More Than Conquerors


Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, October 11, 2015 Campus:

More Than Conquerors
Identity
Grand Union Vineyard Church
Sunday 11th October 2015

Today we are continuing the series on Identity.

This may be your first time in church. You may not be a Christian. Maybe you have just decided tobecome a Christian and maybe you have been a Christian for many years.

Wherever you are at in your journey of faith, what I have to share to you today is true for you.

I believe that the biggest issue within the church is identity. I believe that insecurity and mis-identity are rife and that very few people are actually living in the freedom of knowing who their identity is in Jesus Christ.

Last week Hannelie brilliantly shared how we are now new creations, that the old has gone, that we are living in a new life.

These are truths.

We simply need to grasp them. We need to believe them. We need to live in that reality.

And today is the same. Today we are more than conquerors.

Let’s read Romans 8: 28-39:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have beencalled according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformedto the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 Andthose he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus whodied – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also intercedingfor us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able toseparate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There are two promises I want to pick out from those verses this morning…

  1. The promise of difficulty;
  2. The promise of victory.

Let’s read verses 35-37 again…

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famineor nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”

The first thing I want you to notice is that this verse starts asking the question “Who shall separateus from the love of Christ?”

It does not ask when would Christ stop loving us. It does not ask how could the love of Christ expire, because in the previous verses it makes it quite clear that God cannot stop loving us. “…those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along withhim, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who 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.”

God cannot stop loving you.

He has given everything to rescue you. Jesus was beaten, he was hanged, he was spat upon, and killed….all so that you would not have to go through that same horror to pay for the sin in your life. His love endures forever. But the question in this verse is not how could the love of God be stopped, but how could we be separated from that love.

What life experience could separate us? The writer asks, “… Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” These are all heavy things: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and death. Could any of these things separate us from the love of God? The next verse is key to understanding the answer… “…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”

Notice that one small but significant word, “in”. It is not when persecution, famine, and danger are over that we are more than conquerors - it is in the midst of them. We sing the song with the lyrics, “I am in the storm, Lord the storm is not in me".

As Christians we need to understand there is the promise of difficulty. Being a Christian is not a free ticket to the easy life. Quite the opposite.

In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul writes “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus willbe persecuted….” This is not for the faint hearted. This is not for those who want trouble free living. This life, the life that follows God and gives everything to live for Him will be a difficult road to travel.

Often times we look at our circumstances and we wonder, what have I done wrong to deserve this,have I grieved God to now be going through what I am going through.

NO! Those difficulties are the point. It is IN those difficulties that through Jesus Christ we can beraised up to be more than conquerors.

In verse 36, Paul quotes Psalm 44:22, and the few verses before that read like this: “If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God havediscovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

We haven’t forgotten the name of our God. We are not worshipping foreign gods. Yet for the sakeof his kingdom we could face death and be considered sheep waiting to be slaughtered.

It’s not a pretty picture, but it is clear that as a follower of Jesus there will be difficulty. There will betrails. There could be hunger, imprisonment, and even death….but….

Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.

No after the storm. Not before the storm. Right, slap bang, in the middle of that storm when you areat your wits end, you are tired, you are jaded, you are disillusioned - it is in those moments where through the love of Jesus we are made strong.

[In January 1956, Martin Luther King Jr.] returned home around midnight after a long day of organisational meetings. His wife and young daughter were already in bed, and King was eager to join them. But a threatening call—the kind of call he was getting as many as 30 to 40 times a day—interrupted his attempt to get some much-needed rest. When he tried to go back to bed, he couldnot shake the menacing voice that kept repeating the hateful words in his head.

King got up, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at his kitchen table. With his head buried in his hands, he cried out to God. There in his kitchen in the middle of the night, when he had come tothe end of strength, King met the living Christ in an experience that would carry him through theremainder of his life. "I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on," King later recalled. "He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone … He promised never to leave me, no never alone."

In the stillness of the Alabama night, the voice of Jesus proved more convincing than the threatening voice of the anonymous caller. The voice of Jesus gave him the courage to press through the tumultuous year of 1956 to the victorious end of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Morethan that, it gave him a vision for ministry that would drive him for the rest of his life.

But notice this, Paul does not ask “what can separate us from the love from the love of Christ”, heasks “who”.

Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and swords are all things. They are all“whats”, but Paul asks “who shall separate us?”

You see behind all those “whats” is a “who”. Behind these hardships is the Devil.

Satan is the who.

And the question here then becomes “Can Satan separate us from the love of Christ?”

Verse 37 gives a resounding answer, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors throughhim who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else inall creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 16:18, says “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, andthe gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The gates of Hades means the realm of the dead. Evil cannot prevail over God’s church.

So, we have the promise of difficulty but thank God we also have the promise of victory.

In Revelation 2:10, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will putsome of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even tothe point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

We are not just conquerors, we are more than conquerors - in the greek it translates as super-conquerors or hyper-conquerors.

What does that mean? How can we be more than conquerors?

When you are a conqueror you defeat something. Those things are dead around you.

But when you are a super-conqueror, not only have you defeated those things but those things then serve you. They become the things thay bring glory to God because in our weakness He is seen to be strong.

You see God turns these things around, as it say in verse 28, “in all things God works for the goodof those who love him”…and in verse 37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors”

Even in the darkest places, God is working for the good of those who love him.

The battle is won. Death has been defeated. Your situation does not have to define you any longer. Your fear does not need to hold you back. Your addiction does not need to limit your life. Your anger does not need to affect your relationships. Your doubt does not need to obscure your faith.

We are more than conquerors.

In our addiction, our fear, our doubt, our anger, and our circumstances God is working in all these things for the good of those who love him.

In Matthew 6:31-33, it says “So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall wedrink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and allthese things will be given to you as well.”

Notice just like the verses in Romans, this verse covers both hunger and nakedness.

What this is saying is stop worrying about the consequences of not having these things - but look first to the kingdom of God, make the kingdom of God your priority and ALL these things will begiven to you as a bonus.

I have often thought about this in our business. Sometimes I am concerned about new business and I give cold calling a go through LinkedIn or guessing email addresses. I am trying hard in my own strength.

But what this verse is saying is start with the kingdom of God. What is God saying? What does God want? How might God move?

Start there. Stop forcing the issue. Stop trying in your own strength. Seek His kingdom first andthen all these things will be given to you.

Eugene Peterson once wrote this, “Suffering is not evidence of God's absence, but of God's presence, and it is in our experience of being broken that God does his surest and mostcharacteristic salvation work.

There is a way to accept, embrace, and deal with suffering that results in a better life, not a worseone, and more of the experience of God, not less.

God is working out his salvation in our lives the way he has always worked it out at the place of brokenness, at the cross of Jesus, and at the very place where we take up our cross.”

Today we can take up our cross knowing that in the storm he is with us, in our weakness he is strong, and in the end he is our victory.