31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Can we believe in a promise of unrelenting love?
When I was a child I saw my dad make deals with some men simply on their word and a handshake. He’d say to me as we walked away, “Son, there are some men that can do business that way. What they say they will do, they will do.”
My mother had a hormone imbalance when I was growing up, and often I didn’t know if she would be sane, but I never thought she would abandon us. I didn’t realize how hard it is to keep a promise in times like that.
20 years ago I promised my wife I’d never leave her nor forsake her—and she said the same—no matter her wretchedness nor the world’s chaos, if she would only stay in the covenant of this promise.
I still believe in and am inspired by those things: by a promise being rooted in character, and that character being capable of unrelenting love.
Even though I know they are not the norm in the world as it is.
In fact, that is the only surefire way for me to cry in a movie—when someone does something that people don’t do. When they don’t chose themselves, but chose the good, and make whatever sacrifice to live by it.
For years I thought the main reason people don’t hold to the promise of Christ in his death and resurrection was for empirical reasons. We don’t lose faith because we don’t believe there is the power in the universe to bring life to the unalive. It is that in the perception of our hearts, there is too much doubt and sorrow to believe that the universe is guided by unrelenting love—especially towards us.
But the resurrection of Christ demonstrates:
God’s children conquer because God’s love is unrelenting.
Not because we are good, or strong.
We are conquerors because God’s love is unrelenting.
In spite of our moral wretchedness and suffering under the curse, God will sanctify and glorify his children through the resurrection spirit of holiness.
- God has done everything for his children and heirs.
- God will succeed in glorifying those who are his.
- God has given us everything we need for godliness.
- God works for the godliness and glory of all who believe.
- God will transform his loved ones to godliness and glory.
- The resurrection is God’s guarantee of godliness and glory to his own/children.
- God’s Spirit will unleash resurrection power on all God’s children.
- God’s Spirit unleashes resurrection power on all God’s children.
- God’s resurrection power is our conquering power.
- The resurrection is the promise of glory.
But how can we believe this? The “world isn’t like this.” (Intuitional empiricism rather than scientific empiricism.)
The conflict is that when it comes to God’s love and the meaning of our lives, we are being called to believe that Jesus—in his life, death and resurrection—is a more compelling demonstration of what is true than our intuitions about our sufferings.
Rom 8:12 “I do not consider our present sufferings to be worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.”
There are 2 reasons this can’t be believed. We’ll cover one this week and one next week.
1. Moral self-doubt: I’m too weak and wretched.
Romans 8: 31-34 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.2
Moral self-doubt is the belief that says, “I don’t really have the character of Jesus. I’m not going to make it, and he will ultimately reject me.”
Rom 7:21-24 “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?3”
Just as I Am by Andrew Peterson: “All of my life I’ve held on to this fear, These thistles and vines ensnare and entwine, What flowers appeared, It’s the fear that I’ll fall one too many times, It’s the fear that His love is no better than mine
We think that, even after all the promises of God’s interest in loving and saving us, that he still must have a frown towards us. He must always be thinking about how he would correct us, how we should improve.
We think that he wants a divorce and will abandon us.
Heart of Man: “I spent 60 years trying to scrub my father’s expression off of the face of God.”
This completely misunderstands how God offered redemption in the first place:
God sanctifies us: God’s purpose is the process. This mindset forgets that our godliness is God’s business and purpose. He will give us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3) – because he is already given us his Son.
Why would he decide now to reject us as too wicked? Instead, if he has already delivered of his own Son, what other resource for our transformation will he not withhold?
God is the one who justified us: there is no other court in which to accuse us. God had no illusions about us when he chose to work our salvation—there is no new evidence to marshal against us. No new crimes, no unforeseen disappointments.
Rom. 5:6-10 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Jesus received our condemnation: The one who was condemned for us is our advocate to the Father. And Jesus rose from the dead to advocate for us to the Father (who already loves us).
Isa. 53:4-5 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
God’s love—displayed in Christ and the promise of everything that comes with Him—is strong enough, reliable enough, and serious enough to put all your trust in. Don’t allow your intuition to tell you his love is like yours when he has done everything to demonstrate that it isn’t.
You have to chose between your experience bias and God’s demonstration of his love, and the promise he’s given in it.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.6