- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
As I was looking at the Love of Christ last week, and how it constrains us, that is, how it restrains us but at the same time compels us, right before that Paul said something that follows through on his motivation and how he endured such great hardships so that Christ may be glorified in all that He did.
It’s found in 2 Corinthians 4.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NKJV)
Let me just take a moment and break down each of these statements to see what Paul is saying to us, and the victory that we have.
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed.”
The word used for being hard pressed denotes strong pressure being applied from outside forces, bringing anguish, affliction, tribulation, and even persecution. But even with all this pressure being asserted, we are not crushed, that is, we are not squeezed to the place where we need to conform or compromise.
Although we are afflicted on every side, we’re not so hemmed in that the Lord cannot deliver us. He is saying that we are not in such a tight spot and cornered that God hasn’t made a way out for us, or a way to fulfill his calling.
“We are perplexed, but not in despair.”
To be perplexed means that we feel as if we have no way out, or nowhere to turn, that is we are at a loss and at our wits end. But not in despair means that we are not totally at a loss in spite of it.
In other words, we may be puzzled, but never at a complete loss. Paul was saying that in no way are we abandoned by God even when facing the possibility of never finding a way out. What we could say is that even while at a loss, we are never totally lost.
“Persecuted, but not forsaken.”
Here Paul was saying that even though we may be persecuted for our beliefs, we are not forsaken, that is, we do not stand alone, and that God has not abandoned us. That while we may be hounded by a foe, we are never at the foe’s or our enemy’s mercy.
“Struck down, but not destroyed.”
While being struck down is forceful, I think the words, “Cast down,” better reveals what Paul is saying. It means to fall, to be thrown down, and gives the idea of being severely depressed as well. And while being cast down, we are never destroyed, or taken out like yesterday’s trash.
What we could say is that while we may be knocked down, we’re not knocked out. Or, while we may be knocked to the ground, we’re not grounded.
And now we get to our verses in Romans 8:35-37, which led me to today’s teaching about being victorious in our faith.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.’” (Romans 8:35-37 NKJV)
Now, there are some commentators who say that Paul is kind of interrogating, but for me it’s more like a rhetorical question, that is, not a question that he was looking for an answer, but a question that reveals that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Paul is confident, as he goes on to state in verse 38, and convinced of its accuracy, and that is, this relationship we have with Jesus has our souls inseparably untied with His. And this is obvious when we consider Christ’s love for us, as he said that while we were still sinners, still His enemy, that He died for us so that this relationship can continue into all eternity.
We see this in the Apostle John’s description of that time of Jesus’s death.
He said, “Before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NKJV)
But what also caught my attention is how several commentators and teachers said that Paul was singing a Christian’s triumph song in saying that no matter what, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.
Now for me, the list Paul gives to us on what could possibly separate us from the love of Christ, but can’t, is only a sample list, but what a list it is.
Now, the first three seem to talk about the pressures and distress caused by this ungodly and hostile world.
· The word trouble is the same word Paul used in his passage in 2 Corinthians 4, when he said, “Hard Pressed.” It means that there is strong pressure from the outside, that is, those outside the faith who are trying to make us quit and deny Jesus. And it is producing anguish, affliction, and tribulation.
· The word Hardship is likewise used by Paul earlier, and it is where we get our word, distressed. It is where the pressure from the outside is getting so great that it is pressing in on us to where we feel like we have nowhere to go for help.
· And then he uses the word, “Persecution,” which means hostility and ill treatment based upon our belief in Christ which is diametrically opposed to what the world says and believes.
Now, the second two words involve the basic necessities of life, while the last two involve the risk dying of one’s belief.
· The word famine means more than merely hunger, but a lack or shortage of food that results in hunger and death.
· Nakedness means a lack of clothing to keep oneself from harm from the elements.
· The word danger can also mean peril. It refers to the risks associated with not just life in general, but also for keeping one’s beliefs.
· And finally, by using the word “sword,” Paul is saying that the reality of execution for our beliefs is a real possibility.
