Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 23
IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?
Now, we only covered two verses in our last lesson, and we’re still in verse 32, and I can’t emphasize enough that everything that God now has done, and is doing on our behalf, is based on that finished work of the Cross, where God did not even spare His Son. Why? So that He could purchase mankind back to Himself. Now, the first thing we may wonder if we’re not taught in these things is, Well, why does God have to do this? He’s Sovereign, and He could do any way He wanted, but you see God never goes against His own principals. God is Holy, God is righteous, God is Omnipotent, He is full of all knowledge. And so He knows what has to be done to reconcile fallen man back to Himself. And so in His knowledge, and understanding He is the One Who determined that it had to be the sacrificial death of Himself on our behalf.
I’ll never forget the first time I taught that Christ was the Creator God, and my class just sat there aghast. They had never heard this before, and they were so aghast that as we talked about it afterwards over a cup of coffee, they said, “Les, are you sure you know what you’re talking about?” Now, this conversation goes back a long time ago. And I said, “I sure hope so, I’ve never taught it before, but I’ve just seen it in the last few weeks, and I have to teach it.” Well, it wasn’t long that I read where someone else had also made that statement that, “Christ was the Creator.” And of course since then I’ve seen it many times, but for the longest time you just didn’t see that very often in print. I think it was Martin Luther who struggled over Psalms 110:1:
“The LORD said unto my Lord, `Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.'”
And Martin Luther just couldn’t comprehend, and he had been wrestling with it for years. And one morning he came bursting out of his study, and he almost screamed at his wife,“Now, I see it.” She said, “You see what?” He replied, “It was God crying out to God.” And that’s what it is, because Christ is God. And back up here in Romans Chapter 8, we have in just a few verses all three Persons of that God-head. I know there are people who refuse to believe that there’s a Trinity. They say, “God is One.” Yes God is One, but He’s in three Persons as we see in Romans 8:26:
“Likewise the Spirit (capitalized) also helpeth our infirmities:… And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Now, there you have the Spirit, and God in His Triune entity, but come on down a little further in this chapter and you’re dealing with Christ. So here you have all three Persons of the Trinity within just a few verses, and yet when you see the term `God’ it is the Triune God, the whole God-Head as Paul calls it. And what is it? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct entities, and yet One God. Can you see that? Alright, now let’s come on down to verse 33. Since Christ died, and God let Him, God permitted it to happen. He directed that it had to happen in order to purchase our Salvation. There would have never been a person saved, not even in the Old Testament economy, without the work of the Cross. It had to be to satisfy a Holy and Righteous God. Now, let’s read:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
Now, what does that word `elect’ mean? Chosen. When you elect someone you designate them to be whatever you intend them to be, and the word `election’ in the Greek is exactly that. It is an act of choosing, and that is what God has done with everyone of His believers. Now, I think I’ll finish the chapter, and then I want to take you back to some of the statements that Jesus made Himself during His earthly ministry: that He has chosen us, and that no man comes to God on his own prerogative. Sometimes we like to think, “Well, I can just decide to go with God anytime I feel like it.” Oh no you can’t because you have to be back again in that chosen aspect, but on the other hand we have the Scriptures, “Whosoever will.” So reading that verse again:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
Not our neighbor, boss, husband or wife. We don’t have to give an account to any of them. It’s God, the Triune God, the Creator God, the sustaining God, He’s the One Who determines who we are and what we are in the realm of the Spirit. Now, verse 34, so if He is the One Who has chosen us, if He is the One Who has forgiven us, if He is the One Who has taken us unto Himself, then:
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again,…”
Now, do you see how Paul is constantly hammering that everything revolves around that finished work of the Cross? The fact that Christ died, His divine Blood had to be shed, because always remember:
“…and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
So without the shedding of Blood there is no remission. You can’t bypass the Blood, it had to happen. So He’s the One Who died, and rose from the dead, and He’s the One Who is at the right hand of God interceding for us. He’s the One Who is watching over us, and He is the one who promised, “If God is for you, who can be against you?” And never lose sight of that, but don’t ever interpret that to mean that nothing bad can ever happen to a believer. Don’t ever get the idea that the things of this world can’t attack the believer. Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, and he does that often, and he can confuse the issue, but we have these promises, if we’ll rest on them, that God is still in total control. God’s Sovereign!
