Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered May 22, 2004 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Facing Fear with Faith

Romans 8:31-39

Today is the conclusion of series of five sermons on Romans 8, which is one of the finest chapters in the whole Bible. I hope you've enjoyed it.

There was a wealthy Roman who had a son. His son broke his heart and a slave who commanded his admiration. And so, the wealthy man decided on his deathbed to disinherit his son and leave everything to his slave, Marcellus. He drew up the papers and called in his son to tell him what he had done. He said, "Son, you have disappointed me in life, You've broken my heart. So, I have deeded everything to my slave Marcellus. However, you may choose one item from my estate for yourself." "I'll take Marcellus!" was the son's reply. - Phillips

I want to tell you that when you choose Jesus, you have it all. That's one of the themes in Romans 8.

Romans 8:31,32. 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? Praise god for that.

Paul uses the very words that God used of Abraham in Genesis 22:12 where Hew says, "...you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham was tempted. His son was Isaac, and God said, "You didn't withhold from Me your only son." Abraham began his walk with God by giving up his father,.and he ended it by giving up his son. Just as Abraham spared not Isaac, just so God spared not His Son Jesus. Abraham was intensely loyal to God. God is even more loyal to those who love Him. For Abraham it was a test of faith, for God it was the real thing.

It is inconceivable to me that after giving up his son to God that Abraham would have withheld anything from God. I don't think he would. Just so it is inconceivable to me that God after giving up His Son Jesus, to actually die for us, that God could ever withhold anything from us that we really need. Can you see into the very Heart of God here? How God wants to give you eternal life. He wants to give you everything. We have a loving God Who is generously committed to saving us.

When you get on board one of those big jet aircraft, I hate doing that because I like to be behind the wheel, but I relinquish the control of my life to that pilot. Once you get up to a certain altitude, the "fasten seat belts" light goes off. Is there ever any doubt in your mind that that the pilot has full intentions of delivering you your final destination? He's going to do it, or give up his life trying. He is committed to delivering you to the final destination. When you give your life, you relinquish the control of your life into the hands of Jesus Christ, do you realize that He is fully committed, unless you jump out the window or something, to deliver you to eternal life. Roman 8 is a great assurance chapter. God will finish what He started at the Cross.

Tucked in the middle of Romans 8:32 is a very special phrase: but gave Him up for us all. For us all. For all of us. For everybody! Jesus died in my place. Jesus died to pay my debts. Jesus risked His life for us to pay our debts. If you accept Jesus Christ, and you keep following Him, you maintain that relationship with Jesus, you're never going to be lost. Don't quit. Stay on the path that leads to life.

There was a man and his small 5 year old son that were going home and they had to go through the dark woods on a cold winter night. The man held a lantern in one hand and held this little boy with the other hand. Their lantern illuminated the footpath in the pitch black darkness. Little Bobby said: "Daddy, I'm scared! The light reaches only very short way!" The father said: "I know son, but if we just keep on walking, we will see that the light keeps on shining and it will eventually shine all the way to the end of our path."

God promises to give us all things, but only a step's worth at a time. You and I are little Bobbies. We are not in need of more light. We simply need to utilize the light He has already provided. God does not given us a string of flood lights shining as far as the eye can see like an airport landing strip. No. His heavenly lantern provides light on only one spot at a time. Psalm 119:105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.. Just enough for our feet, not the whole path. God will light up the path ahead only as we keep advancing along that path. There will be vast stretches of the road ahead that we can't see. We just have to trust the light that we have. - Herman W. Gockel

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light.... Then we're going to reach our eternal destination. The light will lead us into eternal fellowship with Jesus. But there are conditions: "but" and "if". Once you are saved you must keep walking beside Jesus one step at a time to keep in the light. Because that light is advancing, and if you stop walking with Jesus you're going to be left in the dark. So, if you let go of His hand and go off on a tangent, you've left the light. But if you stay with Jesus, you're on the path that leads to eternal life.

Romans 8:32. 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? I remember when I was in Andrews University I used to work for the CWP. Times were very hard for me. My folks sent all the money they could, and I remember many times praying, "Lord, I'm not going to be able to pay my bills. I've got to have more money." One time I prayed that prayer and my dear grandmother in Hartford City, Indiana, sent me five dollars! Five dollars was a lot of money to me back in those days. I applied that on my bill. It just seemed like when the bills came in the money would just come about the time the bills came. There was never an excess. There was just enough. And that was amazing to me. God promises to give us all things, but they don't arrive in one big fantastic load all at once. It's just enough to get you through, one step at a time.

Will God give us everything? I might pray for a new sports car or a new body. At Andrews University I was a poor student and prayed for money to pay my way. My Grandmother sent $5.00. (Big money in those days). It helped a little but I did manage to squeak by. Here God's promise is for Spiritual things. God will provide everything we need that we might be saved.

