Message: “If God is for Me” from Christoph Koenig

Christoph Koenig - January 16, 2011

If God is for Me

If God is for Me Romans 8:31-39 Some in this room used to know the taste of freedom. We remember the relief from burden that the realization of freedom brought. The sweet, sweet sensation of the shackles being removed and the weights being lifted as freedom tore through what we once thought was reality. We remember the profound thought of not ever experiencing life like this before; and, the wonder of how we could ever live any different. But now - for some, that once life altering and majestic sense of freedom is a distant memory. A page torn and tattered from our own personal history book. A vaque recollection of a time of childish faith - too new and inexperienced to know that such freedom is fragile. So fragile in fact, that “real life” often shatters it - shatters it so completely, that attempts at restoration are futile. Like the once elegant and even priceless vase that is now merely fragments that can never be made whole again. Our freedom is gone - just a fond memory that fades to gray over time. Perhaps making us wonder, if we ever really experienced true freedom in the first place. Paul writes of such freedom in the book of Romans - Chapter 8 - beginning in verse 31. • In verse 31, Paul asks the rhetorical question, “If God is for us, who can be against us? The first assumption here - and based on the preceding chapters 5 through 8:30 - is that God is indeed for us. We will reference only 2 verses to establish this (your charge will be to cover Romans 5 through 8 to be encouraged of God truly being for you). Romans 5:8 - “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” •While we were still in contempt; while we were yet filthy in thought and in deeds; while we were happy in our chosen ignorance of God’s desires for us - We were loved to such a degree that Christ would die for us! Romans 8:28 - “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” •Here we find a glimmer of hope that in all things - the entirety of our experience - something good may be going on. Even if not yet realized, there may just be a program running in the background that will identify the purpose to my difficulties, temptations, trials, defeats, and tragedies. And if God is indeed for us - then who can stand against us? Take a moment and count those things you would identify as standing against you. • This is a somber acount of life’s shackles and of life’s burdens that cause to grow weary on our journey. • Place that list aside for a moment - we will come back to it in just a few verses. Again, the inference here is that there is nothing that can stand against us. And yet, our experience tells a different story. A story of so much being stacked against us that this portion of Scripture must have been written for a different culture or a more naïve individual - the promise of Scripture is that it is for all - and in it, we find God’s communicated truth that can indeed bring us to that fountain of freedom again. • As evidence for this truth that God is for us and therefore nothing can stand against us is the presentation of God’s gift in verse 32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Christ is given up for us all - for us - for me - for you. Illustrate - judgment rendered and the sentence satisfied by the Son If the Son was given up for us - as an undeserved substitution to satisy our sentence - if God did this, then He will surely continue to meet our needs. (our impatience and view of the temporary may hinder the understanding of what we need and when we need it) • Verse 33 - No charge can be brought against us in the courts of eternity. The name Satan means accuser - the devil is one who lies in wait - anticipating our failure just to bring condemnation before God. But for those of us who have accepted this gift of Christ - there can be no condemnation; because it is God who justifies! • Verse 34 - What’s more exciting is that Satan can not rightfully be the accuser as he is orginally the tempter. Only the righteous shall accuse the unrighteous and seeing that there is only one righteous among all people - namely, Jesus Christ - only He can bring the condemnation. It is in verse 34 that Christ is described as the one “who died, more than that - who was raised to life - seated at the right hand of God, and interceding for us.” The first century believer would be reminded here of Psalm 110:1 - the most often quoted Psalm in the new testament; “The Lord says to my Messiah, ‘Sit at my right hand… until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” Consider the words “was raised”. Jesus had the power in and of Himself to raise Himself from the dead. Jesus said as much in John 2, when He claimed that if the temple (that is, His own body) were destroyed He would raise it again in three days. The words “was raised” here then causes me to question, if Jesus is capable of raising Himself, why is the event described as “was raised by God?” The thought here is that God found the sacrifice fitting, suitable, and meeting the full requirements of our sin debt that He was pleased to raise Christ from death. The intercession of Christ must also be considered. The list goes: He died He was raised He is seated at the right hand of God He intercedes for us • Colossians 1 tells that all of creation is held together by Christ. This seems to be a fairly time consuming task. • Many things must be precise for life to exist Gravity - without gravity there would be no stars, no sun, no planets and therefore no life - it is gravity that keeps these things in proper range in order to support life systems Electromagnetic force - without there would be no atoms. As the smallest stable unit of matter, without atoms, nothing would exist Strong Nuclear Force - inside the nucleus of an atom there are protons. Protons are positively charged and like charges repel each other (this is the otherside of the phrase “opposites attract”. Because protons repel each other, and because the greater the concentration of like charged particles then the greater the repulsive force becomes, the nucleus of an atom shold simply blow apart. But it does not because of the “Strong Nuclear Force” These are just three forces