“God is For You”
Pentecost 8, July 26, 2020
God Is for Us! Any Questions?
Text: Romans 8:28–39
We get asked a lot of questions in our lives…right? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Is your homework done? Do you want to go to the dance? Do you want fries with that? Do you have a fever? Have you traveled in the last 14 days? Have you been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19?
Some questions are more important than others. We’re all familiar with some of the basic questions of life: who, what, where, when, how, and why. These questions deal with the basic facts and information—important, but not always life-changing.
Other questions are life-changing: What college will you go to? What do you want to do when you grow up? Will you marry me? Do you want the job?
Finally, there are the faith questions. For example, Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Our text gives us some life-changing questions for us to consider. These are the sorts of questions that will really change your life, even your eternal life. So let’s take a look, shall we?
The first question Paul raises in our text is simply this: “What then shall we say to these things?” (v 31a). What things are these things? “All things.” You may recall from last week’s Epistle that Paul talked about creation and we ourselves groaning, suffering the effects of this sin-corrupted world and longing for the glory in heaven. Lots of things aren’t good in this fallen world. What then shall we say in the face of those things—all those things, including the bad stuff? Well, here’s what Paul says to all those things: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (v 28, emphasis added).
Now this is a verse that is often used in a way that I don’t think it is supposed to be used. (Princess Bride) We often quote this verse to encourage people who are suffering. When we tell them that “all things work together for good,” we fail to make clear that it’s God who has the power to bring good out of bad—who transforms Good Fridays into Easters. If we forget God, it sounds like karma. Like it’s natural. Therefore, if we get this wrong and forget God, “all things work together for good” comes across as a cliché or a platitude. And if we are doing that, we shouldn’t be surprised if the person who is suffering, the person that we are talking to, rejects our good intentions—and rejects us as spiritual caregivers/Christian counselors as well.
The real point of the verse is this: “We know that God works in all things.” Or “God causes all things to work together for good.” God isn’t the cause of bad things; we live in a broken world because of sin. God works in all things for our good. That’s good news.
To illustrate, the ingredients that go into a cake are not very tasty when eaten individually. Flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, baking powder, and chocolate are not something we want to eat one ingredient at a time. Well, maybe chocolate. But mix all of these together in just the right proportions and then bake the combined mixture, and you have something yummy. And now I have lost all of you here because now you are all thinking of cake, and brunch. Each event in your life is like one ingredient in a cake. It may not seem good by itself, but when mixed by God with other events, it will surely produce what is good.
God causes all things to work together for good. This means we can’t judge the goodness of God’s work until He is finished. Have you ever been too hasty in testing something you are cooking or baking? Almost always the result is unsatisfactory. Until God’s recipe for our lives is complete, we dare not judge God’s cooking. So that’s the first thing we want to say about these things, all things.
The next life-changing question our text asks is “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v 31b). The question is not simply “Who can be against us?” You could answer that one. Who’s against you? Disease, inflation, exhaustion, calamities, earthquakes, hurricanes, hatred, people who say they are your friends and they’re not, you name it. We can easily list our foes. But that’s not the question. The question is “If God is for us, who can be against us?” More directly, the thrust of the text is “Since God is for us.” Paul is saying that since God is for us, it really doesn’t matter who’s against us. All our enemies could gang up on us at the same time, and even operating together, they’re no match for God. Please remember these four words: God is for us! The adult confirmation book I used for more than 25 years was titled “God for Us” for this reason. This is how God is working all things for good!
Now we get to the pivotal question: “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?” (v 32). To put this another way, How far is God willing to go for us? What limits has He placed on His love of us? God has gone to the extremes for us. No limits. He did not spare His Son but sent Him to the cross for the love of us. God is for us!
Here we go again with those words “all things.” Will He not give us all things, not only all the things of our salvation? All things? Did God save us so that we’d worry about all the things of this world? Would He go to the cross for us and then rob us of the joy of living? Why would He go to the cross for us and then turn a deaf ear to our prayers? We can trust His Word. God’s love is for us/you!
Next question: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (v 33). The prosecuting attorney in the courtroom scene turns up the heat with their accusations. Our answer: Since God is for us, what other opinion matters? Every voice that accuses us, even our own voice, has no weight in the presence of a God who spared nothing for us. I tell you again that God is for us/you!
Next question: “Who is to condemn?” (v 34). We go back to Rom 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There is no one to condemn because God is for us. The only one who has the right to condemn is Jesus; He has already answered the question with the offering of His own life since He died and rose for us. Just think: sitting next to God is the one who died and rose for us. Our defense attorney continues to speak to us. God is for us/for you.
Next question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (v 35a). Paul makes a list in order of increasing intensity. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (v 35b). As the things on this list get worse, we sinners are reminded HOW MUCH God loves us. Nothing, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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” (vv 38–39), and Since Nothing Can Separate Us from Christ Jesus, God Is for Us—That is the Answer to All the Life-Changing Questions.
Because God is for us, we can rise above every hardship, not just cope, but conquer. Because nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we possess all things with Him. And we know this for sure because God is for us, for you. Any questions?
In Jesus’ Name.