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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:The Greatest Sermon Ever Written: Our Final Preservation
Text:Romans 8:31-39 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2023-01-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading/Text: Romans 8:31-39

 

OUR FINAL PRESERVATION

  1. Our Opponents are as Nothing

  2. Our God has Given us Everything

  3. Our Accuser has been Silenced

  4. Our Identity is Secure

 

  1. Hymn 35: 1

  2. Psalm 6: 1, 2

  3. Psalm 56: 1, 4, 5

  4. Hymn 35:2-4

  5. Hymn 1

  6. Hymn 59: 1, 2

  7. Hymn 60:2

  8. Hymn 60:3

  9. Hymn 60:4

  10. Hymn 16: 3, 5

 

Words to Listen For: immovable, sedition, dry, oof, suited

 

Questions For Understanding:

  1. How is this passage like a racecar?  Like a pillow?

  2. Who is against us?  Why does this not matter?

  3. What are the two ways God did not hold back?

  4. What is the current status of our Accuser?  What can he do?

  5. What does it mean that God is more than a conqueror?  What does it mean that we are?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved children and heirs of God through Jesus Christ,

Romans 8 can be described as the GREATEST CHAPTER in the GREATEST SERMON EVER WRITTEN.  It has all been leading up to this.  From Paul’s triumphant declaration in Romans 1:18 - “For I am not ashamed of the gospel!” through the description of 3 R’s of Romans: WRATH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, REDEMPTION…God’s wrath over our sin, God’s grace in response to our sin, and God’s amazing plan of salvation…

It has all been leading here!  To this point!  The shining jewel of comfort and joy and peace.

And you may be getting a sense of deja vu, because this is exactly what I said when, a few sermons ago, we began Romans 8.

And do you remember what words begin this chapter?

There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION

No condemnation.  Not one condemnation.  Bad english, great theology.  Not one condemnation.

But then the chapter continues.  The chapter continues with blessing after blessing after blessing.

This chapter starts SO HIGH.  No condemnation.  What could be better?  How could it possibly get better from here?  But it does!

The Apostle Paul is like a racecar driver who just keeps his foot on the gas.  No slowing down, this is the home stretch.  It’s straight going from here to the finish line…floor it!

And Paul does.  The Apostle Paul floors it (theologically) and the speedometer…that needle, keeps climbing and climbing.  The needle going higher and higher and higher until it hits the peg and then bends around it.

From NO CONDEMNATION all the way to NO SEPARATION.

And what does this produce in us?  What is the purpose of Paul writing this chapter of chapters?

Well it is, as one preacher described it, “a soft pillow for the tired heart.”

“Christian,” Paul is saying… “Christian, it’s been hard.  It’s been hard for you.  Jewish members of the church…it’s been hard - you were the ones who rejected and killed the Messiah.  I know!  I was like that too.  But…you can rest now.  You can finally rest in Him.”

“Gentile members of the church, this is so foreign to you.  The concept of sin.  The concept of only one God.  The concept that this God is holy and cares what you do.  The knowledge that, by joining the church, you have lost your status, your family, and you may lose your life.  But…you can rest now.  You can finally rest in Jesus Christ.”

What does this chapter produce in us?  Amazement, joy, comfort, rest…and why?  How could we describe this chapter?

This week, a friend asked me how I would sum up this entire sermon in one sentence, and this is what I said to him: “It’s going to be MORE THAN OK.”

It’s a wonderful comfort to know that it’s going to be ok.  “It’s going to be okay, you can rest.  Don’t worry.”

But…that’s not what our God does.  That’s not what our God promises.  He does nothing by half-measures.  Everything He does, He does completely.  Everything He feels, He feels to the core of Himself.  His wrath over sin - INFINITE WRATH.  His love for His Church - INFINITE LOVE.  His victory - He MORE THAN CONQUERS.

And what does that mean for you and for me?  What’s the theological term for “it’s going to be more than okay?

PRESERVATION.  Perfectly, forever preserved for eternal life.  No matter what happens, our salvation is an IMMOVABLE OBJECT.  The waves may crash against it, the earth may quake, mountains may plunge into the ocean, the Devil and his hordes may rage and attack, but WE ARE PRESERVED.

This morning, as we complete our sermon series on Romans, the Greatest Sermon Ever Written, we will discover:

OUR FINAL PRESERVATION.  We will see that

  1. Our Opponents are as Nothing, that

  2. Our God has Given us Everything,

  3. Our Accuser has been Silenced, and finally,

  4. Our Identity is Secure

 

OUR FINAL PRESERVATION: Our Opponents Are As Nothing

What then shall we say to these things?

