The Love of God
The love of God
Have you ever doubted that God loves you?
There’s a beautiful photograph by Jean Guichard. Anyone seen this before? 47 metre high lighthouse called the La jument. Off the coast of France. Here you can see it being thrashed by 10-metre waves. Very full on waves smashing the lighthouse. But the lighthouse as you can see is this impenetrable structure. Waves? No worries. It can take the pounding of the sea. The lighthouse remains immovable. God is not saying to you today in Romans 8:28-39 be strong no matter what struggles suffering wash over you.
No actually as you closer at the lighthouse, there’s a tiny figure of man standing in the doorway. You’re not the lighthouse. You’re the person hiding in the safety of this immovable construction. When Theodore Malgorn, bloke there opened the door of the lighthouse he sees the helicopter as Guichard was taking the shot. He realises far out the giant wave was about to crash over the structure, he rushes back inside just in time to save his life. This is the Christian life. In christ, we are both relaxed, and forever rushing into the safe arms of the loving Father, the faithful Son and the powerful Holy Spirit. We live this way as we are pounded by the inevitable waves of sin and suffering, until Jesus returns. He loves us.
As we come to today’s passage, line after line this passage is so comforting. You do not need to doubt God’s love for you. why? Because at the heart of God’s character. Love.
The Lord of the universe says he loves us. He does not stop loving us. He won’t give up no matter what.
How can we know this? How can he be so certain that God loves us? We know this because God’s love does not depend on us. It depends on him.
Two points this morning, God speaks to our heads – know that God is in absolute control and he speaks to our hearts God promises that nothing can separate us from his love.
2. God is in absolute control (8:28-30)
Firstly, God is in absolute control. Notice how verse 28 starts, we know
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
This is one of those classic verses you put in a picture frame and hang it on your wall. We know that for those who love God all things work together for good. So how do we know? God’s in control of everything.
Notice, it’s not in some things, not just the good things. When life a bed of roses. No, he is in control in all things. He is in control of the bad things. When there sickness, during pandemics, and in disasters. He’s in control.
Feel the weight of that. This is important. It’s when life gets hard that’s when you doubt, right? But he is working for your good.
So what does that say about God? don’t box him in. yes. But also, he has a purpose. He has a plan. He has intention to bring about good for his people. even if it looks impossible.
But you go, how can bad things work for good? How can it be good when Christians are beheaded? How?
It depends on our definition of good. My definition is: I want a nice comfortable easy life. That’s why my parents left Vietnam right. Good job. Good education. Good family. But that’s not what God’s saying. That’s not the good.
What is the good?
Romans 8:29 (ESV)
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
There’s the good. He’s making you more like Jesus.
That’s the good. To be more like Christ. And that actually means we will suffer in this life.
We live for him. We will suffer like him.
You see, when the Lord Jesus was betrayed, sold for 30 pieces of silver, whipped mocked, wearing a crown of thorns, suffered incredible evil. It was the worst of suffering. But what was God doing? He was working for the good of those who love him. What you meant for evil God meant for good. Jesus brought us forgiveness of sins. That is the good. He brought us back to God. he died for us.
And we thank our God for that, don’t we?
God works for the good of those who love him to make us more like Christ.
But to be like Jesus is not even the ultimately goal.
Romans 8:29 (ESV)
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.
God is at work so that we might be more like Jesus – he loves us - so that Jesus will be number 1. Our lives are not about us. It’s not. It’s about Jesus. Glorifying Jesus. we live for Jesus. He is the first place. We’re second place.
Oh friends, God loves us. He’s making us more like Jesus. He is in absolute control.
In fact, God wants to be so sure that he is in control. He gives us to marvel at his big plan since before time..
Even before the universe existed. His plan was for Jesus to save a people. He chose to love us. It’s an extraordinary picture.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
That’s God’s big plan. His plan is from before all things to the end of all things. He is in absolute control. This is suppose to give us comfort. Assurance.
Friends, you look at that word there predestination, you might think gee that’s just confusing. What do we do with it? God choses these people, doesn’t chose those people. what?
I’m not saying it’s easy to understand. It’s not easy. It is hard. But I am saying it doesn’t mean it’s not true. We see it in the Bible. God says he chooses people he saves. God also says we’re responsible for our actions. Does God choose or are we responsible? The answer is Yes. Both. That’s what the scriptures say.
