More Than Conquerors
October 24th, 1954 @ 7:30 PM
MORE THAN CONQUERORS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-24-54 7:30 p.m.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans – this is several Sundays that we’ve been in this eighth chapter. When we begin the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh chapters, we’re really going over our heads. We’re going to get drowned in the unfathomable wisdom and riches and choices of Almighty God. This’ll be the last message on the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans. This morning we stopped at the twenty-eighth verse. So tonight we have the rest of the chapter, and now your pastor reads it. And we start at the twenty-eighth because it was on account of the twenty-eighth verse that he said the rest:
We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
For – this is where we pick up tonight – for whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, "For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Nay! Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And that finishes that section of the Book of Romans. The ninth, tenth, and eleventh have to do with the problems of the Jew, Israel’s unbelief. And the twelfth chapter to the end is one of practical appeal and exhortation. I’ve chosen a name for the sermon tonight out of this passage: More than Conquerors. "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" [Romans 8:37].
The people to whom Paul used that word, to whom he wrote it, were accustomed to the use of that word – the conqueror, the triumphant warrior – for the letter is addressed to the capital city of the Roman Empire. I suppose no capital city in all the history of the world ever had the place of dominant influence that Rome had in the centuries of the Roman Empire.
A tremendous city, a city built by military prowess: the whole thing was largely the result of military achievement. The Roman legions had gone out to the south into Africa; and to the east in the Levant; and to the west into Spain; and to north into Gaul, and the Belgae, and the Germans, even up into the British Isles. And wherever the Roman legionnaire went, somehow God in heaven prospered his feat of arms. He was a conqueror. I would suppose that there was no nation in the world that ever had the succession of military geniuses such as led Rome from one tremendous victory to another. Not one leader, not two, but a century, and a succession of centuries of them – tremendous military strategists, generals, commanders. Now Rome came to be an accumulation of all of the prey of the wealth of the pillage of the entire world; and as they brought back the spoil – trainloads of it, wagonloads of it, carloads of it, vast streets full of it – as they brought it back, they usually accorded to the triumphant general a Roman triumph.
Do you remember the death of Cleopatra? When Octavius Caesar, who later became Augustus Caesar, when Augustus Caesar won Egypt – conquered Egypt, added Egypt to the Roman Empire – the queen of Egypt was Cleopatra. And rather than grace the triumph of Octavius Caesar when he would bring her back to Rome and publicly display her in a triumphal chariot through the streets of the city, rather than endure the shame and the disgrace of a Roman triumph – she had been experimenting with poisons for many, many years on her slaves and learned that the finest way to die without any convulsion, or hurt, or pain was to sustain the bite of an asp – so when she lost her kingdom and became a subject of Octavius Caesar and saw that she was to grace his triumph in Rome, why she opened her bosom to the bite of the little slender, tenuous snake and so died. That’s why she took her life.
All of those great generals, when they came back, went through the Eternal City in a triumphal chariot; and the city echoed to the shouting and the cheers of the people as the soldiers marched by and the legionnaires stood in front of the plaudits of the whole populace and the triumphal car bearing the general was filled with flowers as the people pitched them out as he went through the streets of the city.
When you go to Rome, you will see several of those great arches. One of them will be to Titus, and it commemorates the destruction of the Jewish nation. When you walk through the Arch of Titus, on the frescos to the left there as you go through is the picture of the spoil of the temple at Jerusalem. That’s the only picture you’ll find in the world of the seven-branched candle stand – candlestick, lampstand – and of the table of shewbread and of the Jewish captives. All of that is in marble on the left.
And on the right as you walk through that Arch of Titus, there in the marble, the sculptor drew a marvelous scene. There is Titus, in his chariot, holding the reigns of his steeds. Right back of him is a woman dressed in the beautiful flowing robes of the Roman patrician, and she is holding a wreath over his head. And then back of Titus are his triumphant legionnaires, and so he is riding through the city of Rome.
They were accustomed to a triumph, to a victory, to the conqueror; and Paul uses one of those words. "Nay, in all these things we are hupernikao." Nike – that would be the Greek word for "victory." "We are hupernikao," or the Latin translation of it would be super vinco. "Nay, in all of these things we are super vinco, hupernikao. All these things we are surpassingly victorious; we are abundantly, gloriously, triumphant through Him that loved us" [Romans 8:37].
Now, just for a moment, these things: We Are More Than Conquerors. To be less than a conqueror is to be a prisoner. It’s to be defeated; it’s to be chained to the chariot wheel of Satan. Barely to conquer is not really to achieve – any little turn of fortune would have changed the tide – to win by a hair’s breadth, to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat, just barely to do it! In this season of the year when we’re playing football, to win a game thirty-five to thirty-four, why any little old thing could have changed it. The back could have stumbled. The line could have wavered. The wind could have blown a little harder, or the ball could have bounced in another direction – any little old thing. Just barely to win. That’s not what it is, Paul says, with the child of God and the Christian. In these things, we are abundantly triumphant. We win gloriously!
Why the score, if you were playing football, the score would be two hundred ninety to nothing! That’s how we win; that’s how we win! Or if you’re playing baseball, the score would be sixty to nothing after the first inning. Yes, sir! Yes, sir! Or if you were running a horse race – not for money, but if you were running a horse race, even if you were running a horse race, our horse is clear around the track before the others have got out of the pens. That’s what it is; it’s to win. It’s a triumph! It’s to conquer gloriously! No doubt about it, that’s what Paul says about us. Well, now the reason he says that about us is this passage that I read. He doesn’t say that and not substantiate it. He said that as a conclusion, and he has three things in this passage upon which he bases that tremendous persuasion.
The first is this: We’re going to win; we’re going to triumph. We’re going to do it gloriously, marvelously, surpassingly! We’re going to do it. Why? First, because there’s not anything, there’s not anything – neither death nor life; nor angels, the powers up there; nor principalities, the powers down here; nor the things that are now; nor the things that could ever come; nor things up yonder; nor things way down deep; nor any other created thing of God – shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:38-39].
"Brother," Jesus says, Paul says, "God is for you! God is for you!" And there’s not anything – there’s not anything that can come between you and God; not anything, not anything. Lots of things can try. Lots of things can attempt it. Many things can enter, but they can’t enter in between. A man that belongs to God and a man to whom God belongs, there is a knitting, a welding, an iron chain of forged steel, a cable that not anything can break. That’s his first reason.
Could I just add this word before I go to the next one? In no uncertain terms, I’d like to say tonight you’re not to be afraid of these things. So many times we speak of the holding of God, and the keeping of God, and the predestination of God, and the election of God; we kind of speak of it apologetically, in a whisper, as though now we mustn’t mention that. We mustn’t mention that. Oh, brother, my friend in Christ, the Bible’s not that way! In no uncertain terms it sounds out this thing of God, this thing of the choice of God, and the election of God, and the keeping of God. The Bible rings that note. It sounds it out in a trumpet! It’s the Christian’s assurance! It’s God that’s got us; and it’s God that keeps us; and it’s God that will present us against that final and ultimate day.
In the tenth chapter now – to say what I was going to say – in the tenth chapter of the Book of John, all of us who love this Bible, all of us read those blessed words. The Lord said: "My sheep, My sheep who belong to Me. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and I call them by name" [John 10:3, 27]. You’re not just digit so and so like a convict with a number underneath you – not to God! "I call My sheep by name." He knows you! He’s got your name, your name! He calls you by name.
And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone pluck them out of My hand.
My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.
And I and My Father are one.
More than conquerors. Because of the love of God in Christ Jesus, nothing can separate us, come in between.
His second word here: why are we more than conquerors? Why do we just out-distance the whole field? Because of Christ who is at the right hand of God who also "maketh intercession for us!" [Romans 8:26-27] We have an advocate like a man who turns his case over to the best, the most brilliant, the most capable, the most able lawyer that ever lived, and truth is on his side. When a great, able, eloquent, learned, scholarly lawyer stands before the bar, and in his soul and in his heart there’s great burning conviction, "This thing that I plead for is right and of God," you can’t bound or overcome a man like that. The very walls speak for him; the very sky that overarches him pulls for him; the very heart of the men who listen to him are for him; his inner conscience. God’s whole created world fights for that man.
You have an advocate; you have an intercessor; you have a friend, and He’s at the right hand of God [1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34]. Somehow, in the gracious providence of the Almighty, the Lord is disposed. He is gracious. He is disposed to condescend to listen to an intercessor. That’s one of the things about God. It’s just a part of the nature of God; it’s a part of the character of God. He is disposed to listen to an intercessor, to a pleader [2 Chronicles 20:9; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 5:14-16]. When Moses interceded for his people Israel, God listened to him and spared Israel [Exodus 32:1-35; Deuteronomy 9:9-10:5]. When David interceded in behalf of his people, God listened and saved the people [2 Samuel 24:1-25; 1 Chronicles 21:1-30]. When Job interceded in behalf of his friends, God listened and saved his friends [Job 42:7-9].
If the Lord God Almighty is inclined and disposed to listen to the intercession of a man – a mortal man, how much more does the Lord God Almighty, the Father, listen when Jesus says, "But he’s My child. He’s My son. He’s been redeemed by My blood; he’s been justified by faith. He’s fled for refuge to Me!" What do you think when Jesus pleads your cause? In heaven, remembered in glory, at the right hand of God you have "an Advocate who maketh intercession" [Romans 8:34]. That’s the reason the Book of Hebrews, Hebrews 7:25, says that "He is able to save to the uttermost," to the uttermost, "them who by faith in God come to Him, because He ever liveth to make intercession for us."
Now the third, and, brother, this is something: We are more than conquerors, I said, because nothing can separate us from the love of God [Romans 8:37-39]. We are more than conquerors because, Paul says, at the right hand of God stands an advocate who pleads for us and who takes our case [Romans 8:34].
All right, now the third one: We are more than conquerors, Paul says, because we are the eternally predestinated, the eternally chosen, the eternally elect of God Almighty. That’s the reason we cannot fail. We cannot fail. We cannot be lost. If we were, God’s Word and God’s promise would fall to the ground!
For whom He did foreknow, He did predestinate . . . and whom He did predestinate, them He called; and whom He called, them He justified;
and those whom He justified, He glorified.
Just a little part of it now, but finally, some day, all together.
"Yeah, but Preacher, I don’t believe that." Well, I can’t explain it, and I don’t understand it, but God’s Book says it; and thank God for it whether I understand it or not.
What is election? Election is this. I’m going to do it in the Bible; then I’m going to say it in my words: “Whom He did foreknow,” the Lord God, looking down through the avenue of the years to the end of time, saw us, and our fathers, and our children; the generations, “Whom He did foreknow.” God seeing it through the endless ages and the centuries, “Whom He did foreknow, them He did predestinate, And whom He did predestinate,” them, in their time and day, “He called.”
I felt that call. Didn’t you in your day and time? Didn’t you? Something down in your soul, in your heart, didn’t you? Like that old story of a mallard when those wild geese came over. Those native, those indigenous, those tame, those domesticated ducks – they just waddle around in a barnyard. But when those ducks went over flying north and began to call, that wild mallard who’d been caught and staked out, he looked up, and he tried to fly. That stake pulled him back, but there was something in his soul that heard the call of the mallard and of the wild.
That’s it! You felt it in your life. There was a day when that thing pounded into your soul, "Whom He foreknew, them He predestinated, and those whom He predestinated, He called, and whom He called, He justified."
What does the word "justification" mean? That’s a legal term, and it means you are declared righteous. God treats you as though you are righteous. You are not righteous. Justification means you are treated, you are dealt with, you are accepted as though you are righteous. Not that you are – none of us is. But God looks upon you and treats you in His Son as though you were righteous. "And those whom He called, He justified." He declared them righteous through the blood of Christ. "And those whom He justified, He also glorified." That means our immortal, glorified bodies, some of these days, as well as our regenerated and changed spirits.
Now, I said I was going to say that in my words. This is my word. What is election? Election is this: in view of the foreknowledge of God, in view of the foreknowledge of God, what God sees and what God knows – God writes in His Book of Life the names of those, the names of those, who are destined to eternal life [ Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 20:12-15]. He writes them in His Book! And all of the devils in hell, and all of the powers in the sky, and all the principalities in the earth, and Satan and his angels, and all God’s creation can’t undo, and take out, and blot out that name that God has written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The only thing you’ve got to do is what [Peter] said, "Make your election and calling sure" [2 Peter 1:10]. That’s all. "Lord, is my name there? Is it there? Lord, is my name written there?" Election: the choice of God, in the foreknowledge of the Almighty, looking down through the centuries. In view of that foreknowledge, He writes in His Book the names of those who are going to be saved; and you can’t be lost; and you can’t be lost! God won’t let you be. Isn’t that a good feeling? Man a-living! When the devil’s after you, and he’s got you; when all of the things that can happen in this world and may and do, you don’t need to be afraid [John 14:27, 16:33]. You don’t need to tremble because the Lord says, "I will see you through. I will keep you. I have given unto you eternal life, and you cannot perish" [John 10:27-31].
Well, look what Paul says here: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who will do it?" [Romans 8:33]. And when he says that, he sweeps all heaven and all of earth. "Who in heaven will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?" Then he sweeps all hell, "Who in hell will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?" Who? Then He sweeps all earth: "Who in earth will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who?" Who’s going to stand up and face Almighty God and condemn and lay to our charge? Who’s going to do it?
"It is God that justifieth!" It is God that declares us righteous! It is God! "Who is he that condemneth?" [Romans 8:34]. Who shall say anything to God? If God be for us, who’s going to stand up and say anything to God? [Romans 8:31]
Aren’t you glad He’s on your side? Ah, what if God were against us? What if the Lord Jesus were against us? What if the Book were against us? What if the testimony and the courts of heaven were against us? What? Aren’t you glad He’s on your side pleading for you? Aren’t you glad you’re in His family, an adopted son in the household of faith; that God is for you? [Romans 8:14-17] That you felt that call in your soul and you belong to Him; aren’t you glad?
Now, I want to say a word about election, and then I have to quit – can’t stay here all night. I want to say a word about the elective purposes of God. I’m a voice. I don’t make up this. I’m just somebody preaching. I don’t make it up. I just read in the Book. I’m an echo; that’s all – just saying to you what’s in the Book. That Book there is a record of the elective purposes of God. He chooses Seth [Genesis 4:25-26, 5:1-8]; He chooses Abraham [Genesis 17]; He chooses Esau? No. He could have, but He said, "I choose Jacob! I choose Israel" [Genesis 25:21-23; Romans 9:10-16]. He chooses Israel [Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Acts 13:16-19]. He chooses Judah [ Micah 5:2; Hebrews 7:14]. He chooses David [1 Samuel 16:11-12; 2 Samuel 6:21]. He chooses Mary [Luke 1:26-38] and gives her to Joseph that she might have somebody to protect her and care for her [Matthew 1:18-25]. He chooses Simon Peter [Luke 6:12-14; Matthew 16:15-19]. He chooses Judas Iscariot [Matthew 10:1-4; John 6:70-71]. He chooses the apostle Paul [Acts 22:13-15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-10]. God chooses; and the record of that choice, and the development, and the outreach of it, and the denouement of it, and the meaning of it is in this Book. That’s what it is.
And the Lord says, "And thus it shall be!" And sometimes He’ll say: "And thus it shall be a thousand years hence" [2 Peter 3:8-9]. But He said it, and shall He not do it? And He commanded it, and shall it not come to pass? And it does come to pass; God said it! [Numbers 23:19]. He’ll say it a thousand years ahead, and it comes; and it always comes [Psalm 90:4; Isaiah 46:9-10]. This is a record of the elected choice of God. It’s His world, and He runs it.
All right. Let’s take one thing out of the whole Bible, going to take one thing: the Lord God said to Abraham, "Abraham, thy seed, thy children shall inherit this land. To thy seed and to thy seed’s seed, to thy children and to thy children’s children shall it be given, this land" [Genesis 12:4-7]. And where are his seed, and where are his children? They are in the land of Egypt, and they’re slaves. They are slaves. They’re chattel property in the land of Egypt – Abraham’s children! But God said, "They shall inherit the land. They shall possess the land."
And upon a day in the determination of Almighty God, upon a day the Lord said to Pharaoh, "And let my people go!" [Exodus 5:1]
And Pharaoh said, "Not so!" [Exodus 5:2]
But God said, "Let my people go!" [Exodus 8:1]
And Israel marched out of the land of Goshen with a high hand [Exodus 12:33-41]. And they came to the Red Sea: and in front of them was the sea and back of them was the flood [Exodus 14:1-9]. But God had determined the seed of Abraham should inherit the land, and the sea could not refuse to divide, nor could Pharaoh save himself. And they marched through, triumphantly [Exodus 14:13-22], and Pharaoh perished in the waters [Exodus 14:23-30].
And now they’re in the wilderness. They will famish in the wilderness; they will starve in the wilderness! Not so. No, sir! Manna falls from God out of heaven to feed them [Exodus 16:2-35]. God said they shall inherit the land, the seed of Abraham. But they will die of thirst, the hot sun will burn and scorch them. No, not so! A rock follows them, and out of that rock comes the living stream of crystal water [Exodus 17:1-7]. Yeah, but in that terrible land, serpents shall bite them. Nay! In the midst of the camp, a brazen serpent is raised and whosoever looks shall live and is healed [Numbers 21:5-9]. And in that terrible wilderness, in that terrible wilderness, the Amalekites shall attack them and destroy them. No, not so! For Moses’ hand shall be held up on one side by Aaron and on the other side by Hur, and Joshua shall prevail [Exodus 17:8-13]. And in that terrible land, Sihon, the king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of Bashan, shall seek to destroy them. Not so! But God shall deliver into their hands Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and of Bashan [Numbers 21:21-35].
And they come to the Jordan River and it’s in a flood, and they have to stay. Not so, for God said, "They shall inherit the land." And the flood is piled up from its source, and the waters rise and rise like a wall, and the flood assuages as it runs its course below; and the great army of the Lord marches through following the priests with the Ark of the Covenant [Joshua 3:14-17].
You have the story of the conquest of the land [Joshua 5:13-12:24]. God said it, and God determined it; and it came to pass just as God said.
And the ninth, and the tenth, and the eleventh chapters of the Book of Romans says that the Jew is going back to Palestine – that he’s going to inherit the land promised to Abraham, his father. And in that land, the Lord Jesus shall set up a kingdom, and He shall rule in this new heaven and this new earth. God said it. It is determined in the courts of glory, and God shall bring it to pass.
"Preacher, how does that affect me?" Every way, every way.
When I feel the call of God in my soul, "Lord, here I am. Here I am. O, Lord, help me to say yes. Help me, Lord, to respond. O, God, from my sight" – not from His sight, He sees the end from the beginning, but – "from my sight. O, Lord God, put me, put me in that celestial number. O, God, from my sight, because I don’t know; from my sight, because I’m finite; from my sight, Lord. O, God, have mercy upon me. Write my name, Lord, in that Book."
"How does it affect me?" This other way: "Lord, if You’re for me, and if You’ve called me, and if You’ve chosen me, then Lord, I’ll not be afraid. I’ll make it, Lord, by Your help and by Your power. I’ll make it. I’ll be there. When the roll is called, my name; when the great rendezvous in glory is gathered, I’ll be in the number. And not anything is going to get me. Nothing. It can’t." God won’t allow it. He’s got us, and He holds us, and He keeps us. My salvation doesn’t depend upon me; it depends upon God [John 6:39-40, Jude 1:24-25]. I just leave it in His care. I’m just trusting Him. I’m just looking to Him. "O, God, that calls, and chooses, and saves, and keeps, and justifies, and glorifies. O, God, into Thy caring keeping do I commit my soul and my life and my destiny in the forever that is to come."
And then you rest, not in you or your strength, but you rest in Jesus, in the promise of God. He said it; I believe it; and that settles it. Hallelujah! Glory to His name! Praise Him forever. God blessed world without end. All praise to His glory, to His infinite goodness to you and to me.
Now, we’re going to sing our song. While we sing the song, if the Lord says to you, "This is your night. I’m calling you," will you answer, "Then here I am, Lord, and here I come?"
Have you already given your heart and your life to God? Have you already trusted Him as your Savior? Have you followed Him in baptism? Then into the fellowship of this blessed and precious church, would you come? Would you come? As God shall say the word and make the appeal, on a confession of faith, by baptism, by letter, by statement, by promise of letter; a family, or just one somebody, would you come? "Here I am, Preacher. Here I come." Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?