Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 29, 2018
Let us begin this morning with our April memory verse. This will be our last Sunday focusing on this verse. Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Today will also be our last Sunday in Romans 8, famously known as “Great Eight”, and hopefully after spending several months in this chapter you are finding out why it is called Great Eight. In summary, we can conclude that the purpose of the Apostle Paul, and the purpose of the Holy Spirit, in chapter eight is to reassure Christians of their eternal security in the Lord.
The chapter began by claiming that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. It then proceeds to unpack the reality that every believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf. Then we are told that God uses everything for our good. Which mean that all of God uses all of his creation to lead all of us to an ultimate good. So in just that statement alone, Christian, we have assurance, for there is no way that it ends bad for a believer. Chapter eight then moves into what was called the “Golden Chain.” Where we are told that God foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and glorified us. No one falls out of this chain. The entire point of this passage is to give us assurance of our eternal security. If you are in Christ, you are guaranteed to see glory. Why? Because this is your eternal destiny ordained by an eternal God.
Which leads us to what we unpacked last week. Paul poses the question, “What then shall we say to these things?” To that question, Paul reminds us that God is on our side. That God is for us. That God is so “for us” that he gave the greatest gift that can be given, his Son, Jesus Christ. There is nothing that God can give more than Christ. And if God gave you Christ to save you, your wretched sinner, then you can rest assured that he will see it through to the end. And this morning we are going to continue with these thoughts as we examine verses 35-39, but for purposes of context let us stand and read verse 31-39 in its entirety.
The Love of Christ
In verse 35 we see the Apostle Paul say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” So let us nail down what is meant by the love of Christ. First, let us say what it is not. The love of Christ is not our love of Christ. Yes, it is true we love Christ. Yes, it is true that God has given us a new heart with new affections and Jesus is the object of our highest affections. However, this is not what Paul is referring to in this passage. The context makes this overwhelming clear. The purpose of Romans 8 is to exult the sovereignty of God from beginning to the end of our salvation. The purpose is to shine the light of God’s glory in your election, justification, sanctification, and glorification. Therefore, what Paul is talking about in verse 35 is not the love of Christians, but the love of Christ, the love that Christ possesses.
As we know, love involves two objects, the lover and the loved. As we said, Paul is talking about Jesus as the lover, the source of love, so who or what is the object of Christ’s love? Who is the beloved? In verse 35 Paul refers to “us.” The “us” are the beloved. So who are the “us”? Last week we unpacked this same exact question. And last week we observed that the “us” were those whom God foreknew, predestined, called, and justified. We saw last week that the “us” are those who God is for. Verse 31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We saw last week that the “us” are those who God gave the gift of his son to. Verse 32, “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?” We saw last week that the “us” are God’s elect. Verse 33, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” As we saw election is just another word for those chosen.
Therefore, the object of Christ’s love are the foreknown, predestined, called, and justified. The object of Christ’s loves are the elect. The object of Christ’s love are those who were given the gift of Christ.
And what is the gift of Christ? What is this display of love that originates in Christ and is poured out on us? It is his life, death, and resurrection. Verse 34, “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.” The love of Christ is the sacrificial atonement of Jesus. 1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The love of Christ is a love of sacrifice. A love that addresses our deepest problem, sin and death.
Jesus speaks of this sacrificial love in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” This is the love of Christ; the giving up his life so that you can live. This is what makes Jesus our good Shepherd. John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Who are these sheep that Jesus knows, they are the elect. What does he do for these sheep? He lays down his life for them.
And who is this Good Shepherd? Listen to what Paul says about Jesus in Colossians 1:15-20, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Therefore, the greatest being performs the greatest act of love. And he does this for the purpose of reconciling you to himself. Jesus wants you so bad that he laid down his life for you. As it says in Ephesians 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” And why did Jesus do this? Because we are awesome? NO. Because he is awesome.
Nothing Shall Separate
But let us turn back to Romans 8 and remind ourselves of the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” To that Paul launches into one of two lists, ” Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
The interesting thing about this list for Paul is that it is not just theological it is experiential. For the things in this list are things that Paul has lived since he gave his life to Christ. Paul’s life as a follower of Christ was far from easy. None of your lives compare to how hard Paul’s life was.
Listen to how Paul describes his life as a servant for Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:11, “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”
Then in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Paul gives detail of his life as a missionary, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;26on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,b in cold and exposure. 28And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” The list in Romans 8 is not Paul waxing poetically, it is the testimony of his life following Christ.
But Paul is not alone, for the life of a Christian is not a life of health, wealth, and prosperity. It is a life of trials and tribulations. Listen to these verses.
The Christians life is hard, it is not easy. Just ask our brother Job. Satan took his wealth, Satan took his family, Satan took his health, but do you know what Satan could not take from him? The love of God. God had set his eternal affections on Job and no trial or tribulation could destroy God's love. And this is true for Job and it is true for all of God’s children. God is our loving Father, and he sent his Son to bring you into his family, and nothing can destroy that relationship, for it is forged in the furnace of God’s eternal love.
