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“More Than Conquerors”
Romans 8:29-39


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost—July 24, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Every four years the attention of the world is focused on the international Olympic games, which next year take place in London.  Imagine what a thrill it must be to win a gold medal in the Olympics.  There can be no greater victory in athletic competition than to stand before the world as the ultimate victor, the #1 winner, the triumphant conqueror over all.

In today’s Epistle Reading from Romans, Paul says that through Jesus Christ you are a spiritual gold medal winner: “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  For that phrase “more than conquerors,” Paul uses a rare Greek word that literally means  “super-champion,” “super-victor,” “complete conqueror over all” or, in terms of the Olympics, a gold medal winner.  “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

In the eyes of the world, on Good Friday, it looked as though Jesus had not triumphed, but was utterly defeated.  On Good Friday, Jesus did not appear to be a winner, but rather the greatest loser of all time.  His disciples all deserted him and fled.  He was horribly humiliated: whipped, beaten, spat upon, mockingly crowned with a crown of thorn.  Carrying his cross, he was paraded through Jerusalem out to Golgatha, the place of execution.  There he was nailed to the cross and hung upon it, crucified unto death.

In the eyes of the world, Jesus appeared to be a loser, not a winner.  But, Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “We live by faith, not by sight.”  Even though on Good Friday Jesus appeared to be a loser, by faith we believe he is the ultimate victor.

By faith we believe that Jesus’ death was not a defeat, but the fulfillment of God’s plan to save the world, as Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. . .  For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

By faith we believe that Jesus gave himself up for us out of love, the ultimate self-sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice for our sins, as Paul says in Ephesians, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.”

By faith we believe that Jesus rose victorious from the grave.  As he says in Revelation, “I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for ever and ever!”

“We live by faith, not by sight.”  Even though on Good Friday Jesus appeared to be a loser, by faith we believe he is really the ultimate victor. 

And “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  When Jesus won the battle you gained the victory!  It’s as though next year a delegation would appear at your door to award you a gold medal actually earned by one of the athletes at the Olympics in London.  Trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior; through faith in him, you receive the spiritual gold medal he earned for you by his life, death and resurrection.  “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” 

“More than conquerors” over what?  Through faith in Christ, we are first of all “more than conquerors” over sin.  Paul says God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.”  Your sins are all forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice.  As the Apostle John writes, “This is how God showed his love for us: He sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we would live through Him. . .  he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 

Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Take to heart that amazing Good News: “God is for us.”  Because Christ gave himself up for you, God is on your side.  “God is for us.”  God is not angry with you, God does not hate you.  On account of his Son, God feels toward you in his heart nothing but kindness, compassion, love.  So Paul concludes, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”  As Paul says earlier in Romans, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So through faith in Christ, we are first of all “more than conquerors” over sin.

And through faith in Christ, we are also “more than conquerors” over death.  By his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ secured for you victory over death.  As Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also,” and in 2nd Corinthians, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus.”  So through faith in Christ, we are “more than conquerors” over sin and death.

But there’s more!  Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Through faith in Christ, we are also “more than conquerors” over the struggles of this life.  Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  In today’s Epistle Reading, Paul tells us three ways in which we are “more than conquerors” over the struggles of this life.

#1) We are “more than conquerors” over the struggles of this life because we know for certain that our earthly struggles are not ever, in any way, a punishment from God.  “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?”  God is for us, for us so much that he gave his Son to be our Savior.  Will he, then, now punish us?  NO!  As Psalm 103 says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” 

#2) We are “more than conquerors” over the struggles of this life because we know that God uses even our struggles for the good, although we may not comprehend what that good is. As Paul says, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him.” 

#3) We are also “more than conquerors” over the struggles of this life because we look forward to the blessed end of all our struggles, our troubles, our pain and suffering.  Paul expresses this beautifully a few verses before today’s Epistle Reading, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us.”

Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”  And he answers, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”  Paul sums it all up in 1st Corinthians, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

We may not look or feel victorious over sin and death.  We may not look or feel victorious over the struggles of this life.  But, “We live by faith, not but sight.”  And through faith in Christ we are “more than conquerors.” 

Amen.

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