You could get cancer.
You could get Ebola.
You could get into a car wreck tomorrow afternoon.
A representative from ISIS could remove your head from your body.
There are a few ways to respond to such possibilities. One is the Happy Thursday Approach. This is the favored approach of many television preachers. They like to tell us that we can claim away bad things. One such preacher told my mother that her sickness didn’t leave her after he tried to make it go away because, “She didn’t have enough faith.” A five-year-old can easily determine that these types of preachers are more concerned with financial gain and popularity than they are truth and compassion.
The other approach is fear and worry. Deep down inside, we all know that we could get sick. We know that terrible things could happen to us or the ones we love. So we let fear consume us. Instead of living life while we still can, we wash our hands hundreds of times a day, we obsess over the news, we worry that maybe that sharp pain in our ankle is actually the beginning stages of some horrific new disease that will eventually be the end of us.
There’s another response. A more biblical one. It helps us to turn our attention away from what could possibly maybe perhaps happen to what can never happen because of what has already happened. How’s that for a wordy sentence? Here’s another way to put it.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians can face troubled times with hope, confidence and even joy because we know that whatever may happen to us, there are some things, worse things, that will never happen to us.
1. Christian, you will never be condemned by God.
It might seem like everyone is against you. Maybe they really are. Maybe you know opposition like few people do. Perhaps you’ve endured the wrath of an angry boss, a cunning enemy or even the federal government. God never said that you would’t experience those things. But he did promise this much. You will never experience the wrath of God. Jesus took your place on that one.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (ESV)
2. Christian, death will never get the best of you.
Eat all the organic lettuce your stomach can hold. Just know this. One day your body will stop functioning. But that won’t really be the end of life for you, only the end of suffering. Life will just be getting started.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:9-11 (ESV)
3. Christian, you will never be orphaned.
A few times a year we hear stories about babies being abandoned at dumpsters, emergency rooms and fire stations. If you believe that a true follow of Christ can somehow become a non-follow of Christ, you are forced to admit that God essentially does the same thing to his children. He doesn’t. The God who sovereignly adopted you is the same God who eternally keeps you.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:12-17 (ESV)
4. Christian, you will never be hopeless.
Your life might resemble a George Jones song. Your marriage is in shambles. Your truck won’t crank. Your job is no good and your dog died. Through it all, there is a hope that will not perish or fade away. Your retirement plan can go down the drain. Your eternal inheritance cannot.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)
5. Christian, you will never be ignored.
All of my life I’ve heard people critiquing prayers. Some criticize the way that a person says, “Dear Lord” too many times during the prayer. Others don’t like the way that a person asks Jesus to “be with” someone. All of the critiques can leave us a bit intimidated with prayer, especially prayer in public. But here’s the good news. No one, even the most educated among us, really knows how to pray. And that’s okay. The Holy Spirit picks up our slack. Our slack is great. He is greater.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (ESV)
6. Christian, you will never be beyond God’s good plan.
We have to be careful when trying to explain why some tragic event happened. The fact is that usually we don’t have a clue. We would be wise to remain silent and only speak on what we do know. Here’s what we do know. God, in his own way and time, takes bad things and uses them for his glory and the good of his people.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
7. Christian, you will never know what it’s like to be in hell.
You are a Christian, not because of your denominational affiliation, family background or award winning smile but because God chose you. The theological term for that is predestination. Another word for it is grace. And God’s grace always runs its course through until the end. The called will be saved. The saved will be glorified. That means that you will enjoy eternal life with a new body in an new heaven and earth with Jesus. Wherever life takes you, Christian, God won’t allow hell to be a stop on your journey.
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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)
8. Christian, God will never be against you.
The rest of the world might be against you. Sometimes you will be tempted to think that God is too. You have to be careful to never mistake God’s wrath for his discipline (Hebrews 12:3-17). God’s wrath is reserved for his enemies. His discipline, like any loving father, is for the ultimate good of his children. Christian, you will never again know God as your enemy, only as your Father.
What then shall we say 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 with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:31-34 (ESV)
9. You will never be separated from God’s love.
God loves you.
Nothing will ever change that.
You really don’t have anything to worry about.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through 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, 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. Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)