More Than Conquerors, Then & Now
Approximately 25 years after Jesus left this earth, the Apostle Paul wrote these words, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 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? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rom 8:28-35)
We need to understand the context and setting in which Paul asked all these questions as he penned this letter from Corinth. Those reading his letter were in the midst of Roman rule. Rome’s mission was to conquer the world and two of their many tactics were persecution and death. More than likely some who helped crucify Christ were still party to this Roman command. Yet Paul basically says, in comparison to God, these guys were powerless. Paul understood something we must also understand, that it is the Spiritual person God values. The body can be killed, but not the Spirit. The physical actions of the Romans could not trump the Spiritual power of God.
Paul had words of courage that should still be words of courage for us today. He goes on in the following verses, “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Vs 36) This was the peril of the day. Death was a real daily threat, and following Christ a genuine risk to life and limb. Certainly, Rome wanted to overthrow the Church, something they perceived as a threat to their power (sound familiar?). Killing Christians was even a sport to these Romans, who might burn you at the stake, tear you from limb to limb, or watch some animal devour you and chalk it up to entertainment.
These ruthless Romans were known as “conquerors”, the most valiant warriors of the time, yet Paul compares being a Christian to being one of them, “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. (Vs 37). In other words, being a child of the Heavenly King was vastly superior to being a hero in the Roman empire, an empire so feared that even their basic citizens could walk the known world of that time without fear because they were a Roman. And yet Paul says being a Christian is vastly superior, even living under the threat of dying, because even in death, we win if we die in Christ. (2 Cor 5:11)
Paul, in closing out this particular thought in Romans 8, finished with these words, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Vs 38-39)
Christian, as we look around us today, some places in the world our brothers and sisters are being killed, facing persecution and living in fear due to their faith. Someday it could happen right here in our own backyard. We should certainly thank God for the freedoms our country affords, but we should not take them for granted. Certain people seeking power in our own government this very hour would love to take our freedom to worship God away from us because they see us as a threat to their quest for power. China is doing this at full speed this very moment. Strangely they have nothing to fear from us, but they refuse to acknowledge God and His purpose for them and because we preach God’s message, we are by default the enemy. We must keep these people out of political power. But even if they manage to someday put us in the same vulnerable position as the Christians in Rome that Paul was writing to, God will give us the same assurances that Paul said they had. We can rest assured that nothing, no one, no system of government, no power of earth or power of hell, can separate us from God’s love, or take away our eternal salvation that comes through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Praise be to God!