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Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Good News

Happy Sabbath Everyone. Today is my God-given day of rest, mediation, and reflection. That said, I thought it only appropriate that I post a spiritual nugget on this most sacred and blessed of days. The following is an excerpt from a sermon I gave for youth week back in mid-May of this year. I hope you enjoy it...

"I have some Good news! Not just good news! Some God news! Just consider one of my favorite passages in scripture from one of my favorite books: Romans chapter 8. Now I don’t know about you, but when I read Paul’s writings I am all the more touched, cuz that brother lived what he wrote. He understood first hand the transformative powers of Christ. That brother knew how it felt to live on both sides of the track. This dude tortured and imprisoned Christians—he persecuted Christ for a living. Try putting that on your resume’! But having encountered God, he got to see first hand who he was in relation to Christ. He had an I-am-Nothing-Christ-is-Everything experience. And this is what he has to say: "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death!” What a testimony—and that’s from someone who formerly tormented followers of Christ. That brother had an epiphany!

Just think, we are garbage. We are born in sin and shaped in iniquity and now because of Christ's inconceivable love, “There is therefore no condemnation”. Talk about AWESOME! But I got some news that’s even better. In verse 18 Paul (that’s my boy) he says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. What? Now that’s Hot!!! But I got some more for you. You aint seen nothing yet. Listen to how it ends. Verse 28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Did Paul say some things, a few things?... Paul says that ALL things!--That EVERYTHING works for good for those who love God.

OH I’m not finished yet. It gets even better. Verse 31 asks "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" I like to paraphrase that to what can be against us. Unemployment, financial disarray, health problems, psychological issues, car trouble, spousal issues, all these immense pressing social and political issues we keep hearing about on the news? Who can be against us? Terrorists, murderers, rapists, politicians? Who can be against us? Ah but it gets better! Paul leaves us with a challenge. He asks emphatically, who can separate us from the love of God? And then he postulates some examples ”shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” oh but I’m not done yet! Oh This gets even better! Paul testifies, he answers his own question brilliantly in verses 38 and 39 declaring, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Christian author George R Knight writes “What more could Paul have said? He has hammered home, pounded down, and fully exhibited one of the greatest teachings of the Bible—that those who choose to maintain a faith relationship with God through Jesus can not lose...let us never forget that our confidence and assurance rest not in our love for God—which is frail, fickle, and halting—but in his love for us, which is steadfast and preserving”.

Now that's good news!


Matt said...

Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters. 8:28-39 most clearly reveals the eternal security of one who is truly born-again, and the absolute sovereignty of God, that it is He who saves us by His grace alone and we can do nothing to save ourselves (Eph 2,3).
We see that in the true convert, not only will God use socio-economic acts (persecution and tribulation) for His ultimate good, but also He will use the Christian's own sin for ultimate good. While bad things that happen and personal sin are not inherently good, God will use them for His ultimate good (glorification v.30) because temptation, tribulation, and persecution drive us further to our knees that we might rely even more on God.

For in our weakness we are strong, means that in our weakness we depend even more on our greatest strength which is our Father in heaven. Isn't it often true that when things are going good we pray less?

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

John MacArthure has a great expository study on Romans 8:28-39: http://gty.org/product.php?productcode=262

Anonymous said...

We think a lot a like on many issues and have had some simular life experiences. I wish I could articulate my thoughts and experiences as well as you do. I can truly relate. Thanks for so many great blog posts.