He Will Hold Me Fast - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Romans 8:31-39

  • 2018-08-26 AM
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One of my favorite hymns that we sing together is, "He Will Hold Me Fast;" I know that's true for many of you. I love the first verse. It says this:

When I fear my faith will fail,

Christ will hold me fast.

When the tempter would prevail,

He will hold me fast.

I could never keep my hold

Through life's fearful path,

For my love is often cold.

He must hold me fast.

That is in reality, the message of the final paragraph of the great eighth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. As this chapter unfolds, Paul lays out for us seven great reasons for the believer's absolute security in Jesus Christ. We are studying the final paragraph and the final reason that Paul gives here that we are secure in Christ, and it's this, God has loved us eternally in Christ; that's the message of verses 31 to 39. Let's read it together. Romans, chapter 8, beginning in verse 31.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over 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 who 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 will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The theme of this paragraph is that there is no one; there is nothing in the universe that can separate us from God's eternal love for us in Jesus Christ. Paul begins in verse 31, "What then shall we say to these things?" As I mentioned last week, he's likely summarizing the entire section that begins in chapter 5, verse 1, and runs through the end of chapter 8. He answers the question that he begins verse 31 with in the rest of the verse. And he answers that question with two affirmations that don't at first glance appear to be affirmations at all, but don't mistake it; the end of verse 31 makes two massive statements about spiritual reality. Number one, God is for us; and number two, no one can successfully be against us.

God is for us. God is no longer your enemy, Christian. He is no longer against you. He is for you; He is on your side, or better, in sovereign grace, He has put you on His side; and because of that, verse 31 says, "If God is for us, (and He is, since He's for us,) who is against us?" At its heart, this is Paul's question there in verse 31; Is there anyone who can successfully undermine our justification before God? Is there anyone that can somehow separate us from our relationship with God through Jesus Christ?

In the rest of this paragraph, he deals with that question, and he considers, one by one, every being in the universe that could potentially accomplish that separation. And he proves, in the end, that no one and nothing in the universe can destroy the believer's faith, can undermine our security in Christ, and no one can ultimately leave us again condemned and hopeless.

In verse 32, we noted that he makes it clear that it will not be the Father that accomplishes that. Verse 32 is a kind of a conditional sentence; look at verse 32; let me read it that way for you, "If He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, then how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" As we noted, if God has already given us the most precious thing He has, then what's the likelihood that He's going to withhold something of much lesser value that's necessary to our salvation? It's not going to happen! He's given us Christ; and if He's given us Christ, then He's going to freely, or literally, graciously give us all things. That is all things that are necessary to our ultimate salvation. The Father, Paul says, will never change His mind about you. He will never fail to provide what is necessary to bring you to glory. He's already demonstrated His resolve in giving us His most precious treasure.

Secondly, Paul says it will not be Satan that derails our spiritual journey to glory. Verse 33, "Who will bring a charge against God's elect?" Satan is the primary one, we noted, who has access to God and who is called "the accuser of the brethren." So what Paul is really saying here is, what if Satan were to come to God about you in the same way that he did with Job, and Satan should argue with God that God should not save you? What if he pointed to your sins, and he knows them, and said, "Really? You're going to continue with that guy, with that woman?" Paul says, "God is the one who justifies." You see, if God has already declared His justice met in my case, then nothing Satan says will ever stick; no accusation will find a home in the mind and heart of God. There's no chance God is going to accept any future accusation against me if He's already declared my case closed and His justice fully met in Christ.

Verse 34, Paul tells us it will not be Jesus Christ our Lord who in any way undermines our justification. What he really asks here when he asks this question, "Who is the one who condemns?" Who has the power to condemn? Well, only Jesus Christ. He is the final Judge. So what if Jesus Christ changes His mind, reverses His verdict of justified at the final judgment and declares us condemned? Paul gives us four reasons that will not, that cannot happen, and we looked at them last time. That's not going to happen because of Jesus's death. It's not going to happen because of His resurrection. It's not going to happen because He has all authority in the universe and is seated at the right hand of God and because He intercedes for us. So, never going to be God, never going to be Satan, certainly won't be Jesus Christ that in any way undermines our faith, our justification.

