“for the love of god”
The Sanctuary Sermon for
The Sanctuary Sermon for 2/13/22
“For the Love of God” Romans 8:31-39
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! And all the adults are like, “So?” If Virginia is for lovers, then Valentine’s Day is for kids. You remember sharing valentines in grade school, right? We would all decorate a shoe box, put a slit in the lid and on February 14th we would drop valentine greetings in all the boxes. I remember looking for a special one from my first ‘true love.’ Her name was Vicky and we were in Mrs. Hume’s fourth grade class. For days prior, out on the playground our romance was starting to bud. She’d kick me and I’d punch her arm. Pretty soon we were on the swings together, and before you knew it, we shared the teeter-totter. We took it to the next level when we gave each other the occasional ‘cherry bomb’ and laugh.
So, a few days later our class had the valentine exchange and I was sorting through them for that special one, and there it was… To Arthur from Vicky. I opened the envelope and on the back of the greeting there was a note. I like you; do you like me? Check yes or no. I was smitten. It didn’t last long though, she was on the teeter-totter with my friend Brett the next week.
We know our culture has this unrealistic, romanticized idea of what love is and how we find fulfillment in love. Yet this morning, when we think of “love”, we must think of the greatest love the world has ever known—the love of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 – “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
God’s love is deep! And guess what? God’s love has nothing to do with you. Others may love you because you’re cute, cuddly and adorable. You’re rich. You’re fun to be around. You’re family and they have to love you.
But not God! God loves you simply because He wants to love you. He chose to love you. God loves you because John the apostle reminded us that “God is love.”
We’re all familiar with human love. There’s friendship love (Philia), there’s soulish love (Storge), and there’s erotic love (Eros). There’s Grand-parent love, puppy love, first love, a love for the arts, a love for sports, a love of chocolate, a love for whatever, just name it. This is human love, and human love is fickle and conditional.
But God is love, and his love is unconditional, (Agape) constant, and perfect. You can’t influence God’s love, because God is love. Jesus didn’t go to the cross because of any love you had for him, for any influence you placed on him.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus must have really loved you to do what he did, because your sin - my sin put him there.
We look at some people. They’re wealthy, earn a good living, have good health, live a good life, have a happy family. We think, “God must really love them, look at how much he’s blessed them!” Or we look at others and see they have problems, are sickly and poor, or are plagued with family struggles. We think, “God must not really love them, look at all the problems they have!”
Well, that’s just crazy talk. Circumstances have nothing to do with God’s love. When everything seems to be going wrong, God still loves you. When everything seems to be going right, God still loves you. If you want a gauge of God’s love, a yardstick to measure his love, don’t look at circumstances, look at the cross.
What do we need to do to experience God’s love? Just receive it. Why? Because nothing can separate you from God’s love.
Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Look at how Paul leads up to this statement. In Romans 8:28 we read the familiar, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This is a demonstration of God’s love, that all things, all circumstances, all problems, all blessings, everything that comes our way, is a demonstration of His love for us.
Prior to this verse, Paul gives us a series of questions.
Beginning with 8:31 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” That’s a good question, one we’ve probably asked, only in another way. You’ve probably asked, “With everybody and everything against me, where are you God?”
We all face opposition. From our bodies—sickness, disease aches & pains. From people—hard to get along with, will hurt your feelings, disappoint you. And from circumstances—things don’t always go our way.
But this question has God’s love in mind. So, the question is not, “How can I handle all that life throws at me?” but the question is, “Can God handle all that life throws at me?” Well, if God is for us, who can be against us? While I may have problems with life’s difficulties, God is greater than anything life throws at you. Is there a problem God can’t see you through? Nope. That’s how much He loves you.
The question, often, is not, “Can God handle my problems?” but, “Will God handle my problems?”
Paul answers that in 8:32. “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?” God, in his love, has given you everything you need to meet life’s problems. God loves you so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross for you. Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to die on the cross for you. So, if God and Jesus love you so much to do this, will they forget about you in your time of need?
We’ve also asked, “How could God love me when I’m unworthy of his love? He sees my life, knows me inside and out, knows how I live, knows when I fail to live up to his love time and time again. How could God love someone like me?” Paul answers that with the next question.
8:33 says this, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Once God accepts you for who you are in Christ, and loves you unconditionally, who else’s opinion matters? People might criticize you, condemn you, gossip about you, cheat you, find fault and nit-pick about you, berate or belittle you, and accuse you.
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. God loves you so much that he doesn’t see your sin nature. All he sees is his Son, Jesus, who “justified” you before the Throne of Grace. God said, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” God loves you so much that nobody else’s opinion matters but his and no one can sway God’s opinion of you. Not even Satan.
8:34 – 37 continues: “Who then will condemn us? None—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
So, if any of these things, or I should say, when these things come our way, does it mean that God doesn’t love us? No, despite all these things we can be victorious in Christ because he loves us. Nothing or no one can drive a wedge between you and God’s love for you.
Still not convinced? 8:38-39 – “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.” Paul was “persuaded”, convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. No circumstance in this life can separate you from God’s love. You have never lived a day, a minute, a second, when God didn’t love you.
You may have hidden in shame from God, like Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, but God still loves you. You may have deserted him like the disciples as they fled when Jesus was arrested, but God still loves you. You may have denied him like Peter, when he was asked about his relationship with Jesus, but God still loves you. You may have doubted him like Thomas, but God still loves you.
In it all, through thick and thin, good times and bad, God still loves you! You never leave his mind, his thoughts, or his sight. He sees the worst in you and loves you anyhow. And I quote, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
When you sit at the bedside of a loved one who is racked with pain or disease, God still loves you. When you sit at the graveside after losing one who has touched your heart and life, God still loves you. When you weep because your burdens seem too heavy to bear, God still loves you. When you see your family at odds or torn apart, God still loves you. When your heart aches over failure and you feel that God could never forgive you, God still loves you.
God could never love you any more than he already does. You can’t get any more of God’s love, because “God is love.” We think that God will love us more if we don’t smoke or chew or go with girls who do. We think that God will love me more if I pray more, study my Bible more, attend church more, or live a better life. While these things might be an indicator of your love for God, they don’t impact or change God’s love for you one bit.
Why? God’s love isn’t based on you. It’s based on his Son, Jesus who fulfilled God’s demand for sacrifice. God will always love you as much as he loves his Son. Why? Because you are “in Christ.”
Are you experiencing God’s love for you? Is it real to you?
Romans 5:5 says – “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.” You have the capacity to know, feel, enjoy and experience God’s love. How? Because of the indwelling of the person of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you.
Let God’s love permeate your life. Wake up in the morning and bask in the sunshine of his love. Go to bed at night and rest in the comfort of his love. Live in his love, immerse yourself in his love, fill your life with his love. Allow his love to surround and dwell in you.
Never forget John 3:16 & 17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
Just do it,
For the love of God!
This is the Word of the Lord for the day.