- Sermon Notes
More than Conquerors
Romans is one of the most powerful books in the Bible; Romans chapter 8 has to be the capstone of the entire book, and these verses we’re studying today are the great crescendo. Chapter 8 is about our victory, but in these verses Paul declares that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
We become more than conquerors when we understand who we are in Christ and what God has done for us in Christ and then respond by having faith in Him; a faith that is sure and steadfast through every storm and by loving Him in response to the greatness of His love for us.
Paul has been building up to this through all the previous chapters. We were born in the sin of Adam, we were born with this flesh and will die with it, but we can be victorious, He has given the Spirit to transform us by changing our hearts and our minds.
This is an important key; you cannot be victorious until you’re victorious in your mind. Therefore, what your mind and your heart take hold of will determine your victory or your defeat. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” Paul says. In other words, when you hear the truth, when you hear the words of Christ you can defeat the doubts, the fears; the lies of the enemy and the world.
For example, you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” When you take hold of that truth and write it on your heart, it will transform your faith.
Paul is then straightforwardly honest; there’s a lot of suffering in this present world. The creation itself groans and suffers the pains of childbirth longing to be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We also groan within ourselves longing for something better because we live in a broken and evil world.
But God helps us in our weakness. We do not even know how to pray as we should, by the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Then, in verse 28, those famous words, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If you know this great truth, if you have strength of faith to stand on this great truth, you’ll look for it, you’ll watch for it. If you believe that God brings beauty out of ashes, then you’ll eagerly wait for that beauty and be watching. If you don’t believe, you’re left with ashes and are waiting for nothing.
That’s when you become “more than a conqueror.” What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? That phrase is a translation from the Greek. It’s one word and we can understand its meaning without much difficulty – Hyper-Nike. It’s not just victory, it’s surpassing victory. It’s kind of like when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last year. I was hoping to use the Oregon game last week for that illustration, but that didn’t work out so well.
I. God is For You
- If you truly take hold of this truth and write it on your heart, and live according to it, you will be more than a conqueror.
- If God is for you, who can be against you? There are many things and many people that may be against you, but Paul’s point is that since God is for you, none of those things can defeat you.
- In other words, the fact that God is for you has a greater significance than anything being against you. This is a rock on which to stand.
Psalm 27:1-3 “In spite of this I shall be confident.”
A. God gave His Son for you
- The point is that God proves that He is for you. Look at the extent He went to redeem you; He delivered up His only begotten that you might have eternal life.
- That is convincing evidence. This is important to understand because when people experience the sufferings of living in a broken and evil world, they often see that as evidence that God is not for them. But they’re wrong; they only need to look at the great price that was paid by God Himself.
Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- The conclusion we should make is that if God did not spare His own Son, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Psalm 23:1, 6, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Matthew 7:9-11, “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
- Of course, as our Abba, Father, He doesn’t necessarily give us everything we may want. His purpose is to make us like His Son.
B. No one can bring a charge against you
- God is for you; He is the one who justifies you.
- The power of God being for you is that there is no one who is able to bring a charge against you, there is no one who can condemn you.
Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- The righteousness that God gave you far surpasses any charge that could be brought against you. You have the very righteousness of Christ added to your account.
- Who is it that could bring a charge against you? The enemy is called the accuser of the brethren, he would very much like you to join him in condemnation.
- You know who else might bring a charge against you? You yourself. Many people carry guilt and shame and feel very unworthy and unlovable.
- If you’re convinced that you’re unworthy and unlovable, then you’re not standing on the truth. If God is the one who justifies you, even you yourself do not have the right to condemn yourself.
Illus - If we could only understand that God knows about every skeleton in the closet, every shameful thing we’ve done and yet His love never fails.
C. Christ is interceding for us
- God is for you so much that He did not spare His own Son. Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, who was raised, who sits at the right hand of God, and who also intercedes for us.
- In other words, the Holy Spirit is in our hearts and He is interceding for us with groans to deeper words, but not only that, Christ Himself is also interceding in our behalf. Can you imagine? Can you imagine Jesus asking His Father for you?