Now today, we come to another group that could potentially undermine our justification, and frankly I think in many ways, this is the one we worry about the most. It will not be a human being, verses 35 to 37. It will not be a human being. Notice verse 35, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" Now in the preceding verse, Paul has just discussed the work of Christ for us; His death and resurrection, His intercession. And so I think that's probably why he speaks here in verse 35, not of the love of God, but of the love of Christ because he just talked about His love manifest.

Now look at that expression, "the love of Christ." That expression, both in English and Greek, could technically mean the love we have for Christ. But clearly that's not what Paul means here in the context because it's clear he's talking about the love Christ has for us. Look down in verse 37, "Him who loved us." So he's talking here about Christ's love for us, and he starts with a question about that love in verse 35. But just as he did back in verse 31, before Paul asks the question, really he is first making a staggering point within that question. You remember back in verse 31, he says, "If God is for us…" What was the point? God is for us! Well that's what he's doing here as well. Before he really asks the question, he's saying, "Christ loves us!" Again, we hear that; and if we're not careful, that becomes pedestrian, becomes every day, ordinary, "Christ loves us."

I want you to notice, first of all, that this is individual, because the individual nature of the circumstances in the rest of this verse, they don't happen to groups, although certainly they do, but the point is they happen to individuals. Paul is not talking about Christ just loving us as a group, which of course He does; rather the focus of this entire passage is on the security of the individual believer, on your security. The focus here is on Christ loving each Christian personally and individually. I want you to think about this. Let this sink into your soul. If you have repented of your sins, if your faith and confidence is in Jesus Christ, if you have owned Him as Lord, Christ loves you. Jesus Christ loves you.

This is put in so many different ways throughout the New Testament. I love the passage in John 13 as John begins the upper room discourse there in verse 1. He says, "Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world." Jesus loves His own who were in the world; that's us and it says, "He loved them to the end." The Greek expression is "to the telos," to the probably, the idea is to not just to the end of his life, but rather to the end of possibilities, to the maximum is the idea. He loved his own fully, completely, totally, to the absolute maximum.

Ephesians 5:2, "Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Listen, when Jesus died on the cross, it wasn't simply because He loved the Father, although He did; it's because He loved you. Galatians 2:20, Paul says, and he makes it very individual, and this is true of you if you're in Christ, Paul says, "The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Revelation, chapter 1, verse 5 says, "Jesus Christ…loves us," makes it present tense, which of course is obvious, but he states it, "Jesus Christ…loves us and released us from our sins by His blood." I don't think we really comprehend the love of Christ for us. That's why Paul, in Ephesians 3, in that great prayer for the Ephesian believers, prays, "Help them, Father, to understand what is the height and breadth and depth and to know the love of Christ," to really understand it.

I confess to you that I don't understand it the way I ought to; I don't think any of us do. That's why we need to think about it, we need to pray, we need to ask God for insight, and here we have instruction about it, verse 35, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" That word, "separate," the Greek word for "separate" means 'to cause a separation through the use of space between, to divide.' "Who is going to divide us from Christ, who is going to create a space between us and Christ?" That's the question, and notice the question isn't 'what,' which is a little surprising in light of the list that follows, but 'who?' This could include any conceivable opponent - could be a divine opponent, could be a supernatural opponent, angels or demons, could be a human opponent. And let's admit that, ultimately, all of the events and trials that are there described in verse 35, they come at the ultimate spiritual level either from God directly or from Satan by God's allowance.

Let me show you an example of each. Go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 8; Deuteronomy chapter 8, here's how trials come into our lives directly ordered by God Himself. Deuteronomy 8, verse 2, Moses says to God's people, "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years." Remember, it was by God's own order that the children of Israel landed in the wilderness.

Remember (that)…God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you…(He) let you be hungry, then He fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand.

God had a spiritual purpose in bringing these things - to humble you, to test you, and to teach you, to teach you what? "That…you (might) understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." You know, God is still involved in bringing circumstances into our lives that accomplish those purposes; to humble us, to test us, and to remind us that it's the spiritual realities that matter most. So God does this sometimes directly.

