In All These Things (Romans 8:31-38)

Main Idea: Even if you suffer because of Jesus, you can know that all things work for good.

Text:

We are the champions!
We are the champions!
No time for losers,
‘Cause we are the champions of the world!

Do you often feel like a champion, or a loser?

A few weeks back, I took a challenge to walk 3 to 5 miles 6 days per week for 6 weeks. One day about 2 weeks ago, there was rain in the forecast, but not until the afternoon. It was still pretty early in the morning, so I decided to risk it. I walked to the Post Office, then I walked here, to the church, to get a few things done, and then I started to walk home. It’s about a 30 minute walk from the church to home, and it was only about 11 am still, so I thought certainly I’d be fine, right?

But sure enough, after about 5 minutes, it started to sprinkle. Then after about 5 more minutes, it was a pretty steady rain. And then it wasn’t long before it was pouring down rain to the point that when I finally got home, I was absolutely drenched from head to toe.

Now, that was fairly harmless, and I learned my lesson. But life in general often feels like that, too. We feel like we make one little mistake, which we even thought was reasonable at the time, and then we end up paying for it later.

We read in the Scripture last week that all things work for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose. And I asked you if you truly believe that God is good. Can you believe that all things work for good when things don’t seem to go your way?

I read this book a few years ago with some of you in a book club.

[Picture of Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza]

Immaculee Ilibagiza’s book “Left to Tell” tells the story about how she survived the Rwandan Genocide by hiding in a tiny bathroom with 7 other women. Because of prejudice and lies against the minority group she was a part of, up to 10,000 people in Rwanda lost their lives each day for nearly 100 days, bringing the total to somewhere around a million lives lost in 1994.

You know, in light of something like the Rwandan Genocide, many of our trials seem pretty trivial. And yet, they’re not. It’s not a trivial thing to your child when they have a tick sucking their blood, and only you can save them from it. It’s not a trivial thing when you have a bad day and you just want to drink to feel better. And it’s not a trivial thing when you’re in a kayak with two of your children on a river, and it starts pouring down rain, and you’re unsuccessful when you try to comfort them.

[Video of Pastor Chris, Amber, and Cory in a kayak]

Our lives are full of conflicts and trials. We face conflict at every level of our lives, from raising our kids, to electing our representatives, to striving to maintain peace in our fallen world.

And underlying and surrounding and permeating all of these trials is the reality that we all sin, and that’s another trial. And in this trial, we’re all guilty. We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And yet, because of Jesus’s death on the cross, God declares us innocent. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

And this ought to just leave us speechless. I mean, we offended God, and yet God doesn’t hold our sin against us. And if that’s how God treats us even after we sinned against Him, what else does that mean? How far can we take this? What does it mean that the God who created all things and rules over all things loves and forgives us? That’s the question that Paul answers in our Scripture passage this morning.

Romans 8:31-39.

What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. 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. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

Father, we’re tempted to continue to live in fear. We fear the state of our world, we fear for our future, for our kids’ futures, and we even fear You because we know that we’ve sinned against You. Yet you say that You love us. Help us to believe that. Help us to rest and rejoice in Your love now and forever. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

As we saw last week, there’s an unbroken chain from being foreknown and predestined by God all the way to being justified and glorified by God. So our passage this morning begins, “What, then, are we to say about these things?”

It’s a rhetorical question because in light of all that God has done, we ought to be overwhelmed with God’s plan to redeem us through Jesus according to the riches of His grace. We ought to be in awe of God orchestrating all these things, all the history of the world, and all our personal histories, so that we would see His goodness and mercy toward us. The Book of Romans up to this point has made it absolutely clear that we’ve all sinned against God, and the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In other words, even though we’ve sinned against Him, God isn’t against us, but God is for us. So, what are we to say about these things? End of verse 31.

If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31b)

The answer is no one. No one can be against us if God is for us. God rules all things. You don’t have to fear man, or governments, or even Satan. Because the only one that’s worthy of our fear, Almighty God, is on your side.

I’ve seen a truly confusing thing take place in the lives of many believers. As they read the Bible, they become more and more disgruntled at the state of the world and even sometimes at their relationship with God. Instead of becoming more joyful because of their faith, they seem to become more grumpy because of it, focusing on all the things and people that are against who we are and what we believe as Christians. And of course they didn’t get to this point intentionally, but over time, in their zeal to become more righteous in the way that they live, they become Pharisees, no longer really moved by the reality of their relationship with God through Jesus, and no longer really living out of the victory that we have in Jesus.

Certainly this isn’t true of every believer, because I’ve also known and continue to know many elders in the faith who are great examples of God’s love and joy shining through them, and we ought to follow their examples.

Some of you have been on mission trips with us in the past. I hope that all of you will go not just at some point, but every year if you’re physically able. But if you’ve gone in the past, you may know Mrs. Sherry.

[Picture of Mrs. Sherry]

Mrs. Sherry is a great example of someone who is getting more and more joyful, rather than more and more grumpy as she grows in her relationship with her Savior. She loves to lead Bible studies and talk about Jesus no matter who she’s with or where she is. And she always seems to be confident that God has a plan and we can trust it. Because if God is for us, who can be against us?