This verse then has the same feeling as what Psalmist talks about in Psalm 44:22 as to what they were facing back then because of their relationship with God. In fact, Paul actually quotes this verse.
“As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’” (Romans 8:36, cf. Psalm 44:22 NKJV)
Back in the Psalmist’s day, they were suffering NOT because they had forgotten God, or turned to a foreign god, but rather quite the opposite. They were suffering because of their loyalty to God.
We see the same thing talked about by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 11, or what is commonly referred to as the faith chapter, in how they suffered for their faith. While he begins by listing out the great accomplishments of mighty men and women of faith, he also made mention of the greatness of faith of some and how their ending was not so glorious.
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy.” (Hebrews 11:35b-38a NKJV)
And so, we all go through some form of suffering in our relationship with God that can be unpleasant, demeaning, painful, hard to bear, and challenging to say the least.
What is sad, however, is how some believe, mostly due to wrong teaching, that as a Christian they will not go through any of these things, but that now life will be free from trouble, and filled with good health and prosperity.
For me these people who believe this represent the seed that fell upon the rocky soil, that while it grows up quick and fast, it has no root, and at the first sign of trouble that comes their way, they’re out of here.
But here is Paul’s encouragement in the midst of them all.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NKJV)
And the reason is because nothing can ever separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The idea of being more than conquerors is also found in how like Jesus conquered sin and death when He rose from the dead, so we are likewise conquerors because in the end we will conquer sin and death when we die and are in the presence of God in heaven for all eternity.
And in this, Paul says that he is convinced and persuaded. And so, the question becomes, “Are we so convinced and persuaded?”
But now we get to the last two verses in Romans chapter eight and what Paul is so convinced and persuaded of that makes him victorious and more than a conqueror.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)
And while the first list was more than sufficient, Paul goes on to add to the list of those things that still can’t separate us from the love of Christ. And truthfully, I don’t think I need to break down these words, they are all pretty self-explanatory.
And in the end it all comes down to the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ because Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave, making all those who believe in Him conquerors as well.
And what it all comes down to for me is that it all goes to the preeminence of Christ.
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18 NKJV)
Having preeminence, means that Jesus is supreme and above everything else.
Now to get a sense of this, let’s look at what the Bible says about Jesus
· He is Eternal, Immortal, Omnipotent (all powerful), Omnipresent (present everywhere) and Omniscience, (all knowing), along with Infinite, and filled with all wisdom and love.
· He is Savior, Redeemer, the Son of the Living God, the Holy One of Israel.
· He is the Son of God and Son of Man
· He is God manifested in the flesh, Immanuel, that is, God with us. He is the image of the invisible God full of grace and truth.
· He is the firstborn over all creation, and the creator of all things. By Him all things were made, and by whom the worlds were made.
· He is pure and undefiled, both good and true.
· He is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.
· He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
· He is the Righteous Judge, the Judge of both the living and the dead, and the Father has committed all judgment unto Him, and His seat in heaven is called the Judgment Seat of Christ.
· His throne is forever, and He forever is at the right hand of the Father.
· He is the Great High Priest, the Mediator of a better covenant, and our Advocate with the Father.
· He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Chief Cornerstone,
· He is the True Vine, the Branch of David, our Bridegroom
· He is the Bright and Morning Star, the Light of the world, the Pearl of Great Price, the Sun of Righteousness, and the Rock of our Salvation.
· He is Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Lamb of God, and the Lion from the Tribe of Judah.
· He is the Living word, the Word of God, and the Great I Am
· He is the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, and Everlasting Father, the Lord of Glory.
· Through His name is the remission of sins, and through Him is forgiveness of sin.
· He preserves all those who are His
· He is the Resurrection and the Life.
· He is the Giver of Eternal Life
And therefore, Jesus is preeminent over it all, which is why we can have all the confidence necessary when we face the trials and tribulations of this life. This is why we are victorious, because we are His, and His love for us endures forever.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study