Robert Jeffress - More Than Conquerors
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. From issues with our finances to conflict in our relationships and problems with our health the sheer abundance of life's worries can be overwhelming. Gratefully, though, we don't have to fight those battles alone! On today's program, we'll find encouragement for facing life's problems from Romans chapter 8. In these pivotal verses, the apostle Paul asks five questions regarding whether or not believers can ever be separated from God's love. And the answer he provides is truly encouraging! My message is titled "More Than Conquerors" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Well, I thought today we needed to start today's message with a pop-quiz. Alright, I want everyone to take out your paper and your pen: please keep your eyes on your own paper this morning. I have five questions to test your general knowledge - this isn't Bible trivia - this is general knowledge, ok?
Question number one: What separates the TV program 60 minutes from every other show on television? Anybody know the answer to that? No theme song. 60 minutes is the only show on television without a theme song - just that annoying ticking clock: tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ok.
Question number two: Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what? Their birthplace. Alright.
Question number three: What do bullet-proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common? They were all invented by women. Give yourselves a hand.
Question number four: Who was the first married couple to be shown in bed on prime-time television? Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Some of you are too young over in day one to know about the Flintstones, but that's truth.
Question number five: I love this one - according to the phone company, what day has more collect calls than any other day of the year? Father's day. Happy father's day! That'll be $10, please. We've been there before.
Now, for the bonus round I have one more question: what do you fear most in life? That is, in those quiet, reflective moments as you contemplate your future what anxiety robs you of joy? For those of you who are students, maybe it is the fear that you'll never graduate: or that you'll never be able to find a job. For those of you who are single, maybe it's the fear that you'll never find a mate. For some of you, your greatest fear is that you'll remain stuck in an unfulfilling job, or an unsatisfying marriage. For some of you, your greatest fear for the future is the loss of something important to you: the loss of your mate, the loss of job, the loss of your retirement savings, perhaps the loss of your health. What is it that you fear most in life? Whatever that fear is, Romans chapter 8, the concluding verses have wonderful words of reassurance that should remove any anxiety that is draining your life of joy right now.
If you have your Bibles I want you to turn to Romans 8 as we discover why it is that through Christ we are absolutely more than conquerors. Romans chapter 8. Just as I began today's message by asking you five questions, Paul asks five questions in these seven verses to drive home the point that God's purpose is going to be accomplished in your life. Doesn't matter what's happening, nothing or no one can thwart God's purpose for you. What are those five questions? Look at verse 31, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us"? That's the first question: if God is for us, who can be against us? Now that phrase "If God" is a conditional tense in the Greek language that literally means "Since God" or "Because God" is for us, who can be against us?
Now you may be saying: well Paul let me give you a whole list of people who are against me. I've got that mate who's turned cold toward me. I've got that employer who can't stand me. I've got that friend who betrayed me: and if that's not enough 1 Peter 5:8 says I have the adversary, the devil, who is prowling about like a roaring lion seeking to destroy me. There are plenty of people, Paul, who are against me: what a silly question. Now, Paul is not denying the reality of our adversaries - he's denying the relative power of our adversaries. That's what he's saying. He's saying: since God is for us, what adversary of any consequence can be against us?
Remember back in verse 18, Paul had talked about our suffering in this world: and he said: for I say to you the suffering of this world is not worthy to be compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us. Paul wasn't saying we don't suffer, of course we do, but he said in comparison the suffering we experience right now is so light and momentary when it's compared to the glory that will be ours forever and ever. Now he's saying the same thing about our adversaries. He's saying: compared to the power of God, the power of our adversaries is nothing. It's like comparing the power of a firecracker to the power of a nuclear bomb. Yeah, a firecracker can do some damage, but nothing like a nuclear weapon. And that's what he's saying here. If God is for us, who can be powerful enough to thwart God's purpose for us?
Now one word of caution here: this promise that since God is for us, nobody can be against us is not a promise that we're going to win every game. It isn't a promise that we're going to get every job. It isn't a promise that we're going to avoid every problem - that's not the promise - what he is saying here is that God's purpose for our life is not going to be thwarted. No one or no circumstance can interfere with God's plan for your life.