that must be precise in a universe where a multitude of precision must be maintained with drastic evolutionary improbabilities. This, it would seem, should keep Christ busy for most of His day. And yet, the description of His efforts at the right hand of God is interceding on our behalf. That is, a constant advocate that reconciles us to God. As it were, since Christ was able to speak the universe and its complex systems into existence - the holding it all together part seems an underlying force of His being in and through all things. • Verse 35 - “Who or what shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Let’s return to that account of what is standing against you… Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and the sword is list provided by Paul in verse 35. What is your list? • Unemployment, debt, charges, convictions, sickness, cancer, isolation, divorce, lonelieness, fair weather friends, hunger, shelter, deteriorating clothing, hiding, closer to death today than you ever thought possible at this point in your life - the promise is not that things disappear from your experience; but, rather that in your experience of things “standing against you”, you are joined by Christ and His people, you are loved even though you do not feel worthy of it. • Verse 36 - Here Psalm 44:22 is quoted and perhaps you feel today as the Psalmist did when he penned Psalm 44 1-3 We've been hearing about this, God, all our lives. Our fathers told us the stories their fathers told them, How single-handedly you weeded out the godless from the fields and planted us, How you sent those people packing but gave us a fresh start. We didn't fight for this land;we didn't work for it—it was a gift! You gave it, smiling as you gave it,delighting as you gave it. 4-8 You're my King, O God— command victories for Jacob! With your help we'll wipe out our enemies, in your name we'll stomp them to dust. I don't trust in weapons; my sword won't save me— But it's you, you who saved us from the enemy; you made those who hate us lose face. All day we parade God's praise— we thank you by name over and over. 9-12 But now you've walked off and left us, you've disgraced us and won't fight for us. You made us turn tail and run; those who hate us have cleaned us out. You delivered us as sheep to the butcher, you scattered us to the four winds. You sold your people at a discount— you made nothing on the sale. 13-16 You made people on the street, urchins, poke fun and call us names. You made us a joke among the godless, a cheap joke among the rabble. Every day I'm up against it, my nose rubbed in my shame— Gossip and ridicule fill the air, people out to get me crowd the street. 17-19 All this came down on us, and we've done nothing to deserve it. We never betrayed your Covenant: our hearts were never false, our feet never left your path. Do we deserve torture in a den of jackals? or lockup in a black hole? 20-22 If we had forgotten to pray to our God or made fools of ourselves with store-bought gods, Wouldn't God have figured this out? We can't hide things from him. No, you decided to make us martyrs, lambs assigned for sacrifice each day. 23-26 Get up, GOD! Are you going to sleep all day? Wake up! Don't you care what happens to us? Why do you bury your face in the pillow? Why pretend things are just fine with us? And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt, held down with a boot on our necks. Get up and come to our rescue. If you love us so much, Help us! A desperate cry for a God that has seemed to disappear in the moment of great need. Do you feel that way today? - That God has turned His back on you? That in spite of your righteous intentions, hardship and the boot of the wicked hold you down? How should we respond in those moments of unrequited desperation? • Consider David in 2 Samuel 16:5-14 David’s son, Absalom, has conspired well enough to kill his own father that David is on the run. David comes to a town called Bahurim where a man from the same clan as the former deposed King Saul, Shimei, has come to hurl insults. As Shimei shadows King David’s entourage from a hilltop, he curses at the King, throws stones, and showers them with dirt. An ammusing response comes first from the guard, Abishai. He says to David, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the King? Let me go over and cut off his head!” David’s response is as contemplative as it is humble. He says to let the man continue hurling insults, dirt, and stone; for God has allowed this for some reason, and will see his distress and repay him with good for this cursing today. - The guard leaves Shimei alone and Shimei continues until the Kings final destination that day. - Heavenly/Eternal perspective. • It is true that if we stand firm and fight against the evil schemes of the devil; if we fight against the pattern of this world, we may die. And yet if we run from hardship and persecution we may live a bit longer in the comfort of our escape. • Consider for a moment whether or not you would die for another, even a loved one, right now. Would you give up your life for their’s? • Perhaps even more difficult, would you meet new sufferings for their sake - rather than die, would you suffer so that they might live and be encouraged? • Are you willing to continue to suffer right now - for the sake of God’s glory and for the sake of another’s hope? Understanding that relief will come at just the right time - according to God’s purpose. • I believe we are able to do just that • Verses 37 - 39 If we choose not the temporary comforts of this world and instead find our security in our eternal God (in our eternity with God), we will find freedom again. In this freedom we find, as John Piper puts it, “Massive security for the sake of merciful service through the experience of many sufferings” (Piper). It is in this certainty that we may confidently stand before our common enemy and say - at your worst you may take our lives, you might shred this temporary existence, you might consume all we once held dear - but you will never - NEVER - take our freedom!

Scripture References: Romans 8:31-39, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:28, Romans 110:1, 2 Samuel 16:5-14, 2 Samuel 44:22

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