28 February 1957, at Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
I expect that you remember that on
one occasion when our Lord Jesus was here on the earth, He was
standing by the sea shore and the multitude pressed so much upon
Him that He got into a boat and pushed out a little way from the
shore and began to teach the multitude. And when He had finished
speaking, He said to the owner of the boat, "Launch out into the
deep and let down your nets." Peter, who was the owner of the
boat, said "Lord, we have toiled all night and have caught
nothing, but at Thy word, I will let down the net." And then
they were not able to bring the net in because of the multitude
Now, I am not going to talk to you
about that this afternoon, but I just want to say that we are
going to do some fishing in deep waters and I hope that we shall
bring something back. Our deep waters are in the eighth chapter
of the letter to the Romans. We read from verse 28:
"And 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 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 any
thing 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, 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
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I am sure that you will all agree
that those are very deep waters and that there is a great
multitude of fish in those waters! I am only hoping that we
shall be able to bring some of them out this afternoon.
We are going to take verse 31,
"What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who
can be against us?" The disciple is saying some very great
things. That is what he means by "these things". "What shall we
say to these things?" and we are just going to look at "these
things". They are all gathered up into this question: "If God be
for us, who shall be against us?"
I am going to ask one question and
try to answer it. How is God for us? You see what the apostle
has been saying; explaining how God is for us.
God chose you in Christ before the world was.
First of all, he takes us right
back before the creation of the world, before ever you and I had
a being here in this world, and he tells us that God was for us
then. He teaches us that God knew us before ever this world was.
God knew us before we had a being in this world and because He
knew us, He chose us. In the beginning of his letter to the
Ephesians the Apostle Paul said, "We were chosen in Christ
before the foundation of the world." Well, these waters are so
deep that we really cannot understand them, but there is one way
of explaining that.
You see, God does not live in
time. There is no such thing as "time" with God, there is no
past, and present, and future with God, God lives outside of
time and all time is present time with God. That may be a
difficult thing for you to understand, but it is not so very
difficult. I wonder if ever you have had an anaesthetic? I
remember some years ago, I had to have a little operation and
they gave me what they called "gas" and I went right away, I
went on a tremendous journey. In my unconsciousness I went a
long, long way. I knew the country I went to and in this car I
took this long journey, seeing everything for mile after mile,
and to have actually done that, would have taken me hours. But
suddenly I woke up and I said, "How long have I been asleep?"
"Oh, about fifteen seconds!" All that had taken place in fifteen
seconds – a thing that would have taken me hours if it had
actually happened to me. Well, I had got right outside of time,
it had ceased to be a governing factor in my life so that many
hours were all crowded into just fifteen seconds.
That is only a poor illustration,
but what a tremendous lot can happen when you get outside of
time! Five, six, seven thousand years in the future are present
to Him and we who live in time cannot understand that very well.
But before ever this world was created, God knew that we would
be here, and He knew exactly how He would act. He knew that the
Gospel would be preached to us, and He knew what we would do
about it, and because He knew what we would do, He arranges
things accordingly. That is what the Apostle is saying here. God
was for us before ever we had a being. God was for us before
this world was. It is a very great thing to realize that we were
in the mind of God before we ever came into this world and God
decided everything before we came and we have come into
something that God had already prepared.
The Word of God speaks about works
that were afore prepared that we should walk in them. It is a
tremendous thing to realise that God from eternity has been for
us. That is what the Apostle said in the first place. But then
we know what has happened in the course of history. We know what
Adam did, and we know how Adam involved us in his sin, and how
Adam gave away all that great purpose of God. You notice how the
Apostle is speaking here about His purpose: "Those who are the
called according to His purpose." God had a great purpose in His
mind in creating man and He made man for that great purpose. Now,
Adam gave that purpose away and he involved all the race in that
condition, and that means our having lost the purpose of God.
Well, we know the terrible story
of man's sin and man's spiritual loss. It is the dark and tragic
background of this world's history, but that only brings us to
the second way in which God is for us.
came into this world Himself to find you.
God intervened in the history of
this world and God broke right into this world. He came here in
the person of His Son to seek and to save that which had been
lost. God came right in here into this world to recover man for
His purpose. The coming of God's Son was God intervening in the
history of this world to show that He is still for us.
There is this one thing that must
impress us. We so often speak about man seeking God. There is a
great deal of talk about man in search of God; but what we
should realize is that God has always been in search of man. It
is God who has taken the initiative in this matter of seeking,
and God as the great Seeker has come into this world in the
person of His Son. It was God's Son who said, "The Son of Man
has come to seek and to save that which was lost." The real
movement begins from God's side and that is of course the most
We here this afternoon would not
be the Lord's people if it had just been that we were seeking
the Lord. We belong to the Lord because He first sought us. Any
movement of our hearts toward Him was the result of His movement
toward us. He said, "Ye did not choose me but I chose you." John
said, "We love Him because He first loved us." And God therefore
is for us by coming into this world to find us.
has worked out redemption for you.
But then the third thing God
showed is that He is for us not only by seeking us, but by
redeeming us. That word "redemption" brings a picture before our
eyes. It is the picture of the slave market. All the slaves in
the market have been sold into bondage and there comes along
somebody who pays the price for their liberty. That is the
meaning of the word "redemption". It just means to buy back
again. The Word of God says that we were sold under sin, we were
bondsmen to sin, we were the slaves of sin, and Jesus came to
redeem us from all iniquity, to redeem us back to God.
