************ Funeral Sermon on Romans 8:37-39 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 20, 2017
Trudy Eckart Funeral
Romans 8 was Trudy's favorite Bible passage. I read it often to her. There is so much in this one chapter:
-no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
-control by the Spirit
-the eager expectation of creation
-the Spirit help us as we pray
-God works for the good of those who love him
-the golden chain of salvation
-no one can be against us
-we are more than conquerors
-nothing can separate us from the love of God
Of all of these beautiful truths what she liked the most was the words on the front of our program:
(Rom 8:37-39) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) 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.Trudy especially loved to hear about the love of God.
Earlier, I read Q & A 27-28 of the Catechism. One of the reasons Trudy loved these questions and answers is because Romans 8:38-39 is the proof text listed for the benefits of knowing God's sovereignty. Every time I read them I reminded her of the three ways Q & A 28 says she should respond: be patient, be thankful, be confident. Because God loves you, be patient, be thankful, be confident.
The title of this message is "Nothing." As in nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing can take away our victory in Christ. What Paul was saying and what Trudy clung to is the eternal security and victory of God's children. Like Paul, Trudy was persuaded about her eternal security and victory. She was convinced. Assured. Confident.
Paul was convinced of his eternal security and victory as he grappled with trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and the sword (Rom 8:35). Trudy faced problems of similar intensity: cancer, congestive heart failure, infections, lots of bills, the death of her husband, a hospital bed, repeated trips to the hospital. What kept Trudy going? What encouraged her? The same thing as Paul: her eternal security and victory in the Lord Jesus Christ. Trudy needed to hear this. Over and over again she needed to hear this.
Listen, now, to verse 37. "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Christians are "more than conquerors." Another translation is hyper-conqueror or super-conqueror. Christians are hyper-conquerors. Christians are super-conquerors. Do you hear what Paul is saying? Paul is saying Christians cannot lose. They cannot be overcome. They are victorious.
I always stand amazed that these words were said by Paul. Because by almost every standard, Paul was anything but victorious. By almost every standard, Paul was anything but a conqueror.
(2 Cor 11:24-27) Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, (26) I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. (27) I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.This sounds more like a loser than a conqueror, doesn't it?!
There was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who wrote that true man is a conqueror. This philosopher despised Christians and Christian ethics as being meek and mild. He should have read Romans 8:37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
"In all these things." What things? The things Paul mentions in verse 35: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. The suffering mentioned in verse 18. The sufferings experienced by Trudy. But we can say more. We are conquerors over sin -- there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are conquerors over temptation. We are conquerors over doubt. We are conquerors over death. We are conquerors over Satan and hell and Hades. Christians are super-conquerors. Christians cannot lose. They cannot be overcome. They are victorious.
In our Bible reading Paul mentions the various things he faced and struggled against. Can any of these possibly tear a believer away from victory in Jesus? His conclusion is NOTHING. Nothing can tear a believer away from the loving arms of God. Nothing can tear a Christian away from victory in Jesus.
Death cannot tear a believer away from God's embrace. The loss of life may be our greatest fear, but Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades. He stands on the opposite side of death, and death actually brings us to Him.
Life cannot do it. Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us in this life. He promises to be with us always. And He is with us in divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit.
Angels cannot do it. As servants of God they never would want to. But Paul means they lack the power to do this.
Demons cannot do it. Paul is thinking of fallen angels and spiritual forces that oppose God's rule over the universe. Jesus defeated them at the cross (Col 2:13-15).
The present cannot do it. The future cannot do it.
Neither height nor depth can do it. There is nowhere in the created realm where Christ is not with us.
(Ps 139:7-10) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (8) If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (9) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, (10) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Cancer cannot do it. Neither can congestive heart failure. Nor can a hospital bed. Nor can loneliness.
In all of her pain and cries and tears, Trudy clung to God's sovereignty as expressed in Q & A 27:
leaf and blade,They come to us from God. And God means them all for our ultimate victory.
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty--
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are secure in this love. Safe in this love. Surrounded and covered and comforted by this love. We have victory in this love.
Why? How are we super-conquerors? Because of "the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." This is the love, don't forget, that sent Jesus to take our punishment. This is the love that sent Jesus to give us His righteousness and His life. The love of God in Christ is the strongest, most steady, firm, unbending, solid, substantial, constant, uniform, dependable thing of all.
In the Christ Who loves us Trudy is a super-conqueror. In the Christ Who loves us she has overcome. In the Christ Who loves us she is victorious.
Trudy knew this. Trudy believed this. Trudy was convinced of this. That nothing could tear her away from the victory in Jesus Who loves us.
Let me turn from Trudy to you. Are you one of those Christians who fear you might somehow lose your salvation? Realize that you are a super-conqueror in Christ. Realize that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ.
Paul is talking to Christians. If you are not a Christian, then you are already separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If you are not a Christian then death is the end and something to fear. If you are not a Christian, I beg you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. For, then, you also will be a super-conqueror. And, nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from the love of God in Christ.
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