And just in case we don’t understand that we are eternally God’s through the death of Christ, Paul gives us a second list. Verse 38, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor 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.“
Beloved, ponder that list. Let each word sink in. Your death cannot separate you from the love of Christ. For a believer, death is a doorway into paradise. Nothing in your life can separate you from the love of Christ. Not money, not your job, not your friends, not your family, not wealth, not poverty. Angels and Demons cannot separate you from the love of Christ. They are not more powerful than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They do not have the authority to rip you out of the hands of God. Nothing that is going on in your life right now, nor anything that is waiting for you tomorrow or the next day can separate you from the love of Christ. Verse 39 says neither height nor depth can separate you, these Greek words were used to describe the celestial space below and above the horizon, therefore the idea is that there is nothing in the universe that way (up), or that way (down) that can separate us from God's love. And just to reinforce this idea, Paul says “nor anything in all creation.”
So once again, ponder that, nothing, absolutely nothing can separated you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Or to say it another way, absolutely nothing can make you lose your salvation. All Christians are eternally secure. If you are born again, you will be saved for all time.
But some of you will say, “But I know a person who fell away from the Lord and stopped believing in Jesus. What about him? He was not eternally secure” Your right, he was not eternally secure, because he was never secure. He was not born again, he was a Judas. His faith was not a gift from God it originated in his own flesh. Perhaps the best text that speaks to this is 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” One of the distinguishing marks of a true believer is that they never fall away, no matter what.
More than Conquerors
So if we, Christians, are not Judas's what are we? Look at verse 37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Christians are “more than conquerors.” What does that mean?
More than conquerors is one word in the Greek. It is hypernikaō (hü-per-nē-kä'-ō). As you can probably tell, it is made up of two words. Hyper, which means over, above, beyond. And nikaō, which means to overcome, prevail, be victorious. The Greek word comes from the Greek God Nike, which we are all familiar with due to the sports apparel company Nike.
So Christians are not just Nike, we are above Nike. We are a people who don't just “do it”, and get through it. We go beyond just doing it. But how? How are we beyond victorious in our lives? Remember, what is Paul talking about. He is talking about things that try to separate us from the love of Christ. These are not good things, they are bad things. Things that make us weep, things that make our souls downcast, things that bring us to the brink. As Christians, we don't just endure hardships and make it to the other side. But instead this hardships are used to make us like Jesus. Remember verse 28? God uses all things for our good. What is our good? Reaching glory? What is glory? Our destiny of becoming like Christ in every way.
This is what it means to be more than a conqueror. That God uses our deepest struggle to make the deepest change in our life to sanctify us, to make us holy, to fulfill our destiny, to become like Jesus. And because we are more than conquerors, we should rejoice in our trials and tribulations, and the Apostle Paul has already said this earlier in Romans 5:3, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Preached at Cornerstone church in Cascade, IA on April 22, 2018
Let us begin this morning with our April memory verse, Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Today, we will continue to unpack this marvelous, unchanging and eternal truth of a believer’s relationship with God Almighty. Because we have so much to cover, in such a short time, let us dive right into our text for this morning. Will you please stand for the reading of God’s inspired Word.
What Then Shall We Say
First, I want to draw your attention to the number of questions that we find in our text this morning. If my count is right, Paul puts forward seven questions. This is not uncommon for Paul. He commonly poses questions in his letters. It appears that Paul subscribes to a Socratic teaching approach. But why? I believe that it is because Paul’s desire is for the truth and knowledge of God to be internalized by the reader. Paul wants us to think deeply about God’s truth and its implications in our lives. Unfortunately, for many Bible readers, we just skim the text and we don’t let it sink in. This is not God’s intent, for his word to be skimmed.
“What then shall we say to these things?” What are “these things” that Paul is talking about? Paul is talking about the things he just mentioned in verses 28-30. That God is using all things for our good. He is talking about that God foreknew believers before time began. That God predestined us. That God called us. That God justified us. And that in the mind of God, believers are already glorified. The “these things” is the assurance of our salvation from beginning to end. And Paul asks the reader, what is your response to the revelation of the eternal love and grace of God? How does knowing this eternal and unchanging truth affect your life? How is it relevant?
And this type of question should always be upon our mind here at Cornerstone Church. As we stick our noses into the Bible, we do not study for the sake of studying. We study for the sake of sanctification. We study the Word of God to know God; and that knowledge of God transforms us into being like Christ. Theses things that we have been saturating in for one month should transform our lives forever.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Paul, in answering his own question, poses another, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” If you notice, this is a conditional question? It is a “If/than” clause. So let us begin by taking the “if” side of the equation. What does Paul mean when he says “God is for us?” Let us first remind ourselves who is this God who is for us. Let me read a few verses about this God of ours.
The Us of God's Elect
Now let us ask the question, who is “us?” Look at verse 33, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” The “us” is his elect. What does elect mean? In Greek it is the word “eklektos.” It literally means to be picked out, to be chosen. So picture a jar of jelly beans. To elect some of those beans would be to reach in and pick some, but not all, to eat.
