The First Sunday in Lent

February 21, 2021

Romans 8:31-39

The Confidence that Conquers!

 

What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  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?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  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.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the year 2020 will not be remembered as the Year of Confidence.  Because of the pandemic schools were closed, businesses were closed and up until last week even churches were closed.  People have lost their jobs.  People have lost their homes.  People have lost their lives.  Even though the vaccines have started to turn things around, my guess is that there are many people who are still running low on confidence.

 

What would it take for more people to feel more confident?  Would it take yet another round of stimulus checks?  Would it take the re-opening of schools and businesses?  Would it take enough people getting the vaccine so that we can reach what is called “herd immunity”?

 

What would it take for more people to feel more confident?  If you were to look at that question from a purely worldly point of view, I’m not sure there is an answer!  Praise God, my friends, that we are not hindered by answering questions like that purely on the basis of science or economics or opinion!

 

Our sermon text for today is one of my personal all-time favorite portions of the Bible.  I have shared this portion of Scripture with people who are facing what they consider to be insurmountable problems in their life.  I have shared this portion of Scripture with people who are ill, with people who are dying, with people who are filled with fear or with doubt.  And whenever I share this portion of Scripture with someone I do so with the goal of helping them to have more confidence!

 

As I share this portion of Scripture with you this morning, my goal is to help you focus your heart, your mind, and your life on:  The Confidence that Conquers!  As we study this text, we first of all need to understand that there is only one basis for having the confidence that conquers.  Then let’s see how that confidence enables us to conquer some rather daunting questions.

 

What is the basis for the confidence that conquers?  Look at what Paul says in the opening portion of our text, “What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  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?”

 

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?”  These words draw our attention back to the immediate context of what Paul has just written.  In verse 28 God the Holy Spirit has Paul give us the confidence of knowing that our God personally sees to it that “all things work for the good of those who love him.”  Then in verses 29 and 30 God the Holy Spirit has Paul give us the confidence of knowing that from all of eternity our God “knew” us, He “predestined” us, He “called” us, He “justified” us, and He will “glorify” us!  As Paul personally reflected on everything that the Lord has done for him and as Paul confidently proclaimed to others what the Lord has done for them (us), he asks a very relevant question— “What, then, shall we say in response to this?”

 

Paul’s inspired answer to that question is succinct:  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  The confidence which these words give to us is beyond amazing!  What is even more beyond amazing is the proof, the basis that Paul gives for saying this, “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?”  Since our sermon a week from today will lead us into a deeper discussion of what Paul is emphasizing here, we don’t want to spend too much time on it today.  Suffice it to say that the basis of our confidence, the confidence that conquers, the confidence that comes from knowing that “God is for us,” is seen right there— the cross on Calvary’s hill!  (Pointing to the cross)  Every time we lift up our eyes to the cross, we have the confidence of knowing that “God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.”  Every time we lift up our eyes to the cross, we have the confidence of knowing that “God is for us.”  On the basis of that confidence, let’s look at the questions that Paul poses here in our text.

 

The first two questions go hand-in-hand.  Paul writes, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  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.”

 

Without the confidence that the cross of Jesus Christ gives to us, the answers to these two questions are both innumerable and formidable!  Who will bring “charges” against us?  Who will “condemn” us?  Let’s see:  there are all the people we have hurt in one way or another; there are all the people who feel that we have cheated them in one way or another; there are all the people we have let down; all the people we have disappointed; all the people we have angered— do we need to go on?  Add to that lengthy list our fiercest enemies— the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh!  Since these enemies know us better than any of the people we just mentioned and since these enemies are consumed by hate and vengeance they are constantly bringing “charges” against us!  They are constantly “condemning” us!

 

With the confidence that the cross of Jesus Christ gives to us, the answer to both of those questions is clear.  Who will bring “charges” against us?  Who will “condemn” us?  No one!  Even if someone tries to bring a “charge” against us, even if someone tries to “condemn” us we have the confidence of knowing that they will fail!  Why?  Because the cross of Jesus Christ gives us the confidence that God Himself has “justified” us!  The cross of Jesus Christ gives us the confidence that God Himself has declare us:  “Not Guilty!”  The cross of Jesus Christ gives us the confidence that Son of God Himself— our Brother Jesus— is “sitting at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”!  The case is closed!  The verdict is in!  “It is finished!”

 

At the very same time, the cross of Jesus Christ gives us the confidence of knowing that this (Pointing to the cross) is how much the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth loves us!  God’s love for us has already given us the greatest gifts of all— complete forgiveness for all of our sins, eternal life, and salvation!  Since we know that God loves us this much (Pointing to the cross) we have the confidence of knowing that God’s love for us will provide for all of our needs (See Matthew 6:25-34), protect us as we journey through this world (See John 16:33), and prepare for us a “room” in our heavenly Father’s Home.  (See John 14:1-3)

 

The second set of questions are found in verse 35 of our text.  Paul writes, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

 

Without the confidence that the cross of Jesus Christ gives to us, the answers to questions like these are once again painfully numerous.  If our salvation were  dependent on anything  we had to do— some decision we had to make, some good work we had to perform— then any “trouble,” any “hardship,” any “persecution,” any “famine or nakedness or danger or sword” that we encounter in this life could easily “separate us from the love of Christ” as it leads us to focus on ourselves and strive to find our confidence in what we do.

 

With the confidence that the cross of Jesus Christ gives to us the answers to those same questions are found in these glorious words, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”

 

That’s confidence, my friends!  That’s the confidence that empowers us to conquer anything and everything we encounter as we journey through this world!

 

While we pray that everyone will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, and while we pray that schools and businesses will re-open, people will get their jobs back and the economy will rebound quickly, while we pray that things will get back to some semblance of “normal,” that’s not where we get our confidence, is it.  As Christians our confidence, the confidence that conquers, can only come from one place— the cross of Jesus Christ.  (Pointing to the cross)  This cross is what gives us the confidence to say:

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen