31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 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. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 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.
Here ends our text.
Sarah, Holly, Jessica, Benjamin, Karissa, Phlayne, and Brian, family and friends, if there is any doubt as to whether or not sin is alive and well in this world, we can answer that question today. We are here today because our beloved brother in Christ has died. Sin is definitely alive and well because St. Paul declares, “the wages of sin is death.” That’s why we are here, because once again, God’s creation has fallen prey to sin and death.
Lest we dwell too much on the negative, there is a great positive here. St. Paul, in writing to the Romans, speaks of great hope for us here today. Following the Epistle text from earlier, the words just prior to this text, Paul speaks of the future glory that awaits us. This is no “pie in the sky” glory, something that looks good until you actually receive it. No, this is a glory that is beyond all glory on earth, beyond all that we could ever comprehend. This glory is centered on Jesus Christ and what He has done for Jeff. This glory is centered on Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.
How do we know this? Look at the questions that Paul asks as follow-up: “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 is against you? Satan is 100% against you and has been from the start. He has sought your downfall from nearly the beginning of time. He is the source of sin and death and revels in its disastrous affects on God’s creation. But there is One who is for you 100%. It is God, your Heavenly Father. From the moment sin and death were introduced into creation, God made the promise of salvation. The promise is Jesus Christ. The promise is that through His sinless life, He would keep all of God’s Law perfectly in your place because you cannot keep it. The promise is that through the death of Christ, you are given life because Christ dies your intended death. The promise is that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all believers in Him will have eternal life.
By God’s grace and not his own, Jeff believed this. Given faith by the Holy Spirit, this was the conviction that Jeff held to all the days of his life. He knew that because God offered His only-begotten Son upon the cross for his sins, he would have eternal life. What a conviction to have! It was out of that conviction that he made sure that you, his children, were raised in the faith, that you too would be assured of the forgiveness and eternal life that God offers through Jesus Christ.
With all that being said, he could have easily laid that conviction aside. Surely there were times in his life that he could have easily said, “To hell with it all.” Every Christian faces those events in your lives where we are assailed by Satan to the point where we could lose all hope in Christ. When his son Joshua died, he could have given up all hope, yet he remained steadfast in his faith. No parent is meant to bury their child, and yet he had to. Through the difficult days, he looked to Christ for his comfort. Eleven months later, he buried his father. While that is more natural, where did Jeff find his comfort? Again, he found it in Christ. When diagnosed with cancer, where did Jeff find his comfort? It was found in Christ. The words of Paul rang ever true for him: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Whatever tribulation or distress Jeff faced in this life, he knew that there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, that could ever separate him from Christ. He knew that his comfort would be found in Christ because of Christ’s very words: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on human nature so that He could live the human experience. He grew up like any boy. He became a man. He lived a complete human life and then He experienced a human death. Jesus not only experienced a physical death, but He also experienced eternal death, eternal punishment. He experienced that death so that we don’t have to. By living a human life and dying a human death, He took our place. He rescued us from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. Then, because He was sinless, death could not hold Him and He rose from the dead.
Jesus Christ has gone before us from life to death and to life again. For the believer in Christ, there is no eternal death but only eternal life. As St. Paul says, “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.” Absolutely nothing will keep the believer from God because Christ has conquered all. Whatever Satan himself throws at the believer, Christ is stronger and keeps us connected to him unto life everlasting.
Jeff belonged to the Lord and now rests with the Lord. He is now enjoying the joy of being in the presence of his heavenly Father and with Christ, his Redeemer. One day, we too will be called by Christ to return to him. On that day, it will be a glorious day. As Jeff was fond of saying, it will be a win-win. Today, we rejoice that for Jeff, it is a win-win. He is free from all sickness and disease. He is at rest and free from the sin that separates us from God. However, for us this side of heaven, we are still here. We remain in a sinful and fallen world and now without a son, husband, father, grandfather and brother. We weep as did Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. As we mourn, we mourn with the hope of the resurrection. We look forward to the Last Day where all who have fallen asleep in Christ will be raised and receive eternal life. Jeff has received the crown of eternal life because of Christ and now rests from his labors. Because of Christ, we are assured that we too will wear the crown of eternal life because we have been joined with Christ forever, for nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.