Chosen by whom? By God. The us is “God's elect.” God's chosen. We are picked out by God. Therefore, God is the instigator of our salvation. But when did he pick us out? Look back to verse 29, “those whom he foreknew.” We were picked out by God before we existed. So just like predestination is a biblical term, so is election. Election is not a term that was created by John Calvin, it was a term created by the Holy Spirit. The word eklektos is used 24 times in the New Testament. The vast majority of those times it is referring to God’s people. God wants you to think about yourself as God's chosen. He wants your to embrace this term, not hide from it.
In fact, let me read you one of those occurrences from 1 Peter 1:1-2 that pulls together the idea of election and the foreknowledge of God. Listen to how Peter addresses Christians in his letter.
In John 6, Jesus had thousands of people following him, in fact, they wanted to make him their king.. Jesus said to them that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood to be saved. Jesus was speaking symbolically about having faith in him, but nonetheless, the crowds did not recognize it as symbolic and they all left. Jesus then turns to his disciples as say in John 6:67 ,”Do you want to go away as well?”68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve?”
The reason that the disciples chose to remain with Christ, the reason that they believed in who he claimed to be was solely based upon Christ choosing them. It was the reason that they remained, and the thousands did not. And as it says in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
God is Eternally For Us
So now that we have defined God and have defined us, let us define “for.” What does it mean he is “for us?” Verse 28 says that this almighty God uses all things for our good, both good and bad, big and small. Verse 29 through 30 says that he foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us and will glorify us. Folks, you can’t get any more “for” someone than that. God is “for us” from beginning to end and everything in between.
The next time you are feeling down, the next time you are struggling in life, they next time you feel defeated, remember who is on your side, remember who is for you. In fact, God is more for you that you are for you. King David in Psalm 42:5 said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”
Who Can be Against?
So God is one side of the equation. Let us now look at the other side, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Who is “who?” Who is everyone else. This would include our family, our friends, our neighbors, our employers, the governments, and religious zealots. None of these people or their institutions stand a chance against God Almighty.
Listen to what Psalm 2:1-4 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs;” It is a ridiculous and futile attempt that this world makes stand against God and his people. It is laughable. And we as God's elect must embrace this truth. We are not victims, we are victors. As it says in verse 37 and we will talk more about next Sunday, “We are more than conquerors.” Unfortunately, for many of us and at many times, we sure don't act like it. It is time we understand who we are and who is for us.
But not only does the who include people and institutions of this world, it also includes spiritual beings and spiritual dominions, specifically Satan and his followers. Satan is the most powerful created being in existence. In Ezekiel 28 it describes Satan before his rebellion as a Cherub, perfect in beauty and wisdom. And after his attempt to ascend higher than God, he was cast to earth. Through his cunning he deceived Adam and Eve and plunged all humanity into darkness.
In John 12:31, Jesus calls Satan the ruler of this world. In Ephesians 2:2 he is called the Prince of the Power of the air. In Revelation 12 he is symbolized as a dragon who makes war upon the Church. In 1 Peter 5 he is called our enemy and a prowling lion looking for someone to devour. In John 8 Jesus refers to him as the Father of lies and a murder. In Matthew 4 he is referred to as the tempter. In fact, the name Satan means adversary.
But in relationship to God, who is Satan? Nothing. Satan is absolutely nothing. God is the Potter and Satan is a measly piece of clay. The difference between the greatness of God and Satan is immeasurable, because God is infinite and Satan is finite. God and Satan are not equal forces of Good verses evil. Satan is a dog on the leash of God.
However, there is one description of Satan that we skipped over, and that is that Satan is The Accuser. In Revelation 12:10 it says, “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.“ What does this mean? Satan in the Court room of God plays the role of a prosecutor. As it relates to your life, Satan stands before God opens up the law and points to your millions of sins and cries out guilty, guilty, guilty, and he demands justice. Satan's primary purpose to is accuse you before a Holy God.
But what did I just read to you in Revelation 12:10?, “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.“ Because Christ has come Satan, our accuser, has no power over the brothers and sisters of Christ. Through Christ at Calvary, Satan has been tossed out of the Courtroom of God and has no standing before the Almighty Judge.
Which leads us back to Romans 8:33, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who 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 can bring a charge against us? No one. No person, no fallen angel, not even Satan himself. We are completely innocent in the Courtroom of God. And why is this? “It is God who justifies.” The judge himself justifies us. We do not justify ourselves. God justifies us. And because we are justified by High God himself, there is absolutely no condemnation. Not just in the future, but now. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Not later, not some day, not when we get to heaven. Justification is now for those who placed their faith in Christ Jesus.
And why is this? Why are we justified at the moment we put our faith in Christ? Look at verse 34, “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.”
Remember back in Romans 6:23 Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death.” The penalty for our sin is death. This is what the law demands, our death, physical and then eternal death. This is what Satan screams for. The murder that he wants is your eternal death. But what does Christ do? He dies. Christ, the Son of the God. Emmanuel. The Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. Christ died in our place as a substitutionary sacrifice. He paid our price in full. We are justified by the blood of the lamb.
So is God for us? You bet. You can't be more for us than God. Look at verse 32, “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?” God can't give more than Christ. Christ is the biggest, best, most pure, most valuable, gift that exists, and God gave him to us, his chosen, as a gift to get us to glory. Blessed by the name of the Lord!
