Cheney United Methodist Church
Monday, January 22, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

November 19, 2017

11-19-17
Romans 8: 28-39.
“The Children of God Are Blessed By Divine Love!”

I’m glad you are here today. I have good news to share with you! God loves you. You are loved by God and by this church and by me. I want you to hear that God loves you and nothing can separate you from His love if you are in Christ Jesus.
 
The 12 verses we want to look at today are some of the best ever written by the Apostle Paul. Though we experience suffering and groan in pain we have hope, of better days to come. Our Christian hope is solidly grounded in the unwavering love of God. The climax of this three-part series brings us back to our eternal security as the Children of God, on account of God's unchangeable purpose, which is itself due to the eternal steadfastness of God's love.
 
Most people of faith have heard Romans 8:28, it begins, “We know. ...” We know that God is at work in our lives. Ok, this is God, the Lord is nonstop, energetically, purposefully active and engaged on your behalf. Second, God is at work for the good of his people. God is good in his nature and it follows that his works would be an extension of his goodness and are calculated to advance his people's good! Sometimes it's hard to believe that God desires to see good things happen to his Children!
 
Third, God works for our good in all things. “All things” is inclusive of the suffering of vs. 17 or the groanings of vs. 23. Thus, all that is negative in this life is seen to have a positive purpose in the execution of God's eternal plan. Nothing is beyond the scope of God's providence as he deals with us and our ultimate well-being, namely our final salvation.
 
Paul adds, “God works in all things for the good of those who love him. “Not everyone can claim this
promise. To receive the promise of God working out good in our lives, which the objective is our salvation, that is only true for those who love him.
 
“For those who love him are called according to his purpose. “For their love for him is a sign of his prior love for them. God has a good and saving purpose and is at work according to it. So consider, because God is working out his good purpose, perhaps life is not a random mess that it sometimes seems.
 
Verses 29-30, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his
Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. These two verses help elaborate and explain that God is working out his purpose for us in all things, for our good. Paul presents God's good and saving purposes through five stages: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification.
 
God foreknew who would be saved--let's think about that. To fore know is to know something beforehand. In Biblical thinking ‘to know’ someone--to know them intimately is to love them. So if you will allow me, Whom he foreknew is equivalent to forelove. Fore-love is sovereign, distinguishing love. The only source of divine election and predestination is divine love.
 
Some of us might have a hang up with predestination, a God predetermined salvation. Dr. J.I. Packer argues that Christians believe in God's sovereignty in our salvation rather they admit it or not--first you give thanks to God for your conversion, knowing God was entirely responsible for it. Second, you pray, asking God to change the heart of a loved one that they might believe and be saved. John R. W. Stott in his commentary on Romans says: “The doctrine of divine predestination promotes humility, assurance, responsibility, holiness and mission.”
 
Paul gives two practical purposes for predestination, the first is that we shall “be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” God's eternal purpose for his people is that we should become like Jesus. The transformation starts now in our conduct and our character through the work of the Holy Spirit and will be completed when we see Jesus and our bodies are resurrected to glory. The second purpose is that he might be the firstborn among many, this highlights that believers enjoy both the community of the family and the preeminence of the firstborn!
 
Vs.30, “And those whom he predestined he also called.” His call comes to people through the gospel being proclaimed. It is when the gospel is preached with power, and people respond to it with the obedience of faith, that we know God has chosen them. So evangelism is a key ingredient because it is the means God has chosen by which His call comes to His people and awakens their faith. This fits with verse 28, “those who are called according to his purpose.”
 
Next, “those whom he called he also justified.” Our justification is more than forgiveness of sins, or
acquittal, or even acceptance, it is a declaration that we sinners are now righteous in God’s sight, because He has covered us with the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ!
The end of verse 30 reads, “those whom he justified he also glorified.” Sometime in the near future we will be given new resurrection bodies, in a new world, both will be transformed and glorified by God to the glory of His Son.
 
As we move on to look at verses 31-39 Paul asks a series of five questions and each one is
unanswerable! Question One, If God is for us, who can be against us? Paul knows we have enemies, like people who don’t understand us, people who oppose God, even Satan. The world, the flesh and the devil are all aligned against us, and are much too strong for us. But they are no match for God! Since God is for us--He has fore-loved us, predestined, called, justified and glorified us--there is no question God is on our side and God always wins!
 
Question Two, 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? What if Paul had simply said, “Will God not graciously give us all
things?” You and I know we need many things! Somethings we need are difficult and demanding. How can we be sure God will supply all our needs? But Paul points us back to the cross! God did not spare His own Son--to show us the depth of His love for us! Consider, who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilot, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; but God the Father, for love! Paul argues from the position of the greatest to the lesser, God gave the supreme gift, which was priceless, His only Son, so how can He fail to lavish every other gift upon us? In giving us His Son, He gave everything. The cross is the guarantee of the continuing, unfailing generosity of God.
 
Let’s skip to question Five, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? With the fifth question imagine we have climbed a grand staircase and we now stand at the top! What takes our breath away is the steadfast love of the Lord, which is perfect and divine! Look at what Paul offers as a challenge to that love. The list starts with trouble or tribulation, hardship and persecution; together they sum up the distress caused by and ungodly and hostile world. Then Paul mentions, famine and nakedness --the lack of adequate food and
clothing. Since Jesus promised these things to his Children in the Sermon on the Mount, wouldn’t their
absence suggest that God doesn’t care after all?

Then Paul concludes with danger or sword, which suggest the risk of persecution with threat or harm; and the
sword could be the thrust of execution. The willingness to be martyred is the final test of the Christian and of
faithfulness. Next for emphasis, Paul quotes Psalm 44, which tells of the persecution of Israel by the
nations. The seven afflictions that Paul mentions and others, the list could be longer. They are real
sufferings, unpleasant, demeaning, painful and hard to bear. Paul knew what he was talking about, he had
experienced them all. The question remains, can all these sufferings separate us from the love of God?
NO! On the contrary, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” For we not only
endure them, but we triumph over them and win a glorious victory--through Him who loved us!

Notice vs. 37, “For I am convinced. ..” Paul started in vs. 28 “For we know. ..” now he personalizes it--I
have become and I remain convinced. ..that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things
present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.

This is the divine love of God for His Children, which was demonstrated at the cross,love poured into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit and received by us and confirmed by our identity as Children of God --guaranteed
an inheritance that will bring us safely home to glory. Our confidence is not in our love for Him, which is fragile,
frail and fickle, BUT His love for us which is steadfast, faithful and persevering!
 
God is for us, He will never leave us. He is always on our side, and nothing will ever separate us from His love. Step up in faith as a co-heir with Christ, more than a conqueror, who is loved by God Almighty, the King of the universe! Step into your identity as a child of God and face the world with confidence, we will overcome with the Lord on our side!