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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sermon from July 27

More than Conquerors

Romans 8:37

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

            It would be good if you knew this verse by heart and remembered it the rest of your life. 
Earlier in this reading we hear how God loved us:  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

There is another sermon or two in those couple of verses, I can’t get into it all right now, other than to say that when you hear that God loved us, you’ve got to think in terms of forever. Forever ago in the past -- His love started way back in the beginning when He foreknew us and predestined us, to be conformed to the image of His Son, (to make us like Jesus) -- And forever in the future He justified us and glorified us, that’s true now but we will especially see that in the eternal future when we fully live that justified life and fully feel that glory.

Everything that we have going on that is good is because of that.  Anything worthwhile that we have is only through him who loved us.

Notice that at each step of the way, it’s God who is doing it.  He foreknew us. He predestined us. He conformed us to the image of His Son. He called, justified and glorified us. So it is essential that we keep in mind that our only hope our only life is through him who loved us.

On our own, we’ll have nothing.  On our own we will not be conquerors, but losers. On our own, when troubles come our way, when worries crowd our minds we start to feel overwhelmed, desperate or worse yet we start to feel sorry, we look left we look right we see no solution to our problems on either hand and so we just give up, and wallow in the pit of our own self-pity.

If you learn this verse and keep it in your heart for the rest of your life you’ll be better able to look away from yourself, your problems and your inability to fix your problems and you’ll be able to look to God and His promises.  You will learn what it means to be More than conquerors through him who loved us.

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

This passage is from the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans. Not this summer but last summer, at our Vacation Bible School, I dressed up and tried to pretend to be St. Paul. I helped kids write their name in Greek, the language in which Paul’s letters were written. And during one session I talked to the children about this verse We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Maybe some of you will be reminded that the Greek word for “more than conquerors” is hypernike. Nike  the root word, means victory. It was chosen as the name of an athletic shoe company because it’s a powerful name, a name for winners. In that Vacation Bible School session I put a swoosh mark on the hands of the students so they’d remember that, for a while, at least until they washed their hands.

Through Him who loved us, who chose us, gave us a new destiny in Jesus, justified us, glorified us. Because of all this we have the victory. We are the conquerors, the winners. But St. Paul added a prefix to that word Nike.  He said that we are hypernike.  Hyper in Greek means over and above, beyond. If someone is hyperactive, they are excessively active, super active. So this compound word then says you are not just Nike, you are not just a conqueror, you are more than a conqueror. We are super conquerors, overwhelming conquerors through him who loved us.

You see, Jesus has conquered sin, death and the devil. But it wasn’t a close one. It wasn’t a nail biter. Maybe it appeared like it, when Jesus was hanging dead on the cross, the tag team opponents of the Jews and the Romans had beaten and humiliated Him. Behind the scenes Satan, had tempted and tricked and seemed to just about have his way and then at the last minute on Easter morning, Jesus pulled it out just at the buzzer. It might have appeared like that, but it wasn’t really.  God has had it all under control. Ever since the foundations of the world, God had planned that His chosen one would crush Satan. God did not want us to die, so He had Jesus be the death of death. God in eternity chose not to leave you in your sin, so He washed the sins off you and poured the judgment for sin on Jesus. Jesus resurrection from the dead is not just a victory. It is a hypervictory. He is more than a Conqueror. And you are being conformed into the image of Christ. You are becoming more and more like Christ. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

I urge you to think this way about your salvation. You are not just a winner, but a super winner. It is not as though it’s a close contest.  Will you perish or will you have everlasting life? Don’t say, “well, maybe. I hope so. We’ll have to wait and see. I hope the good Lord lets me in. I hope I can squeak by.” No! The Gospel message is that the Lord Jesus has won in a landslide, a rout, a smashing victory.  His is more than a victory! And we who have been baptized into Jesus have been conformed into His image and so we can say that His super victory is our super victory. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Lastly, In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In this Epistle reading, St. Paul has listed all the things that could happen to us, things that could
make us feel like we are getting beat. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Notice that our victory is in all these things, not apart from all these things. It is wrong to expect a victorious Christian life that is free of hardship or stress. In tribulation we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. During times of persecution, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. When we lack that which is necessary for life and well being we are more than conquerors. In danger or violence we are united with Christ the Hypernike, the Super Victor who suffered humbly, obediently and fully for us. It’s ironic that often a Christian will expect that when they are suffering and struggling they are the farthest away from God.  No, in hardship, persecution and suffering we are united with him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So you feel as though you are bullied, battered, beaten down and bested by sin, death and the devil. You are not. In all these things, everyone one of them, You are more than conquerors.

As we keep hearing God’s promises, keep taking them in and taking them to heart we keep learning about how big His promise is, How complete His salvation is, how all encompassing this victory is.  Our doubts rise up and we say to ourselves, “Oh, no! here’s a problem that is beyond fixing, beyond help, beyond hope!” And the last thing to come to our minds is to pray about it.

In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Remember that when you pray. When you pray, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” that name is the name of a Victor, a super victor. That name of him who loved us was placed on you when you were baptized. Daily remember that.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.


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