Jesus came to this world to show us what God is really like. He especially came to reveal the love of God that made a way for us to live with Him forever in heaven. When people saw Jesus, they saw God’s love. And when they gazed upon the cross of Christ, they saw that love poured out to its greatest extent.
“Yes,” someone says. “That was great 2,000 years ago. But Jesus isn’t around today. I cannot fly over to Israel and see Him whenever I feel discouraged. How does Jesus coming in the flesh so long ago help me to believe in the love of God today?”
I think a man by the name of Paul can answer that little question.
Paul never saw Jesus “in the flesh,” either. Yet while he never saw Jesus walking around the villages of Judea or speaking in the temple courts of Jerusalem, he had heard all the apostles’ stories about the amazing love of God as displayed in Jesus’ life. He had experienced that love for himself through God’s Holy Spirit. And he believed so firmly in this divine love—demonstrated by Jesus the Son and rooted in God the Father—that in the eighth chapter of Romans he gave us some of the most precious verses found anywhere in Scripture.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul asks. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution …” (Romans 8:35). He doesn’t mean that we will never have to face those terrible things. Jesus Himself said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). The early church experienced a lot of tribulation. So can that separate you from the love of Christ?
It intrigues me that as I consider the early church, and even as we observe the suffering church today, Satan has never done a good job of destroying the church through persecution. In fact, the church usually becomes stronger and grows under persecution. The devil’s most effective weapon is joining the church to bring in compromise, prompting the church to make ungodly concessions in order to gain the world’s favor. But can persecution separate you from God’s love?
And what about famine or nakedness or peril or sword? What about horrendous natural disasters, homelessness, mortal danger or war? Surely those things have the power to send God’s love scurrying away from you! For even Paul says, “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’” (Romans 8:36). What about that?
As you might expect, Paul has an answer for you: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
That’s quite a phrase, “more than conquerors.” What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? We all know what it is to be a conqueror. You go in, you fight the battle, and you win. You are a conqueror. So what is it to be more than a conqueror? That’s to go into the battle victorious. It is to have the victory even in the midst of battle. While bullets still zip around your head—while the outcome still seems very uncertain—nevertheless, you alreadyhave the glorious victory and the glad rejoicing that comes with it. That’s what it means to be “more than a conqueror.”
So as you go into the battle against forces of darkness, against the powers of evil, you go in as a victor. You go in the victory of Jesus Christ. You have already conquered in the middle of the fight. You have victory already in the midst of the conflict. So you can rejoice even in the heat of battle, for you already know the outcome. If God is for you, who can be against you? You know who wins. And thus you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you.
- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith