“For Us and With Us”

Romans 8:31-39


            A couple of weeks ago I raised the question of why do we watch the same movie over and over again. The answer I gave was that we watch that movie over and over again because we know it delivers. Our favorite scene turns out the way it always has. We can say the next lines before the actor or actress says them in the movie. The movie ends the same way each time. The movie always delivers.

            With these favorite movies also come different memorable lines. When looking at the theme of “For Us and With Us” chosen for this LWML Sunday, my mind drifted to one of my favorite movies. The movie is “The Rock” with Ed Harris, Sean Connery, and Nicholas Cage. If you haven’t seen it, a really brief summary of the movie would go like this … “A mild-manner chemist and an ex-con must lead the counterstrike when a group of rogue marines, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz against San Francisco.

            The thing is though, this renegade general is not about to kill millions of innocent people. There is a scene towards the end of the movie where the rouge marines turn on the general. As a group of these marines, plus a good, long-time military friend stand around the general with guns drawn, the statement is said to the general’s friend. “Major Baxter, you’re either with us or against us.”

            “You’re either with us or against us.” Not only is that a phrase we may hear used to try to sway someone to a particular side, but it is one which we even find in the Bible. In Joshua 5 when Joshua is approaching the city of Jericho, he sees a man standing in front of him with his sword out. Joshua goes up to him and asks him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13).

            Talking to the Pharisees in Matthew 12, Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (12:30). Then in Luke and Mark, when the disciples tell Jesus about a man who is casting out demons who is not one of them, Jesus says, “Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

            And then we hear it again in our epistle reading from Romans 8. Paul writes in verse 31, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

            Notice who the main person is, who the subject is. It’s God. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that our success depends on me, on my heroism. It may be subtle, but it’s a slippery slope in our lives. Thoughts of self-dependence or “thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought” can open the door to believing that we are main people in God’s narrative. But Paul gives us a different perspective. He makes it quite clear that God’s everlasting love holds us. Let’s dig into this some.

            Because Jesus is for us and with us, we have no fear of condemnation. Paul writes, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? 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, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

            What things is Paul talking about? Paul has just acknowledged that God has done everything for our salvation. If He has done it all, how then should we respond? God is for us and since He is, how should we respond?

As we think about that, Paul goes on, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:33-34).

            Why did Jesus have to die? To pay for our sins! Why was He raised? Because the Father accepted this payment. In other words, the check Jesus wrote out for our sins and signed with His very own blood, with His very own life was accepted, it cleared the bank, it didn’t bounce. Jesus died and rose so that we might live eternally.

            And now, Jesus is interceding for us, fully engaged in the battle for us. Corrie ten Boom says that, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” Think about that for a minute. “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” Who of us this past week has been perfect? On the other hand, how many of us have said things we would later regret? Or, have you spoken to a loved one in a tone you wish you could take back? In the past couple of years, have you been divisive in any way? Yeah, me too. Yes to all the questions actually. God’s law is convicting because God’s law shows us exactly where we have sinned, where we have fallen short of the glory of God. The pit we have dug with our sin is deep … but God’s love is deeper still. His arm is long and able to reach down into our pit and rescue us. In fact, Jesus’ stretched-out arms on the cross did exactly that, He did rescue us. Those same limb, dead arms which were taken down from the cross, they were made alive again as Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is for us and He is with us. Even though Satan wants to accuse you, even though he wants to condemn you … through what Jesus did in your place … we have no fear of condemnation.

            Because Jesus is for us and with us, we have no fear of separation. Paul says in some of my favorite verses, “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. 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 8:35-39).

            Notice what it is that Paul doesn’t say here. Paul doesn’t say that life will be free from challenges and difficult circumstances. He doesn’t say that distress or danger will not happen. In fact, Paul writes in great detail about his own experience in facing these kinds of challenges in 2 Corinthians 11.

            And you and I know from our own experiences there are struggles and challenges. Each of us could make a list of our struggles which we face each day. What kind of things would you put on that list? What would you include? Who would you include? In many ways, it may feel like life is stacked against you. But here’s the thing … no matter what is going on in your life … God declares you right in His eyes. God declares you loved in Jesus as there nothing in all of creation which is able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            We have no fear of condemnation, we have no fear of separation because Jesus is for us and is with us. And because Jesus is for us and with us, we also have certainty of victory. This victory is made personal through the gift of baptism and the gift of faith. Paul says in Romans 6, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (6:4). Baptism and faith equal victory. Victory over sin, death and the power of Satan. We are more than conquerors, we are super-victorious.

            Our victory … our victory is not secure because I am with Jesus but because Jesus is with me. We are more than conquerors because of Him, because Jesus is for us and with us. It is my prayer that you and I may live each day, even today, confidently trusting in Jesus. As a child of God, remain in His Word. Be reminded of your identity as a victorious one in Christ. Rely on His grace. How have you been saved? By grace, by grace through faith. Saved, redeemed, having no fear of condemnation and no fear of separation and have the certainty of victory, may we like the prophet Isaiah enthusiastically say, “Here am I! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8b). Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.


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