When God is For Us
A couple weeks ago, Abby and I had a well deserved date night. Like all good couples, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings, because chicken wings are life.
Although the NBA finals and the Florida Gators were playing in the College World Series regionals, ESPN (in their infinite wisdom) switched it to the spelling bee. The spelling bee, guys! My first thought was “ESPN COME ON WHY” My second thought was…”wow, these kids intimidate me.”
So, these kids are spelling words I don’t even know the meaning of, and spelling them right! On the off chance they don’t know how to spell immediately, they usually ask for the word in a sentence. I’m not sure how it helps, but most of the time it does.
The spelling bee got me thinking: What if someone asked you to share the Good News of Jesus in one sentence? What if someone asked you why Jesus is so great in just four words?
This is what Paul, the author of a letter called Romans, does in chapter 8. He uses four words to summarize all that he has written up to this point: “God…is…for…us!” These four simple words are completely loaded with the richness of who God is. God is for you. God is for me. GOD IS FOR US.
God loves you as you are right now, you don’t have to do anything other than place your faith in Jesus! See, God’s love is not a memory or a future. It’s Now. It’s a moment by moment action of the living Son of God! God is with you today, and is encouraging you in this moment.
Let’s dig in to what Paul writes about how God is for us in Romans chapter 8 starting in verse 31,
Paul writes, What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
What are those “things”? Paul tells us that we are saved by faith and not by works — we are not saved by the stuff we do. He tells us that we can rejoice in our sufferings and have joy, and that we can have joy because God will walk through difficulties with us, and we will walk out of them with a hope that only God can give us! Paul tells us that we are no longer slaves to sin and that we can have God’s spirit within us 24/7. He tells us that we are children of God.
And this is all to show us that God is For US! If God wasn’t for us then He wouldn’t do all these things for us. So the question becomes who can be against us? It’s simple…No One, Nobody, Nothing!
That doesn’t mean there isn’t an enemy who is out there trying to convince you that God isn’t for you. If you’ve ever had the thought that God is out to get you, I have news for you: that wasn’t God. No enemy can prevail because Jesus has already won.
Then Paul continues to explain, verse 32,
“He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. -Romans 8:32-34”
I think in this verse, Paul is painting a picture of a courtroom. I know it sounds out there, but allow yourself to imagine…
You are on trial, and the judge invites you to take the stand. The prosecutor walks up, points their finger at you, and starts to list off all the charges against you.
“You have been caught redhanded breaking the law, and guess what? We have the video to prove it AND it’s gone viral. It’s on the internet now, so there is nothing you can do to stop it. The videos don’t lie.”
“I have a full list of things you’ve done, and dozens of witnesses to prove that you did it. So, Your Honor: What is your verdict?”
But, then imagine Jesus walks into the courtroom, lifts you out of your seat, and moves into your seat. He is literally taking your place, and now all the judge sees is Jesus! The one who justifies, the Judge, pounds his gavel and declares, “Not guilty. You are found innocent. You are free to go!”
If you have faith in Jesus, you are saved. You have been found not guilty. You are innocent. Not because you didn’t break the law. Not because you were caught. Not because of the proof, because there is always proof. Those things are still there, and there is a punishment to be paid for it, but Jesus is taking that punishment in your place. But you are innocent because of who God is — and what Jesus has done on your behalf on the cross.
It’s not fair. It’s certainly not deserved. But it’s TRUE, and it’s all because God is for us.
But, the phrase God is for us, doesn’t stop there. The fact that God is for us means that #NothingWill separate us from His Love! Paul starts to write as someone whose life hasn’t been all roses — far from it. He’s had highs and lows, and shares that from experience He knows that nothing will separate us from God’s love.
Paul has been thrown in jail, beaten with whips and sticks, stoned and left for dead. He’s been shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, and because he follows Jesus, has been in constant danger. But Paul writes,
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. -Romans 8:35-37
Paul is talking to Roman Christians who are still exploring their faith. They’re wondering if they will be alright; figuring out what the truth really is; struggling to endure hardships and still believe. Paul is trying to let those Roman Christians know that whatever they endure, it can’t separate them from Jesus love.
Paul would say the same thing to us. Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. God is for us! I love the way some words from the Old Testament from the writings of Isaiah chapter 54 tie into this,
No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. -Isaiah 54:17
There is it, the courtroom picture again!
There is nothing that can succeed in pulling us down, because we are more than victorious. This victory is given to us through who Jesus is. It was accomplished in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing will separate us from the love of Jesus!
Paul, calls a time-out here. “Ok team…let me make sure you understand so you don’t go all J.R. Smith on ‘em… “
For I am persuaded (I am convinced) that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! -Romans 8:38-39
Nothing in this world — not cancer, or divorce, depression or anxiety, not death or loneliness; Not being broke, not some jerk at the office, not poverty or hunger — nothing will lessen God’s love for us right now in this moment. Things will try, but they will not succeed. This love is all available for you by following Jesus.
But, I think Paul would want to mention one more thing, and we have to rewind a bit to hear it:…look back at verse 28,
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
Since God is for us, and since nothing will separate us, He can work out all things for our good. This doesn’t mean you won’t have the occasional worry, or magically get more money in your bank account. It’s not like that. God doesn’t just see our good as individuals…but ultimate good. Many times people take this scripture and use it to say that God is going to work every situation to our individual good. But, I think it’s bigger than that.
I recently came across an interview with Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer, who was the man on flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania whose line “Let’s Roll!” became famous after thanks to his bravery in taking down the terrorists who hijacked the plane.
Lisa said this in the interview, “God knew the terrible choices the terrorists would make and that Todd Beamer would die as a result. He knew my children would be left without a father and me without a husband. . . .Yet in His sovereignty and in His perspective on the big picture, He knew it was better to allow the events to unfold as they did rather than redirect Todd’s plans to avoid death. . . I can’t see all the reasons He might have allowed this when I know He could have stopped it. . .I don’t like how His plan looks from my perspective right now, but knowing that He loves me and can see the world from start to finish helps me say, ‘It’s ok.’. . .If we believe wholeheartedly, each moment, that our destiny rests in the hands of Jesus Christ — the one with ultimate love and ultimate power — what do we have to be concerned about? Of course, our humanity clouds this truth many times but hanging on to glimpses of it keeps everything in perspective. . .My faith wasn’t rooted in governments, religion, tall buildings, or frail people. Instead, my faith and my security were in God. A thought struck me. Who are you to question God and say that you have a better plan than He does? You don’t have the same wisdom and knowledge that He has, or the understanding of the big picture. . .We also aren’t privy to the perspective He has and shouldn’t claim to know better than He does what should happen and what shouldn’t. . . .Faith means that, regardless of circumstances, we take Him at His word that He loves us and will bring us to a good result if we just trust and obey Him. Obviously, the ramifications of this understanding have been tremendous for me since 9/11.”
So, if God is for us, and if nothing will separate us from His love; if God will work all things for our ultimate good, then I believe it’s time to put our faith and trust in Him.
Maybe, today, you are going through a season of tough circumstances. Would you trust God today? God is for you! God will get you through and He is right there with you because nothing can separate His love from you.