Friends, it’s arrogant to say if I can’t understand it, it must not be true. That’s very arrogant. I don’t get immunology; my wife Joy has a major in it tries to explain vaccines and how it all works. For me, it’s in one ear out the other right, but it doesn’t mean its not true.
So, when we think about God, getting your head around God. he’s God! he’s intimidating. He’s above and beyond us. But at the same time, he has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures. This is our authority. That God reveals himself that’s his grace. He didn’t have to. God is an awesome loving kind God. God says, I’m in control. Nothing can separate you from my love because I’ve chosen those whom I will save. His plans always happen. From beginning to end. God is powerfully at work.
Now, the problem is this; we like to be in control. we love that feeling. I run my life my way. That’s called sin. That’s our rebellion. When God says I’m in control, not you, we hate it. We think we can rip the crown off God’s head and put it on our own head.
But here’s where the rubber hits the road. We reject God, we sin, therefore we are dead. Spiritually dead.
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death
For the wages of sin is death Romans 6:23 first half. So we can’t choose God. we’re dead. Dead people don’t chose anything. And that’s all of us. We all deserve God’s judgment.
So God’s gracious. He mercifully decides to save us. His choice. His action. His power which it is. So, the fact that God saves us. It’s him, then I can be completely confident. I can be confident that he loves me. If it’s my choice, I just can’t be sure. Have I prayed hard enough? Am I living like Jesus well enough? Am I giving enough? Am I doing enough and I know I will fail. I won’t be sure.
But the Scriptures tell us, God chose us because of his love. See the word there ‘foreknew’ – we think God takes a magical telescope, sees us observes our lives and thinks oh that blokes alright, that lady, she’s so helpful I’m going to save them. that’s not foreknowledge.
In the bible knowledge is more intimate. In Genesis 4:1
Genesis 4:1 (ESV)
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain
See the word knew. It’s not like he intellectually knew about Eve. He knew her. It’s intimate, personal, relational. in a similar way, when people come to Jesus on the last day and say to him Lord Lord: didn’t we do all these things in your name? Jesus himself says Matthew 7:23
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Jesus says. I never knew you. We never had a relationship. to know; it’s a personal, relational.
When God foreknew, it means he for-loved.
He decided to love us beforehand. He decided to enter into relationship with us. We do not deserve God’s love. We have rejected him. We are sinners. We deserve judgment. All of us. But he wanted to love us anyway. This is God’s mercy. that’s the key to this all. it’s His love. He foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. It’s grace isn’t it? God’s free gift to us. even before we were born. It’s undeserved love. Not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his only son for our sins. It’s just wow, what love.
God sets his love on us before time.
He predestined us.
Not only that, then he calls us. when we heard the Gospel of Jesus he really called us so we believe. God brings us into his kingdom. He works in us and calls us. Then he justifies us. we’re declared not guilty before God the judge. And he glorifies us. Glory is what’s coming. That’s our future. Paul is so sure of this he tells us in past tense.
Friends, this is God’s big plan. He is absolutely in control. He’s working for our good to be like Christ. He has chosen us. He loves us.
Now, even if you don’t completely understand predestination, welcome to club. Here’s the thing. Here’s what God wants you to know - he’s for you. nothing can separate us from his love.
3. God says nothing can separate us from his love (8:31-39)
That’s my second point. Paul answers 5 big questions.
First question; Romans 8:31
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Excellent question isn’t it? think about it. From beginning to end. God is for us. you don’t need to stress out about predestination. Why? Well his big point is that God is for us. God is reassuring us. Before time, now, into eternity the Lord of the universe is for us. He’s on our side. He does not flip and flop like us. He is committed to us.
If God is for us, then who can be against us? You think, everybody. Paul’s point, yes, but who cares? Our victory in Christ is assured. In life we get to live for Christ, in death we get to be with Christ. If God is for me then who can be against me?
Do you think social media, clever atheists, a re-elected government sure they can persecute us, family can rip into you for following Jesus, friends, why are you such a weirdo Christian?
They are not going to win.
And if you doubt this, look at the cross. That’s where you find your assurance. Question 2: Romans 8:32
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?