In the book of the Revelation, we
have the great picture of a mighty multitude of those who have
been saved and they are all singing the song of redemption. And
this is what they sing, "Unto Him that loves us and loosed us
from our sins by His own blood". They are speaking about
redemption unto God. They were bought back for God by the blood
of Jesus. God is for us by that great work of redemption. It is
what Paul calls justification, but we are not going to stay with
the full meaning of all these things. We have mentioned three
ways in which God is for us. Now we come to number four.
has called you.
"Whom He justified, He also
called." I like the way in which it is put. The work of
redemption was done for us and then we were called to enjoy it.
"He called us..." God has shown that He is for us by calling us.
Do you want to know that God was
for you before the foundation of the world? Do you want to know
why God came into this world in the person of His Son? Do you
want to know why the great work of redemption was done? Do you
want to know that all those three things relate to you
personally? Do you want to be able to say, "God chose me in
Christ before the world was. God came into this world Himself to
find me. God in the person of His Son has worked out redemption
for me." How can we know that all that is true? The answer is
here in number four: "He has called us."
If you and I have heard the call,
if we have felt the power of His call, if we have responded to
His call, then there is all that other behind the call. That very
call carries with it all that we have just said. The call
includes this tremendous thing; that God is for us.
I suppose most of you here this
afternoon would have said, "I heard the call". You might put it
in this way, but what it amounts to is that God calls you into
the fellowship of His Son and the call carries with it the
tremendous truth that God is for us. Our very salvation shows
that God is for us. Now we take the next step. Number five.
provides for you.
How is God for us? Having called
us by His grace, He has made every provision for us to come to
the realization of His eternal purpose. The Apostle said, "My
God shall supply everything that you need according to His
riches in glory by Jesus Christ." In his letter to the
Colossians, he speaks about all the Divine fullness being in
Christ and then he said, "You are made full in Him." In the
letter to the Ephesians, he puts it this way, "He has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus."
Let us retrace our steps. God had
a great purpose in His heart. He made man for that purpose, but
man lost the purpose, then God came in to recover man for that
purpose. God brought man back again. He redeemed him for His
purpose and then God called man to let him know what He had done
for them. And then God made every provision for man to realise
the Divine purpose. We can
have everything that is necessary to bring us to the realisation
of God's eternal purpose. So God is for us by providing for us.
Now number six.
gives you the power and energy.
God is for us by putting the power
within us to go right on to His purpose. Some of you will
recognize that I am only using Scriptures in my own words. The
Apostle Paul spoke about the power that works in us and
the exceeding greatness of His power which is toward us who
believe. It is God who works in us, and yet again working in us
that which is well pleasing in His sight. We are not left to do
these works. There is the working of Divine energy in us. If we
depart from the way of the Lord, that energy departs from us.
If things become so difficult and
we feel we cannot go on, that energy urges us on. I am quite
sure that some of you here know something about that. How many
times have you been tempted to give up; how many times have you
felt that you could not go on any longer? It may be that you
have come to a time when you said, "I cannot go any further..."
but you have gone on. You have not gone on because you have such
a strong will, it was not because you determined to go on. You
have gone on because you have a greater strength than your own
strength working in you.
Many of us have had experiences
when we have gone down very low, but again and again the Lord
has brought us up and sent us on. I think it was when I was here
last time that I illustrated this. Someone used to say that a
Christian is a piece of cork in the water. If you push the piece
of cork under it always comes up again a little further on. It
is getting further on and further on every time you push it
down. It is a very simple illustration, but it is true in a
Christian's life. Sometimes we seem to be pushed under, but we
come up again and this time we are further on in our Christian
You remember what the Psalmist
described, "Rejoice not against me, my enemy; for though I fall,
yet shall I rise." The Christian always comes up again. If any
of you are under this afternoon, you are going to come up again
because God is for you and God provides that He is for you by
bringing you up every time. The perseverance of the Christian is
the Divine miracle of the Christian life.
And then we come to number seven.
always finishes what He begins.
"He that began a good work in you
shall perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ." That is how we
know that God is for us. If God begins something, He never gives
it up. That is what the Bible shows from beginning to end. God
begins, then things go wrong, but God comes in again, and then
they go wrong again, and then God comes in again. It is like
that all through the Bible. He always finishes what He begins.
The end of the Bible is God's great victory.
So we come to these wonderful
words, let us read them again, read them in the light of what we
have just said. Read them in the light of verse 31, "What shall
we say then to these things? If God is for us, who is against?"
Then we have this: "Who shall separate us from the love of God?
Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things, we are
more than conquerors through Him who loves us." You see what
that said. Love is stronger than tribulation. The Love of God is
stronger than persecution. The Love of God is stronger than
anguish. The Love of God is stronger than famine. It is stronger
than nakedness; it is stronger than peril; it is stronger than
the sword... put that all together and this Love is stronger than all
these things. That is how God is for us.
From eternity to eternity, through
all times, through all troubles, through all sufferings, God is
for us. What shall we say then to these things? If God is for
us, who is against us? Now I only ask you to go right back and
read this chapter again. It is the great chapter of how God is
for us. May we be strengthened by these words and I hope that
you are going home with some fish in your basket.