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 15, 2018
Let us begin with our April memory verse, Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In your bulletin, there should be a new all-encompassing memory verse sheet with all of our verses that we have memorized up to this point. As I have said before, I hope that you are your family are being intentional about memorizing these verses and reviewing the previous ones. I know it is something the Parsons' House needs to be better at.
Today, we continue to slowly walk through Romans 8. And this will be our third week unpacking verse 28; and to be honest, I think I am moving too fast. All week, after last Sunday's sermon, I kept thinking to myself, I should have said this or I should have said that.
If you recall, three weeks ago we looked at verse 28 in isolation, and we stood in awe of the sovereignty of God over all things; that God is the Master Architect of our lives, through his providence working together all things for our good. Last week, we began by looking at the foundation of verse 28. This foundation is found in verses 29 and 30. And as we saw, these foundational blocks are from the perspective of God. This is God's eye view of your salvation from beginning to end. This is how God understands his purposes as they relate to us.
And the first foundational block we saw was the foreknowledge of God, “those those whom he foreknew.” And we saw that foreknowledge is not informational, but that it is relational. We observed that God’s foreknowledge is God’s eternal love of His elect; those whom he foreknew. These are the ones that God set his favor upon before they existed, and even before time began.
Next we observed that everyone that God foreknew he predestined, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” All that he foreknew he predestine, not just some, but all. And he predestined them for the purpose of conforming them to the image of His Son. Therefore, the Sovereign God of the Universe had a goal in mind for his children, and the goal was Christlikeness. Therefore, if you are a Christians, this is your purpose; this is your destiny. God is moving you from one degree to the next to the next to be more and more like Christ, and he is using all things for this purpose.
Our destiny is to be like Christ, but we do not sit back idly and assume that this will occur without our effort. I am reminded of what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We are called to press on, to strain for holiness. And will we obtain it? Yes, for the Spirit of God works in us to bring about our destiny.
Now with that brief review under our belt, let us continue to unpack Romans 8:28-30, and let us stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
Whom He Called
Now, as I said earlier, Romans 8:28-30 is from the perspective of God. These are the dominoes of our salvation as God see them. The first domino is the eternal foreknowledge of God. The second domino is the predestining of God. This now brings us to our third domino, the calling of God.
And this domino, the calling of God, is when God’s eternal love and His predestining purpose breaks into time, for the foreknowledge of God and the predestining of God occur before creation; when the only thing that exists is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
So now let us talk about this doctrine of being called. First, we must recognize once again, that all those who are predestined are called, “And those whom he predestined he also called.” If you are predestined you will be called. Just like all those who are foreknew are predestined. Therefore, all those that are foreknown are eventually called, for this is a part of their destiny. This is the assurance and security and comfort of Romans 8:28-20, that no one drops out of this sequence. Everyone who starts at being foreknown reaches the end, which is glory.
Second we must understand who is doing the calling in verse 30. It is God. It says, “He also called.” God is doing the calling. The Sovereign God of the universe is calling. The High King of Heaven is calling. And we should recognize that God is a God who calls, and he has been calling people since the beginning.
But what does Paul mean in verse 30 when he talks about the call of God? In answering this question we must recognize that the call of God in verse 30 is bookended by two other words: predestined and justified. Calling is the domino that falls between the two. The call of God is the necessary link that bridges the gap between God’s predestined purpose of Christlikeness and our justification. Therefore, the call of God is a call of transitional power. It is a call that is what is termed effectual. This call produces an effect, and once again, this call is 100% effective for those who are foreknown and predestined. For those who are familiar with the Doctrines of Grace, this is the “I” in the the acronym, TULIP. I stands for irresistible grace. The effectual call of God is irresistible.
Perhaps a good way to think about this effectual call of God that always leads to justification is a royal summons. When the King calls, everyone responds. Why? Because the King has all authority. And as we have already discussed, God is the Sovereign King of the Universe, so when he calls, we respond. Jesus speaks of this in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” How does God draw a man? By calling them.
Now, let us ask the question, what form does this call of God take. Does God say, “Hey you! Come here?” No, the call of God comes through the proclamation of the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The royal summons of God comes through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Remember one of our memory verses, Romans1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the irresistible power of God. This gospel power of God is effectual. It summons men to Christ.
We also see this in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul says, “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” The gospel that came to those in Thessalonica contained had Holy Spirit power. The gospel that Paul preached convicted them of their sin and drew them to Christ.
But many of you will now say, “Wait a second, I have shared the gospel many times, and numerous people were not convicted of their sin. Why is that?” The sharing of the gospel is to be proclaimed to all men. We call this a general call. We scattered the gospel seeds everywhere; however, only on those who are foreknown and predestined, does the Gospel come with Holy Spirit power. The best place that we see this unfold in the Scriptures is in Acts 13:48. Paul is preaching the gospel in the town of Antioch of Pisidia, and this is what it says in verse 48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” The only ones who believed are the ones who were appointed to eternal life. The general call of God went out to all, but it was only effectual to those who were called, predestined, and foreknown by God.
