About two years after becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, I began to doubt if I was saved. At the end of the message on Sunday morning, July 4, 1976, the pastor invited people who wanted to become followers of Jesus to meet him at the front of the auditorium. Basically, I’m an introvert, but I was under such piercing conviction I went to the front of the auditorium in front of all the people. The pastor asked if I was a Christian. When I was a child at children’s camp, I had gone forward at the invitation and had a very moving experience. No one counseled me about what took place at the altar. This experience is what I thought of when he asked me if I was a Christian. I said yes. Therefore, I didn’t pray a sinner’s prayer.
I’m attending college and Carol and I are very involved in our church. I get involved in the evangelism program. Every week we visit homes and seek to share the gospel presentation in which we are memorizing. Eventually, I trained others in this gospel presentation. My team would sit in a person’s living room. I’d present the gospel, and invite them to pray to receive Jesus. If they did, I took the time to assure them of Jesus’ promise to them: they were forgiven of sin and reconciled to God. Many times, in my mind I’d be saying, “I wonder if I need to pray this prayer?”
Our church began to experience an usual movement of the Holy Spirit. Many leaders in our church, deacons, Sunday School teachers, and some of my friends, began to testify that they had never been saved. They were professing faith in Christ and being baptized. I was miserable. Carol and I talked about my lack of assurance. Carol said if she’s ever known anybody to be saved, it was me. Though I appreciated Carol’s confidence, I was not willing to risk my eternal destiny on her confidence. I had to know.
Each week before the trainers met with their trainees in evangelism, the trainers would meet for a time of instruction with the staff leader. He addressed the issue of people being saved and baptized because they were uncertain of their salvation. He told us a story from his days of pastoring.
In a small restaurant in Colorado during breakfast, he was explaining the gospel to another man. The little café was crowded, and he knew the man would be hesitant to bow his head and pray to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. The preacher told the man if he was willing to admit that he was a sinner and confess that he needed Jesus to be his Savior and Lord, to reach across the table and take his hand. This is exactly what the man did. The minister smiled and said as they shook hands, he bowed his head and lead the man to say a sinner’s prayer.
Then he asked the trainers, “When did the man get saved? Was it when he reached across the table declaring he wanted Jesus or when he said the prayer? It was the man’s commitment that resulted in salvation not the words of the prayer.” That did it for me!
When I answered the invitation of my pastor for salvation, I came to Jesus lock, stock, and barrel. Since that time, I have had peace and security in my salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — (9) not from works, so that no one can boast. One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to assure the Christian you are a child of God. He does this by helping us understand the work of Christ and the love of Christ. What does Christ’s work mean for the believer? No charges of guilt. What does Christ’s work of love mean for the believer? No separation from God.
He speaks of Christ’s work in Romans 8:33-34.
I. CHRIST’S WORK: NO CHARGES (ROM. 8:33-34)
Who can bring an accusation against God's elect? God is the One who justifies. (34) Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
The answer to the question in v. 33, “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect,” is no one. The one who has the right to accuse us is God, the Judge of the universe, and He is the one that declares us not guilty.
Our conscience accuses us of being lawbreakers. We are very aware that we have sinned and come short of the standard of righteousness expected by a holy God. The word “devil” means “slanderer.” He’s always seeking to point out sin. No doubt we have human enemies that are quick to point out our faults and failures. However, none are admissible before God. Why? He declared every believer innocent. Right now, and forever, God has decided you are right with Him and not condemned. There is no higher court to appeal this decision. God has decided about you and that’s it. If you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, God has decided in your favor. It is final, irrevocable, and already in effect. Therefore there is no one who can bring charges against you. God is bigger than your conscience, the devil, or your enemies.
To be free to live a life of joy and peace, you need to answer your condemning heart with the everlasting love of Christ displayed for you on the cross. This is not dependent on your emotions, your circumstances, or your success in living the Christian life. There was a literal moment in history when the Son of God died for your sins on the cross. He came back to life proving that He is the Son of God and all who receive Him as their God are forgiven of sin. Your eternal security is based on objective truth not subjective feelings. Reaffirm it over and over.
Read v. 34 again: Who is the one who condemns? There’s no one! Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Jesus was declared guilty so that we can be declared not guilty. We know that His work of salvation was sufficient for our forgiveness and reconciliation because Jesus is accepted at the right hand of the Father. That is the place of supreme honor and authority over the universe. In other word since my salvation every accusation of my conscience or the devil’s or my enemies has been ruled out of order and unacceptable before the bar of God. No charges. The only One who could accuse me is my defense attorney!
He took my judgment for sin which required death; He died for me. He gave me a new life; He rose from the grave. He gives me a new future; He is at the right hand of God. I am accepted because I am identified with Jesus. I don’t face anything in this life that can separate me from God the Father because right now Jesus is praying for me. Based on all the work of Christ, there is nothing in creation that could possibly separate me from Christ. No charges!
