Scott was asked to give a sermon at Campus Crusade’s International Day of Prayer for the Albanian staff. The theme of the day was from Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us.” Scott was asked to focus the sermon on “If God is for us” and Kejdis Bakalli would preach a sermon on “who is against us.” So, with that in mind, below you will find the sermon Scott gave for the event.
Scott read Romans 8:26-39 and then prayed. Here is what he said afterward:
There is a lie out there (pointing outside the building), especially in this “post-modern world,” that God doesn’t exist. And even if He does exist, it doesn’t really matter. And even if God does exist, and even if it does matter in some way, the God of the universe definitely doesn’t care about us or our day-to-day lives. He definitely doesn’t care about any of the little things or about your life in general. This is of course wrong.
This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture right here. All three members of the Godhead are interceding for us constantly and continously. Let’s look at each member of the Godhead.
The Holy Spirit
Read with me verses 26 and 27:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
You don’t need to turn with me but look at what the Holy Spirit does just in chapter 8 of Romans. In verse 9 the Holy Spirit indwells us. A few verses before that in verse 6 His indwelling brings life and peace. In verses 10 and 11 the Holy Spirit doesn’t just bring life and peace to our souls, but He gives life to our mortal bodies. In verse 14 the Holy Spirit leads us. In verse 16 He testifies with our spirit that we are indeed children of God. And in verse 17 not just children but heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.
So when we get to verses 26 and 27, we find out something else the Holy Spirit does. Look at the text here: “we do not know how to pray as we should…” Think about that with me for a second. God has given us an amazing priviledge. When Christ died on the cross, the thick veil to the holy of holies was torn and now we can enter into God’s throne room through Christ’s flesh that was torn for us. We can now climb the ladder that Jacob saw in his vision, the ladder being Christ, and we can come before the King of Kings with our requests. We can fellowship with Him. We can stand before the God who created the entire universe in prayer. It is amazing to think of the priviledge we have in prayer.
And yet, we don’t know how to pray as we should. This great and awesome priviledge that we have, given to us by Christ Himself, and either we do not come before Him in a manner worthy of our calling, or we proceed to ask for things we shouldn’t be asking for, or we just miss the whole boat all together. What a complete and utter failure on our part. Men devoted themselves to God and if they failed to enter into the holy of holies improperly, God killed them on the spot. They had to wear a bell around them so those outside the holy of holies would know to drag their dead bodies out if they did this in a manner not orthy of their calling. And yet we constantly mess this up.
And for those of us who have been Christians for any length of time, we can probably all look back at some of the things we have prayed for and recognize we are so guilty of this. I am so glad God has not given me all the things I have prayed for. I have no idea where I would be today, but almost assuredly I wouldn’t be here. I am so thankful God did not give me what I asked for, and I am sure some of you can look back at what you have prayed for or how you have prayed, and you can see that you did not come before God in a manner worthy of your calling.
And yet, look at what this passage says. Even in our colossal failure, even when we are not properly honoring God as we should, even when we are doing it all wrong, the Holy Spirit is interceding for us. What a promise that is. Even when we are messing up one of the few things we should be paying such close attention to in order to make sure we are getting it right, and God intercedes for us through His Spirit. I am so greatful for this promise.
God the Father
Look at verses 28 through 33 with me as we look at what God the Father is doing.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
Aren’t verses 28 and 29 amazing? God is working every single thing together, in my life and in you life, together for our good. Isn’t that a “wow” passage. The God of the entire universe is working out every detail to the benefit of His children. Isn’t that an amazing promise? Think about what this means. The nonsense that is being spread out there (pointing outside the building again) is crazy. You better believe this stuff matters. Think about this with me:
My wife is a lovely woman. She is one of the greatest “earthly” gifts God has given me and is definitely one of my favorite gifts. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her. But if tomorrow God saw it fit that He should take her from me and she were to die, I can know with confidence that God is working it out for my good. And after I have cried many tears, because it would be a tragically sad moment for me, I would get down on my knees and thank my Father who saw it good to bless me with her for the last ten years of my life. I would praise Him because I know it was for my good that He gave her to me and it is for my good when He takes her from me. Don’t tell me this doesn’t matter. For me, the day my wife dies, it will be HUGE!!! to know that He is working this for my good. HUGE!!!!