Jesus speaks to this reality in John 10. In Chapter 10, Jesus is the Shepherd and Christians are his sheep. First in John 10:2, Jesus says, “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Who are the sheep Jesus knows by name? Those who are foreknown and predestined. These sheep follow Jesus. These sheep believe.
Then in John 10:25-27 Jesus says speaking to unbelievers says, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The reason not everyone believes the gospel is because they are not the sheep of Christ. And what is the voice of Christ to his sheep, the effectual call of the gospel.
Who He Justified
I realize we spent a lot of time on the word call, but now let us transition to the next block in the foundation, the next domino that falls. Look at verse 30 again, “and those whom he called he also justified.” So once again we see that all who are called are justified. No one drops out. All who are foreknown are predestined. All who are predestined are called. All who are called are justified.
We won’t spend a lot of time on justification because we have already unpacked it in chapter 3 and 4. But let us remember what justification means. Justification means to be declared not guilty by God. To be justified is to be forgiven of our sins.
And this puts a spotlight on who God is calling unto him. Prior to God calling, we are not justified. Justification comes after calling. Therefore, God calls the guilty. In fact, not only does God call the guilty, he calls the dead. Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodya and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” God calls the dead. God calls the sinner. God calls the disobedient. God calls those who are deserving of God’s wrath. And what does he do after he calls them? He justifies them. He declares them not guilty.
How? Through faith in Jesus Christ. But notice, Paul does not say faith in Christ in verse 30. He goes from called to justified. Why? Because in the effectual gospel call of God is the gift of repentance and faith. Remember earlier, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, the gospel brought full conviction. In the call of God is the gift of repentance and faith.
As you know, repentance and faith and not attributes of the spiritually dead; these are attributes of the living. When the effectual call comes, the transgressor feels the weight of their sin, and turns from their rebellion and places their trust in Jesus Christ. And it is through faith in Jesus Christ that a person is justified. Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
For us, who have repented and put our faith in Christ, this is our current status. God has already foreknown us. God has already predestined us. God has already called us. And God has already justified us. This is why chapter eight of Romans begins with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are now guilt free because of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
He Also Glorified
Which leads us to our last domino to fall. Look at verse 30 one more time, “and those whom he justified he also glorified.” What does glorified mean? If we step back into verse 18 we see the use of the word glory, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Then we see the word glory used again in verse 21. “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” So what does glorified mean? It means the final state of perfection redemption. Glorified means the fulfillment of our destiny, Christlike in soul and in body. Standing in the presence of God in perfect harmony with no more sin, no more pain, no more tears, and no more death. Glory is the state of the eternal weight of joy.
And once again, you will notice that all who are justified are glorified. No one drops out. If you are a true, born again Christians, you will make it to the end. No one loses their salvation. This is the whole point of verses 28-30. If someone you knows go from being a Christian to not being a Christian, that means that they never really were a Christian to begin with. They are a Judas. How do we know this? Because all who are justified are glorified. Likewise, all who are glorified were also foreknown and predestined and called.
For us this morning, we are in between the dominoes of justified and glorified. But notice, it does not say, “will be glorified.” It says “he also glorified.” They way this is written it is as if it has already occurred. And in the mind of God, it has. Remember, this golden chain of foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified is from God's perspective. Therefore, in the mind of the Almighty God, we are already glorified. It is as good as done. God is transcendent. He is outside of time. He is above time. Therefore, even though we are yet to be glorified, from God's perspective, we already are.
And with that final and eternal domino falling, we can see why Romans 8:28 is true, “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God's purpose is to redeem his chosen through his Son and bring them into His glory. And if you love God, everything in your life is oriented to that end. This is the answer to the “Why me” question for Christians. Why you? Because God is using all things for your good, which happens to include conforming you into the image of Christ and bringing you to glory.
So, hopefully, now you can see what Romans 8 is called Great Eight. There is no greater assurance that can be found in all of Scripture then these verses we have been studying. God is Sovereign, God is Good, and God loves you from eternity to eternity.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 9, 2018
Let us begin this morning by reciting our April memory verse. Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” What a wonderful truth to cling to.
Two weeks ago I preached on verse 28, and in that sermon we took time to stand in awe of this massive promise from a Sovereign God, that God uses all things for our good. We meditated on the truth that the unchanging God of the Universe is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. We examined Scripture that clearly expressed that God ordains, by his providence, all things of His creation, even the most seemingly random events like the roll of the dice. We recognized that these “all things” would include not just good things, but bad things. It would include trials and tribulations, such as injuries, sickness, poverty, persecution, divisions, and even death.
And we saw that this promise that God uses all things for our good gives us an immense amount of peace and comfort; for we recognize that the moments of our lives are not meaningless; that suffering is not meaningless. We recognize that God has a reason why you have cancer, that God has a reason your child dies, that God has a reason for depression...and the reason is for you good.