What then shall we say - to WHICH THINGS EXACTLY?

It is clear that Paul is introducing a conclusion, but a conclusion to what?  To EVERYTHING THAT CAME BEFORE?

Going all the way back to: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God ?

Possibly!

“What then shall we say to the Apostle Paul who used to be Persecutor Saul and who just laid out this glorious doctrine of salvation?”  Perhaps!

What then shall we say to…Romans 8 as a whole?  No condemnation, set free, law fulfilled, walking by the Spirit, heirs of God, whose sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory about to be revealed, who groan with Creation and with the Spirit, who are foreknown, predestined, justified and glorified?

 

What then shall we say to these things?

Whichever option you want to take, the text isn’t clear, but what IS clear, CRYSTAL CLEAR, is that this is a conclusion to something awe inspiring.  Something great, something GLORIOUS.  What then shall we say to these things?

If it was me, I would fall to my knees saying “Hallelujah, yes Lord Jesus!  Hallelujah Amen!  Let it be to me according to your word!”

 

But not Paul.  Paul falls to his knees three chapters later, in Romans 11 - Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?  Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen.

Paul waits another 3 chapters to burst out in praise.  And he waits, because there is so much more to say!

“What then shall we say to these things?”

A whole lot apparently!  There’s more teaching, even here in the conclusion!  There is more that the Holy Spirit wants to impress on the Roman church.

We see the Apostle Paul ask 5 questions.  5 interesting questions with just THE MOST COMFORTING ANSWERS YOU CAN IMAGINE

If God is for us, who can be against us?

    Everyone…but really, ultimately…no one.

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?

    Everyone…but really, ultimately…no one.

Who is to condemn?

    Everyone…but really, ultimately…no one.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

    Everyone…but really, ultimately…no one.

 

And also a slightly different question with a slightly different answer, but just as comforting:

How will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

    He ABSOLUTELY WILL GRACIOUSLY AND FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS!

 

Let’s return now to the first question.

 

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Honestly?  Honestly Paul, how can you ask such a question?  You name it, they’re against us!

Our families are against us!  Jewish families shunning us for being heretics, Gentile families shunning us for being traitors.

The government is against us!  To say that Jesus Christ is Lord instead of Caesar…this is treason.  This is sedition.  This is blasphemy!

The spiritual forces of evil are against us - they want to tear us apart!  They want to take away our salvation, and if they can’t do that, they want to take away our comfort and our joy and our very lives!

WHO IS AGAINST US?  Paul…it’s EVERYONE!

Yes, true.  But, and hear me out…what does it matter?

What ULTIMATELY can our families do to you?

What ULTIMATELY can the government do to you?

What ULTIMATELY can Satan do to you?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  For what did we learn last time?

All suffering, however painful at the time IS AS NOTHING compared to the glory about to be revealed.

All suffering, however painful at the time IS TEMPORARY.  This too will pass.

All suffering, however painful at the time CANNOT DO ANYTHING TO YOUR SOUL!  Your soul, your spiritual life is hid with Christ in God.

Listen to this story about the early church Father Chrysostom who embodies this perfectly.

When Chrysostom was brought before the Roman Emperor, the emperor threatened him with banishment if he did not give up his faith.

    Chrysostom replied: “You cannot banish me, for this entire world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will take your life!” said the Emperor

    Chrysostom replied: “No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God.

“I will take away your treasures!”

    No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there also.

“I will drive you away from every man, and you shall have no friends left!”

 No, you cannot, for I have a friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me.  Emperor, I defy you, for there is nothing that you can ever do to hurt me

Truly our opponents, human or demonic ARE AS NOTHING.  They have no power here.  No power over us, and they never will, ever again.  We do not need to fear, and in fact, we can rejoice, for our God has given us everything.  Our second point.

He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

Our Heavenly Father did not spare His own Son.

We must understand this in two ways.

Firstly, God the Father did not hold back His Son, but in fact, sent Him to earth for our sake.  To be humiliated, first of all, by taking on a human nature in the womb, then by being born in the lowliest of circumstances, born to sinful parents who did not understand Him, living among sinful people every day of His life, and finally dying the most horrific death known to man.  The agony, the terror, the suffering, not to mention being abandoned by His heavenly Father with whom He had known eternal perfect fellowship from eternity past.

The Father did not say - “this is too much.  If this is the cost, I will not pay it.”

No.  Our Father’s love was so great that He sent His only Son to die.