I remember sharing with a friend not long ago who's going through a difficult time the truth that God's will is going to be accomplished in his life, and nothing can keep that from happening. And he said to me: Robert I know that, I have no doubt God's will is going to be done: but I also remember that God's will included the torture and crucifixion of his own Son: the stoning of Stephen: the martyrdom of those five missionaries in Ecuador: I mean where is the comfort in that? I think anytime we talk about the sovereignty of God in the same breath we need to talk about the goodness and the love of God.
You see, nobody with any sense doubts the sovereignty of God. God is in control, but that is a cold doctrine if it's divorced from the goodness and the love of God in our life. God is also good. Everything he does is good. Romans 12 talks about God's good, and pleasing, and perfect will. That's what Paul is saying here. If the good, sovereign God is for us, who of any consequence can be against us? Second question in verse 32: if God has given us his Son: will he not give us everything else? Well, you may say: I believe God is sovereign, I believe God is good: but when I lose that mate, or when I'm diagnosed with cancer, or when I lose my retirement savings how do I know God's goodness and love is going to be extended to me?
Look at verse 32, "He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things"? Here is the question: if God has given us his Son, why wouldn't he give us everything else as well? Now when Paul's audience heard that word "He who did not spare his own Son" that word "spare" struck a note of familiarity with them. The Greek word "spare" is the same word used in Genesis 22 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in the story of Abraham's offering of his son Isaac. God asked Abraham to make the ultimate sacrifice - the sacrifice of his own son. And the Bible says Abraham did not spare his son. Of course God intervened at the last moment. But that was a picture of what Jesus Christ would do one day on that same mountain range of Moriah when he would send his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Now what Paul is saying is if he was willing to do that for us, why wouldn't he do anything and everything else for us.
Somebody once asked the great theologian Karl Barth what the most important word in the Bible is. He didn't hesitate in answering. It wasn't the word you would think of: love or forgiveness. Karl Barth said the most important word in the New Testament is the word "For", F-O-R. That's the Greek word "Huper" - in place of. It's the word here that God delivered up his Son for, in place of, us all. That's the Gospel message. He did not come to die for our goodness. God didn't look down on humanity, and say: those human beings are such wonderful people: I want to show them how good they are by sending my Son to die for them. He didn't come to die our goodness. He came to die for our badness, for the sickness, for the evil in our heart. And that's what makes the gift that much more unbelievable. It's not like God gave his best when we were his friends. The Bible says while we were his enemies, he sent Christ to die for us.
Now here is the question: if while you were alienated from God, his enemy, God sent you his very best and most costly gift: now that you're a child of God, don't you think he'll give you everything else? If he's already given you the greatest gift while you were his enemy, now that you're his friend and his child what is he going to withhold from you? That's the question that's being asked here. If God has already given you the greatest gift of all, the costliest gift, do you think he's going to withhold anything else from you that is good for you? If God did not spare his own Son, will he not also give us everything else? As John Stotts said: the cross forever proves the generosity of God.
Question number three: if God has justified us, who will accuse us? Look at verse 33, "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies". If God has already justified you, who's going to accuse you? You say: well, let me give you a list of people. Again, it's like adversaries. Paul is not saying nobody's accusing you. What he's saying is: what difference does it make? If God has justified you, do you really care what anybody else has to say against you? I mean God's the ultimate judge. In Romans 3:26 it says that God is both the judge, the just and the justifier. God presides over the greatest court in all the universe, and the moment you trusted in Christ as your Savior God said: not guilty. He declared you to be in a right-standing before him. There is nobody left to accuse you if God has forgiven you.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is one final courtroom in this universe, and it's the courtroom of God the Father: and once God the Father has declared you not guilty, there is no other accusation. There is no other venue by which you can be accused. Now that's what he's saying here. If God the Father, the Creator of the universe has declared you not guilty who of any consequence can accuse you of being sinful? If God has justified us, who accuses us?
Number four, he asked the question: if Christ has died for us doesn't he also live for us? Look at verse 34, "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us". Did you know Christ's work for you did not stop at the cross? After Jesus ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of God the Father to do what? To intercede for us, to pray for us. Hebrews 7:25 says, "Hence also he is able to save forever those who draw near to God through him, since he, Christ, always lives to make intercession for them".