Today and next Sunday we are going to continue to unpack this massive promise of God by looking at the foundation of verse 28. We are going to look at what holds up this enormous and encouraging truth. With that said, let’s get right to work and see what God has to say to us this morning. Please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
What is the For There For
Let us begin by looking at verse 29. Verse 29 begins with the word “For.” The word “for” is made up of just three letters, but is of fundamental importance. The word “for” is what is called a conjunction. Every time you see a conjunction in your Bible, I would recommend you circle it, because it is of significant importance to understand the logic of God’s Word. What a conjunction does is that it connects two clauses. In our text for today, the word “for” connects the clause of verse 28 with the clause of verse 29 and 30. The promise of verse 28 is connected to the truths that are contained in the following verse.
The word “for” could also be translated to “because”. In fact, let’s read our text with the word “because” in place of the word “for”. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29[because] those whom he foreknew he also predestined…” Does that help?
The word “for” or “because” is telling us the reason why the promise in verse 28 is true. The word “for” is pointing to the foundation that holds up the massive promise that all things work together for a believer’s good.
So let us know examine that foundation, but before I do. Let me say one thing, there comes times in your Christian walk that your faith in God’s Word will be tested. When you are first born again, you are immature in the faith, just like a newborn baby, and through the reading and studying of God’s Word you begin to grow. Some of the things you read in God’s Word will be difficult to accept. And this is because of your sinful flesh. For example you may read that you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, and your flesh will resist it. Or you may read that God is a jealous God, and your flesh doesn’t like how that sounds. Or you may read that God is ordaining trials and tribulations in your life, and you don't want to see a loving God through this lens. Or you may read that God has designed marriage that the husband is the head and the wife must submit to his leadership, your flesh doesn't was to submit to your God given role.
For some of you, today may be one of those days. A day where you will hear things that you are going to struggle with because of your sinful flesh. Your faith in God’s Word may get tested today. So, now, let us examine these foundations.
Those Whom He Foreknew
The first block in this foundation is the phrase, “For those whom he foreknew.” Let us begin by answering the simple question, who are the “those.” Who is Paul speaking about when he says “those”. All we have to do is to look at verse 28. The “those” are “those who love God.” They are “those who are called.” If we continue to trace it backwards up through Romans it, the “those” are those who have the indwelling of Holy Spirit that intercedes on their behalf. The “those” are the ones who are adopted into God’s family that cry out Abba Father. The “those” are the ones have set their minds of the things of the Spirit, not on the flesh. The “those” are the one who have “no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” If we continue back to Romans chapter 1-7, we see the “those” are those who delight in the law, are dead to the law, slaves to righteousness, free from sin, alive in Christ, have peace with God, justified by faith, and saved through the power of the gospel. Or to put it another way, the “those” in verse 29 are born again Christians.
Now, let us look at the next part, we are told in verse 29, that “he” (God) foreknew Christians. What does foreknew mean? The Greek word is proginōskō (pro-gē-nō'-skō). It is made up of two parts, “pro” which means before. And ginōskō (gē-nō'-skō) which means to know. Now, there are two ways that you can think about to know: 1) Information and 2) Intimacy. For example, I know that 1 + 1 = 2. That is the knowledge of information. I know that this podium is black. That is the knowledge of information. However, there is a different way to use the word know, and it is a word of intimacy. We actually see this type of knowledge used frequently in the Bible.
With this in mind, it helps us understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 7:22 when he says, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” When Jesus says, “I never knew you” he is not talking about information, for we know that Jesus is fully God, and therefore he is all knowing. What Jesus is saying is, depart from me, I have never had a relationship with you. And this is how the word “foreknown” is being used in Romans 8:29.
It is not a reference to information, it is a reference to intimacy, specifically, God’s relationship with Christians before they existed. God does not know about us, he knows us. Here are a couple of verses to back this idea up about God’s intimate relationship with his children before they exist.
God, before his children existed, knew them. The Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, existing in perfect harmony before He created time, knew you. He knew your name, he knew what your characteristics would be, he knew your days, he knew your calling, he knew everything about you, but not just informationally, God knew you intimately. I loved the way John Gill wrote it, “He foreknew them from everlasting, affectionately loved them, and took infinite delight and pleasure in them.”
Therefore, as I have said before, when you get to Heaven and ask God, “How long have you loved me?” He will say, “I have loved you forever.” Psalm 103:17 says, “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.” So talk about a deep foundation. There is no bottom to the foundation of God’s steadfast, eternal love.
Predestined to be Conformed to the Image of His Son
Let us now look at the next foundational block. Verse 29 again, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” For all Christians who has loved before time, he predestines them.
Now, this is where it gets a little hairy for some of you. I don’t know how many times I have heard the word “free will” during Bible studies. It is almost a guarantee that when a new person joins a Bible study, that within two or three studies they will say God gave us free will. Let me share a little secret with you, the concept of “free will” is nowhere in the Bible. In fact, what do we see in out text today? Free will? No, we see the word predestined.
I have to admit, I get so frustrated with people who ask me if I believe in predestination? As if it is a theology, verses a Biblical doctrine. I don’t want to sound too snarky, but we all have eyes don’t we? Verse 29 explicitly says, “he also predestined.” Predestination is a God word, not a theological word. The Greek word behind it is “proorizō (pro-o-rē'-zō) which means to predetermine, to decide beforehand, to decree from eternity, to foreordain. This word means that God has a pre-determined destiny for his children. That God has a guaranteed goal for your life.