Now we’re coming into a series of verses that will probably disturb one group of people of various denominations, and that is that group of people who feel that you can not be assured of your Salvation. They think that you have to hope you make it, you have to work like the dickens to hang on, and you have to be sure that you don’t ever sin in such a way that you will lose your Salvation, and end up in Hell instead of God’s Heaven. These verses are just going to fly in the face of that kind of thinking. I can’t help it, because all I’m going to show you is what The Book says. Now, verse 35:
“Who shall separate us (and that means just exactly what it say) from the love of Christ? shall tribulation,…”
That word tribulation is used something like 29 times in the New Testament, and maybe with one exception that word is associated with the activity surrounding the believer. You go back into the Book of Revelation, in fact, let’s turn to that book right now. Someday we’re going to teach this part of Revelation – the letters to the seven churches in the opening chapters. Revelation Chapter2 verse 9. This is a letter to the church in Smyrna (verse 8) and Smyrna actually means to smell “just like myrrh,” and myrrh does not exude its fragrance until it’s crushed. This is exactly what the church at Smyrna was indicating, that the more persecution crushed those believers, the more they exuded their testimony. And you see that’s why Satan had to give up persecuting the early Church because he couldn’t get ahead of it. The more he persecuted the more it thrived, so he took the opposite attack, and that was to join them, and then Christianity began to slide. Let’s read:
“I know thy works, and tribulation (God knew about their tribulation, and the Church at Smyrna was going through horrible pressure), and poverty, (but thou art rich)…”
They were poor in material things because the persecution was taking them away from their income. It probably took them away from their job situation. It took all their wealth away if they had any. That was part of the persecution, but spiritually they were what? Rich! The Church today is just the opposite of that day, and that’s what the letter to the Church at Laodicea was all about. Now, reading on:
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews (believers), and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan(they were impostors). Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer (did believer’s suffer? You bet they did): behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison (for their faith), that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days (I think that ten days refers to ten distinct periods of time during the Roman Empire when the Church came under horrible pressure, but these believers didn’t give up); be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Now, back to Romans again. So we’re going to suffer tribulations, and as I mentioned before, it’s only been in the last couple hundred years that western civilization, at least, has been able to guarantee the rights of the individual, and the freedom of worship, and so forth. But for the most part this has been unheard of. We’re living in an extremely different time than most Christians had to live in, because we do have a government, that so far at least, guarantees our rights to assembly, and to religion. Verse 35 continuing:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness (Paul went through times of nakedness, and cold, he was thirsty, and hungry, and how did Paul die? Beheaded by the sword), or peril, or sword?”
And there is nothing said that we will be spared the sword, but none of this will separate us from our Lord. Can the Devil bring in enough persecution to force a believer out of his place in the Body of Christ? Never! God has guaranteed that because of the work of the Cross we are secure. Not because of what we have done, not because of what we merit, but only because of what He has done, and let’s never lose sight of that. We never maintain our assurance of Salvation and security because of who we are or what we are, or what we have done. That is never part of the picture. Everything that keeps us secure is that finished work of the Christ. Verse 36:
“As it is written, `For thy sake (the sake of the Christ of the Cross) we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'”
I read an account not too long ago about someone years back when Chicago was still the capital of the meat packing business. They would slaughter the cattle, sheep, and hogs all within one huge complex. A visitor was being taken on a tour and he just couldn’t help but notice that as he went from the hog killing area, with all of the squealing and all the commotion that goes on with hogs, to the sheep killing area, what happened. Utter silence, and I’ve witnessed that myself. I’ll never forget that when they take sheep to the slaughter they have a goat. And that goat leads those sheep up to the place where they are to be killed, and then the goat slips out a side door. And then he goes back and gets another bunch. It’s simply amazing, but those sheep go to their slaughter in utter silence.
And this is the analogy that Paul draws of the believer. We may someday just come to the place where we, too, will go like sheep to the slaughter. Are we going to scream and squeal like a bunch of pigs? No, because that’s not the way God works. Do you remember what Isaiah said about the Lamb of God?
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
Why? Because there was no need for Him to scream and argue, and so it has been with Christians down through the ages. Take a lot of the hunks and macho people of today, most of them think Christianity is for women and children. But they have it all wrong, because back in the days when persecution was running rampant it took ten times more man to stand up for the slaughter, to be burned at the stake, and to be put on the rack. You all know what the rack was, that was when their bones were all broken without killing them. That’s when it takes a real man, and I bet most of those so called machos could never hold a candle to those saints. But Paul says this is all part and parcel of what God has imparted to us, the promise that even though we may have to go through these things, and many have, it will never separate us from the love of Christ.
And remember this life, even if somehow we could live to be 100, what is that compared to eternity? Eternity, never ending forever and ever and ever, and yet the human race will not consider that. All they look at is, what can I enjoy in the here and now? But you see this Book looks at everything in the light of eternity, and so this is why we have to take this blessed assurance that regardless of what may happen, nothing can separate us from our spending eternity with our Creator God. Well, let’s move on to verse 37.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Were those sheep, being led quietly to their death, conquerors? That’s the analogy. We’re led like sheep to the slaughter, but this verse says, “…yet we’re conquerors.” That’s fantastic isn’t it? So we don’t have to mind being meek, and quiet, and coming under persecution, and doing without squealing like a hog. Because in the end we’re still going to be more than conquerors, How? Through the One that loved us, that’s where it is. You and I in the energy of the flesh can do nothing, we are nothing. Now verse 38 Paul says:
“For I am persuaded…”
What does it mean to be persuaded? Totally convinced. I think it was King Agrippa back in Acts Chapter 26 where Paul had been witnessing to him and what did old King Agrippa say to Paul?
“Then Agrippa said unto Paul, `Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.'”
But I don’t believe that King Agrippa ever believed the Gospel and became a Christian, and do you know why? Because Agrippa could never be convinced that what Paul was telling him was true. And that’s where a lot of people are today: they hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4), they hear this Book taught, but they can’t be convinced. They simply can’t believe it. And I’ve had people approach me and say, “Well, what have you got?” And I’ll tell them, but most will come back with, “But I can’t believe that. I can’t believe that’s all it takes.”
I’ll never forge a young man in my class at Wilburton, OK. I think he’s still receiving our tapes, and if so, I hope he hears this. He was one of these kids who from the time he was 5 or 6 years-old had no home life, no parents, he just literally made it on his own. He came up after class one night, and said, “Les, do you mean to tell me that I can have all of this free for nothing?” I told him, “Yes.” He said, “I can’t believe that.” And then he told me of how he had to scratch and fight for every little bit of food that he had as a kid growing up. He said,“I just can’t believe that.” And I told him, “I’m sorry, but until you can believe it you can’t have it.” And so the young man left. But I’m hoping that sometime in the interim he will still come to his senses and see that, yes, all of this is ours for the taking, if we will only believe it. Now, continuing on with verse 38:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,”
Now, why do you suppose that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to start with death instead of life like we would normally put it? Stop and think for a moment, what’s he driving at? Death is the easy way out. That’s why we have so many suicides, they think that’s their easiest way out. They can’t cope with their problems, they can’t cope with their circumstances, so they take their life, and that ends it as far as this life is concerned. But what about life? Oh, we’re living in a world that’s filled with heartaches and turmoils. A life that’s lived with all kinds of oppositions to the home and family. Hey, life is difficult. Life is not easy. In fact, I was reading a book someone sent me a while back, and I almost had to quit reading it because all the writer was pointing out was all these things that make life difficult. True, but it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to be thinking about, so you see death is easy by comparison. But Paul tells us that even all the difficulties of life can’t separate us from the love of God. Now, as we come to close of this lesson I wish I had more time for the next few words in verse 38: that is principalities and powers, nor things present, or things to come.
The word `principalities’ here in the Greek is `Arche.’ It deals with people who are in a high position. The word `power’ is from the Greek word `Dunamis’ from which we get `Dynamo,’ and it means energy. Paul is delineating here that principalities, the position, and the energy that comes from that position are going to do everything that they can to take us away from the love of Christ. But they can’t do it. I wish I had time to take you to Ephesians in Chapter 6 to enlighten you even more. There the word `powers’ is used a little differently than in Romans. There it’s not speaking of energy, but again, power as Jesus gave to the Twelve when they went out to perform the miracles. But, nevertheless, the powers that be in the realm of Satan are positioned and they are loaded with energy that seemingly never runs out.