After living a “decent” life, my time on earth came to an end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse.
The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat at the defense table. As I looked around, I saw the “prosecutor”. He was a villainous looking man who snarled as he stared at me. He was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed familiar to me.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. As he took his seat behind the bench, he said, “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own lawyer. The Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life—couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’ve done? Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned him to come forward. As he got up and started walking, I was able to see him in his full splendor and majesty. I realized why he seemed so familiar. This was Jesus representing me, my Lord and Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, “Hi, Dad,” and then he turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I won’t deny any of these allegations. And yes, the wages of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.”
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to his Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted me as his Savior, so he is mine.” My Lord continued, “His name is written in the book of Life and no one can snatch him from me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, he quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.” The judge lifted his mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from his lips… “This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.” As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I’ll win the next one.”
I asked Jesus as he gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?” Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to me and asked me to represent them has received the same verdict as you. Paid in full.”
Christians are secure in their relationship with God because of the work of Jesus Christ. No charges. We are declared not guilty. Christians are secure in their relationship with God because of the love of Jesus Christ. This means no separation.
II. CHRIST’S LOVE: NO SEPARATION (ROM. 8:35-39)
(35) Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (36) As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. (37) No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Paul asks another question: Who can separate us from the love of Christ? This time he uses twice as much space to answer the question. He is trying to impress on our heart the love of God. He wants us to know it experientially as well as rationally.
Paul mentions seven types of suffering. How are you going to survive suffering and keep your faith intact? You must be convinced of God’s abiding love for you.
Paul experienced all these things. You will experience some of these things and others you may experience. “Affliction” refers to the pressures of life. It described a sled being pulled over grain to crush it. Jesus said in this world you will experience affliction. You will or have experienced times when the pressure feels as though it is crushing you. Those times cannot separate you from the love of God.
“Anguish” refers to tight places. Some people feel they are locked into unhappy situations and can’t get out. The Bible teaches that God uses these experiences to discipline and grow us. Don’t interpret times of hardship as a sign that God doesn’t love you. It maybe just the opposite. Turn to God’s love and ask Him to not waste these times of suffering. Ask Him to use them to make you like Jesus.
“Persecution” refers to someone chasing you. 2 Tim. 3:12 says everyone that wants to live the life of Jesus Christ will be persecuted. That is a categorical statement. A godly life is not appreciated or thanked in this world. Expect to be disliked. Your life of righteousness and holiness exposes the sin in the life of others. They don’t like that. This won’t be your experience all the time, but you will face it some of the time.
“Famine” is being without. There’s a sign around town that says 1-8 children in Norman are food deprived. That makes our heart heavy. We feed kids on Wednesday night at Awanas. It’s not even a consideration that we won’t do that. “Nakedness” was the Bible’s way of referring to people who were extremely poor. There are many believers around the world today that this list is a reality for them. This can cause a believer to question God’s love for them.
Do you face “danger?” There are around 52,000 people that die every year in America in car accidents. About half of those are caused by drunk drivers. Many of those who die are Christians. I’ve conducted funerals for Christians who died in car accidents. Doyle was one of the finest Christian laymen I have known. He died at 40 because an oilfield tanker truck with faulty brakes slammed into his pickup. Yes, you face danger.
What suffering do we face from the “sword?” This refers to martyrdom. One website estimates 465 Christians die every day for their faith. This is a possibility for us. Tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded because of his Christian faith. This is the world in which we live. It’s a world that could cause us to question if God loves us.
In a suffering world, you need to know that God is for you and loves you. You can find strength and joy in this reality. On the hardest day of your life, you find a joy in that nothing can take you away from the love of Christ.
Before Paul answers if any of these things can separate us from the love of Christ, in v. 36, he quotes Ps. 44:22. It says, “As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” This psalm speaks of God’s people in the Old Testament who endured suffering, and Paul applies it to New Testament believers. The point is that all this suffering which has been so large in this chapter, has never been able to separate God’s people from the love God has demonstrated at the cross.
Now Paul is ready to give his answer in v. 37: No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. Amid illness, poverty, crushing pressure, we have the assurance of God’s eternal love. We don’t hold our own in the face of suffering because of some greatness inside of us. Just like we owe our justification to Christ, we owe our staying power to the inward presence of the Holy Spirit. We know, despite our surroundings, Jesus loves us.
He said in all these things. God doesn’t always pull us out of these things. In these things, we are super conquerors through Him. Notice it says loved us. This is past tense. He is speaking about the cross. The result is that there is nothing in this life, be it death or hardship, that can separate us from the love of God. There is nothing in the spiritual realm not angels or rulers that can separate us from the love of Christ. The death angel took thousands and thousands of lives when he passed over Egypt. One angel killed 185,000 Assyrians camped outside of Jerusalem. Angels are immensely powerful but not one nor an army of angels can separate you from the love of God.
What about demonic powers? Not even if a legion of them came against you could they separate you from Jesus. With a word He can cast a legion of demons into pigs.
Go to the highest reaches of the universe and the deepest depths of the universe. Will you find a power so great it can drive Jesus away from you, to give up on you? There’s nothing in all of creation, and that includes you, that can separate you from the love of Christ.
Nothing can stop God’s love for you. Christ is in God the Father and you are in Christ. Nothing can take you away from Christ who is in the Father.
This is not true of anything else in your life. A job transfer, conflicts, and death have separated us from people we love. Everything about our life has written across it “Insecurity.” However, the most important thing, our eternal destiny, is secure.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” To be a human being is to love. We love our stuff. We love our kids and grandkids. We love our team and church and favorite dessert. We were made to be lovers. What you love shapes and directs your life. I love books. In my office, every shelf is filled with books. There are stacks of books on the floor. I carry a bag of books home from work every day. I spend money, time, and thought on books because I love books. What you love shapes your life and direction.
God loves you. This love determined of His actions toward you. He loves you enough to die for you. What will change your life? Learn to love God. The more you love God, the more you will want to be close to God and not separated from God. Fundamentally, a lack of Bible reading, prayer, or holy living is a love problem. The more you love Jesus Christ, the more careful you will be to live in a way that doesn’t harm your fellowship with Jesus. Behavior is changed through the heart.
My grandsons have no interest in taking a bath. We’ve had some interesting discussions with them about when was the last time you took a bath. If he goes swimming, in their mind that’s good for a couple of days. One of my daughter’s tells of sending her son back to the shower three times to finally get the job done!
I have grandsons who are children and grandsons who are teenagers. Something happened. The older grandsons take a bath, use deodorant, wash and comb their hair. They smell nice. They look nice. What happened? Girls! Their heart. Their heart changed.
This chapter is to change our heart. In fact, it works such a change in your heart that you can endure and rejoice even in hard times. Do you see that? Pressure, restriction, hostile opposition, deprivation, and poverty may be your experience sometime in life. Don’t despair. Don’t doubt. Don’t deny God. Why? God loves me. My greatest problem, the sin problem, has already been solved by the love of God. It stirs in me love for God.
Stephen Clemish was a 66-year-old semi-retired carpenter living on Long Island. He took care of Carolina Williams, 77, a friend of his late wife. Before she died, Stephen’s wife asked him to care for her friend. They shared his home.
On October 25, 1986, he’d driven ten miles to repair the roof of a cathedral. At 11:30 a.m., he was called down from the scaffolding for a telephone call. Somebody was speaking Czechoslovakian, his native language.
When he took the phone for the first time in forty years, he heard the voice of Sedinka Grumidkova, his first love, his true love. They met in 1947 in Moravia at a ball. He was a farmer. She was a schoolteacher. It was love at first sight. Within a matter of days, they planned to marry. However, because Stephen planned to immigrate to the U.S., his father warned him, “You ought to go ahead, become a citizen, build a house, and then send for her.” That was a mistake. For when he got to this country, the Communist authorities in Czech. found out about it and prohibited her from immigrating.
Eleven years later, 1958, on the day he left the airport in Prague to fly to the U.S., Sedinka married. In 1973, finally, Stephen Clemish married. Sedinka’s husband died in 1972 and Stephen’s wife in 1978.
In 1986 Sedinka was on a tour group. She broke away from the tour group. Hired a taxicab and showed up in front of his house in Long Island with $110 taxi bill. She went to the door, showed Mrs. Williams a picture of herself, and without a word of English being spoken, persuaded Mrs. Williams to call Stephen. He drove the ten miles home and for the first time in over forty years looked into the eyes of his first love. That was on Thursday. They were married on Friday morning.
Not distance, not time, not Communist intervention, and not disappointment could separate the love these two people had for each other. That’s Paul’s answer to us. We can trust God to complete His work of salvation and use all of life toward that end. You are declared not guilty because of the work of Christ. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ because of the love of Christ.
Every person wants to be loved. Look at the distance Jesus traveled to bring you to Himself. Look at the cost He was willing to pay for you to be forgiven and reconciled to the Father. Why? He loves you.
If the Holy Spirit spoke to you this morning, you will know it. Did He say you need Jesus Christ to be your Savior? Then repent and trust Him alone for forgiveness. Make Him your God. You may want to pray this….
Maybe the Holy Spirit stirred your heart to love Christ. We’re going to take time for you to come and kneel at the steps and recommit to love Him. If the Holy Spirit only spoke to one person this morning, I’m asking you to come and pray. If He spoke to a dozen, I’m asking you to come. We won’t hurry this.
1. Romans, Woodrow Kroll.
2. Idea from Tony Merada sermon at seminary chapel