Summary: Part 5 of 5 in a series on our identity in Christ based on the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8.
INTRODUCTION: “JESUS LOVES YOU…DON’T YOU FORGET IT!” These were the words written in big bold letters at the top of the chalk board as I entered Romans class one day. I wrote those words at the top of the page above our text for today in Romans 8 in my Bible, and every subsequent Bible I’ve owned. The words are simple, the meaning profound beyond full human comprehension, and encompassed in it is one of the great identifying marks of a follower of Jesus… to be loved!
BACKGROUND: Henry Halley, noted author of Halley’s Bible Handbook once wrote about love. “Love is the premier teaching of Christianity, and an underlying expression of Jesus’ doctrine. It is more potent for the building of the Church than any or all of the manifestations of God’s power. Love is the Church’s effective weapon, without which all the various gifts of the spirit are of no avail. Love is the essence of God’s nature, as well as the perfection of human character. Love is the most powerful, ultimate power in the universe”
GOD IS FOR US!
• “God is for us,” is the conclusion Paul would have us draw after we have considered what he has previously written about us being freed, empowered, adopted, transformed, and now ultimately loved (Romans 8:31)
• The “if” here is not the “if” of uncertainty, but the “if” of presupposition. We could read it “since God is for us”
• What he planned back in eternity and carries out in time had men’s ultimate good in mind; whether it was (1) pronouncing and removing a curse, (2)sending His Son to break the power of slavery to sin (3) giving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help us live
• Without question God is one the side of the believer, He is their friend, He is there for them in all life’s circumstances, God is “pro-us”
• In the light of this inference that “God is for us” and in light of the verses which plainly state that God does not wish for any to perish, we must affirm that contrary to one popular theological perspective (Calvinism), God never purposed damnation on any man
• To do so would be against His very nature – it would not only make God a “vindictive jerk” it would make require Him to be the author of Sin itself!
• Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) it was His only mission – it has become our commission!
• He wants all to be saved, however that doesn’t mean that all will ultimately be saved, (Universalism) which is another popular theological perspective (Carlton Pearson & Rob Bell)
• Though the idea is an appealing one… who wouldn’t want everyone to be saved? It’s just “bad theology” pain and simple
• This position removes the need for Jesus’ work on our behalf – no hell = no need for salvation!
• Some men will indeed be lost, but it will be in spite of all God has done to keep them from misusing their freedom of Choice
• In the Christian Classic “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis observed, “on the whole God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than is our love for Him” He is “for us” we must ask ourselves are we “for Him?”
WHO IS AGAINST US?
• Some have taken this statement to mean that since God is “for us,” none can stand “against us”
• This statement doesn’t mean that we won’t face adversaries in our walk with Christ
• Verse 35 refers to the most violent kinds of opposition – famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword
• Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 and applies it to himself and Christians in general
• This text is quoted to show that such trials have ever been the lot of God’s servants, and never did they separate the saints of old from God or His love for them
• To be sure, they suffered at the hands of evil men, but those Old Testament heroes of the faith, even those who suffered martyrdom still continued to be the object of God’s love, of this the record is quite plain
• According to a Gordon Conwell study conducted in 2010 every year approximately 160,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith – in places like Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China… and the list goes on…
• Our season of peace and religious freedom in America is an anomaly and should drive us to greater and greater care for the suffering church (Hebrews 13:3)
• Paul chose to mention so many terrible things to make sure we knew he was not saying: “Well, there are some things so horrible that they really could separate us from the love of Christ.”