In fact, we can reach back into verse 28 and see the phrase “according to his purpose.” An all knowing, all powerful God has a purpose for His creation. He has an end in sight, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he will accomplish it. Isaiah 46:9-10, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” God has a purpose, and will accomplish his purpose. And those who he foreknows are a part of that purpose.
And what is that purpose, as it relates to us? What is the per-determined destiny of God's children? To be conformed to the image of Jesus. Your destiny is to be like Jesus is every way. And this was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world was laid, to create you and then to conform you.
Now some of you may say, aren't we already made in the image of God? Isn't that what it says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Yes and no. We are created in the image of God, and bear certain communicable attributes that are Godlike, such as affections, reason, dominion; however because of sin, the image of God is a marred image, a distorted image, perhaps you could even say a counterfeit image. The image we bear is not of Christ, but of Adam. Remember Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— “ We are descendents of a fallen Adam, and bear his image as a sinner.
But this is not a Christians destiny and this is why Christ came into the world to change what you display. Christ came to destroy the image of Adam and to replace it with the image of Himself. And what does the image of Christ look like? It looks like holiness. Listen to what Jesus says throughout the Gospel of John.
To look like Christ, is to do the Father's will. Earlier I read to you Matthew 7:23? It says, “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” If Christ knows you, specifically foreknew you, you will be conformed to the image of Christ. Meaning that you will not be lawless, but you will be law abiding. You will hunger and thirst for righteousness. Your food will be to do the will of God.
If you claim to be a Christian, but there is no distinction between you and the world, then you may not be a Christian, for Christians are being molded into Jesus, we are being conformed to His image.
But how does this happen? How are God's children, who are born looking like sinful Adam, dead in our trespasses and sins, following the course of this world conformed to be like Christ? We must be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. Don't forget what Romans 8 is substantially about? It is about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Verse 9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” It is by the Spirit of God that we are conformed the the Image of Christ. It is our destiny, and it is our guarantee.
As it says in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 1, 2018
He has risen! As we being this morning, I want to take a moment and welcome our visitors this morning. We are glad you chose Cornerstone Church to worship the Lord this Easter. I hope you feel loved and welcome.
If you are not familiar with Cornerstone Church, I like to tell people that we are Christ exulting and Bible believing. We treasure Christ and treasure the truths about Christ that are found in the Scriptures. And every Sunday we do the same thing, we open up the Scriptures and we listen to what God has to tell us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This book is breathed out by God, which is just another way to say that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, if you want to hear from heaven, it is as simple as reading your Bible.
And that is what we do day in and day out at Cornerstone Church we open up the living, active, and unchanging Word of God and see what it says. Perhaps some of you heard this week, the Pope found himself in a little bit of a PR nightmare. Allegedly the Pope, during an interview, told a reporter that there was no such thing as Hell. Now whether he said this or not, I don’t know, but it sheds an immense amount of light on the problem of seeing the word of man as equal to the Word of God. Man can change their mind. One day claim there is a hell and the next day it disappears. One day claim that you’re saved by grace and the next day say you are saved by works. One day claim you can’t be absolved for sin for a particular sin and the next day you can. This is the shifting sand of man. But this is not the case for God’s word. Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” God's word does not evolve.
Now when we think about God’s Word, the Bible, what comes to your mind? Some of you would say Jesus. Others may say love. Still some of you would say judgment. And all of those answers would be correct.
But this morning I want you to think about the Bible as a book of promises, for that is what it is. From Genesis to Revelation it is full of the promises of God, and this morning we will look at two of those promises in our text today: mercy and a heavenly inheritance. So with that said, let us turn to our text for this morning, 1 Peter 1:1-10 and please stand in honor of the reading of God’s sacred Word.
Let us begin by recognizing that the Bible is a book written to Christians. We see this is the opening verse of 1 Peter. This letter is written to those who are elect, to those who are chosen by God. As it says, the elect as those who are sanctified by the spirit, those who obey Christ, those who have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, those who are being guarded by God through faith. This a description of Christians, those who have repented and placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore the promises in this book are for those who have trusted in the blood of Jesus to save them, and it is not for the world.
A Promise of Mercy
So with that said, let us begin by looking at the first promise, mercy. We see the word mercy in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” If you read this verse quickly, you may not catch that it is a promise, but it is, for the mercy is fully realized at a future event, the day of judgment.
The Greek word, which is the original language of 1 Peter, for mercy is eleos. At times the word Eleos is translated to pity. Eleos mean to show kindness toward the miserable and afflicted, with a desire to relieve them of their misery. And this is the correct way to understand the human condition, miserable and afflicted.
Many people don’t feel miserable and afflicted, but they are. The problem is that most people haven’t spent time pondering life. First, our lives are a vapor. On average, we will only live to be around 75 years old. That is not long compared to eternity. During those 75 years we will devote our lives to vanity. Many of us call this the rat race. This rat race of life will cause us to be whiners and complainers, longing for weekends and Holidays, which never live up to expectations. In addition, these 75 years will be marked by major tragedies such as cancer, divorce, losing your job, or losing a loved one. These tragedies will rock your world. In between those major events you will be riddled with the day to day stress of this life: sick kids, car trouble, family quarrels, angry bosses, etc. Job 14:1 says, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.”