And look at verse 29, God is conforming us to the image of His Son. Instead of seeing the sin in our flesh and giving us what we deserve, taking His fist and crushing us into the ground (dust to dust), He is using those hands to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ Jesus our Lord – the Preeminent One, with whom all glory rests. If you haven’t looked at it lately, read Revelation 19 and see the glory of our Lord. God is working everything together for our good and He is conforming us to the image of His Son. This is an amazing promise. You aren’t going to hear this kind of stuff from the other religions out there. Muslims aren’t out there preaching that God works everything together for their good. This is a very special promise we have.
Looking at verse 30, we see God predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies. God Almighty has predestined that we would be His children. He has called us out of our life as children of wrath and out of our wretchedness. And He has justified us in His sight through the propitiation of our sinful nature in exchange for Christ’s righteousness through the death of His Son. And He is and will ultimately one-day glorify us, giving us new bodies that will look like His Son’s.
We know it will happen because God says it will happen and nothing will stay the hand of God. Just like the Old Testament stories we all know so well. God said Egypt would let His people go, and the frogs and the locusts and the rivers all obeyed. The heavens opened up and dropped fire and hail at His command. God said His people will get to the promised land, and when His people got to the Red Sea, the water got out of the way and they walked on dry land. When His people were going to die of hunger, the sky opened up and dropped manna. When the people were going to die of dehydration, the rock opened up and enough water flowed out of it for hundreds of thousands of men and women and children and livestock. Well that’s a neat trick. Have any of you ever tied to get ANY water to come out of a rock much less that much water? Of course not, that’s silly. But when God says it to be so, you better believe NOTHING will get in the way. And so we know this to be true for this as well.
Look at verse 32: If God did not spare His Son, the most precious, the Pearl of Great Price, in order to restore us, His enemies, what in the world or in the heavens will God not give us? He has already given us His Son and His Spirit, what more could we possibly need? He has given us Himself! More and more He is teaching me I don’t need anything else!
Christ Jesus our Lord
Look at verse 34:
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
“Who is the one who condems?” Do you realize what the answer to this question could be and, according to most world philosophies, probably should be? Think about this. The answer could have been Christ! He could be the one condeming us! He came to this world. He live a perfect life. The only one worthy of bringing a charge against God’s elect is the One who became flesh, dwelt among men, and did not sin! The only One worthy to bring a charge against God’s elect is He who was and is perfect. But instead of condeming us, look at where He is: Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us. He could have condemned us, His life could have been the perfect mark against which we could not stand. He could be standing before God right now, and everytime one of us comes before the Father He could point out every single sin in us. He could have been the One to rightfully point out every transgression and condemn us before His Father. But no, there He is, before the Father, full of love and compassion for us, having paid the penalty for each of our transgressions against HIM, and He is interceding for us before His Father. He isn’t condeming us, He is interceding for us. Praise God!
And look at verse 35:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
And we know the answer to this question: there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of Christ.
This idea that “God doesn’t really care about us and even if He does it doesn’t really matter to us” is bogus! Even with all the bad things that this world can throw at us, Christ’s love will help us overcome it all, the Holy Spirit is always with us interceding for us and helping us in our weakness, and God the Father is working it all out together for our good.
Keep reading with me (verses 36-39):
Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And there is nothing that will be thrown at us that, with God on our side, we will not overcome. Our God is with us, He is interceding for us, and He is working everything together for our good. His love and mercy are always working things out together for our good.
If there is only one thing that you take away from this please note this: despite what the world says, all three members of the Godhead are working everything in your life together for your good, interceding for you even in your greatest failures, carrying you through the toughest times, and His love is being poured out on you in ways the world does not understand. Please don’t walk around out there as if this stuff doesn’t matter. It matters a ton. Our God is with us, who can stand against us?
Thank you and may God bless you with a fuller understanding of what He is doing for you right now. Amen.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NASB)