 

And secondly, God the Father did not hold back in His punishment.  Instead, He gave Jesus EVERYTHING.  ALL THE WRATH.  ALL THE CONDEMNATION.  He gave it all, and the Son took it all.

This is why we can rejoice!  We can rejoice in the empty cup.  We can drink from the cup of blessing because our Saviour drank from the cup of wrath and drained it dry.

He was fully condemned that we might receive NOT ONE CONDEMNATION.

The Father’s love GAVE UP everything and the Father’s love GAVE US everything.

And He did so graciously.  Freely, fully, abundantly.  EXTRAVAGANTLY.

He gave Him up for us all.  We must marvel at this.  We do this together nearly every Sunday, but we must do it again…let us marvel at our utter unworthiness, and at God’s utter extravagance of salvation.

Looking at us together, sinners and the Saviour, wretches and the Father…WE DON’T BELONG TOGETHER.  Him and us?  Him and ME?  It just doesn’t make sense.

And yet this is God’s DECLARATION.  I am for you.  I love you.  Forever.  Long after the stars burn out and this universe falls to dust, I love, love, love you.  I have shown you, I am showing you, and I will continue to show you my divine supernatural love.  Please believe it.  I have given you everything to prove my love.  Accept it.

But we fear.  We fear and we doubt because, for all of God’s kind and gracious words of welcome, there are words of accusation that we also hear.  Words of discouragement, fierce attacks.  Our accuser’s voice rings loudly in our ears, but in the heavenly throneroom, he has been silenced.  Our third point.

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall bring a charge?  Who shall condemn?

These are two very related questions, both in the courtroom, but there is an important distinction between them.

You can see this in the English, and the original is exactly the same…to bring a charge, this can be ANYONE.  Anyone can accuse.  Anyone can take someone to court.  And here…here the accusations are brought, right, left, and center.  Or, perhaps, it is better to say, the accusations USED TO BE BROUGHT, right, left, and center.

Because our accusers, really, our ACCUSER, Satan himself, whose very name means accuser…well…he can’t live up to his name anymore.  And it is GLORIOUS.

We are going to turn to three passages here, VERY QUICKLY, because I want you to see the shift over time.

Turn with me, first of all, to Job 1.

Job 1:6 - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Skipping ahead to verse 9, to Satan’s accusation of Job - Does Job fear God for no reason?  Have you not put a huge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch our your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.

We see here in Job, a very early book in the history of redemption, we see that Satan can move freely in and out of heaven.  He can speak freely to the Lord, and even accuse the saints.  This is a terrifying thought.

Imagine.  God, have you considered your servant Jeremy?  Have you taken a look at his heart and mind recently?  Oof.  There are some sinful thoughts and sinful emotions brewing in there.  You really want him to be one of your people?

But.  It’s not like that anymore.  Turn with me to our second passage, Zechariah 3

Zechariah 3:1 - Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

Seems to be the same.  Satan is in heaven, ready to accuse.

And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan!  The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!  Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

The passage goes on to tell of God’s encouragement to Joshua, and how God clothed him in clean garments.

There is a shift here.  Satan is not allowed to speak anymore.  Satan is still in heaven, but he has been silenced by the Angel of the Lord - our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Satan is there to accuse, but he has been MUTED.  His accusations no longer ring out, and all he can do is scowl and point.

But that’s not where it ends.  It gets better for us and worse for him.  One more passage.  Revelation 12.

Revelation 12:7 - Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was throne down, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.”

WOW.

From freely accusing Job, to a muted accusation of Joshua, to being thrown out of heaven by the power of the blood of the Lamb…beloved…WE HAVE NO ACCUSER ANYMORE!

The accusations that might ring in your ears DO NOT RING IN HEAVEN!

And so, while Satan may scream his demonic screams about your unworthiness to you…NO ACCUSATIONS RING OUT IN HEAVEN.

And the other term?  Condemn?  This is the language of the judge.  Not just anyone can condemn.  And the only one with the power to condemn is the one who said, just 33 verses ago - there is therefore now NOT ONE CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN JESUS CHRIST.

Muted exiled accusations, not a single condemnation.  WHAT A PROMISE!  WHAT HOPE!  WHAT A FUTURE!  This is the future that we are promised as those who are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.  And this identity is secure.  Our final point.

Verse 35 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Who indeed?

Our opponents have no power.

The Judge has condemned another in our place

Our accuser has been silenced

God has chosen, and out of His extravagant love that makes no sense to us…He has chosen…well…US.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

All of these earthly things…all of the suffering that we might undergo…can it separate us from the love of Christ?

