Excellent Reformed and Evangelical conferences are held across Africa every year. The TGC Africa Podcast showcases select conferences to encourage and build up the local church across our continent.
This sermon was one of eight, delivered at the 2022 Proclaim Conference, which is hosted by our Kenyan council member Ken Mbugua, Emmanuel Baptist Church, and Ekklesia Afrika. The conference’s theme and title was The Whole Christ, with each sermon making a case for the sufficiency and relevance of both Jesus’ person and work, for all of life.
You won’t meet many Christians who aren’t familiar with Romans 8. This is unsurprising. It is, after all, a powerfully reassuring portion of the Bible. Who hasn’t rejoiced in the opening verse: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)? Starting there, Paul outlines the believer’s grounds for hope in spite of suffering and sin. He also reminds us of our adoption in Christ, providing believers with both an identity and the impetus to persevere. Finally, we encounter that beautiful promise: if Christ is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:39)? It is a passage about our glorious security in Christ.
If you are in Christ, you are in the Father’s hand and no one can snatch you out of his hands.
In this sermon, the seventh talk given at the 2022 Proclaim Conference, Chopo Mwanza spells out the believer’s incomparable and inspiring hope, which is ours in Christ. Unpacking Romans 8, Chopo strives to reassure believers of the profound security that we possess in Christ, who is not only our advocate, but also our protector and provider.
Security in Christ: Reassuring but Not Unrealistic
As Chopo asks, very much in line with Paul: “If God is for us, who can be against us? The point is not that no one can be against us, right? Because the believer has enemies. The one who is in Christ has enemies, right? The devil, the world, the flesh. The point being driven at is that there can be no effective opposition to the one who is in Christ Jesus, because God himself is the protector. God himself is the one who keeps you and watches over you. If you are in Christ, you are in the Father’s hand and no one can snatch you out of his hands. There can be no effective opposition. Greater is he that is in me; than he that is in the world.”
Indeed, there is no force powerful enough in the world to prevent those who have believed in Christ from arriving at their ultimate glorification. So listen in, to press on, clinging to Christ with the sure hope that he holds us.
Other Content On This Topic
- In The Midst of the Storm , “It Is Well.”
- Psalm 91: Eternal Safety in a World of Danger
- How God Reveals Himself and Relates To Us
Text: Romans 8:31-39
Date preached: 24 September 2022
Location: 2022 Proclaim Conference, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Nairobi, Kenya
Romans 8 and its context
It is good to be with you. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to come and worship, fellowship, and bring God’s word to you. Thank you to the team here for inviting, inviting me.
We’re going to be in Romans 8 and particularly focusing on verse 31 through to 39. And as you are turning there, I just want to put something out of the way. You will soon notice that my pronunciation of certain words will be different from how you pronounce them here. I just, want to assure you that the way I pronounce them is the correct way and I am God’s instrument to, to help you pronounce some of these words the right way. All right, now that I’ve put you off, let’s read Romans 8 beginning at verse 31. Romans 8:31,
“What shall we say to these things?”
And the question we should ask there is what things is Paul talking about? Well, it’s primarily the things he’s immediately said in the preceding verses but there’s also a sense in which it’s the things he’s been saying from the very beginning. Paul is writing Romans to explain to the believers at Rome the righteousness of God in justifying sinners. And the question is: how does God remain just when he justifies sinners? And Paul is going to explain that the answer is in the gospel. So, he says,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to bring righteousness to all.” (Romans 1:16)
And why do we need this gospel? Well, it’s because man stands condemned and so, Romans 1:18, he says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (In unrighteousness).” He concludes that section in Romans 3:23, by saying, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” So, man stands condemned and is therefore in need of the gospel. And this gospel, Paul is going to explain from Romans 3:3 that, you know, you are saved by faith by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. And it is it is through Christ that we are justified. And it is through Christ and our faith in Christ that a sinner is justified by God and God remains just.
And Romans 4 he illustrates justification be faith using Abraham. And then Romans 5 through to Romans 8, he’s going to explain the results of this justification by faith. Romans 5 is that there is reconciliation:
“…having been justified by faith we have peace with God…” (Romans 5:1)
Romans 6 is that we have freedom. We are liberated from the power of sin. Sin no longer reigns over us, no longer has dominion over us.
Then Romans 7, he’s going to say we are liberated from the demands of the law because Christ has fulfilled the law.
Security for the believer
And then in Romans 8, he’s going to say we are secure in Christ. He begins by, the chapter, by saying there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and he ends the chapter by saying there is no separation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And so, he says, Romans 8:28-39,
“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…called…he justified, (and ultimately) 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.”
At that point I feel like saying we are dismissed!
Paul is saying those who have union with Christ have assurance of victory in Christ. Those who in Christ are guaranteed of their security. And he does that by asking a rhetorical question and stating undeniable truths to prove and show the believers security in Christ Jesus.
God is our protector
Question No. 1: Romans 8:31,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The undeniable affirmation there, the undeniable truth, is that God is for us. God is for the believers. He called them. He keeps them and he will preserve them till the end.
So, the question is if God is for us, who can be against us? The point is not that no one can be against us, right? Because the believer has enemies. The one who is in Christ has enemies, right? The devil, the world, the flesh. The point being driven at is that there can be no effective opposition to the one who is in Christ Jesus, because God himself is the protector. God himself is the one who keeps you and watches over you. If you are in Christ, you are in the Father’s hand and no one can snatch you out of his hands. There can be no effective opposition. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.
I know sometimes we have this big devil theology. You know, like the devil is out to get us and then we are in trouble. Like the devil is out to frustrate the plans of God and he’s succeeding. You know it’s like it’s like we don’t know when we wake up that the devil might actually have God’s number. And you know, we panic, and we get anxious, like you know, we don’t know what may happen to our life. And you know, we may actually be doomed.
Oh no, friends, the one who is in Christ, the sovereign God is his protector, and no opposition is effective enough to stop God’s plans of glorifying you. There can be no effective opposition because God himself is the protector.
God is our provider
A second question; Romans 8:32,
“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?”
The undeniable fact stated negatively; God did not spare his own son. God demonstrated his love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
He gave his only begotten son to die for you and me. When I was in the breakout session yesterday, I was mentioning to the group that we sometimes think we are actually lovable, right? Like God is lucky to have me! You know, like, look at me. Why wouldn’t you love me?
But oh no friends, he gave his Son for wicked rebels. He did not spare his own Son – that’s a fact. That’s the undeniable affirmation.
And positively: he delivered him up for us all.
So, the question is what can’t God, what can God not give us? And the answer is nothing! There is never a moment, never a time, when God deprives us of what we need. You know, it’s the argument from the greater to the lesser, right? If someone gives you what is most precious to them, they won’t hold back anything.
We sometimes have a view of God, you know, as this grumpy party pooper who is out to stop us from enjoying life. You know, he’s like, you know, the typical parent who is constantly saying, “No. Hey! No. What are you doing? Stop!” You know, if there is silence, they say, “Hey! Hey! Where are you, my children? Why are you quiet?”
If there is noise, “Hey! Why are you making noise?” Right? Like, we sometimes have that view of God, like God is out there to deprive us of what we need, of good things.
No, we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and those who are called according to his purpose.
There is never a moment, never a time, that God holds back anything we need, you know, for those who are in Christ Jesus. Whatever we need to fulfil his purposes and to conform us to the image of his Son, he gives us because he gave us his Son. He did not hold him back.
Don Flavio says, “How is it imaginable that God should withhold after this, spirituals or temporals from his people? How shall he not call them effectively, justify them freely, sanctify them thoroughly, and glorify them eternally? How shall he not clothe them, feed them, protect and deliver them? Surely – if he would not spare his own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery – it can never be imagined that he ever, that he ever should after this deny or withhold from his people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comfort, any privilege spiritual or temporal which is good for them.”
There can be no depriving because God is our provider.
Christ is our advocate
Third question: Romans 8:33-34,
“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.”
The undeniable truth is that there can be no accusation entertained. And the point, again, is not that there will be no accusation given, because we know the devil is the accuser of the brethren. And in fact, if the devil was to accuse believers, his accusations can actually be true, right? He could make a solid case against you.
So, the point is not that there can be no accusation made, the point is that they will be no accusation entertained. Why? Because God is the one who justified you. Christ is the one who died for you, right? And his payment on your behalf appeased and pleased the Father, satisfied the Father’s wrath. And on top of that, Christ is interceding for you. He is our advocate.
That’s why we sing,
My faith has found a resting place
Not in device nor creed
I trust the ever-living One
His wounds for me shall plead
I need no other argument
I need no other plea
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me.
We have an advocate. Dear Christian, you need to guard your heart against the arrogance of self-sufficiency. You become a Christian for a while, you know. You read your Bible and you become comfortable with your works and acts of service. And you know, you even read a bit of theology and you pick up theological terms and you know you begin to think you know, “I’m actually not that bad!”
Right? I can actually stand before God and say, “Hey, God, look at me, your child. You must be proud!”
I mean, my children do that every now and then. They do something and then they will come and say, “Daddy, are you proud of me?” And my daughter checks in every now and then, “Daddy, have we been good?” You know, because she feels, “Hey, it’s been a while since….” You know? And we can think – there’re times we’re attempted to think – that we can outgrow our need of Christ. That yes, we needed Christ to be saved from our sins, but, you know, we’ve graduated. You know, that we actually we now can stand on our own account. You know, because you know, we’ve reached a level where we read and understand perfectly.
Oh no friends, we are saved by Christ, we are sustained by Christ, and we are kept to the end by Christ. And whether you’ve been a Christian for one day or 10 years or 50 years, guess what? Your stand, your plea is that Christ died and that he died for me. He is our advocate.
Nothing can separate us from Christ
Fourth question: Romans 8:35,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? And he lists possible separators: tribulation or distress or persecution of famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
And the point is, for those who are in Christ, there is nothing that can separate them from the love of Christ. They can be assured; they can be guaranteed of their security.
Social tribulation, strong outside pressure, distress, inward hardships, persecution, you know, the harassment that comes as a result of our faith, or famine, hunger or poverty, lacking, nakedness, danger, the various physical threats or even martyrdom – can any of those things separate us from the love of God, from the love of Christ?
Again, Paul is not saying if you are, if you are in Christ, you are so secure that you will not experience these things. Because again, we can have a view of Christianity, I don’t know if you have that song we have, you know, you know it’s common in most Sunday schools, you know, they sing, “We are rolling on, we are rolling on to Zion. You know, you just grab the devil, and you stamp on him. We are rolling on to Zion.”
Oh no friends, the better theology is it’s not an easy road because it is a life of hardships. It is a life of tribulation. It is a life of distress. It is a life of persecution. All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It is a life of danger and even possible death. But the point is, you can experience those things, and you will experience those things, but those things are not strong enough to separate you from your God, because you are secure in Christ. There can be no separation.
So, is there any conceivable power that can prevent the believer from arriving at the ultimate glorification? Is there anything that is powerful enough to stop and prevent the one who has union with Christ from arriving at their glorification in Christ? And the answer is no. Nothing can stop the sovereign God. Nothing can stop and prevent and separate you from Christ and his love.
And it’s not because of you and your abilities and your power – it’s because of Christ.
You know, that’s, you know, that’s a life of Paul, isn’t it? And Paul understood his security in Christ that if you actually think about it, Paul was a very difficult guy to persecute.
