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February 28, 2023 by

A landscape shot of worship during chapel at Cedarville University.

Romans 8 is one of the most highly regarded passages in the Bible, with sections that can be quoted by many students here at Cedarville. The most common section is that nothing in this universe has the power to separate us from the love of Christ, Romans 8:38-39. Romans 8 is theologically rich and can be difficult to dissect in a 30-minute chapel sermon. Pastor Ken Winter, Lead Pastor of Heritage Fellowship Church in Springfield, took on this task and encouraged us from the truths within this chapter. To recap for those of you who were there or to enlighten those of you who were not, here are five significant phrases from Pastor Ken’s message.  

For those of you who are prospective students, this will give you a glimpse into the theological depth of chapel! Our speakers do not shy away from sharing solid biblical truth and encouraging students to pursue a deeper understanding of Scripture. Prepare to be challenged and for your toes to be stepped on with conviction from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. However, also prepare to be greatly encouraged – chapel is one of the best parts of the day, and it is a privilege to hear from a variety of God-fearing men and women five times a week! 

It is also highly recommended that we bring our Bibles and journals to chapel every day. This allows us to process the information shared as we take notes on significant phrases and record our thoughts and responses during the sermon. You then will have the opportunity to look back on your notes and either wrestle with or pray through some of the truths you learned! 

I hope these five themes can encourage you no matter where you are in your walk with the Lord! 

We Need the Whole Counsel of God’s Word

Many people refer to Romans 8 as the pinnacle of the book – a culmination of everything Paul has said in this letter. In other words, without the rest of the book of Romans, we would not be able to have chapter 8. In fact, if we did not have the rest of the whole Bible, we would not be able to have Romans chapter 8. What Pastor Ken was getting at was that we need to immerse ourselves in the entirety of Scripture. We also will be able to see how Jesus is the central theme of the Word. Every verse points to Him as Lord. To be able to better understand specific texts or theological truths, we must first become familiar with the whole Bible. Too often we take for granted the privilege it is to have the Bible right at our fingertips. Pastor Ken exhorts us to use the whole counsel of God’s Word as we walk through the waves of life. 

The Conviction of Sin Is From the Holy Spirit

“5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8 ESV). 

Do you ever feel like you have a heavy weight on your back after committing a sin? This could be any kind of sin: gossip, cheating, lying, anger, etc. We often feel this weight of guilt much like the burden carried by Christian in the book Pilgrim’s Progress. It never feels good. Pastor Ken shared that this heaviness is the work of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us that the Spirit and the flesh conflict with one another, so when we commit an act of the flesh, the Spirit inside of us will fight against that.  

Oftentimes, we can mistake the conviction of the Spirit for condemnation. However, Pastor Ken reminds us that we cannot slip in and out of condemnation. Our salvation is dependent on Christ and not on us, and Christ is not changing or backing down. The conviction you feel is not the Lord condemning you but rather the Holy Spirit calling you to return to the Lord.  

We are called to obey the nudges of the Spirit, so when you feel that heavy weight, you know you are being prompted to stop, confess, repent, and pursue the Lord in humility. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit and ignore His nudges. Removing the burden is uncomfortable and challenging, but taking on the yoke of Jesus is something you will never regret. 

Blogger, Lia Beck, taking notes with her Bible during Pastor Ken Winter's chapel message.

Don’t go Back to Dirty Wells

“1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 ESV). 

In John 4, Jesus reveals to the Samaritan woman that He is living water. Considering the Holy Spirit’s conviction, what happens when our flesh convinces us that the Living Water is not enough? Pastor Ken talked about how we are quick to return to the dirty wells of condemnation, even though we have Living Water available and abounding. Why is this? It is because of our flesh and the influence of the devil. Our natural instincts and desires are drawn to sin and when we hear the whispers of Satan causing us to doubt the goodness of God, we turn our gaze to wells that are dirty and dry.  

The culture we live in worships instant gratification. Patience has run thin, and we desire our needs and wants to be satisfied immediately. If the law and the power of the Spirit expose and convict us of our sin, then the Gospel compels us to crucify it. As believers we cannot live with one foot in the world and one foot in Christianity. Just like Galatians 5, James 4 teaches us that friendship with the world results in enmity with God. We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday so that we can keep our eyes fixed on Christ and cease to doubt His goodness. Pastor Ken says that “Sin is always destructive, but we can’t out-sin the coverage of His grace.” 

God Meets Us in Our Brokenness

“31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 ESV) 

Continuing to build off the previous points, Pastor Ken reminds us that we are not alone. Romans 8 reminds us that we have freedom in Christ and that He has steadfast and unconditional love for us. When we bring our burdens to the foot of the cross, Jesus meets us there in the dirt to draw us near to Himself. To articulate this point, Pastor Ken shared his testimony and how in one of the lowest and most difficult points of His life, the Lord met Him there. It was in that moment that he surrendered his life fully to Christ and was saved at 20 years old. This truth should offer us comfort and confidence that no matter what we do or what circumstances we may face, Christ is constant, and He is there with us. I want to encourage you, friends, to lean into Him and to let Him draw you back to Himself. He weeps with you. 


Grace Fuels Our Praise 

“35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, 

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39 ESV). 

To close his message on Romans 8, Pastor Ken encouraged us with sharing that the grace of God should fuel our praise. He told us that we never grow out of the Gospel; it should be a truth that we use continually to recenter our focus. By resting in the hope we have in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross, we should fall on our faces in worship. Let not only your worship but everything you do be motivated by the life-changing message of the Gospel. 


So, What Now? 

These simple phrases hold so much truth and power in them. However, they also can be empty words on a screen if you choose to treat them as such. I want to encourage you to take the time to reflect on the condition of your heart. Are you running back to empty wells? Are you being convicted by the Holy Spirit? Is your worship fueled by the grace of God?  

Too often we are guilty of hearing a message from the Word of God but turning around and forgetting it. In James 1 this act is compared to a man looking at himself in a mirror and then immediately forgetting what he looks like. Don’t be like this man. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart to conform you to the image of Christ. Be thankful that we have the privilege to sit in chapel and glean valuable information five times a week. Let Christ be magnified by your life and remember that in Him you are no longer condemned but you are free, forgiven, loved, and made whole.

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