Let's continue with Romans8:33,34. 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. Will God ever condemn us? Who is our Judge? The judge is Jesus Christ. The Judge has the right to blame and sentence us. But what does Paul say Jesus is actually doing? He "is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." He Who died and rose is at God's right hand interceding for us. Jesus is pleading our case. Jesus is definitely not our prosecuting attorney but instead He is our Advocate, our Friend in the court, he is pleading our case.

This week I have read and reread Zechariah. For me the gem is in chapter 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. Satan was there to accuse the high priest. Even ministers are human.

Joshua was a High Priest. But even Joshua was a human. He can only proffer filthy garments. He as the minister was also a sinner. Satan stands at his side ready to accuse the one God had chosen. Now, look at what God does. Does God listen to the loathsome words of criticism of the devil? Let's read Zechariah 3:2. The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" He's a brand plucked from the burning.

Then God removed the filthy sinful clothes of his chosen servant and placed fresh clean clothes upon him. These represented the righteousness of God Himself. Also it represented justification. No longer could Satan accuse him. He was dressed in something good. Just so God's children have nothing to fear. Nobody can condemn us because each of us stands firm in covering of Jesus Christ.

Now, let's go back to Romans 8:35. So the question then is: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Paul asks who shall separate us from the love of Christ? He lists several harsh things that can't do it. If your Medicare doesn't pay all your bills, can that separate you from the love of Christ? If your husband has to go in the nursing home, your spouse or your... If anything happens, can that separate you? And he lists some bad things here. You would think that all these disasters might cause a Christian to throw in the towel. But I will tell you that Christians do not throw in the towel because of bad things. Catastrophes and tragedies actually bring a true Christian closer to the Lord!

But there is one agency that can separate you from Jesus you yourself. Verse 5 says, "Who can separate us?" and then it lists a whole bunch of things that can't, but there is somebody who can separate you from Jesus Christ. That is yourself. You can separate yourself from Jesus. You're the only one that can. All these other things can't. Troubles, hardships, persecutions, trials, famines, you name it. They can't do it. But you can. You can choose to turn your back on God and walk away. Whoever finds himself a great distance off from his Father's house, (like the Prodigal son) may well reflect that it was his own feet that took him there. You are the danger. You can be the culprit. You can remove yourself. Nothing else can.

Romans 8:36,37 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.

Do you see the big contradiction in verse 36 and verse 37? Verse 36 says we are sheep to be slaughtered. It doesn't sound very good, does it. Verse 37 says we sheep are more than conquerors! In one verse we are about to be slaughtered, the next verse, we are more than conquerors. How can this be?

Let me ask you a question: What animal in all the animal kingdom is the King of beasts? Not the lion. Not the mighty grizzly bear. The king is a sheep! We sheep are more than conquerors! More than the lion. In fact the old roaring lion can't conquer the sheep if; there's an if here. Let's read it in Romans 8: 37. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us

Why is a sheep stronger than a lion? Because the sheep keeps close to the shepherd, and the shepherd can kill that lion. The sheep is smart enough to know that he can't save himself. The sheep is smart enough to know that. He's smart enough to keep close to the shepherd, and if he does, you can't touch him. That's why the sheep is more than a conqueror through Him! The strength of a sheep is that it knows its helplessness and therefore stays close to the all powerful shepherd. Remember, David was a shepherd. He got that sling, that stone and he killed many lion. He killed many a bear. The sheep is the king of all because he's smart enough to stay close to the shepherd.

And, you as a Christian, are a sheep. And you will be victorious if you stay close to the Shepherd. Don't go off on your own. Don't go off on some tangent because the lion will get you there. Our salvation is entirely by the grace of the Shepherd. We sheep have to recognize that we have no strength. It's not by horns or hoofs that we're saved. It's by our Savior that we're saved. We have no righteousness of our own. We are saved one hundred percent by the grace of the Shepherd. You can't earn anything. The only way you can win is to stay close to the Shepherd, stay close to the Lamb of Calvary, Jesus Christ. And if you stick close to your Shepherd you can't lose because He's going to protect you. Don't go off on your own. Don't go off on some tangent because the lion will get you there. Our salvation is one hundred percent by grace. If you stick close to your shepherd you can't lose because He's going to protect you. Not even a pride of lions could harm you. The Bible says, "You are more than conquerors!"

Alexander the Great conquered the world but he himself was conquered by his own evil habits. It's reported that he died in a drunken stupor. But I will tell you that with the mighty power of Jesus Christ you could be more than a conqueror, better than Alexander the great, with Christ on your side.

I went to a baseball game down in Atlanta. The Braves were playing the Marlins. It was in the tenth inning. As you might imagine, the score was tied. In a dramatic finish the Braves won in the tenth inning. Everybody around me stood and shouted and they gave each other "High- fives", and they were so excited. "We Won! We won!" Not one person around me was actually a member of that team. And yet they said, "We won!" None of us even lived in Atlanta. My son was from Keene, Texas. Another person was from Atlanta Adventist Academy. He lived outside of town. We were strangers. How is it that we could say that "we" won? It's because we identified ourselves with the team. Te team had become our team because we had so closely ourselves with it.