I don't pretend to understand what this means, but I know this: when circumstances overwhelm me, when my adversary the devil accuses me before God - I have an advocate, a lawyer in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ, and he is seated at the right hand of God the Father: and whenever I have a need in my life, Jesus Christ intercedes, he intervenes before me. He prays for me before the father. One writer of yesteryear said it this way: you do not have a problem too great for the power of Christ. You do not have a problem too complicated for the wisdom of Christ. You do not have a problem too small for the love of Christ: and you do not have a sin too deep for the atoning blood of Christ. Christ lives to make intercession for us. If Christ has died for us, doesn't he also live for us?
And then the final climactic question in verse 35: If God has loved us, who can separate us from his love? Look at verse 35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword"? Paul said before you think you can ever be separated from the love of God: let's go through a list of any and everything that might happen to you that would separate you from the love of God. Shall tribulation? That word "tribulation" - thlipsis in Greek - means "pressure from the outside".
What is he talking about? He's talking about financial pressure. Other pressure from a bad health diagnosis. He's talking about the pressure of a strained family relationship: the pressure you feel at a job. Is that going to separate you from God's love? No. Or he says: or distress. That word "Distress" in Greek refers to being constricted or confined. Have you ever felt stuck in a situation before? Maybe it's a difficult job you feel stuck in: a difficult marriage you're in. Students, maybe you feel like you are stuck in school and it will never end. Some of you are young mothers, and you have children at home, and you wonder will these days of diapers and bottles ever end - you feel stuck, you feel confined.
The Bible says no matter how confined and pressed you feel that doesn't separate you from the love of God.
And then he says: shall tribulation, distress, shall persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? He's talking about the persecution that would soon be coming to the Christians at Rome. Is that going to separate you from the love of God? He goes on to say: ye, in these things we are more than conquerors. But he says before that in verse 36: we are like sheep, ready to be slaughtered. Soon that would happen in Rome to the Roman Christians. They would be slaughtered: Nero would take them while alive and dip them in wax, and use them as human candles in his gardens.
We see that happening right now Christians being like sheep, being slaughtered every day. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq right now, who are being decimated because of their faith in Jesus Christ. We are all going to be like that at some point - sheep ready to be slaughtered. And in verse 37 he says, "But in all these things we are overwhelmingly conquerors through him who loved us". In other words, we are going to experience the victory in all of these things. How? Look at these words: "Through Him". Underline that in verse 37. "We will conquer through him".
He is not saying as human beings we have all that we need to conquer any and every circumstance - that is the essence of the greatest lie being perpetrated on students in high school and college today. It is the lie of humanism. You know what humanism is? Humanism is the doctrine that says man is the measure of all things. I have everything I need to create my own value system, to determine my own destiny, to heck, create my own god if I want to. It all starts and it ends with me. No, the Word of God says. I am the master of nothing. I am the captain of nothing. God is the one who controls my destiny. And when I am in a right relationship with him, though him, through his power I am able to conquer any adversary, and any circumstance that is waged against me. That is what he's saying here.
Many of you may have seen that movie from a few years ago, The Bear. I don't know if you remember one of the final scenes in the movie, but this little baby cub is being attacked by a ferocious mountain lion: and the mountain lion is about to come in for the kill when that baby bear rears itself on its hind legs, and lets out the fiercest growl it can muster. And amazingly the mountain lion begins to back off: and back off. And you wonder why until the camera pulls back, and behind that baby bear is the momma grizzly bear, standing up on its hind legs, and letting out a fierce growl.
But ladies and gentlemen, that is what Paul is saying here. In our own strength we have no power to conquer our adversaries or negative circumstances, but we are not alone. God has not left us as an orphan in this world. Behind us is the unconquerable power of God. And if God is for us, no one can be against us. Paul closes this remarkable chapter with his own personal testimony in verses 38-39. I told you when we began studying Romans 8 that this is the first chapter I memorized in the Bible when I was a high school student. And I divided it up into sections.
And I memorized it from the old living Bible, the paraphrase by Kim Taylor. I still have my green, hardback living Bible. I still look at it occasionally. And I have that section marked in Romans 8. This is how Kim Taylor paraphrases Romans chapter 8, the conclusion, "For I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Death can't, and life can't. The angels won't, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God's love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow: or wherever we are, high above the sky or in the deepest ocean: nothing, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us".