More Than Conquerors
Romans 8:35-37: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. "
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
Paul is assuring us of God's love, and so he reminds us of God's predestinating us, calling us,
justifying us, and glorifying us.
And in doing so, He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us.
This entire passage proclaims its triumphant message on the ground of what God and Christ
have done for us.
Many of these things that Paul is about to mention might cause those who are not really God's children
to alienate themselves from us and from God.
These are people who are "good weather friends" who will always desert us when the trials
and tribulations come.
But none of these terrible things that Paul is about to mention will ever separate us from the love of God.
We can win the battles, and we can bear up under our loads, and we can refuse to be overcome
by our our sorrows.
We can victorious.
We will have our struggles.
Life is not easy; and if it is, we are not doing to much with it.
A useful, productive life is never easy.
It must be lived in the face of opposition.
Paul constantly pictured life as a battle.
We are soldiers with many enemies to fight.
The enemies are strong.
The enemies are not flesh and blood.
They are evil angels, spiritual foes, and wicked spirits.
They are invisible.
They lurk in the darkness.
They ambush us.
The battle is great.
And the battle will never end until we overcome the last enemy and pass through the gates of heaven.
Every life has its cares, its duties, and its responsibilities.
We will have our times of sickness and sorrows, and we will have our pains and losses.
We will encounter a thousand things which will make it difficult to live victoriously.
But every Christian can overcome all these trials and tribulations.
"In all these things we are more than conquerors."
Paul was more than a conqueror.
His life was one struggle after another.
It was never easy for him.
Paul was beaten with rods. He was stoned. He was shipwrecked.
He was in perils of robbers, in perils in the wilderness, in the sea, among false brethren,
in cold and nakedness.
He spent years in prison.
But in all these things he was "more than a conqueror."
In our Scripture passage Paul names seven ways that trials and troubles come.
Two of them relate to the troubles that are common to man, and five of them relate to those that
are more peculiar to the children of God.
Tribulation and distress
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."
God's children are not free from distress and sickness, or poverty, or loss of friends.
Jesus said to them: "In the world ye shall have tribulation."
A time of tribulation is a time of danger.
Paul gives us a summary of the evils with which we must fight, and he places tribulation first.
The word, "tribulation", in the Latin, signifies, "threshing".
God's people are often cast upon the threshing floor to be beaten.
Someone has said that "they are more than conquerors since they lose nothing
but their straw and chaff, and the pure wheat is thus separated from that which was
of no benefit to it."
The original Greek word suggests pressure from without.
It is used in the case of those who were bearing heavy burdens, and were heavily pressed upon.
Believers have had to contend with outward circumstances in all ages.
Next, Paul mentions distress.
The Greek word for distress refers to mental grief.
Straitness of place" is something similar to the Greek word for distress.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a position in which we feel as if we cannot not move,
and are not able to turn one way or another.
We are blocked!
We see no way of deliverance and we are acutely aware of our helplessness and perplexity.
Do you ever get to the place where your mind is so confused that you didn't know what to do?
You weren't able to calm yourself or to steady yourself.
You would, if you could, but you are unable to do so.
A Christian will be able to overcome.
You will be more than a conqueror over mental distress.
You will take that distress to your Lord and leave it there.
You will be able to overcome outward tribulations and inward distress through the power
of the Lord Jesus.
Persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword are weapons which Satan uses against God's children.
The history of the Church in all ages has been a history of persecution.
G. W. Bromily in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. III wrote:
"Persecution is the suffering or pressure, mental, moral, or physical, which authorities,
individuals, or crowds inflict on others, especially for opinions or beliefs, with a view to their subjection
by recantation, silencing, or, as a last resort, execution."
Persecutions under Nero were some of the worst in early Church history.
Nero would hang as many as fifty Christians at a time on tall posts, and then set them on fire
and they became torches to illuminate the great feasts which he held in his gardens.
Eventually, the persecutions became so great under the reign of Nero that it became the hope
of many Christians to die a quick death by beheading;
There were much worse persecutions under the emperor Domitian who reigned from A.D. 81-96.
Tacitus, the early Roman historian writes of Christian martyrs that "their deaths were made farcical.
