Tomorrow in my “Expository Preaching” class, I will give an eight-minute sermon, along with my classmates. The assignment for this sermon was to choose a passage of Scripture that is absolutely central to our theology. My mind went to one place: Romans 8. The question was, “how can I talk about that chapter in 8 minutes?”
I think I figured out a decent way to do it. As I will say during the sermon, I wish I had eight hours rather than eight minutes, but we do the best with what we have. Anyway, this passage is, in fact, vital to my theology. It is the Gospel. It is the promise of our salvation. It’s so good, that I can’t not talk about it. So I wanted to share my sermon manuscript with you guys. I hope some of y’all find it helpful and it can be as encouraging to you as it is and has been for me. You may hate the sermon. You may not want to read this blog. But at least spend time in Romans 8 today if you see this, and I promise you will be greatly blessed by it. Love you guys.
“Nothing Greater” – Romans 8:18-39
You have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
(Psalm 44:9-26 ESV)
Who here can identify with the Psalmist in chapter 44? How many of you feel like this on a regular basis? “God! I’m doing what you told me to do! I’m loving people well! I’m submitting to my local church and loving my brothers and sisters and coming together with them to worship you! I’m spending time every day in your Word and allowing it to shape my life! I’m giving my money and time and resources! I’m volunteering and serving the poor! I’m forgiving people and praying for my enemies! Why, then, have you allowed me to be the laughing stock among my co-workers? My fellow students? Why did you let my mom walk out? Why did my brother just come out as a homosexual? Why did you let my friend overdose? I’ve done all this for you and this is what I get?”
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, understands the Psalmist and he understands us. He quotes verse 22 in Romans 8. “For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” Yet Paul doesn’t end there. In what I would consider the most unbelievably uplifting, encouraging, riveting, inspiring picture of the Gospel that undergirds all of my assumptions, my values, my behaviors, and my decisions, Paul tells us the rest of the story. That’s where we are today.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:18-39 ESV)
If only I had eight hours instead of eight minutes. Holy cow. If only I could spend the rest of this afternoon with you guys diving into this chapter. The rich theological language, the imagery – we could study it for hours upon hours, days upon days. But, alas, we don’t have that much time. What I can do, however, is a little trick that my friend Andrew Steele taught us all several weeks back: I can focus on the first things first.
So what are the first things? What are the first things in our faith and what are the first things in this text? I would love to give you four promises from Paul’s letter that you can cling to. We don’t know much. We are ignorant. We are sinful. We are inhabitants of an incredibly broken, sinful world and there is not much to cling to; we can cling to this. In the times where you feel like sheep to be slaughtered, hold on to these promises.
- “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
-so much greater is our future glory, that the pain and hurt that we are
experiencing, no doubt this very day for some of us, is not even worth
comparing to it
- “All things work together for the good of those who love God.”
-who are those who love God? those who love God are those whom he foreknew, predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son Jesus, called, justified, and glorified
-two things to pay careful attention to here:
-first…folks, he has been working all things together for our good since before he even created the universe
-next, notice that “glorified” is in past tense…Paul is so sure of
our glorification, that he feels confident saying it in the past
tense…God has already done it. He has already secured our
- “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all (will) also with him graciously give us all things.”
-we are heirs with Christ
-he is the firstborn among many brothers and sisters who will inherit
-because of his sacrifice, we can enjoy that inheritance and live in the
confidence of what is to come
-how is it that we can be sure of this? if God gave us even the life of his very Son, who is of infinitely more value than anything else ever…then surely he will give us everything else too
- “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-there is nothing greater than this promise
-there is nothing greater than knowing that God’s love for his elect is so strong that nothing can ever stop it…