Do these things, these sufferings mean that we ARE ALREADY SEPARATED from His love?  How could God allow this?  Because this suffering cannot be compared to the glory waiting for us.  Because God working everything out for good does not mean that it’s going to be easy right now.  It doesn’t mean that the good will necessarily come to us in this life!  But remember Paul’s theology of suffering, those four words from last time: IT IS WORTH IT.

Skipping verse 37 for now…

Verse 38 - For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers

Paul is SURE.  Paul is PERSUADED.  Paul is CONVINCED BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that there is nothing that He could think of that could separate believers from their Saviour.  And so he lists off everything he can think of.  Everything that a member of his church might worry could separate them from Christ.

  • Does He love me while I am alive in the body, struggling to live a faithful life, failing regularly?

    • YES HE DOES.  This is how He found you when He set His love on you.

  • Does He love me even after I die?

    • YES HE DOES.  After you die, you shall see His face and dwell with Him forever.

  • Does He love me even compared with angels who are holy and perfect and powerful and far better suited for heaven than I am?

    • YES HE DOES.  He did not call an angel His son.  Angels are servants, you are an HEIR!

  • Does He love me even in the midst of what the demons say about me?

    • YES HE DOES.  God isn’t listening to them.  They have no voice in His courtroom.  Only the judge’s voice matters.

 

And then Paul turns to the universal laws, just to make sure he didn’t miss anything

Verse 39 - Nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing.  Nothing visible or invisible.  Nothing earthly or supernatural.  Nothing in ALL CREATION can stop the love of God.  No power in the universe can stop Him.  And HE IS FOR US.

He is for us and…backing up to verse 37 to close…He is for us, and WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

 

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

What does this mean?  Literally Paul has shoved together two words - HUPER meaning more, exceedingly, abundantly.  The idea here is that of something SUPERCHARGED….

HUPER and NIKOMEN, someone who conquers, someone who is victorious in battle.

HUPERNIKOMEN - We are more than conquerors.

But what does this mean?

Well, a conqueror is someone who is victorious.  A conqueror is someone who defeats his foe.

And so, if Romans 8:37 said that we were NIKOMEN, this would be wonderful, this would be comforting.  But this would mean that the summary of this sermon in one sentence would be: “it’s going to be okay.”

But we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.  “It’s going to be SO MUCH MORE THAN ‘OK.’ ”

  • A conqueror could die in battle.  The victory might come at the price of a conqueror’s life.

  • A conqueror could be wounded.  The conqueror might walk with a limp, or be disfigured, or suffer mental trauma.

  • A conqueror could suffer loss - friends, family, comrades.

Now, we have heard before how our God is more than a conqueror.  He more than conquers us.  He doesn't just destroy us, but He transforms us into members of His family.  AMAZING.  And this is what we should do as well as we witness.  Seeking to turn our enemies into brothers.

BUT.

We are more than conquerors.  What does this mean for us as our IDENTITY?

As more than conquerors, we conquer even before we conquer.  While we are fighting, while we are fighting with temptation, we can look up and hear the voice of our Saviour over us - NO CONDEMNATION.  NOT ONE CONDEMNATION.  While we are fighting with Satan, we can remember that we are the only ones who hear his accusations.  While we are fighting with our fellow human beings, we can know that this will end one of two ways - with my opponent defeated and cast outside the gates of heaven, or with my opponent transformed into my beloved brother.

We conquer even before we conquer.  While fighting the battle we rejoice.  I know how it’s going to end.  It will be ok…and I will be so much more than okay!

And one more way, one more meaning to this phrase - we will emerge from the fight, not bruised and bloody, not wounded, not injured, but we will emerge UNTOUCHED BY THE FIGHT.

When we pass through this veil into the next world, there will be NO MORE SCARS from our time here.  Our traumas, our pain?  HEALED INSTANTLY.  There'll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new.  Mental challenges, memory loss, confusion…those things that can plague the elderly…not for a second in heaven.  In Heaven we will be perfected, we will be strong, we will be glorified, with none of our earthly weaknesses remaining.  Like gold, purified in the fire.

To be a conqueror means that you WON.  But at what cost?

But to be MORE THAN A CONQUEROR means that you have won, and someone else has paid the cost.

For WE will have no scars in Heaven, but there is one who will.

The only scars in Heaven won't belong to me or you.

There'll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new

And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down

Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now

Beloved…we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.  More than conquerors through Him who loved us.

What then shall we say to these things?

Hallelujah, yes Lord Jesus!

Hallelujah, AMEN!




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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