Hebrews 7:25, Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
- Intercession prayer is praying for someone else.
Acts 12:5, Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.”
Illus – Sometimes people ask me to pray for them, but how much more precious are the prayers of Christ Himself? It’s a powerful thought to imagine Him praying for us by name.
II. Be Convinced of God’s Love
- One of the most important keys to being victorious, in being more than a conqueror, is being convinced that God loves you, that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
- If God is your Abba Father, then you must absolutely trust that His love for you never fails and that no matter what happens in life, nothing can separate you from that love.
- God has demonstrated that love when Christ Jesus took your sins on the cross. But he also says earlier in this chapter that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- We each have a testimony in our heart of God’s love and I’m convinced He demonstrates that love throughout the course of our lives in many ways.
Illus - This week I had lunch with my friend Steve who told me the story of his greatest Jesus moment.
Illus - I remember one of my own amazing Jesus moments.
A. Nothing can separate us
- Earlier in the chapter Paul spoke of the sufferings of this present life, but here he gives clear examples that we can all relate to.
- Jesus said, “In this world you will have many troubles, but take courage! I have overcome the world.” To take courage means to have greater faith, to trust that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
John 10:28-30, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
- The question in many people’s minds, however, is why God, in His great love, doesn’t keep us from these troubles. For many, it seems inconsistent,
“You say you love me, and yet I go through troubles and trials and difficulties.”
- They are convinced that a God that is good should not allow evil to exist. There is such a place and it’s called heaven, but this is earth where God has made man with a will to freely choose to follow Him or reject Him.
Illus - Jesus gave a parable that the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat… the wheat and the tares will grow up together until the harvest…
- God did not promise to keep us from the troubles, but He did promise to be with us in it.
Hebrews 13:5-6, He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.” So that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
- In all these things, Paul said, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. But notice that faith works together with love. “For I am convinced,” Paul said. That’s the key.
1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.
- Many people feel defeated in life. They feel beat up by all the troubles and struggles that comes with living in this broken and evil world. They live discouraged.
- The difference between a person who is defeated and the person who is more than a conqueror is faith.
- God wants us to have faith that perseveres through every storm; I love the line from that song, “My anchor holds within the vale.”
- Yet other people have faith that is easily shipwrecked. They become angry or bitter and because they don’t believe that God brings beauty out of ashes they’re not watching for the help God will provide.
Hebrews 6:18-19, We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope you have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…
- How can you overwhelmingly conquer through such difficult things? Because your faith is sure and steadfast and not only are you not defeated, you have a peace that passes understanding.
Illus - Some of you know Janet who has been one of our receptionists at the Hillsboro campus. She recently was given the worst possible news from her doctor, but she is more than a conqueror; her anchor holds within the vale.
- Faith is anchored in these truths; God loves us as our Abba Father and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. And we know nothing can separate us from the love.
2 Timothy 1:12, I know in whom I have believed…
Title: More Than Conquerors
Text: Romans 8.31-39
Date: January 17-18, 2015
Our message this morning is, “More Than Conquerors”. All right, here we are in the Book of Romans, and maybe I know my heart on this. I think Romans is perhaps the most powerful book in the entire Bible. And, chapter 8 has to be the capstone of the entire book of Romans and these verses are the crescendo. I mean because chapter 8 of Romans is about our victory in Christ. But these verses are about a surpassing victory, more than conquerors through Him who loved us, he said. You see, we become more than conquerors when we understand something. When we take hold of the truth and understand, we understand who we are in Christ, what God has done for us, and then we respond to that truth.
When you respond to that truth with faith, a faith that is pure and steadfast, we are more than a conqueror. When you respond to that with love, in response to the greatness of His love for us. See, Paul has been building up to this great crescendo chapter after chapter in the early parts of this book. He says, look, we were born into the sin of Adam. He is talking straightforwardly about every sinner’s dilemma. We were born in the sin of Adam. We were born in this flesh. We’re going to die in this flesh, but we do not have to be defeated. We can be victorious and in fact, he says, “More than conquerors”.
You see He gives the Holy Spirit for example, to change our hearts, to change our minds, to transform us from the inside out. That is what he was saying earlier in the chapter, the significance of the mind. In fact, the point that he was making is that we cannot be victorious until we are victorious in the mind and in the heart. But that’s where the Spirit helps us, see, that the Spirit comes and strengthens and transforms our hearts and our minds. See, this is such an important key for us, when you take hold and stand on these great truths, you are transforming. There is a verse that we are going to see in a couple of chapters that says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ”. In other words, what you take hold of, what you hear; what you take hold of with your mind and your heart will determine whether you are defeated or victorious.
God does not want us to be defeated, many people are. But, when we take hold of the Word of Christ, the truths that He gives to us, we can defeat the doubts, the fears, the lies of the enemy, and of the world. For example; he says, “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” which means daddy, father. If you take hold of the truth of the intimacy of the relationship to God where He is your Abba, your Daddy – Father. See, you take hold of this truth and write it on your heart, it’s transforming. Then, Paul got straightforwardly honest, that’s one of the things that we love about Paul, he is straight up, straightforwardly honest.
And he said, look, there is a lot of suffering in this world. In this present world that is broken, evil – in fact, he says, “The creation itself is groaning, longing to be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God”. And, we ourselves, he says are groaning in this present time of suffering and difficulty. We groan because we long for something better. There is a part of that that says, “Oh Lord, Jesus! How long?” There is something in my heart that wants something better. See, then he says, but, I am going to help you. I’m going to be with you in it. I’m going to walk with you through it. I’ll give you My Spirit that’s going to help you in your weaknesses.
And, He also, intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And then that brought us to verse 28, the famous verse 28 that begins, “We know”, I love that start, “We know”, we’re convinced, we’re persuaded, this is resolved in us. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” That’s a great truth. Now, when you take hold of that truth and you stand on that truth, then you have faith, you have the strength of faith to weather the storm. You have that raw kind of bridge to stand. See, if you know that truth, then you’ll look for it. You’ll look for how it will be seen. He works all things together for good. You look for it. If you believe that God brings beauty out of ashes, you’ll look for the beauty.
See, let’s make that personal, do you believe it? Do you believe that God brings beauty out of ashes? Do you believe that? See, if you do believe that, then you’ll look for it. You’ll look for the beauty. I know my love. I know my love, that He brings beauty out of ashes. You wait, you wait, you watch, you’ll see. He brings beauty out of ashes. But, if you do not believe, if you do not believe, you’re left with ashes, and you’re waiting for nothing. That’s defeat. He says, “You are more than conquerors through Him who loved ua.”
What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? Well, that phrase actually is a translation, right out of the Greek of one word, it’s one Greek word. We get a phrase out of it. But, we can easily understand that word, because actually, we know this word, because you know the word Nike of course. It’s just down the road a bit. We know Nike, and it means “victor”, or “conqueror”, “victorious”. Well, the word in Greek is hupernikao which means “hyper-Nike”, it’s like, not just victorious, it’s surpassing victory. It’s great victory. It’s kind of like when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last year. That’s surpassing victory. Actually, I was kind of hoping to use the Oregon Ducks game last week, but that didn’t work out so well. Okay so, let’s read the verses, beginning with verse 31, and see what he means, “What then shall we say to these things?”, in other words what conclusion can we draw? What conclusion can we make?’
I. God is For You
He says, it’s this, listen, “If God is for us, then who can be against us?” There’s the truth, take hold of this, our anchor holds on that, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one that justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword?” The sufferings and difficulties of living in a broken and evil world. But, he goes on, “as it is written, ‘For your safety we are being put to death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
But, in all of these things, you overwhelmingly conquer,” there is the word right there – surpassingly victorious. “In all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced,” now there is a phrase, “I am persuaded”, this is resolved in me. I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,” and then, just in case you forgot something, “nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now, those are some verses. That’s some truth. And when we take hold of those truths, we become surpassingly victorious, overwhelming, more than a conqueror, which starts with this truth in verse 31, “God is for us”, do you believe that? See, this is the truth, take hold of that, and write it on your own soul. Many people are not convinced of that. Many people think God’s against us. Now, here’s the truth, if you take hold of this, you are more than a conqueror. He says, Listen, “if God is for you, who can be against you?”
There are many things, there are many people that can be against you, but Paul’s point is that since it’s God who is for you, none of those things which are against you can defeat you. Because God’s for you, nothing can defeat you. You see, in other words, the fact that God is for you, has greater effect, has greater impact, has greater power than whatever impact or effect from those other things that are against you.
Let me turn with you to Psalm 27. Would you turn your Bibles there? Psalm 27, I’ll tell you it’s one of my favorite Psalms of them all, perhaps my most favorite. It has a great personal meaning to me. I remember when I was a young man, I was going to church, and I got there early, and I just wanted to sit there and listen to the worship and read my Bible, and I turned to Psalm 27, when we got to verse 4 it just hit me, “One thing I’ve asked from my Lord, and that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.”
A. God gave His Son for you
I had a longing in my heart since I was young to be a pastor, but when I read these words, something just locked in, I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to make this, I’ve got to make the changes that I need to make to go because I want to have this truth in my life. Well anyway, Psalm 27, verse 1, listen to the way he says it, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who shall I fear?” Do you see how he is saying it? Look, here’s the truth I know, here’s the truth I have taken hold of, it is solidly understood, I am convinced of it, “The Lord is my light, the Lord is my salvation. Who should I fear? The Lord is the defense in my life. Whom should I dread?” Listen, if the Lord is the defense of my life, should I dread something? “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries, and my enemies, they stumbled and fell, though a host came up against me, my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in spite of this, I will be confident.”
I love that word that phrase, I will be confident, that’s faith. You know, we live in a day, and age, and culture, amidst the whole mantra of self-confidence is highly valued. You should be self-confident; you get this sense from the culture. This is not self-confidence that David is giving us here, this is God confidence, that’s a whole other thing. That’s faith. Trust in that God is the One who is for me.
Going back to Romans 8, this is how he says it, he says listen, I want to prove it, I want to demonstrate it to you, I want to show you how much God is for you. Notice what he says, “God gave His Son for you.” The point, God proves that it’s for you, all you’ve got to do is look at the extent He went to, to redeem you. He delivered up His only begotten Son that you may have eternal light. He is for you to that extent.
See, this is convincing evidence. This is proof, convincing evidence. This is very important. It’s important to understand how convincing this evidence is, because many people look at all the troubles and difficulties. The things that we go through in this life, the suffering of this present time. And in their minds, those troubles, those trials, those difficulties are evidence of the fact that God is not for them. If God was for me, I wouldn’t have those troubles. They think in their mind. Well they are wrong. All they have to do is to see the evidence. All they have to do is look at the great price that God paid for their redemption. Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love, His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” The conclusion that we should make is that look, He’s proving it.
“If God did not spare His Own Son, how will He not also, with Him, forgive us all of all, freely give us all things?” My faith is sure, I look, I long for, I eagerly watch, because I know. See, Psalm 23, verses 1 and 6, the famous Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd”. See, how he starts with the truth? “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Verse 6, here’s his conclusion, “Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Now, there’s a truth. Jesus gave an interesting thing, teaching in Mathew, verses 9-11, they really made the same point, they said it this way, “Or what man is there among you who when his son asks for a loaf would give him a stone.”
“Dad, I am really hungry. Can I have some bread?” “Sure, look in the breadbox there, there is a stone.” No, you wouldn’t do that. If your son asked for a fish, you wouldn’t give him a snake? Would you? “Dad I’m really hungry. Can I have a fish?” “Sure, look in the little basket there, there’s a snake.” No, you wouldn’t do that. He says, listen, “If you then being evil” meaning – of the world, “know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give what’s good to those who ask Him?” Starting with the Holy Spirit. Now, as your Father, your Abba-Father, He doesn’t give everything you may want, He doesn’t spoil His children. He transforms them and gives them what is necessary to transform them to the image of His Son.
B. No one can bring a charge against you
But, back to Romans 8, he goes onto say, “God is for you so much that no one can bring a charge against you.” This is really important, God justifies you, no one can bring a charge, no one can bring an accusation, no one can bring a condemnation, because you have received the righteousness of God. God is for you so much. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now, no condemnation,” literally, no damnation - powerful. “For those who are in Christ Jesus,” he said, rest on this. This is a sure rock, know this, take hold of this. The righteousness that God gave you far surpasses any charges that can be brought against you. You have the righteousness of Christ added to your account.
What charge and accusation can compare in comparison to it? Who is it that can bring a charge against you? While we know the enemy is called the accuser of the brethren, he would very much like you to join him in condemnation, but who else might bring a charge against you? Perhaps you, yourself. Many people carry guilt, shame, and they accuse themselves. Skeletons in the closet, secrets, secrets of the soul, dark clouds, they feel very unworthy, very unlovable, if you knew, if you only knew, He wouldn’t love me. See, if you’re convinced, if you are convinced that you are unworthy and unlovable, because of the skeletons, the secrets of the soul, you are not standing on the truth. Be set free by the truth. Listen, God is the one who justifies you. You yourself do not have the right to condemn yourself. If we only knew of the vastness of God’s love.
What is love? What is true love? You know, we have this image in our minds, you know, the society, oh, true love’ what is – oh, is it where two people are so perfect - that their relationship is such that they can’t help it, they have to love each other because they are so perfect. That only happens in fairytales and then the story ends after twenty pages. No, he’s talking about a love where every skeleton in your closet, every secret of your soul is known. I know every closet, I know every secret, and I love you. That’s love. That is love. I love you. Not only do I know every skeleton in the closet, no, not only do I know every secret of the soul, I forgive it. I forgive it. I’ll pay the price for it. I’ll redeem it. I’ll wash it in the blood of Christ. Be set free from it, be set free from it. He’s saying, “God’s love never fails. “If you could only grasp the greatness of it, the vastness of it.
C. Christ is interceding for us
In fact, he goes on to say, “God is so for you that Christ Jesus Himself is interceding for you.” He’s interceding. He is asking the Father for you, by name, personally. That’s the point. He says, Listen, “if God didn’t spare His Own Son”, He did it for you. Christ Jesus is He who died now for you. He took the sins of each one of us. For you He did this. And He was raised. He is the One who is sitting at the right hand of God. And He’s the One interceding for you. This is an amazing truth.
Now we know in fact, He said that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts, and He is interceding, a groaning too deep for words. But here he says, can you imagine, Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding, asking Him, - you want to talk about having friends in high places? He’s for you, and He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father.
Hebrew 7:25, “Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession.” He always lives to make intercession? What is intercession? Intercession is when someone prays for someone else. Here’s an example in Acts 12:5 where it says, “Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” That is intercession.
Here’s another example in Luke 22 where Jesus is praying a prayer of intercession. He says, “Simon, Simon. Behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I prayed for you so that your faith may not fail.” That’s intercession.
You know as pastors we are privileged to pray for someone. “Pastor, would you pray for me, or would you talk to someone on the phone?” I can see the devastation in their eyes. “Can I pray for you right now?” It is a privilege to pray and intercede for somebody. But, that’s nothing compared to the fact that Jesus, the Son of the living God, who died and was raised, and sits at the right hand of our Father, is interceding for you. I just love the picture of that. I love the picture of what that might look like. “Father, my Abba-Father, I love John, I’m pray for John, would You help John? He is going through a storm right now. He needs You. He needs You to strengthen him and be with him. Father, help Mary, she’s struggling. She needs to be helped, strengthened. Father, my Abba-Father help her, help her.” And you can just picture the personal aspect of that, because he says, “Listen, that is so for you,” and he wants you to be convinced of it, just like he says, “I am convinced.” See, and this is great, “Be convinced of God’s love.”
II. Be Convinced of God’s Love
What are the most important keys to being victorious, and being more than a conqueror? Being convinced that God loves you, that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. I am persuaded. I am convinced. This is resolved. See, if God is your Father, then you must absolutely trust that love that no matter what happens, no matter what dumb thing you do. He’s not going to leave you. He’s not going to forsake you. His love never fails.
You know, we raised five kids. And, I wanted them to absolutely know this; no matter what you do, no matter what happens, no matter what mistake you make, no matter what dumb thing happens in your life, I am going to be with you, and we are going to work through this together. It doesn’t matter what it is, we are going to walk through it together. How much more is the Father’s love in heaven, than mine? His love never fails. Now, here’s what He—I am convinced, and this is really important to take hold of, He says, “Listen, I’ve proven it. I’ve demonstrated it. When Christ took your sins on the cross, it proves it.”
But, there is something more. Earlier in this chapter it says that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. In other words, not only did I prove it, on the cross, when Jesus died and took your sins, I witness by My Spirit with your spirit. I am convinced that each of us have a testimony in our hearts, our lives, of God’s love. And, that He demonstrates that love in the course of our lives through many different ways.
Many of us have our testimony. This last week, I was having lunch with one of the guy, Steve. And, he was telling me a story of this powerful Jesus moment. And I, I love that story. I want to share it with you, because it’s such an encouragement, and many of you have your own story of Jesus moments.
This story was that he was in California, and he comes to the Lord at the Calvary Chapel close to Mason in a prayer that they do for the service. Circumstances eventually brought him here into Portland, and his work of trade was to work on engines of boats. So, he was a marine mechanic. And he had started kind of like a mobile marine service, and he had a couple of jobs up at Jansen Beach area. And he says he got there, it was a hot day, and he’d finished his first job around 11:30, and he knew there was a new Safeway up there and it had this deli, and he was thinking, “Oh, I love to go up there, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll have lunch, and try out that deli, and now I’ve got to wash my hands, and I’ll just finish my second job.” So, he did his second job.
And he was like, “Dude, that was really hot – I’m thirsty and I’m really looking forward to going up there and have a sandwich at the deli.” So, he pushes his cart up and puts his tools away, he walks into the deli, there is this cool breeze, like ah, so refreshing. Then, he hears something. There is a piano in the Safeway and someone’s playing this piano, like, in the Safeway, right? So, it strikes him because it reminds him of his uncle who used to play the piano for their family. And he would go sometimes up to his uncle, and ask his uncle to play a song for him. And it occurred to him that his uncle had died.
And so, he had this urge in his heart, “Go up there and ask them to play a song for you.” And so, he thought, “What would I ask him?” This nudging in his heart, ask him to play “Jesus Loves Me.” Jesus Loves Me? I’m not going to ask him to play Jesus Loves Me. That’s a corny song. That’s for kids. I’m not going to ask him to play Jesus Loves Me. But he just felt this urge, and this nudging in his heart, “No, no, go ask him to play Jesus Loves Me.” That is so corny. He goes into the bathroom, he’s washing his hands, he’s looking at himself in the mirror, and like, “I really should ask him to play something for me,” but he’s like, he’s resisting. Again, that nudging, “Ask him to play Jesus Loves Me” that is—I’m not—that is so corny.
I’m not going to do—I’m not going to ask him. So, he finishes and he goes, he’s walking, actually, right past the piano guy, he sees opportunity, this nudging, “Ask him.” “I’m not going to do it.” And so, he’s standing in line at the deli, looking at the menu and then he hears the piano player starts playing Jesus Loves Me. And he starts crying. And then he felt this nudge, the Lord saying to him, “Well, I wanted to hear it, even if you didn’t.” Like, there is nothing too simple or too corny for the man. The little ways, in which God demonstrates, “I love you.” The Holy Spirit testifying, “I love you.”
Some of you have yours, and I have my own stories. I remember 1990, I had a dream. I remember the year because it was very significant. I had this dream, and in this dream my brother came to me. Now this is my brother, my oldest brother, we had been estranged; we had not spoken to each other in twelve or thirteen years. And he came to me in this dream, and there was this beautiful grassy place, and we sat down, and we started talking. And it was resolved, peace, reconciliation, it was so beautiful. And at the end of it he said, “Now, are we all good? We resolved?” “Yeah, we are. Thank you so much.” And then, he got up and just walked away and kind of disappeared into this mist. And I woke up just feeling so amazed; it was just like, “Wow, that was such a beautiful dream. What does it mean?” I went to the office, and I wasn’t there for thirty minutes when I got this call, “Your brother is dead.” Lord, the very night I had this dream, the next morning I get this call.
A. Nothing can separate us
Lord, You are amazing. Yet again, You have demonstrated just what the testimony of Your Spirit is, that You’re loving me. It’s okay, it’s all right, at peace, you’re okay. This last week Aviah had a dream, our granddaughter Aviah, she had a dream. And her mother came to her, “It’s okay, it’s all right. When you get to heaven, I’ll show you around. When you get to heaven I’ll introduce you to everybody.” And, she woke up just excited. “Let me tell you about my dream!” In little ways, little ways, He’s proven it; He’s proven it on the cross, and then the Spirit just testifying, just demonstrating, over and over. So, the point He wants us to see is this; listen, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, know this.
See, you know, earlier in the chapter Paul spoke of the sufferings of this present life and we can relate, can we not? He says it in specific ways in verse 35, tribulation -- that means to be pressed in on every side. Distress, yeah, that is—we are living in a world that is broken and evil. Life is hard in this world. Persecution, that wears your faith. Famine, nakedness, “I can’t pay the bills, Lord!” Peril, sword, dangers. This is the hard life. Jesus said, “Listen. In this world you will have many troubles.” There is a theme here. “In this world you will have many troubles.” But He goes on, “But take courage, I have overcome the world.” When He says “Take courage,” He means, “Have faith man, strengthen your faith. Trust that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
John 10, verse 28-30, Jesus says, “I’ll give eternal life to them, they will never perish. And no one will snatch them out of My hand. My father who has given them to Me is greater than all. And, no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hands. For I am the Father are I one.”
See, what if worse comes to worst and I lose my life? Well, then you are for sure in the Father’s hands. Nothing can take you from the Father’s hands. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. See, this is so important to understand, because the questions in many peoples’ minds is this, “Well, if God has such love for me, then why doesn’t He keep us from these troubles? Why doesn’t He keep us from the tribulations or distress if He loves us?” That is inconsistent to some people.
You say You love me a lot, and yet I have troubles, and trials, and difficulties. They’re convinced. They’re convinced that a God that is good should not allow evil to exist. There is a place, and we’ve been speaking of this, there is a place where evil does not exist. It’s called heaven, but this is not it. This is earth where God has made man with a will to choose. You can choose to follow, and accept God in your hearts, or you can choose to reject Him. And, if a person rejects God, they don’t have God in their heart. And, if they don’t have God in their heart, what are they left with? They are left with the nature of man and all the evil there is.
Jesus gave a parable and in this parable, He says that a kingdom – “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While his men were sleeping, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” Tares are like weeds, poisonous weeds, looks very much like wheat. And, as they are starting to grow up the workers notice and they say, “Sir, the enemy has come and has sowed tares among the wheat. Shall we go and take them out? Shall we go and wipe them out?” Jesus says, “No, don’t do it, lest the wheat be disrupted or disturbed. Let them grow up together and then, at harvest time they will be separated.” Now, the analogy, the picture for us is that evil and good will exist together. The righteous and the unrighteous will live together here on this earth, but at the end of the age, they will be separated.
See, God did not promise to keep us from troubles, but He did promise to be with us in the troubles. That’s what makes us more than a conqueror. Hebrews 13:5-6, He, Himself has said, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you, so that we confidently say,” I love that phrase, we confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper.” I wouldn’t be afraid. What would man do to me? That’s the—that’s the perspective of a person who is more than a conqueror because here is the point. Faith is our victory. Faith is the victory. See, in all these things Paul says, “We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us, through Him who loved us.
B. Faith is our Victory
Notice that faith and love work together. I am convinced, I am persuaded, I know in whom I believe. So, 1 John, 5-4 says, “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.” So many people are defeated. God does not want us to be defeated. He says, I am going to be straightforwardly honest, this world is hard. There is a lot of suffering in this present time. And many people are still beat up by it. Troubles, difficulties, trials, tribulation; they are beat up and defeated and discouraged. What’s the difference? What’s the difference between a person who’s defeated, beat up and discouraged, and a person who is more than a conqueror? What’s the difference? They both grow into the same world. They are both going through the suffering of the present time.
What’s the difference? Faith. Faith is the difference. God wants us to have a faith that perseveres through every storm. I love the line from that worship song that we sing, “My anchor holds within the veils.” What does it mean? It means my anchor holds within the storm. The wind blows, the storm comes, the waves beat against that ship, but my anchor holds. My anchor holds. There are some terrible storms in this life. There are some terrible storms. But my anchor holds. I have a hope, sure and steadfast, my anchor holds.
Other people, their ship is easily shipwrecked. Cross wind, contrary wind that recently dashed on the rocks, “Lord! I thought you loved me!” and they’re commandeering Him, bitter and they accuse God in this. Their faith? This is not faith. They don’t believe that God brings beauty out of ashes, therefore, they don’t look for the beauty. They don’t believe that a song of joy comes in the morning, so they don’t wait for the morning. They have ashes and they have weeping and they are defeated.
But God says, “I want you to have a hope, a hope that is sure and steadfast.” Hebrew 6, verses 18 and 19, “We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement,” I love that phrase, “We who have taken refuge,” have you taken refuge? He’s a refuge in a storm, right? He’s an anchor. Have you taken refuge? He says, “Then I would say to you, strong encouragement, take hold of this hope that is set before us. This hope you have as an anchor for the soul, but sure and steadfast.”
Remember, this is not the English word “hope”. The English word hope is, “I don’t know. Is it going to rain tomorrow? I don’t know. I hope it stops raining. I don’t know. Is it going to snow next week? I don’t know. I hope not. I don’t know. Are the Seahawks going to win the Super Bowl? I don’t know. I hope. I don’t—I don’t know.” The key being “I don’t know. I don’t know, but I hope.” That’s not hope. The hope that we are talking about here is the hope that is sure and steadfast. I know my Lord. I know my Lord. And, though there are troubles and trials, I know my Lord. I know that He brings beauty out of ashes. I watch. You wait and you watch, you wait, you wait, you’ll see. I know my Lord. This is sure hope. Weeping may last for a night. Oh, I know that, we all know that. But, a shout of joy comes in the morning, you wait till the morning.
I know my Lord, you watch. I know in Whom I have believed. See, a faith that is sure and steadfast is victorious. See, not only are you not defeated, you have a peace that passes understanding. You’re more than a conqueror.
Some of you know Janet who’s been one of our receptionists here in Hillsboro. She received the worst news a person could possibly receive from a doctor. “I’m sorry, but there is nothing we can do.” I spoke to her, “How are you doing?” “My anchor holds, my hope, my faith. My anchor holds. Pray for my husband and pray for my kids, but as for me, my anchor holds. I know in Whom I have believed. I know that there is laid out for me an eternal wait of glory. My anchor holds.”
See, faith is anchored in truth. God loves you as an Abba-Father. Now, that is a truth that your faith can anchor to. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and call according to His purpose.” Now that is a truth that your faith can anchor onto. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from the love of Christ that is found in Him. That’s a truth your faith can anchor onto. 2 Timothy 1:12, he says it this way, “I know in whom I have believed.” I know Him. You watch. You wait. I know. “I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded,” I am convinced, “He’s able to keep that which I have committed unto Him and until that day.” My anchor holds. I know my Lord. You watch. You’ll see.
Romans 8:31-39 NASB