Summary: Conquering Christians lock into the love of Christ.
Here’s a question: Do you see the Bible as a collection of stories or as one story? If we see the Bible as simply disconnected stories, our tendency will be to make the Bible all about us and how we’re supposed to behave. If we see the central narrative of Scripture as the story about God’s glory, we will find our place in light of who He is. In that sense, the Bible is not about us, it’s about God’s unfolding story of what He is doing in the world through Christ.
I like what Nancy Guthrie said in a recent podcast: “We’ve taken little bits of Scripture and made them about us and what we are supposed to do. What Biblical Theology has done for me, is it’s helped me see its about who Christ is and what He’s done, and that changes everything.”
I sometimes hear pastors say we should avoid delving too deeply into theology because it might drive people away. Actually, it’s only by growing more deeply in our understanding of God that we will grow in our awe and worship of Him. Unless we dive deep into doctrine, we won’t be able to anchor our souls in times of great turbulence like we’re going through now.
There are a lot of questions related to the Coronavirus right now. Here’s some I’ve heard…
• How much longer is this going to last?
• Am I going to get sick?
• Who should I believe about the pandemic?
• Are we running out of meat?
• When will we be able to gather for worship again?
Or, maybe you’ve asked this question: “When are you going to stop preaching sermons with coronavirus in the title? I’m tired of hearing about it.” Well, I have good news for you. Beginning next weekend, we’re kicking off a new series called, “Family Matters.” Because next Sunday is Mother’s Day, we’ll focus on “Mothers Who Mentor.”
One of the most effective ways to teach is by asking questions. It’s difficult to determine the precise number of questions used in the Bible because ancient Hebrew and Greek did not use punctuation marks, but Bible scholars estimate there are over 3,300 questions. Jesus asked over 300 questions in the Gospels. Likewise, the apostle Paul made use of multiple questions, especially in the Book of Romans. His favorite kind were rhetorical questions because they’re intended to persuade and to make powerful points.
As we come to the end of Romans 8, we’re faced with a crescendo of questions with answers that are anchored to deep doctrine. See if you can spot the questions as I read verses 31-39: “What then shall we say to these things? 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 with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What Shall We Say?
The first question helps to frame the entire passage. As a preacher Paul has been teaching life-transforming theology in the first eight chapters of Romans. In these closing verses of chapter 8 he moves from information to application for the believer: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?” Here’s some of those “things” he’s referring to:
• You have been justified by faith and have peace with God through Jesus Christ (5:1)
• God’s love has been shed abroad in your heart (5:5)
• There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (8:1)
• You are an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ (8:17)
• God will work all things out for His glory and your good (8:28)
• He is conforming you to the image of His Son (8:29)
• Your glorification is so certain God speaks of it as having already been accomplished (8:30)
Two thoughts come to mind in response to this question: “What shall we say?” First of all, “Nothing.” Paul is stunned and speechless. Have you ever received a totally undeserved gift you couldn’t even find words to express how grateful you were? In light of all God has done, what really can we say?