Other times, God does this indirectly, and He does it by allowing Satan to bring circumstances into our lives. Turn to Job, chapter 1, you're familiar with this; I mentioned it last week. Job, chapter 1, and notice verse 12. You remember in verses 9 through 11, Satan accuses Job; he just fears you because you've blessed him; that's really it; it's all about him; not about you; he doesn't love you. Verse 12, "the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.' So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD," and you know what happened. The series of calamities that God allows Satan to bring into the life of Job; it's evil people in verse 15 who do personal violence; in verse 16, it's lightning, probably a severe thunderstorm with lightning that consumes part of his animal wealth and land, and then you have more evil people in verse 17. Then you have, in verse 19, a natural disaster, "behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the…corners of the house," where your children were "and they (all) died." So here are all of these circumstances the God allows Satan to bring into Job's life.

Chapter 2, verse 4:

Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! …all that a man has (will he) give for his life? … (now) put forth Your hand…and touch his bone and his flesh; (and) he will curse You to Your face." So the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life." …Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head.

So understand then, at the ultimate spiritual level, all the events and circumstances in our lives either come from God directly or from Satan by God's permission.

But as we will discover in this passage, the focus of the negative circumstances in verse 35, and the question 'who' is not God, and it's not even Satan. Rather, the focus, in these verses, is at a human level. Paul could be talking about what other people do to us. All the circumstances, there in verse 35, can come from other human beings; several of them do, in fact, come from others. Paul's question, if this is what he intended, would be something like this, "What if the actions of others against us somehow undermine our relationship with Christ?" And I mean, certainly that's a legitimate question. However, listen carefully; Paul's primary concern, in these three verses, is not that the actions of others may separate us from Christ's love. His primary concern is that somehow, you and I, in responding to these negative circumstances, may

undermine our justification or may abandon our relationship to Christ.

Notice verse 37; here's where it's clear what he's talking about. "We overwhelmingly conquer." You see, Paul's concern is that somehow we would fail in the spiritual battle, in the midst of these circumstances. Ultimately, the actions of others can't separate me from Christ's love for me, but what if I can? What if, in the middle of life's terrible circumstances, I somehow change my mind about Christ? What if I abandon Him? Listen, Paul's point in these verses is this - if you are in Christ, you can't separate yourself from Christ's love whatever circumstances may come into your life; it simply cannot happen!

To prove his point, he begins with a short list of what Christians often experience, what Christians often experience. Look again at Romans, chapter 8, and specifically at verses 35 and 36:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."

Now, folks, that list wasn't theoretical to the apostle Paul. He had personally experienced all of them except the last one, and he would eventually experience it. Turn over to 2 Corinthians; I want you to see, this is Paul's life; 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 23, as he responds and defends himself against the false apostles there, the false teachers there in the church in Corinth. He says in verse 23 of 2 Corinthians 11, "Are they servants of Christ?--I speak as if insane--I more so." In other words, he says I hate to even do this, this sounds insane for me to defend myself, but let me just tell you what I face.

In far more laborers, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. (That was the punishment in the synagogue for blasphemy, for false teaching, for some egregious sin. Verse 25,) Three times I was beaten with rods, (That was the Roman punishment for those who disturb the peace.) once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, (By the way, this is before the shipwreck at the end of the book of Acts, so four times.) a night and a day I have spent in the deep. (One of the shipwrecks resulted in Paul floating among the debris for 24 hours.) I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (And) Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

Listen, Romans, chapter 8 is Paul's autobiography. He faced all of those things. Now go back to Romans 8 because here is what all Christians often experience, not that all of us experience all of them, but these are common experiences in the life of God's people. First of all, there are normal trials; that's what's implied in that word "tribulation." In fact, the Greek word 'tribulation' is literally 'pressing or pressure.' This word is used of treading out grapes. In fact, the English word 'tribulation' comes from the Latin word 'tribulum' which describes a threshing sledge, a sled essentially, a wooden sled embedded with rocks on the bottom, loaded with rocks on the top that was dragged across the grain in order to thresh it. In other words, it pictures the trials and the troubles of this life that press us down, that crush us like a threshing sledge.

