the age, he never leaves or forsakes us.  Can angels?  No they’re sent forth ministering spirits to minister to the heirs of salvation.  They’re taking us on our journey to get us there.  I mean, you go through the list, there’s nothing here that can---things present?  No he said I AM that I AM, he’s the ever-present one, how can anything present separate us from the Present One.  Shall things to come separate us from?...No, no, because everything is headed towards him, he is the Coming One.  All human history is moving forward, the fact that I’m fifty now and was forty-nine last year, and forty-eight the year before, you know, just the fact that life is going on, we’re moving forward in history, and it’s headed towards a consummation.  Things to come can’t separate us because he is the thing to come.  And he died for us, and paid for us, he is our future.  There isn’t anything to come that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  “Nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing”---that’s you, buy the way.  Because somebody’s going to say ‘Well, I’m not on the list, all of this other stuff might not be able to separate me, but I know I can.’  I don’t know, ain’t you a created thing?  You’re on the list here.  “nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [“Romans 8:28-39, an expository transcript of sermon given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116.] 

 

Related link:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%2018-20.htm

 

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