Are you living based on that reality? It doesn’t mean that everything goes the way you want, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll never want to complain again, but it does mean recognizing that the God who made you and saved you is still with you, so that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Paul next goes to use even more rhetorical questions, emphasizing this point, starting in verse 32.

He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? (Romans 8:32)

He does! We have everything we need in Christ. Verse 33.

Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. 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. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:33-37)

Paul asks all these rhetorical questions that ought to be so obvious to us, and yet we forget them. The truth is, if we have God on our side, and we do, then we have everything we need for life and godliness. The Bible says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Conquerors, of course, are the ones who win. They are the champions. Despite all the struggles they endured, they came out the victors. And Paul reminds us here that it’s not through our efforts, but all because of Christ and His love for us.

I must confess that I haven’t felt much like a conqueror these last two years. Our church is about half the size it was before Covid, our church budget isn’t looking great. So I haven’t been feeling much like a champion, I’ve felt more like a loser. But I’ve been reminded through all this that God has a plan, and sometimes that includes things that we don’t like for a time, and yet even these things are for our good and His glory.

We can sometimes have a martyr’s complex, can’t we? As Christians, we can complain all the time about how ungodly our world is getting, and how Christians are getting persecuted because of this or that, and that it looks like it’s only getting worse and worse. But Paul reminds us that even though it’s true that we may experience all kinds of suffering because of our faith, we have the victory in Christ.

It’s interesting that those who actually experience the things that Paul names–famine, nakedness, danger, sword, real persecution–they rarely complain about the suffering they face. They consider it an honor to suffer for and with Christ. They’re treated with contempt, yet they continue to feel like champions. And they continue to suffer with joy not because they want the others to be the losers, but so that they might be a light to the world, so that the lost would be found. So that the lost might also become conquerors in Christ.

And yet we often just complain, don’t we? We complain about the over representation of homosexuality and transgenderism on television. We complain about liberal laws. And we complain about how public schools have agendas to indoctrinate our kids. Now, I’m not saying these are trivial things. They do represent an attack on Christian values, and we should not be okay with that. But how we address these things makes all the difference. Jesus didn’t say that Christians would be known for their stance against the LGBT movement. He said that we would be known for our love.

As Christians, we should expect to be put to death all day long. We should expect to be counted as sheep to be slaughtered. And yet, even then, we should recognize that God is with us, Jesus has saved us, and that Jesus even endured far worse, and came out the other side highly exalted so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

And because Jesus rose, we also rise with Him. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

Do you believe that? Are you living in the victory that you have in Jesus? If not, maybe you need to be reminded and take to heart anew why it is we have this victory.

How do we know that God is for us, and not against us? How can we know that we’re more than conquerors? Because I’m sure we all know and have it ingrained in us that we’re all sinners, and God is against sin, which sure sounds like God would be against us. So how can we be more than conquerors, when we still sin, and we often feel so weak because of our sin? Verse 38.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Nothing will stop the love of God from making these things a reality in our lives. God is for us, because His love never ends. We’re more than conquerors because God’s love conquers all.

[Jesus Storybook Bible quote]

As The Jesus Storybook Bible puts it, God loves you with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love, which was shown to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That’s the love of God! And it transcends all things. It goes beyond life, death, angels, rulers, present, future, power, height, depth, and anything else in all creation. God’s love never fails.

So I’m really surprised when many Christians seem to say that God’s love will come to an end. They believe that God’s love never comes to an end for themselves, but for unbelievers, God’s love runs out. I believe Scripture teaches that God always leaves the ninety-nine in pursuit of the one. He’s the God who longs for the return of the prodigal son after a life of reckless living. And when the father received his son back into his home, he declares, “This brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

And we were all dead. We were dead in our sins in which we walked. We were the walking dead. But even while we were dead, God loved us, and sent Jesus to die for us, so that we could truly live.

You see, once we come alive from the dead, we’re then to allow ourselves to be continually put to death for the sake of those who are still dead, being counted as sheep to be slaughtered, and even THEN, we are more than conquerors. Even if you suffer because of Jesus, you can know that all things work for good. Nothing can separate you from His love! No government, no policy, no political party, not even death or even anything to come! God’s mercy NEVER comes to an end!

As Jesus said in John 16:33:

You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. (John 16:33)

Now, I’m afraid that by preaching these things, that someone will think I’m saying suffering is no big deal, and that we should just suck it up and be positive because we’re more than conquerors. But that’s not what I’m saying at all. That’s actually what’s come to be called toxic positivity. And that’s unhealthy because it’s like we’re denying the reality of evil.

No, I’m not saying that suffering and trials are no big deal. They are. And we ought to seek to relieve the sufferings of others through compassionate ministries.

So I’m not saying that we should ignore suffering, but rather I think the Scripture is saying that we can rise up and live as conquerors even in the midst of suffering, because if God is for us, nothing can be against us. Jesus conquered sin and death, and in Jesus, we are also the champions.

Pastor Chris Huff

Pastor Chris Huff has been with us since July 2009.  He and his wife, Abby, have four children.  Chris is originally from St. Louis, MO and even though he was raised as a city boy, he has a small town heart. Chris is all over the internet, so you can find him on Facebook, Twitter,… (read more)

Bible Passages: Romans 8:31-38
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