Then there are extended trials. I think that's what's described in this word "distress," distress. The Greek word translated 'distress' is a combination of two words that literally mean, put together, 'a narrow space'. That's the word 'distress,' 'a narrow space.' One lexicon defines it this way, when it's used figuratively, 'it is a set of stressful circumstances.' And because of the idea that you're in this narrow, confined space, the idea is that it's continuing, that it's being hemmed in by your circumstances.

It's possible that William Henriksen is right when he says, "This word 'distress' refers to the internal distress of our souls in response to the external tribulation. That's possible. But I think it's more likely that it refers to extended times of trials in our lives, when we are hemmed in and just can't seem to escape; times when we are so surrounded by trials, that we begin to feel claustrophobic. If you've lived any time at all, you've been there; you've experienced that. Those times when you just can't seem to free yourself, you just can't seem to get away.

A third experience that Christians often have in this life is religious persecution; verse 35 uses that very word 'persecution.' It is 'a program or process designed to harass or oppress someone,' and in the New Testament, solely for the purposes of their faith. This is what Jesus promised would happen; go back to Matthew, chapter 5; Matthew, chapter 5. One of the Beatitudes tells us we're blessed if we experience this because those who have come to be humble in spirit, who have mourned over their sin, who are pure in heart, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who are peacemakers, those people are not going to not to get along really well in this world. So verse 11, or go back to verse 10 rather; Matthew 5:10, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

You say, "Well, you know I've never we have believers in Christ across the world who are being arrested, who are being tortured, who are being killed for their faith; I've never faced that. No, nor have I, but notice that's not all Jesus means; verse 11, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me." That happens all the time. You miss that promotion at work because people just think you're some sort of overly holy person, not real, not genuine; your righteousness confronts their sin. They insult you behind your back. This happens all the time; if you doubt that, just read some of the comments online about Christians. This says, "Blessed are you…Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Listen, Christians will face persecution in this world. It may not be physical persecution, but it will be these things - insults, falsely accusing us of things.

Back in Romans, chapter 8, there's another experience that Christians often have and it's natural disasters. It's the word "famine." This Greek word can just mean hunger, extreme hunger; but here, most translators agree it means famine. It's a reference to what we would call a natural disaster. Food supplies were scarce in the first century world; in fact in Acts, chapter 11, verse 28, we read, "Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius." In fact, several regional famines are reported in various parts of the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius which was from 41 A.D. to 54 A.D. There were several of them in Judea in the early years of his reign, and Gentile churches, under the direction of Paul, even took up offerings to help them. You see, living in a fallen world, brothers and sisters, we are not exempt from the disasters on this planet.

Christians also often experience financial poverty. That's that word "nakedness." Again a leading lexicon defines it this way, "it is being without adequate clothing with the connotation of destitution." In other words, it refers to a situation in which a person lacks their necessary clothing, and they have absolutely no resources in order to purchase more - financial poverty. Believers around this world today experience that.

Number six. There is personal danger; that's the word "peril." This Greek word refers to danger of all kinds. In fact, you remember a few moments ago I read 2 Corinthians 11, verse 26, and again and again Paul said, "I was in danger from this, and danger from that, and danger from this . . ." that's this word "peril." Christians often find themselves in personal danger in a world filled with sinful people, in a world that's wracked by fallenness. Danger, as Paul enunciates there in Chapter 11, dangers from rivers, and dangers from people, dangers of all kinds.

And then finally, verse 35 says, even physical violence and death. That's the word "sword." In the New Testament, the word "sword" is used for personal violence; it's used for execution by the governmental authorities; it's used for war, and it's used for death of all kinds. Christians are not exempt from physical violence and from death.

Now look at that list. Paul's point is we shouldn't be surprised if we experience any of them. Look at verse 36, "Just as it is written, 'FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.'" Paul here quotes the Septuagint translation of Psalm 44:22; and if we were to go back to Psalm 44 and walk our way through that Psalm, in context, this verse reflects the confusion of God's people in the face of suffering; suffering that came to them because of their relationship and loyalty to God, not because of their sin. "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING (KILLED) ALL DAY LONG." In other words, this is a constant threat for God's people. It may not be for us right here today, but I promise you around this planet today, it is a constant threat for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And then notice how he puts it in verse 36, "WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." Sheep, in the first century, were a cheap expendable product; that's how the Romans thought of sheep; it's also how they thought of Christians. One commentator says, "The tribulations which face Christians are nothing new or unexpected, but have all along been characteristic of the life of God's people." You see, we can be tempted to think and frankly by the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, we can even be assured that if Christ loves us, He will protect us from all trouble. But the point of this quotation in verse 36 is that we shouldn't be surprised when we experience these things.

As John Calvin wrote, "It is no new thing for the Lord to permit His saints to be undeservedly exposed to the cruelty of the ungodly." It's not a new thing. Difficult circumstances can and do come into our lives as Christians. God hasn't promised to exempt you from the troubles of this life, including all these things.

I mean, think about this for a moment, God the Father didn't protect His only Son from the troubles of this life when He lived here on this planet. Jesus faced almost every one of these things. He faced tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. He faced them all; so don't think that because God loves you, He will keep you from these things. He doesn't promise that, but, don't be discouraged. Listen carefully, if God does allow one or more of these things into your life or all of them, He will not allow a single one of them to undermine your security in Christ or to separate you in any way, to put a space between you and Christ; it's not going to happen.

So we've seen what Christians often experience, but I want you to notice in verse 37 how Christians always endure, how Christians always endure. I love this, "But in all these things." I want you to notice first of all the word "but." That connects us over verse 36 back to verse 35. This is the response to all of those troubles that can come into our lives, "but." And it's a note of triumph! Back in verse 35, Paul's rhetorical question, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" calls for a "No!" answer. No one! But here Paul goes even further; he says, in the normal trials of life, in times of intense trouble, in religious persecution, in natural disasters, in financial hardship, in personal danger, and even physical violence and death, verse 37, "in all these things." Now I want you to notice that little word "in," a really important word, because Paul says, "Our victory does not come by avoiding these things." Nor does he say, "Our victory comes by escaping them, once we experience them." Notice what he says, "in all these things," in experiencing these things "we overwhelmingly conquer."

Now the Geneva Bible, one of the earliest translations of the Scriptures into English, I have a copy that I treasure in my office; it was the first edition was printed in 1560 in Geneva by the English reformers working along with and under John Calvin; and in that Bible, they translated this verse this way, "We are more than conquerors." Maybe you have heard that expression, "more than conquerors." The NAS here uses, "We overwhelmingly conquer." It's because this expression, "we overwhelmingly conquer," translates one Greek word, one Greek word made up of two words that have been pushed together. The first Greek word is 'huper' from which we get the English words 'hyper' or 'super;' 'hyper' and 'super.' Those English words come from the first half of this word. The other half of this word is 'nikao.' The noun form of that verb, 'nikao' is 'nike' or Nike, as we often refer to it, from which the brand Nike gets its name. The word means 'to conquer.' So literally, this word is 'super conquer' or 'hyper conquer.' It means to be overwhelmingly victorious; it describes a lopsided victory in which the opponent is completely routed.

Now understand that this word is not like the kind of victory that you see when you go to the movies and watch a Marvel character win, okay? That's not what we're talking about here, because what makes those movies work is the tension of the superhero almost losing. You're not going to go see a movie where, you know the guy just devastates everything, and there's no tension, right? What makes that work is he almost dies; he almost gets defeated; he almost loses; but then at the very last, as he's lying there in a pool of his own blood, somehow he resurrects himself and manages to win. That's not the kind of victory Paul describes here; it's not your superhero victory.

Or, to use a different illustration, this word is not describing the Dallas Cowboys' victory over another NFL team, even if the other team is really bad (And we can only hope that there some of those victories this year.) because, with another NFL team, even Cleveland, there is always the real risk of losing. It happens; that's why they play the game, right? You never know for sure who's going to win. Instead, the picture behind this word 'super conqueror' is if the Cowboys were truly scheduled to play your local peewee football team. Think about that for a moment, and they really were allowed to pull no punches, to play as violently and hard as they play on any given Sunday, but playing the local peewee team. In that case, there would never be a single moment in which they really had any risk of losing, eventually. That's the idea here.

