Sermon – February 21, 2021 – Lent 1
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Pastor Wagenknecht ~ Lent 1 Sermon ~ February 21, 2021 ~ Romans 8:31-39
NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM GOD’S LOVE
31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He 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? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. 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. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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.
I remember the first commercials for “Super Glue” where one drop could lift an automobile. Not sure that was real, but I have glued my fingers together, and I just had to wait for the skin to slough off. I have learned that even Super Glue will yield to fingernail polish remover. But NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- We are joined to God’s love by Christ and that is a glue that cannot be dissolved.
Nothing can be against us. 31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He 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? You catch the argument “from the greatest to the lesser”? If God gave us the greatest gift possible by sacrificing his only-begotten Son, then we can be sure that he will give us the lesser gifts also. It is his free gift, and it does not depend on us. Romans 9:16 tells us “It does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
So it does not depend on us, our own works or intentions. No matter what charges can be brought against us because of our sins, no accusation can stand against us. That is because it is God who justifies. 33Who will bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. The justifying Judge is the same God who sacrificed his Son to make atonement for all of our short-comings. He gave him up for us all, and for his sake he justifies us.
God’s grace gives us all things. Out of his undeserved love he gave us salvation and there is life, a time of grace, new life in baptism where he washed our sins away, salvation by faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the certain promise of eternal life in heaven. We have all these things.
So now nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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. Convinced? Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
- Nothing can separate us from God because we are firmly glued by Christ’s sacrifice.
We are connected to God through Christ. We have fellowship with God through Christ. We are securely held in the loving arms of our heavenly Father through Christ. The guarantee of that rests in the fact that He gave Him up for us all. His death on the cross is a pledge, a token, a precious treasure that now he will also freely give us all things. He will give us victory over our three worst enemies: the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh.
We are safely cemented to the love of God in Christ, and that makes us safe from all trouble from the devil. We know what temptations the devil hurled at Jesus for 40 days in the wilderness when he began his public ministry and throughout the three years up to the agony in Gethsemane, the torments before Pilate, and the torment of the cross. The devil did not defeat Christ. He cannot overcome us with guilt over our sins, doubt, sadness, worry, sorrow, emptiness, depression, despair, distress, or even unbelief. The devil tempts us with all these fiery arrows, but he cannot defeat us. The only one who can condemn us is Christ, and he is the one who died for us, and more than that was raised to life and now sits at God’s right hand and is interceding for us. Get that? Christ is on our side. And Jesus will not lose the case. We have victory over the devil.
We are also held tightly against all the temptations of the world. Satan’s arrows are spiritual, but closer to our daily lives is the materialism of the world. We can physically sense the lure of earthly success, pride, luxury, ease, physical comfort, indifference, complacency, accidents, storms, drought, cold, heat, hunger, poverty. The world has some answers for all that; have you watched the 15 seconds of soft music in a TV commercial that is supposed to bring you peace? Then there’s the promise of a better life through audible books, comfort food, all kinds of music, alcohol, and drugs. However, none of these brings us closer to God. We need the Gospel – we need to remember the water of our baptisms, hear the Word proclaimed, strengthened by bread and wine, which bring us the body and blood of our Savior right here. Lord, take my hand and hold me. Take my mind, my attitudes, my desires, and my goals and hold me.
It seems to me that we most need to be firmly connected to Christ against our own sinful flesh. Here the temptations are daily, hourly, constantly pushing us away from God. The flesh is prone to pain, sorrow, suffering, illness, fear, failure, trouble, bad habits, evil company, weakness, uncertainty, loneliness, loss of memory, and finally death. We might find some help in medicine, vaccines, close friends, and a good night’s sleep. Yet it is the promise that the Lord is with us at every moment that gives us comfort and assurance. He gave us our bodies and life, and he is the one who works all things for our good.
From your own experience you can probably add many things in your life that tempt you daily to fall from faith in the love of God in Christ. So stay close to God and his Word firmly trusting that nothing can separate you from the loving grasp of your Lord. You are in his hands.
NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS. Amen.