Conquerors Through Christ

January 11, 2021

If we keep our focus on God and not on life’s trials, we will be conquerors through Christ.

FROM A SERMON BY Josephine McElveen

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omans 8:37 declares, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” This is a bold statement because Christians do not always feel like “conquerors.” At times, the trials of life press us and we feel burdened. Perhaps people have oppressed us because we do not look or act like them. Maybe we have been weighed down with concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Society may be trying to put us in a box and label us based on their opinions, and we feel it is not right. If we are not careful, we can lose our focus on God and become discouraged to the point that the words in Romans 8:37 seem foreign to us.

At the time Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, the church in Rome was facing severe persecution. Paul alluded to this in verse 18 of chapter 8 when he said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Paul had endured many hardships himself, so he knew what he was writing about. He understood their struggles, and God inspired him with a message that would help the saints in Rome as well as us today.

What shall we then say to these things?

In the latter half of chapter 8, Paul asked the Roman church a series of rhetorical questions. We get the sense that the Romans must have lost their spiritual focus to a degree, perhaps because of the trials they were experiencing, and Paul wanted to remind them what their perspective ought to be in times of trial. First, he let them know in verse 28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Then came his opening question: “What shall we then say to these things?” His question addressed a seeming contradiction—if God is working all things for our good, why are “these things” happening to us? The subsequent questions would help realign the believers’ perspective to see their trials from God’s viewpoint.

Verse 31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Every once in a while, we have to remind ourselves of who God really is. We might tend to think of God as a man at times, but we have to realize that our God made the universe! Everything in existence was made by Him. God is so much greater than our finite minds can comprehend; this invisible God is always fully in control. When we face opposition, we have One on our side who can fight and win our battles.

To be sure, Paul did not say that no one would ever be against us. Perhaps some of us have a hard time accepting the fact that not everybody is going to like us. This can be the case even when we do everything in our power to show them love. However, God is for us! And when we know that God is on our side, we begin to have a holy boldness despite any opposition. Not that we are trying to diminish anyone else, but neither will we be particularly concerned about getting them to like us. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and the rulers of darkness of this world (see Ephesians 6:12). Trying to convince someone that we are worthy of love is an unnecessary battle because only God can cause the change of heart that makes one turn from having disdain to having love for us. We just need to make sure that our own actions are right and that our hearts are pure, and God will take care of the rest.

Verse 32: “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?” With this question, we have the sense that Paul is trying to get the attention of some downtrodden Romans. It is as if he is saying, “Wait a minute! Don’t be discouraged; God cares so much for us that He would do anything for us!” God even gave His only begotten Son, and His Son willingly laid down His life to save us. If we ever doubt whether God is concerned with our situation or whether He will help when we cry out to Him, we need only take time and meditate on what Christ did for us at Calvary. God has already demonstrated that He would do anything for us.

Verse 33: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” Paul answered this question himself by saying, “It is God that justifieth.” If God has chosen us to do something, we do not need to prove that to others. If we have been falsely accused or misrepresented in some way, we may never be able to convince anyone of our true motives, but we do not have to—that is God’s job. Trying to do God’s job for Him will only lead to frustration. Instead, if we purpose to remain faithful to what God has called us to do, we can then rest in the knowledge that He is the One who justifies.

Verse 34: “Who is he that condemneth?” Paul answered this question as well: “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.” Christ alone is our Judge. Recognizing that truth gives us confidence and freedom to worship Him and to let our focus be only on the Savior. We need not be concerned about condemnation from anyone else.

Verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of God?” In considering this question, Paul proceeded to name possibilities that might separate us from God’s love: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. These are not hypothetical scenarios; these are real trials and they do come to believers. Recalling Paul’s first question—“What shall we then say to these things?”—the ultimate answer is found in verses 36-37: “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.” What will we say when we go through “these things”? By God’s grace we will say that we are more than conquerors! Not in our own strength, but through Him that loved us.

Verse 38: “For I am persuaded . . .” Sometimes we have to go through a trial to be able to appreciate what we have had all along. Paul experienced many hardships, and afterward he could say, “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.” Hallelujah! Even though “these things” come, we do not have to be overwhelmed by them. We can know that nothing is able to separate us from God’s love.