You beat him up, he rejoices that he is counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ. You throw him in prison he says, “Hey! I am glad to be a prisoner for the sake of the Gospel!”
And then on top of that, he’s busy preaching the gospel to the prison guards, you know. So can you imagine being on shift. “Hey, you’re the one guarding Paul today.” Yeah, you know he’s going to be hitting you with the gospel!
So, you decide, “You know what, let’s just kill this guy.” And then he says, Philippians 1:21, “For me to die is Christ. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” They’re like, “No we don’t like him. we don’t want him to gain. Let’s keep him alive.” “Yeah, if I remain alive, I have greater opportunity to preach Christ.” They’re like, “We don’t want him to do that!”
What do you do with such a guy? Nothing! Why? because he is in Christ, and he knows he’s secure and nothing can separate him from his love.
Confidence in Christ
And he concludes with the Christians unwavering persuasion, conviction. I mean, these are glorious words. It says, Romans 8:37,
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
And the idea there is we overwhelmingly conquer. We just don’t conquer – we overwhelmingly conquer. Our victory is guaranteed. It is certain. It is yes and amen. And the reason our victory is guaranteed, and it is certain and yes and amen is not because of ourselves and our ability and, you know, our obedience and our doctrine, and you know, our denomination or the programs we are putting up or the campaigns we raise. Oh no, our victory is certain because of him.
Our confidence is in Christ. See, it’s not in the government. It’s not in politicians. Not in our family. It’s not even in our economy. Dear friends, we overwhelmingly conquer because of Christ.
For I am sure, I am certain, I am guaranteed, that neither death nor life… Did you hear that, dear African? “Neither death…” You know, not this theology of “God forbid.” You know, you will die one day… “Ah, God forbid!”
What God forbid? It is appointed for you to die, by God. What will God forbid? You will die. Amen? I almost want to say turn to your neighbour and say…
Whether it’s in life or death, no angels, no rulers, no things present, no things to come, no powers nor height nor depth, and – just in case he’s missed anything – no anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
There is absolutely nothing. There is never a moment, dear friends, when we are away from the love of God. We are secure in him.
So that’s why that catechism question: “What is our only hope in life and death?” That we are not our own but belong to God.” That’s our only hope.
See, the outcome of our lives as believers is not like a soap opera. It’s not, you know, some suspense and, you know, you’re not sure. You know those soap operas, you know; this one is married to this one but is having an affair with this one. And, you know, they’re about to be caught, but you know the door has been opened – two weeks the door has been opened – and then, you know, are they going to be caught? Are they going to be caught? It ends. You know, and then the next week you watch, and you know, they actually sneak out of the window, and they are not caught. And you know, tune in next time to see if…
Our Christian lives are not like that. They are not this, you know, you are not sure what will happen. Maybe, you know, it may, we may be victorious, but you never know, because, you know and you know things, the way things are happening. And you know, you know, things are bad – the economy, you know. The prices of things are not, you know. The wars, you know. I’m just not sure. Anyway, by the grace of God. Oh no, dear friends. Our outcome is sure and certain. We will be victorious.
Do you have that conviction? Do you have that persuasion that, in Christ, you are secure? Do you know the peace and rest that comes from, that comes with, our union with Christ, such that in whatever state you are in, you have learned to be content? Is your confidence in self or in Christ alone?
Do you serve this Christ, dear friend, with zeal and confidence because you know that his purposes and his plans will not fail? They that know their God shall be strong and do great exploits. (Daniel 11:32b)
Do you know and marvel in this Christ? Do you long for the blessed hope of his return? Do you? Or are you so rooted here on earth that the idea of being with Christ forever bothers you? Do you have this conviction, that you can say we overwhelmingly conquer in Christ Jesus?
See that’s why we sing,
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh (we learned the other day)
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the world (ones) He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain (But he didn’t remain there because -)
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
(I love the fourth stanza)
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
May we stand in Christ alone. Amen