Sure, TV and movies like to dress life up and make it look like something it is not. But let’s be honest, life is miserable. We are a pitiful human race. And the reason for this miserable condition is because of sin. When sin entered the world through the fall of Adam, everything fell apart. Creation was cursed, our relationships were cursed, and we were cursed.
But if that is not enough, because of our sin, and because God is Holy and Just we are guilty under the wrath of God. Nahum 1:2 says, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” Because of sin, humanity is an enemy of God. And when will this wrath be poured out? On the day of Judgment.
We are told about this future day of judgment in Revelation 20, where every single person who has every lived will stand before a great and awesome God and give an account before him. And we are told that if you are not found in Christ, you will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity.
So is humanity in a miserable condition? Absolutely yes. We are a wretched pitiable people. But let us not forget where we began. Christians have been promised mercy. God looks down on our wretched estate and has compassion upon us. Perhaps one of the best sections that compares our misery to God's mercy is Ephesians 2.
Listen to what it says in Ephesians 2:1-7 – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Those who have received the grace in Christ through faith have been promised salvation from this world and salvation from judgment. Christians have been promised “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
But how do we know that this promise of mercy will come true? Words are just words. What hope do we have that we can trust 1 Peter 1 and Ephesians 2, and all of the other passages that tell us that we can be forgiven through Christ?
A Promise of an Inheritance
Before we answer that question, let’s look at the second promise we see in our text today. Look at verse 4, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Not only are we promised to receive mercy, we are promised to receive an inheritance. What is an inheritance?
An inheritance is the reception of property, rights, or title as an heir. But whose heirs are we? Through faith in Christ we become heirs of God. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” Through faith in Christ we are adopted into God's family. We are fellow heirs with Jesus. That is why we call God Father, for He is just that, The God of the Universe is our father. Therefore all that Jesus receives as God's Son, becomes ours in Christ through inheritance. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it.
Practically speaking, what does this inheritance of ours look like? Romans 8:18 says this inheritance is a glory that is not worth comparing to the things of this world. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says this inheritance as an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Psalm 84:10 tell us that one day experiencing this inheritance is better than 1000 days elsewhere. Psalm 16:11 tells us that the inheritance involves a fullness of joy and pleasures forever. Revelation 21 describes this inheritance as no more tears, no more mourning, no more pain, no more sin, no more death.
And not only that, we are told in our text that this incomparable inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” What is meant by this? These extravagant words are used to reinforce the security of our glorious inheritance. Our heavenly inheritance is a forever reality. This heavenly inheritance stands in stark contrast with Earthly inheritance that can be squandered, rust, erode, burned down, stolen, etc. The pure and perfect glory that awaits us in heaven is eternally unchanging.
Normally an inheritance vests when someone dies. So if this is God's inheritance, when did God die? He died on the cross at Calvary. At the death of Christ, all of the glorious inheritance was purchased, or transferred, or vested in God's elect. It is only by the death of Jesus Christ that we have any claim to the property, rights or title to Heaven.
And for those who have faith in Jesus Christ, it is being kept for you. It is awaiting your arrival. This is a promise of God, and this is, once again, what we look forward to. As it says in Romans 8, this is what we groan for. This is what he hope for, an eternal glory in the presence of our Father that does not compare to anything we could ever imagine in this world.
But, let us ask the same question we asked previously, how do we know that there is truly an inheritance in heaven being kept for us. How can we be sure that God is real, that Heaven is real, that the words of 1 Peter 1 are real, this entire book is real? There are many, many reasons that we can trust the Bible, but the preeminent reason is that our hope is not just words, our hope is alive.
A Living Hope
Look at verse 3, “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” Our hope is a living hope. Our hope is not just words on a page. Our hope is not just some old book. Our hope is alive, for our hope is in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” Him being Christ. It is through the risen Christ that we know that all of our sins have been paid in full and we have been forgiven. It is through the risen Christ that we know that the curse of death has been defeated. It is through the risen Christ that we will be delivered from the curse and returned back to the Garden of Eden.
This is why we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for in the empty tomb we know that Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic. The empty tomb proves that Jesus is Lord.
And we know that the tomb was empty, for it was a historical reality. The resurrection of Christ is a fact that was prophesied in Old Testament. Psalm 16:9-10, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” The resurrection is a fact that Jesus predicted. Mark 9:31, “he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” The resurrection is a fact that hundreds of eye witnesses have confirmed: Mary, Peter, the 12, James, Jude, Paul, and over 500 people all at one time. And many of these people who saw the resurrected Christ were killed for their testimony. Which demonstrates that they are not making it up. For no one dies for a lie they know to be a lie.
Therefore this living hope that is anchored in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is also anchored in solid verifiable evidence. Evidence that has been preserved for us in the Gospel and the letters of the New Testament. And because of this we can say as it does in verses 8 and 9 of our text, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
He has risen!