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New Year’s Eve 2006 – “If God Is For Us”

04 Jan

Text: Romans 8:31-39

If God Is For Us

            Grace, mercy and peace to you from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  The text for the sermon this morning comes from the Epistle, which was read earlier.

            As of tomorrow, this year will be but a fleeting memory.  Radio stations are counting down the biggest songs of the year.  MTV is no doubt playing the biggest video hits of the year.  Everyone is looking at what the best of the year was.

            But with all of the good that has come, bad has come as well.  We have seen war come and go.  We’ve seen destruction, changes in the world, death of loved ones, and the list goes on and on.  For some, this is a year that we are more than ready to get behind us.  People are quick to say, “Where is God during all this?” when things go bad.  Paul says clearly where God is: for us.

            It’s funny how we try to help others.  Some give because they have more than ample.  Others give what seems like a little to us, but it represents a very large portion for those who give. 

            God too gave graciously and without hesitation or second thought.  He gave His Son, His one and only Son, over to the world so that He would die. But this death was no ordinary death – it was for us life, not death.  In our communion liturgy on the Sundays after Pentecost, we hear these words: “…through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who on this day overcame death and the grave and by his glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.”  Through the giving of His Son, we have received “all things” as Paul says.

            It is because of the death of Christ that we can be brought into the kingdom of God through His body and blood.  We are now a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”  Whatever charges anyone, whether it be death, devil or the world, make against us, they must now go through the Father who has chosen us.

            Through His Son, we now have a shield protecting us.  God stands before us with a shield to protect us.  Does that mean that no one will ever be against us?  Does it mean that no one will ever bring a charge against us?  Of course not.  What that does mean is that no one will ever be successfully against us; no one will ever successfully accuse us.  Even Satan himself, with all of his crafty ways, can try to accuse us, but because of Christ’s death and glorious resurrection, we now stand holy and blameless before God, our heavenly Father.  In order for anything to reach us, it must first go through God and it is God alone who justifies, to declare free of blame. 

            Not only do we have God the Father as our shield, we also have Christ, our advocate, who died the death for all of creation.

            To condemn a person as Paul says here, means to inform them that God condemns them and that God has sentenced the person.  Christ intercedes on our behalf.  No one has ever been accused and condemned as Christ was.  God willingly sacrificed His one and only begotten Son, so that you and I may not die, but have everlasting life.

            Christ went before God, the only one who is able to judge us and pleaded that we have already been acquitted of all charges because He has paid for them with His body and blood.  No one else could do that for us.  Christ intercedes on behalf of all of creation.  His intercession gave us life.  His body and blood, beaten and pierced, opened for us the gates of heaven.  His resurrection and ascension brought with it a permanent advocate that will say, “Sorry, I paid for this person.  You can’t have them.”

            Though the world will try its best to accuse us and beat us up, we cannot be separated from the love of Christ.  Seven different possible choices are listed as a means to separate us.  The enemies of our salvation attempt to separate us from Christ and His love, and so they press hard with all might and power to throw away faith and trust in Christ.  Life is very real and can be very cruel.  But as cruel as trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword can be, Paul reiterates that they do not have the power to pull us away from the love of Christ.

            These seven items are not the only thing that can separate us from God.  Separation from God can also come from ourselves, which manifests itself in various ways.  One such way is by seeking salvation in the things that we do.  This is contrary to what Scripture says.  Salvation is not found in ourselves, but in what God has done for us, namely sending His Son to be payment for our sins.  We also choose to separate us from God when we despise His Word and His Sacraments, by not coming to church to be fed with the means of grace which give to us salvation.

            It is true as the psalmist writes, “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  We suffer and we face death because Christ suffered and faced death.  We are in Christ and therefore we suffer.  It does not mean that Christ withdraws His love; no, it is the opposite.  He suffered for our lives and therefore we suffer for His life because we are in Him.

            Through these tribulations, we become conquerors through Christ who loved us.  We have strength, not only equal and sufficient, but far more than enough to overcome the preceding evils.

            If the list of seven things to separate us from the love of Christ wasn’t enough, now we have a new list of ten things to separate us.  None of these can stop God’s love from reaching and holding us.

            It’s funny that Paul lists the present and the future, but he doesn’t say anything about the things of the past.  None of that is mentioned, not even our sins, because they have all passed away.  They passed away when the water hit our forehead and when the blood of Christ hit the ground as He hung from the cross.

            What Paul tells the church of Rome is also spoken to us: we are fully assured that no condition of our existence, whether death or life; no beings, whether they be angels or principalities among men; nothing in time, whether in the present or in the future; nothing in the way of powers or forces; nothing in space, whether in the heights or the in the depths; in fact, nothing in all creation, no matter what it may be called, not only shall not, but cannot separate us and our fellow Christians from God’s saving love, His Son, by placing a barrier between us and that love so that it cannot reach us.

            It’s easy to think that we’re alone through all this.  But we know that we are not alone, for Christ has gone before us to prepare the way for us.  He, along with God the Father, stands before us to protect us, to ensure that nothing separates us from Christ.  On this New Year’s Eve, as we look for the passing away of 2006 and the ushering in of the 2007, know that God the Father, with the Son, has given us life everlasting.  Regardless of what may happen in the coming year, know that if God is for us, who can be against us?  The answer is no one and nothing, because we cannot be separated from God because of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.  Amen.

            And now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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Posted by on January 4, 2007 in Religion, Sermons

 

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