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!