God is in control.
The good news of God’s government. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
God is the sovereign Ruler of the universe and I work for him. That’s why you don’t hear me whining. That’s why I don’t beg for Jesus. That’s why I don’t manipulate or put guilt trips on people. I just do what he told me to do: teach the Bible and let God be God.
Sometimes we forget that, don’t we? (And I’m preaching as much to myself as to you.) We forget God—his power, his control, and his sovereignty. And then, life can become frustrating. God has all the power in the universe…and yet, so often, we turn away.
God is there and he is in charge.
A friend of mine told the story about a group of people who hired a guide to take them into the backwoods of Maine. After some days, they became helplessly lost and quite naturally began to doubt the competence of their guide. “You said you were the best guide in Maine,” they reminded him. “I am,” he said, “but I think we’re in Canada now.”
God is never lost and never without resource. God is there and he is in charge.
God gave you his Son.
The good news of God’s gift. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Paul is saying, “Look, if God gave us his Son, everything else is small stuff and he will give you anything.”
God gave us his Son. He loved us that completely and totally. I think it is wonderful and awe-inspiring that God created the world. I am impressed with the sovereignty and power of God. I think that the Creator and Sustainer God is worthy to be worshipped, adored and praised. But when I think that God didn’t even spare his own Son for us, everything else pales to insignificance.
And so Paul says that we shouldn’t worry about the small stuff.
God gave you an “A.”
The good news of God’s grading system. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
God doesn’t grade on a curve. His standards are absolute. But someone else—that would be Jesus—took your test and already made an “A,” an “A” that nobody can ever take away from you. God justified you, making it as if you had never sinned. Because you belong to Christ, you are justified in God’s eyes…no matter how just you are.
One of my seminary colleagues once said that he had never seen an ugly bride. “Well, maybe, a couple,” he said, “But I’ll tell you this. I never saw a groom who ever saw an ugly bride.” Christ is the bridegroom and he will present us without spot or wrinkle. God never saw an ugly bride because we, as the bride, are justified.
If you belong to Christ, you are perfect in God’s eyes. No matter what you’ve done. No matter how much you’ve struggled. No matter how sinful you are. You are perfect in God’s eyes because the blood of Christ has justified you. And now you don’t have to feel guilty or to fear condemnation.
God accepts you.
The good news of God’s grace. “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
Isn’t that wonderful? No one can ever shame you if you remember that God doesn’t condemn you, no matter what.
No one can ever shame you if you remember that God doesn’t condemn you, no matter what.
Back to your “A” as a Christian. Not only do you have an “A,” God affirms you as his child. It doesn’t matter what I think about you. If God accepts you (and he does), you are impervious to shame-based manipulation and guilt.
As an adult child of an alcoholic that goes back a number of generations, I know about shame. If you share that problem, you know how easy it is to fall into shame. As a family, we always tried to cover up the problem, to avoid shame, to put up a good front…because we didn’t want anyone to know. As a boy, I can remember being told by other boys that they had seen my father drunk in one of the town’s bars. I was so ashamed, so very ashamed. I’m not ashamed of anything any longer because of Romans 8:34. Nobody can condemn me because I am his and he has accepted me.
Not only that. If we are no longer ashamed because we are no longer condemned, then we don’t ever have to condemn anyone else. Whenever I see Christians making fun, are highly critical or are judgmental of other Christians, I know they don’t understand. The principle is this: people who aren’t condemned don’t condemn…and you can tell how condemned a person feels by checking out how condemned you feel in that person’s presence.
I don’t have to be ashamed anymore. No one can condemn me because he no longer condemns me. That is really good news.
God holds you.
The good news of God’s grip. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
God holds you and will never let you go. Why do I believe in the doctrine of eternal security or perseverance of the saints? Because if it isn’t true, I simply won’t make it. If God doesn’t hold me, I’m going to lose it. The truth is that God doesn’t disown his children. Sick, abusive and angry human parents do that. God holds you. His grip is secure, absolutely secure.
God loves you.
The good news of God’s goodness. The issue before human beings is not whether or not God exists, but what he is like. Only a fool thinks there is no God. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that creation, by necessity, requires a Creator. We know he is there. The question is now: what is he like?
I have a friend who was abused by her father. Every time she hears that God is our Father, my friend winces because the only father she ever knew betrayed her. God doesn’t abuse his children.
If the incarnation revealed nothing else, it revealed the nature of God. Augustine said, “The cross of Christ did not secure the love of God. The love of God secured the cross of Christ.” In other words, the cross was not the cause of the love of God; it was the result of it.
I’ve said it over and over again: if you go to God, you will find that he isn’t mad at you. The good news is that God’s nature is love (Romans 8:35, 39) and that makes me feel good about going to him.
Everything is going to work out in the end.
The good news of God’s grit in us. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Paul doesn’t say that we will be conquerors, but that we are conquerors right now in our present lives. You say, “But I don’t feel much like a conqueror.” You’re still walking around, aren’t you? You’re still keeping your nose above water, right? The truth is that I’m always a winner, a conqueror and a prince because God loves me, holds me and will never let me go. You too. Because we are his, we reflect his glory.
I choose my friends not on the basis of how I feel about them or how they feel about me, but on the basis of how I feel around them. God causes me to feel secure and joyous, that everything is going to work out in the end. He promised…and he never lies.
I remember Christ, his absolute love and acceptance, and his promise of Home. It’s all good news. It’s only good news. That makes me happy. And I don’t know of any other way to get there…but through him.