In the same way we can shout "We Won!" at the victory that was accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross 2000 years ago. We won, not because we lived in Jerusalem, not because we even members of that team. We weren't even one of the disciples of that day. But we did win because we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37.

So, if you stay on the path, if you stay close to your Shepherd, if you walk by His side, you can't lose. Keep your hand in His hand and nothing external can separate you from God's great love. Then Paul lists 10 things that cannot separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38,39. 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. Isn't that great? Nothing can separate us.

That ought to give the Christian assurance. You've got assurance. You're going to be saved. You're going to be saved, not because of your horns or your hoofs, your great physique or your ability. You are going to be saved if you stay close to the Shepherd. That's how you are going to be saved. Here in Romans 8:38, 39 is our Manufacturer's guarantee of our salvation. This is the assurance of the Christian. Now, we Seventh-day Adventists think, "Well, you know, I don't know if we can have assurance." Yes, we can! If I were to ask you how many are going to be in heaven some day? That may be the wrong question. Maybe if i were to ask, How many of you have the assurance of salvation today? We all ought to have. We can have that assurance. Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ, except ourselves. So, if you are committed to it, you are home free. You are the winner. We need that assurance. If God is for us, no outside influence, no outside factor can ever win against us. That's the gospel. Jesus Christ came to this world, He lived the perfect life that we cannot live, He died on the old rugged cross,. After three days he was raised to life, and if you accept Him as your Savior every day, you are saved. It's just that simple. God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us that we might not die forever, but that we might live forever. It is God Who justifies the one who accepts by faith the sacrifice of Jesus for them.

Of course we Christians do face resistance, don't we? But nothing can separate you from Jesus if you want Him as your Savior.

Can death separate you from Jesus? Not really. You may sleep for awhile, but you are still sleeping in Jesus. You're still in Him. The lion can't even eat your corpse because you're sleeping in Jesus. Jesus is watching over you. Death is a vanquished enemy. Conquered but not yet destroyed, but conquered. Can life separate you? Only if you allow it, only if you want it to. Can angels? No, actually angels exist to help you come closer to Jesus. Can demons? (Evil fallen angels) No. Only if you let them. Only if you delve into the occult. Can the present separate you from Jesus? Can the future? If you worry excessively about it. Can height separate you from Jesus? If you are at the pinnacle of your occupation and pride takes charge you might be in danger. Can depth separate you from Jesus? Maybe you lost your spouse, your occupation, you lost your job. Remember that Job lost about everything. But it did not separate Job from Jesus. As long as you hold on to Jesus, nothing can prevent you from walking on the streets of gold some day.

Imagine every possible calamity that could possibly happen. They can't separate you from Jesus Christ. They can't pluck you out of His hand. Nothing can. So, endure your trials. Even when they get thick and personal, for better days are ahead. Nothing can defeat you if you stick with it. Just don't give up.

There was a woman who emigrated from Mexico to the United States with her husband and children. At the border in El Paso, Texas, her husband deserted her, leaving her stranded. She had a few dollars in her purse. She used that money to buy a bus ticket to California, and there she got a job. It was a bad job. She worked from midnight until six o'clock in the morning, making tacos. It was a hard job. She earned only a few dollars, but she ate meagerly and saved a dime from every dollar she earned.

Why did she save? Because she had a dream: she wanted to own a taco shop of her own some day. Finally she took the few dollars she'd managed to save, went to a banker, and said, "There's a little place I'd like to buy. If you'd loan me a few thousand dollars I'd like to start my own taco shop."

The banker looked at her. Finally he decided to take a chance o her and loaned her the money. She worked hard at her shop and eventually, she expanded and expanded until years later, she had the largest wholesale business of Mexican products in America. She went on to become the treasurer of the United States of America. Her name is Ramona Banuelos. -- Robert Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!

She could have said, "I have all these kids my husband left me. I guess I'll just go apply for food stamps. I'm done. I'm washed up." No! Just don't give up. And in your spiritual life, don't give up. Stay with Jesus Christ. James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

If you persist, you will ultimately win eternal life. Romans 8 bestows wonderful assurance in verse 1. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is perhaps the greatest truth we can know. You can't lose if you maintain a faith relationship with Jesus. Keep your hold on God. Nothing except yourself can separate you from eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Sources:

Walking with Paul through the Book of Romans, by George R. Knight, Review and
Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, MD, 2002.

The Letter to the Romans, by William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975
p.106-107.

Exploring Romans, by John Phillips, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, 1991

Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! by Robert Schuller


Hymn of Praise: #20,  O Praise Ye the Lord
Scripture:  Romans 8:31-39
Hymn of Response: #339,  God is My Strong Salvation

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