Here in Romans 8, the word speaks of us as prevailing completely without any real spiritual threat against us, "in all these things." Now don't misunderstand. Paul is not saying that God promises you every time these things come into your life, you will be completely victorious. That's not what he's saying because that isn't true. Instead, he's promising that none of these things will eventually overcome you or destroy your faith. We will lose some battles, brothers and sisters, but we will win the war. We will be, at times, defeated; but in the end, we are also and will be eternally overcomers.

Let me give you a couple of illustrations. Think of Peter; I love Peter because he is a great example of this tension because Christ allowed circumstances in Peter's life in which he failed. You know that; I mean, Peter denied the Lord three times in front of just a few people on the night of Jesus's arrest, and yet Peter was the one who preached before tens of thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost and said, "You killed the Messiah!" You have Peter who gave into the Judaizers; in the book of Galatians, it's described. He gave into the Judaizers and almost compromised the gospel; he did compromise it; he almost compromised it to the point of its extinction, if it hadn't been for Paul confronting him. And he did all that under peer pressure, and yet Peter would eventually die as a martyr for Jesus Christ and His gospel. You see in spite of his struggles, Peter was an overcomer; Peter was, in the words of Romans 8, "a hyper conqueror, a super conqueror."

Think of Paul. When Paul wrote Romans, he had already experienced all of these things except for death; and eventually, that would come to him as well. And Paul had discovered that none of these things could disrupt or destroy his relationship with Christ; and what I want you to see, this is Paul's point; this is true for every genuine Christian as well. Notice verse 37, "in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer." Who is "we?" Who's Paul talking about? Well in context, "we" refers back to verses 28 and 29, to those on whom God set His love, those "He…predestined to (be) conformed to…His Son…those he called (through the gospel to Himself, those) He…justified;" and those He, someday, will glorify. In other words, He means every genuine Christian without exception. He means you, believer. You overwhelmingly conquer.

Now how does that happen? Verse 37, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." You see, we are not super conquerors in our own strength. In fact, left to ourselves, we would fail, and our faith would be permanently and finally destroyed. But Christ our Lord, the real super conqueror, simply will not allow that to happen because He loved us. Notice that expression, past tense, "He loved us." That verb looks back to the greatest display of Jesus's love when He died for us on the cross. You really think Jesus Christ would love you enough to die for you and then give up on you? He's not going to let it happen. Scripture promises are that our Lord who loved us so much will protect us through this life with all of its troubles and present us someday to the Father. I love John 10, verse 28, "I give eternal life to them," Jesus says, "and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand," - not some other person, and not you.

Turn to Ephesians, chapter 5, this is an amazing text here in the middle of a passage on marriage and specifically on husband's responsibilities, but I want you to see what it says about Christ. Ephesians 5, verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives," and then he gives the ultimate illustration of love. "Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water with the word." Now watch Christ's goal, verse 27, He did all of that "that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory." The picture here is of a husband who has taken all preparations necessary to make sure his bride is beautifully adorned. "That he might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless." Listen, Jesus started out this spiritual journey to in His love for us to purchase us and to someday present us perfect in the Father's presence. He's not going to fail to do that.

The point of Romans 8 is this; we overwhelmingly conquer not because of our hold on Christ, but because of His hold on us. "We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."

Now, what is the application of this? Listen, have you ever wondered, I really want you to think about this now; have you ever wondered, what if one day I get that call, and I've been diagnosed with terminal cancer? What if I lose a spouse? What if I lose a child? What if a child deserts Christ? What if I lose all my financial resources and I become destitute? What if I experience some sort of a devastating natural disaster? What if persecution comes at a much higher level than we experience it now? What if I am someday threatened with death over my faith in Jesus Christ? Will I stay true to Christ through all of these things? What if I ultimately fail? If you truly belong to Jesus Christ, He simply will not allow that to happen. What or who will separate us from the love of Christ? You will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved you. He will hold you fast. He experienced all these things and overwhelmingly conquered, and we will through Him.

But very practically, how exactly does Christ do this? How does Christ preserve and protect us from the spiritual harm of others; and more importantly, the point of this passage, the spiritual harm we might do ourselves as we face life's difficulties? Well, there are number things we could say; let me just give you four; this is just a couple of the ways that Christ accomplishes this. I'm not going to spend a lot of time here; I just want to give you these thoughts and references, and you can look at them in your own time.

First of all, Christ protects us by praying for us. Christ prays for us about this very issue. Listen to Luke 22, verses 31 and 32, he says to Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; (He wants to destroy you.) but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Christ said, "Listen, Satan wants to destroy your faith; it's not going to happen because you're one of mine, and I have prayed for you that that will not happen, and the Father always hears the Son. Christ prays for you as well as you endure these kinds of circumstances and difficulties, He prays the very same thing for you. "Father, don't let that Christian's faith fail."

Secondly, He does it by not allowing circumstances that would destroy us. You see, He knows, He knows what we can endure; He knows what we can face. Sometimes we don't think we can face what we're facing, but He knows that we can, and He will not allow us to face more than we're able to face.

I love what you read in John, John's gospel, chapter 18, where it's in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus's arrest, and you remember the huge group of soldiers shows up along with the representatives of the high priest. Judas is there. In John 18:4, "Jesus, knowing all…things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?'" This is interesting. Jesus goes out, and He says, "Okay, who's on your arrest warrant? Tell me who's on the arrest warrant." They answer, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He." And "when He said…'I am He,' they drew back and fell to the ground." Jesus is allowed, under the work of the Spirit, to demonstrate something of who He is and when He says, "I am," it's like for a moment, the veil slips a little bit; they get a picture of who He is and they fall back. Then, He asked them again, "Whom do you seek?" Who's on the arrest warrant? "They said, 'Jesus the Nazarene,' and then listen to this, "Jesus answered, 'I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way.'"

What's Jesus doing? Twice Jesus says, "Who is on the arrest warrant? It's me, not them; you have to let them go." Why? Listen to this verse, Jesus said this "to fulfill the word which He spoke, 'Of those whom You have given Me, I lost not one.'" Even in the moment of His greatest suffering, Jesus is protecting His own. He knew that if, in fact, they had been arrested as He was going to be arrested, their faith might fail, and He wasn't going to allow that to happen, and He does the same with us. He's not going to allow any circumstances that will destroy our faith.

Thirdly, He does it by strengthening our faith in God's Word. 1 Peter, chapter, 1 verse 5, says this, "(We) are protected (Listen to this; we) are protected by the power of God through faith." So the way God and His power protects us is by strengthening our faith in God's Word, in God Himself. 1 John 5:4 says whoever "is born of God overcomes the world." Every true Christian is an overcomer and how does that happen? This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. So Jesus protects us by strengthening our faith in His Word and His promises as we go through the difficulties and troubles of this life.

And then, number four. He does it by providing sufficient grace for us to endure whatever He brings. You wonder, "How will I do if those things come into my life?" Listen, you don't need tomorrow's grace today; He's not going to give it to you, but He will give you the grace sufficient for whatever He brings. 1 Corinthians chapter 12, I'm sorry 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 8 and 9 says, concerning my "thorn in the flesh," Paul says, "I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He said to me, (No!) 'My grace is sufficient for you.'" This is how Christ preserves and protects us. Christian, whatever comes into your life, your faith will never fail, and you will "overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved" you because He will hold you fast!

Let's pray together. Our Father, we are overwhelmed by your love for us. Lord Jesus, we're so grateful that no one can separate us from your love for us. We can't even as we face the most difficult circumstances of this life because we will overwhelmingly conquer, a complete lopsided victory ultimately through you who have loved us. Lord, help us to rest in that, to find comfort and confidence. Lord, there are many people sitting here this morning who are in the middle of a lot of these very issues in their lives; may this passage be a huge source of comfort and encouragement.

Father, I also pray for those who this morning who are outside of this special redeeming love of Christ because they have never repented and believed. Father, I pray that today you would help them to see Christ, to see His glory, His beauty, and long to be His. May they run to Him in repentance and faith and own Him as Lord by your grace, by your doing. We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.

Romans