Dressed in wild animal skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches
to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight."
Under Domitian some would be tied up in a sack with snakes and thrown into the sea.
Others were tied to huge stones and cast into a river.
Some were beaten with rods until their bowels gushed out, while vinegar and salt were rubbed
into their wounds.
Other Christians were tied to catapults, and their arms and legs were ripped from their bodies.
Some were thrown to the beasts.
Women were stripped and then, enclosed in nets, and exposed to the attacks of furious bulls.
Many were made to lie on sharp shells, and tortured with scrapers, claws, and pincers,
before being delivered to the mercy of the flames.
Others were torn into pieces by wild horses.
Some had their feet slowly burned away while cold water was being poured over them
so the victims would not die too quickly.
Others had melted lead poured down their backs.
A few received clemency from the emperor and suffered with the searing out of their eyes,
or the tearing off of their legs.
For many Christians, there was not only the physical pain to be suffered, but also the emotional pain
of watching loved ones put to a horrible death; and all because they would not deny
their Lord Jesus Christ.
Many would say that times have changed, and that there is more toleration now.
Christ has not changed, and Satan has not changed, and Satan will use the same weapons on us
that he has used on God's people down through the ages.
Our world is becoming more pagan, and the day might come in our country when Christians
are again persecuted.
"In all these things we are more than conquerors."
We are conquers even while the battle is raging.
In many of our battles we do not know how the victory will come, but it will.
In our battle with the world, Satan, and the flesh, we know the victory is already won.
Christ will defend us from the power of sin by his Holy Spirit, who lives within us.
The greater the battle, the closer He will draw us to Himself, and we can say,
"I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" for we know that we shall overcome.
When Paul and Silas sang in the jail at midnight, they were more than conquerors.
When Paul, in spite of his thorn in the flesh, could exclaim: "I will glory in my infirmities,"
he was more than a conqueror.
We gain by our conflict.
A victory can be a loss.
Rather than complain about our tribulations, we can thank God for them in expectation
and confidence of better things to come. (Romans 8:28)
When we are confronted with any problem, we should immediately seek God's purpose.
Something good will surely come from something bad, if we let God work His will in us.
In 1882 a bright little girl, 19 months of age, contacted a high fever which left her blind and deaf.
Helen Keller would never hear the beautiful sounds of birds singing in the trees.
She would never see the beautiful flowers blooming in a garden.
Can you imagine how would you respond to such a dismal and discouraging future
if it happened to you.
Helen retreated into her own world of darkness and isolation.
Her only expressions toward others were outbursts of rage and anger.
She refused to cooperate with anyone in any way.
But then, God sent Ann Sullivan to help that pitiful, problem child, called Helen Keller.
Miss Annie understood Helen, for she herself had grown up blind until an operation gave her sight
at the age of 16.
Slowly, the new teacher began to reach Helen offering hope while she also demanded discipline.
After many long years of agonizing and patient work, Helen learned to read, talk, write and demonstrate
that with God all things are possible.
They became a famous team, bringing encouragement to handicapped people all over the world.
Helen Keller's life was so inspiring that she received invitations from the White House down through
Miss Keller personally visited every American President from her teenage years until 1968
when she died at age 88.
No other person in American history comes close to duplicating that outstanding achievement.
Helen Keller would regularly say to her teacher:
" Miss Annie, I think God every day of my life for sending you to me."
Concerning her affliction, she explained: " The marvelous richness of human experience would lose
something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome."
Did you hear that -- did you really hear that?
She viewed her own trouble or tribulation as " limitations to overcome " and " something of rewarding joy."
With God's help she learned that in a world of many tribulations, one can still " be of good cheer."
She knew how to rejoice in all things.
Paul tells us how the saints have suffered "all these things".
He does not say in some of these things we are conquerors, but in all these things.
Many Believers have fought through outward need, inward trial, persecution, nothing to eat
and nothing to wear, and other trials of life, and have even laid down their life itself,
and yet, in every situation they "were more than conquerors".
Most of us will not be called upon to face peril, or nakedness, or sword.
But if we were, God would give us the courage and strength to bear the test!
Many of us will be faced with the sneers and hypocrisy of the world.
I believe that the Christian Church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft times
than she would in rough times!
Christians, we must be vigilant in these days.
We must do this now more than ever so that we may be able to say, in the good days as well
as in the days that "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Many believers have been conquerors, but the text calls them "more than conquerors."
Those words in the original are one of the Apostle Paul's strong expressions.
It might be rendered, "more exceedingly conquerors."
The Vulgate says it as, "over over-comers," over and above conquering.
For a Christian to be a conqueror is a great thing, but how can we be more than a conqueror?
We see the conquering Christian coming in from the fight, and he has won the victory!
Look at him!
He has overcome human wisdom, but when you look at him, you see someone who has
no learning or cunning.
He is a simple, unlettered person who knows that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.
Yet, he has won the victory over profound philosophers then it is that he is more than a conqueror!
He has been tempted and tried in all kind of ways, and he was not a clever person.
He was very weak, yet somehow, he has conquered.
Being more than a conqueror is when weakness overcomes strength and when brute force is
defeated by gentleness and love!
Victory comes when the little things overcome the great things!
Victory comes when the base things of this world overthrow the mighty, and the things
that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are!
This is when we are more than conquerors.
The Christian may be viewed by the world as being as weak .
The world sees the Christian as someone to be trampled upon for he will not resist.
But God sees that Christian with his gentleness and patience as more than a conqueror!
The Christian is more than a conqueror because he goes to battle with an unselfish motive.
The Christian suffers for the right and does not suffers for the prospect of earthly gain.
He becomes more than a conqueror by the strength with which he fights and the motives
by which he is sustained.
The Christians faith grows stronger when it is tried!
His patience becomes more patient when it is tempted!
The Christian grows stronger by all that he is made to suffer.
The disciples conquered through Christ.
Christ showed them how to conquer by personally enduring suffering and conquering as their Example.
They triumphed through Christ as their Teacher, for His doctrines strengthened their minds,
and made them strong for He made them partakers of the Divine Nature.
Christians of the early days of the church conquered because Christ was actually with them!
His body was in Heaven, for He has risen, but His Spirit was with them.
We learn from the history of the saints that Christ has a way of infusing supernatural strength
into the weakest of the weak.
When the Holy Spirit comes into contact with our poor, wavering, feeble spirits, He empowers us
to do things which are absolutely impossible for us to do in our own strength and knowledge.
As Christians we must take a good look at ourselves and ask what can we do?
The truth is that we can do nothing!
Jesus said: "Without Me, you can do nothing."
But through Christ we can be "more than conquerors."
This is the great secret of our victory, and the source of our triumph.
This is how a weak, timid believer is "more than a conqueror" over all his foes.
And we can sing: "Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jews Christ."
It is by the victory that Jesus has won, and through the grace which He imparts.
It is through the strength which He inspires, and through the intercession which He provides.
In all our "tribulation, and distress, and persecution, and famine, and nakedness, and peril,
and sword; we are more than conquerors."
Some years ago Amy Carmichael wrote:
"Sometimes when we read the words of those who have been more than conquerors,
we feel almost despondent.
I feel that I shall never be like that.
But they won through step by step by little bits of wills, little denials of self,
little inward victories by faithfulness in very little things.
They became what they are.
No one sees these little hidden steps.
They only see the accomplishment, but even so, those small steps were taken.
There is no sudden triumph no spiritual maturity.
That is the work of the moment."
More Than A Conqueror
"More than a conqueror through the mighty God,
More than a conqueror by the cleansing blood;
Kept by a pow'r divine, walking in the light,
More than a conqueror, reigning day and night.
More than a conqueror by the living Lord,
More than a conqueror, standing on His Word;
Mine is the victory, happy on the way,
More than a conqueror till my dying day.
More than a conqueror in the battle din,
More than a conqueror over every sin;
Ready to meet the Lord at the trumpet call,
More than a conqueror, victor over all.
More than a conqueror while I live below,
More than a conqueror over every foe;
And by the grace of God ever shall I be
More than a conqueror through eternity."
--- Lyrics by Daniel O. Teasley, 1906
Sermon prepared by Dr. Harold L. White