Twentieth century overcomers

God knows the end from the beginning, and He places us where we are prior to our trials, knowing what is to come. This is nothing new; we see in Scripture that God often called His servants to do things that were far out of their comfort zones. He led them to situations where the odds were stacked against them and then accomplished feats through them in ways that seemed impossible.

In more recent history, too, we have powerful testimonies of men and women who were willing to go through whatever God allowed, and they were conquerors through Christ. One of these was William Seymour. After he received salvation, he had a desire to study the Word of God in depth at a Bible school. However, he lived in a time when a Black man was not permitted by the law to sit in a classroom with those of another race. Despite that, he did not give up. He would not be made a victim of circumstance, nor did he let bitterness overtake him. Instead, he humbled himself and decided to simply accept whatever he could receive. Although the law said he could not be in the classroom, it did not prohibit him from sitting in the hallway, so he pulled up a chair and did just that. That man was focused! “These things” that were happening to him did not deter him because he sought something greater, and God honored his commitment.

. . . It led to the founding of our own church, and to millions of people around the world hearing the Latter Rain Gospel. And to think that it started with somebody who was willing to humble himself and let God fight his battles!

After Brother Seymour sat in on those classes, he traveled to California in 1906 to tell people about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. A series of humble cottage meetings turned into what we now call the Azusa Revival—that great outpouring of the Holy Ghost! It led to the founding of our own church, and to millions of people around the world hearing the Latter Rain Gospel. And to think that it started with somebody who was willing to humble himself and let God fight his battles!

Through Brother Seymour’s experience, we see that when God works, He does not have to use society’s conventions. He can override gender and ethnic alliances, classes, and political persuasions. Those whom the Holy Spirit drew at the Azusa Revival were from all sectors of society—rich and poor, Black and White, men and women—whoever was willing could come, and praise God, they did.

The founder of our church, Florence Crawford, was drawn to Azusa Street as well. She had been raised an atheist, but God transformed her life and she purposed to serve Him. Imagine that woman, living in a time when the law did not even allow women to vote, and she started an international mission. The Holy Ghost overrules all of “these things.” If we give Him a chance, He will work it out for His glory.

Salvation did something in me so that when I look at others, I don’t see classes, races, and genders; I just see souls. I do not know how they view me, but I see them as brothers and sisters.

We know many believers since then have faced similar barriers. I grew up in the South in the 1960s, so I have experienced a few things myself. But salvation did something in me so that when I look at others, I don’t see classes, races, and genders; I just see souls. I do not know how they view me, but I see them as brothers and sisters. When our focus is on what God has called us to do, He will override any obstacle that stands in our way.

As humans, we face many limitations, but the Spirit of God does not. To fulfill God’s call for our lives on our own would be impossible, but through Him we are more than conquerors.

Focused on God

When “these things” come, will they steal our spiritual focus? We need to be men and women of God who know in Whom we believe. We need to know that God is for us, and that we are not standing in our own strength. We need to know who we are—we are more than conquerors! The battle is not ours but it is the Lord’s, and He will fight it on His own terms. If we do not have these matters settled in our hearts, then when tribulation comes, our focus will be on the persecutor. But by keeping our focus on God, He will prepare our hearts before trouble comes, just as He did for the Apostles. They gave their very lives for the Gospel, and they did not die cursing the Romans. They were able to be martyred as witnesses to the Romans, glorifying God in a mighty way, and they counted it a privilege.

We do not know what sacrifices we will be asked to make, but whatever we go through, we are not meant to be overcome by our trials. There is victory for us in Christ. Whatever may be holding us back, God can override at any time. He understands our struggles and He knows how much we can take. Rather than see our circumstances as an instrument of the enemy, we can seek to understand how the Lord is using them for good, and we can rejoice and praise Him for it. The Holy Spirit will help us as we pray and seek the will of God in our lives, for our nation, and for this world.

About the author

Josephine McElveen is the Apostolic Faith District Superintendent of Southern and Eastern Churches in the United States, and pastor of the church in Washington, D.C.