FS Sunday Sermon
By: Becca Card
Paul has become persuaded of his beliefs both by “authority” and “experience,” as he relates to us in this powerful passage in Romans where the apostle reveals three areas in which he is fully persuaded about his relationship to God. As an apostle, he was fully convinced of the truth he lived and preached so that those he ministered to would be delivered from unbelief and enter into a full faith in God.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39 NKJV
The Greek word for “persuaded” actually means to be “convinced by authority and experience.” Paul is saying that his “persuasion” has come as a result of his acceptance of the “authority of God’s revelation in Christ,” which has become the “Word of God” to him. And, from his experience as a person of faith who has learned to apply the Word to his life daily and experience the freedom that comes from “walking in truth.” Apostle John also affirmed the necessity of “experiencing the truth” in his last letter,
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 4 NKJV
The fully persuaded heart is formed in us as a result of understanding the “authority of God’s Word,” and “walking in the truth” of the Word for ourselves. There is no substitution for the “application” of the truth to our lives, as James said regarding those who only “hear, but do not apply” the Word to life.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 NKJV
It appears that all three of these apostles, Paul, John and James were giving the same message to the saints under their care, “it is necessary to act on God’s Word in order to experience the full benefits of the Word.” Christians may assent to their belief in the “authority of scripture” as the infallible Word of God, but it will not produce the results of the finished work of Christ until acted upon. The writer of Hebrews describes the reason that a whole generation “died in the wilderness,” never having entered God’s best for their lives even though it was already provided by the loving Heavenly Father. It was due to “unbelief” in their hearts. The word actually means “unpersuadable,” they could not be persuaded to act on God’s Word, but instead only assented to “hearing God’s voice.” They knew it was God who was speaking but refused to act in faith upon what was spoken, expecting God to perform what He had spoken to them.
“Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:1-2 NKJV
Paul had been a “doer of the word,” he had “mixed faith” with what he heard, and as a result he experienced the victory in Christ and was “fully persuaded” of the following three truths from our text in Romans. The person who has “walked in truth” and experienced the results of the integrity of God’s Word, will be a fully persuaded person.
THERE IS NO SHAME IN CHRIST
“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:33-34 KJV
Paul is fully persuaded of his standing in grace before the Throne of God. He knows that God is the Judge, and that He has justified believers who have accepted the finished work of Christ in His substitutionary work on the cross. Paul will accept no condemnation, no shame in the Presence of God, either from past sins, or present shortcomings. Shame for what we have done as sinners, and sometimes shame for what others have done to us where there have been violations of our dignity as human beings, have all been “removed” from our conscience by the Blood of Christ. Paul is fully persuaded of his “acceptance in the beloved” and had learned how to live “shamelessly” in the Presence of God. When a believer understands this revelation, they are immediately set free from a “performance based” relationship with God and can “enter into the rest” of our “position in Christ.” No amount of “good works” can ever remove “shame” from our conscience, it is only the Blood of Christ that assures us of perfect forgiveness and acceptance by the Father. Paul was persuaded that he would never be “condemned” again while remaining in Christ by faith. He had no sense of inferiority when approaching God but came with “boldness to the throne of grace” knowing that he was on equal standing with Jesus Christ who had “prepared a place for him” in the Presence of God. Paul had learned to live in his position as a “son of God.”
Being “In Christ,” means that we share the same “position” with the Father as Jesus, Himself. Can Christ be “ashamed,” feel “inferior” or be “condemned”? Of course not, He lived a “sinless life” and had nothing to be ashamed of or condemned for. When we have accepted Him, we have accepted the same position with God as His. We can be as free from shame, inferiority and condemnation as He is, because our acceptance is not based upon how we lived our lives, but upon how He lived His.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV
THERE IS NO SHORTAGE IN CHRIST
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.” Romans 8:32 NKJV
In Paul’s thinking, if God would not even spare His Son in order to meet the need we had as lost sinners, what would He withhold from us in order to live fruitful lives here on earth. Paul was persuaded that God will “freely give us all things,” that He was just as ready to give us anything that “pertains to life and godliness,” as He was ready to send His Son to the cross for us. This is an amazing truth, something that needs to be understood by many of God’s children in the church today. Many still think that God only cares about getting them to heaven when they die, but the rest of life here on earth is something we will have to deal with on our own and “make the best of it.” However, the word teaches us that salvation included meeting all of our needs in spirit, soul and body. This means that there is no shortage of healing, prosperity, deliverance, joy, peace and total victory. All these things have been as abundantly provided by God as has the forgiveness of our sins. The only real problem we have is revealed by the Prophet Hosea.
“My people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6 NKJV
People that still have a shortage mentality due to a lack of knowledge about God and His plans for us, remind me of a story I heard years ago about a man traveling by boat to the US from Europe.
“A certain man decided to travel to America, after he purchased his ticket on the boat, he only had enough money left to purchase some cheese and crackers on the voyage. Each day he would walk past the Dining Room and look in to see what people were having as they sat down to sumptuous meals for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Knowing he had no money left, he would walk on deck eating his cheese and crackers, all the while letting God know that he was not ungrateful even though he only had such meager fare during the journey. When they landed and were leaving the ship, the Captain asked the gentleman if he didn’t like the food on board since he had noticed the man never eating in the Dining Room. The man said, “Oh no, Captain. You see, I only had enough money for cheese and crackers after purchasing my ticket.” The Captain replied, “I am sorry that you never read the back of your ticket to find out that all your meals were included in the price.”
Our redemption through the Blood of Christ has paid the price for every need we may have now and in eternity. That is why Paul said God would freely give us all things, it was because Christ had already paid for it all. We must realize that God never thinks in terms of shortage. When He created this earth as a habitation for man, He put within it all the resources we would need for as long as He intends us to be here. It is only mismanagement, greed and wastefulness that create shortage in this world. When Jesus performed miracles of provision, He always provided an abundance, not just “barely enough.” If it was “loaves and fishes,” there were basketfuls left over, and if it was a “catch of fish,” there were so many that the boats were sinking. Paul had a revelation of abundance when he wrote to the Corinthians with instructions about giving and receiving.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you: that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV
Paul emphasized that “sufficiency” included “abundance in all things.” He was persuaded that there was no shortage in the plan of God for His people, even though he at times experienced lack while he was waiting on the provision to come forth. Paul lived with a revelation of a “full supply” at all times, he walked by faith and not by sight, always resulting in his provisions being manifested whether by his hand, or the hands of others.
THERE IS NO SEPARATION IN CHRIST
Paul now concludes his thoughts in this passage by sharing that he is fully persuaded about God’s undying love for him and all believers. Christians in the First Century experienced many hardships as the new message of Christianity was taking the world by storm, upsetting all the existing systems including many of the social issues of the day where values were derived from pagan beliefs. Those who were challenged by the new emphasis brought by the message of the Kingdom of God, often retaliated violently, inflicting great harm on God’s people. Paul himself, had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, left naked, hungry and imprisoned for his faith. In all these things, he never doubted the love God had for him. It is satan who will fill our minds with accusatory thoughts toward God in times of persecution in our lives, telling us that God must not really care about us, or He would not permit such suffering. The truth is, when we suffer, God suffers with us because of His great love for us. When the forces of light and darkness collide in this world, just like in any war, there will be pain and suffering that is unavoidable. God’s love for us cannot be measured only by our experiences in life, because there are times when we all “feel” forsaken or abandoned due to the current trial we are facing. Instead, God has revealed Himself to us thru Christ. When we see Jesus in the four gospels, we see God in action, reaching out to people who are hurting, restoring lives and giving hope. God is love, and there can never be any other attitude towards us but “love.”
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God: and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 NKJV
We may be separated at the moment from our health, loved ones, resources or expected position in life, but we are never separated from His love. That is what keeps us moving in faith while we deal with the challenges of life, “God loves me, and He will provide a way of escape for me. He will enable me to bear up under anything, in a “fiery furnace,” He still loves me. In a “lion’s den,” He still loves me. As a “slave in Potiphar’s house,” He still loves me. Paul list’s the things he had gone through which were not able to separate him from God’s love.
“Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39 NKJV
Paul was persuaded by “authority and experience,” he knew there was No Shame and No Shortage and No Separation. He could impart these apostolic truths that he had worked out in his life experience, and as a result, he could raise up people who would also be able to “stand in the evil day.”