Advent 4 (Love)- A Reflection on Romans 8:31-39

AD-029Well, Christmas is almost here. The day we have set aside to commemorate the entry of Jesus into history. The moment when the Kingdom of God began it’s movement throughout creation to beckon it back to the King.

God in Christ began a mission of reclaiming all things for himself, taking back authority which had been usurped by darkness and sin.

Christmas is the turning point in human history. There’s a reason we use BC (Before Christ) and Anno Domini (AD) to mark what year it is. History restarts with Jesus. It’s a big deal.

God has accomplished wondrous things through Jesus.

“What shall we say in response to these things?” Paul asks (Rom. 8:31).

What things is he speaking of?

Go back to Romans 4, and Paul lays out the things which are accomplished for us through Jesus. Romans 1-3 reveals the sinfulness of the world, our inability to obey the law, and our need for God to act. Romans 4-8 gives us a sampling of the things which God has accomplished through Christ:

  • We can be justified by faith, as Abraham was (chapt. 4)
  • Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (5:6-8).
  • Reconciled by his death and resurrection (5:9-11).
  • All people may receive grace (5:17).
  • Justified before God through him (5:18-19).
  • Eternal life by his grace (5:20-21).
  • We have been buried with him and raised to life with him (6:4).
  • United with him (6:5).
  • Freed from sin (6:7).
  • Free to live in his righteousness (6:11-18).
  • Freed from guilt under the Law (7:7ff).
  • Life according to the Spirit (8:1-17).
  • Promise of future glory- those that choose him are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son. (8:18-30).

GOD IS FOR US. “These things” which Paul is referring to are the things accomplished by God through Christ, FOR US. What can we say? How can we respond to this outpouring of grace for us?

Who can be against us? That’s what Paul says is the response. Who can possibly get in God’s way? If God’s love will do these things, who will get in God’s way?

Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his love for us in this…”

Chapters 5-8 are explaining all the things that God has accomplished to demonstrate his love for us. This is how far God will go to save his creation. This is the extent of his great love. God will do all these things; He who did not even spare his Son. If God will do all that, what chance is there that anyone will be able mount any sort of effective opposition to God’s assault on evil and sin and death. The gates of Hades will not prevail. God will remove every obstacle between Him and us.

Who can accuse us if God has justified us? Who can condemn us if we share in the death and resurrection of Christ? With God working in our favour there is no chance of us being subjected to condemnation.

No one and nothing outside of ourselves can separate us from the love of Christ. No circumstances will rob us of God’s love. Poverty, calamity, hardship, persecution. These things cannot rob us of love.

In all things, we are more than conquerors. The greek is hypernikao – an intensified form of conquer or triumph. We will not just conquer, but more than that. We will not simply overcome, but we see death destroyed, through him who loved us.

THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US.

That’s the key. We can’t do it. I can’t overcome evil or death. But God, who loves us, and is for us, has given us his Son.

Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, present or future, any powers, height or depth, or anything else will be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No outside infleuence can get between God and us. Jesus reconciles us to God. We are his.

As Jesus said (John 10:27-29) “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

If you are his sheep, no one can remove you from his possession. You are his.

Christmas then, is the celebration that the God who is for us gives us Jesus as the means to overcome, so that we might belong to him. The God who has promised he will not forsake his people (Deut. 31:6), who is abundant in covenant love (Ex. 34:6), fulfils his promise at Christmas.

“Hark! The herald Angles sing/Glory to the newborn King/Peace on earth and mercy mild/God and sinner reconciled” We have been reconciled.

He has come to us. He has come to demonstrate that God is for us. He has drawn us to himself by his grace and mercy and love that we might receive an inheritance of more than victory, more than triumph. Friends, in Christ, that wonderful gift of God, we have been made more than conquerors.

We have been given the status of adopted sons and daughters and co-heirs with Christ. Through Christ we have access to the loving father. We can see, hear and be embraced by God, and no person, no power, no circumstance can tear us away from him.

Have you experienced that love which gives up all things; the self-emptying, self-giving and self-sacrificing love revealed in the incarnated Son? Jesus is our Emmanuel. He is God with us. The love of God poured out into our world.

Have you encountered the fullness of God in helpless babe; the great I AM who cuddles into his mother’s arms; who gives up all claims of authority and refuses to exploit his power, but instead pitches his tent with us?

Have you experienced the power of God’s love in which we may become more than conquerors; in which we have the full assurance of our coming glory; in which we are made the righteousness of Christ, conformed to his image; I which we can have full confidence that when he appears again, we will be like him (1 Jn 3:2); in whom we know that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we need not fear any evil, because he walks with us through it, and then we will walk victorious with him out the other side?

That grandest and greatest of loves was wrapped in rags, and laid in an improvised bed- a feeding trough converted into a cradle.

That glorious, mighty, boundless love was somehow revealed in a tiny baby. The gracious Father and fountainhead of all creation cried and nursed, and soiled himself. Yeah, they usually leave that part out of the carols and Christmas cards.

This is the inexplicable love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus. Though he was in very nature God, he emptied himself. He became like us in every way but did not sin, that he might become of great High Priest who intercedes on our behalf and grants us access to God.

He is for us. He has given us the way. He has shone his light to show us the way.

This entry was posted in advent, gospel, history, Jesus, Kingdom of God, New Testament, reflection, sermon. Bookmark the permalink.

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