Theme: Romans 8.2 Hope (Sunday 26 July, 2020)
Series: Romans 8 (2020)
Bible Reading: Romans 8:26-39
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
This is part 3 of looking at this amazing chapter of the Bible Romans 8 … and we could sum up the first 8 chapters of the bible as Paul being the master court lawyer, methodically setting out his arguments, clearly stating his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus.
As we looked at two weeks ago, Paul in chapters 1 to 7 highlights the basic points of the case:
- All have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards
- None of us can be made right with God through our actions
- Yet God through the cross of Jesus offers us a free gift of forgiveness and grace
And then in a dramatic gesture he points at us the accused and says that there is NO COMENDNATION for those in Christ Jesus! We are not condemned! And as the truth of that sinks in Paul encourages us that in response we have an obligation to live Spirit-led lives – to live as one of God’s own adopted children!
But then it is almost like the prosecutor stands up to give their closing statements and starts to point out the obvious – God might declare us as forgiven and perfect but the reality is that we are not perfect – We get distracted, we succumb to temptation, we make bad choices. And so there is this gap between what God has declared us to be – his own redeemed children … and what we actually are … which is not what we were, but not all that we will be … we are caught in between the now and the not yet.
So the prosecutor simply highlights the reality of our sinful nature. They points at us and focus on all the short-falls then close their argument by saying that Paul might be speaking lovely promises, the reality is that we are guilty and deserve condemnation. They sit down and Paul stands up for his closing arguments.
And while up to this point his arguments have been structured and methodical, it is like for this last part of Romans 8, Paul tosses away the notes and speaks from the heart. He takes a rhetorical approach … asking a series of questions of which he doesn’t even pause before answering.
Verse 31, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?“
We would want to reply … the world, inhumane people, greedy businesses, Satan, my enemies that are surround me but Paul doesn’t let us … he goes on without even taking a breath…
“If God is for us, who can be against us? Not God who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all!
Yes – the sacrifice of Jesus shows that God is indeed for us. And if God is for you then everything else fades away in comparison.
Paul hammers on —“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” Once again … it is not God who bring the charges because he has justified you. He is the one who says that because of Jesus you are forgiven and made right with him!
Verse 34 “Who then is the one who condemns?”
Not God who justifies, Not Jesus how died and rose again and who intercedes for us … who is the one condemning us.
Like the woman caught in adultery we have an epiphany moment … who condemns you? No one. No one.
We have don’t the full circle back to verse 1 … The reality of the declaration that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus has suddenly dawned on us …
Who condemns you? No-one.
Then … Paul booms out across the courtroom … If God is for you, if no charges have been brought and if no-one condemns … then who is stopping you being in the loving relationship with your heavenly father.
Verse 35 , “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? “
Paul could have listened so many other things … can any bad or tragic or dark or hurtful or unjust or inhumane things separate us from the love of Christ?
The question hangs in the courtroom then Paul bellows out in his loud booming voice, “No … No they can’t. The love of Jesus is much, much more than these things. The love of Jesus allows us to survive, to even rise above or conquer these things.”
Love is the most powerful emotion. It is like the statement of the mother and father of the three WA kids that were killed when the MH17 plane was shot down a few years ago. They said, “No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our kids. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for each other. This is a revelation that give us some comfort”
Those poor parents in the midst of the worst imaginable situation has the revelation that love is greater. Paul has the same revelation… Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword separate us from the love of Christ? No … the love of Jesus is strong … the love of Jesus conquers all.
Are you getting this? Let me just check…
Is God for you or against you? For you!
Because of the cross of Jesus …
Does God bring charges against you? No
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus …
Who condemns you? No-one
Who condemns you? No-one
Then who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Can trouble or hardship? No
Can inhumane actions or tragedies? No
Can the harshness and darkness of this world? No
Can hate overcome the love of God? No
Verse 38 & 39 … Paul is convinced,
“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.”