See how Paul argues? If God has done the hardest thing, he will do the easier thing. What’s the hardest thing God has done? He gave up his only son, Jesus Christ. If he did that, do you think he won’t forgive you? Do you think he won’t give you eternal life, resurrected bodies? Of course not. He’s already done the hardest thing. The rest of it is easy.
God says nothing can separate us from his love
But Brian you don’t understand. You don’t understand what I’ve done in my life. You don’t understand what’s going on in my head. You don’t understand how hard it is for me. Sin still lurks. I feel so guilty. Satan is accusing me.
God knows you’re asking this question. Question 3.
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Step back with me for a second. The book of Romans chapter 1-3 starts in a courtroom scene. Everyone is in the courtroom. And God issues a verdict. There’s no one righteous not even one. All of us. we are all sinners, without exception. We deserve God’s judgment. But God does not leave us in that situation. In Christ, God declares just not guilty. The judge says, you’re off, you’re free by faith! That’s the verdict. There’s no condemnation. In Christ we are justified. If the judge has declared you innocent, then no one has the right to condemn you.
And if you condemn yourself. That’s saying God I know better than you. Come on now.
Friends before you go on condemning yourself. Do you actually know what Jesus is doing on your behalf? He’s interceding for you. look at verse 34 question 4.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Jesus has died. He has risen again. He’s at God’s right hand and he see the word there intercedes for you. what do you think Jesus is doing when he speaks to his father? Dobbing you in? slandering you? Oh man, she is a pathetic Christian. Far out, she is still not reading the Bible. She doesn’t pray, she thinks she can go it alone. I don’t know why you put up with her. Then she complains about me! What is he saying about you guys? He is still battling with porn. Do you believe it? get rid of him. He is hopeless.
No. no. every moment of every day the Lord Jesus stands as our advocate. He doesn’t plead our innocent. We’re not innocent. He doesn’t point our guilt. He intercedes. He presents his righteous life perfect obedience to his Father – I died for him. I died for her. He intercedes for you. he’s got your back. Even in the middle of your sins. Do you hear that? What kept Christ on the cross was his love. He loves you. this is the love of God. nothing can separate you from God’s love.
So Paul weighs it all up, he gets to the end this line of question; he thinks about every single scenario that could make you doubt God’s love question 5: verse 35
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Where did we get the idea there’s no pain when you follow Jesus? No suffering. That’s not Biblical. It’s not a sign that we don’t have enough faith. God says; even if you suffer, it cannot separate you from his love. It cannot take you away from his love. It does not mean he loves you any less. Remember God works for our good to make us like Christ.
And friends the Apostle Paul knows suffering. 40 lashes less 1. beaten with rods. stoned. shipwrecked. in danger from rivers, robbers, his own people, from Gentiles. the list goes on and on. read Acts. He knows suffering.
Paul through his own experience says; Nothing can separate you from his love.
So friends, when you feel distant from God, don’t we all some times.
When you feel like you are separated from God’s love. Don’t trust your feelings on this one. Don’t look inside. Look at the cross. Look at God’s words.
And remember these beautiful verses, remember God’s love.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.
God is in absolute control. And God says nothing can separate us from his love.
As we conclude here are some implications.
4.1 Know that God loves you
Sometimes the best thing for someone to do when you’re downtrodden. Life’s just sigh. Best thing is just to give you a hug. It’s significant. It’s okay. I see it at Epping. It’s beautiful. Friends it’s like God has given us a big hug in his word this morning. These verses are the closest thing we will get to a big fatherly bear hug from God. God tells us he loves us. He is in control of everything. He will take care of us. It might not feel like it, but he is. Jesus died for your sins. He has risen. He is at God’s right hand. He speaks on your behalf. Trust him. He will bring you home one day. nothing can separate you from his love.
4.2. Keeping reminding yourself of the Gospel
Friends, do you want to know the best way to remember that God loves you? Preach the gospel to yourself. Preach it to yourself everyday. Paul Tripp – pastor/author no one is more influential in your life than you are. Because no one talks to you more than you do. Get out your Bible daily, memorize a verse that reminds you of the Gospel. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 great place to start.
Friends, God is in absolute control and he promises us that nothing will separate us from his love in Christ. Let’s pray.