I want to thank my friend and my brother, Dr. Schuller. He is a true champion and God has used him to bless men and women literally around the world. And I, in honor of the champion that is in him, I want to present him with this book, it’s for you. The champion in you.
I want to pick up where Mike Flynt left off and when you see Mike and you hear his story you see a champion. When you see these young people from around the world, the Children’s World Choir, you see champions. The world is celebrating in this season of political transition a new champion leading this country. The world loves champions. We celebrated last year at the Olympics and Mike Phelps led a championship team and when you see Phelps, you see a champion.
But I want to suggest to you that there is a champion even in you. The person sitting next to you, the person in front of you or behind you; there is a champion in you. If you get nothing else out of what I say today let the Lord put that in your spirit. Someone is watching from the other side of the world and God has brought you to this broadcast today to deposit into your spirit a truth that there is a champion in you.
That’s what Paul was saying when he wrote to the young church of believers at Rome. And in that eighth chapter he said in verse thirty-eight, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” “In all these things we are more,” Paul says, “than conquerors.” We’re champions. There is a champion in you. At the end of the game, at the sound of the last bell, across the last finish goal when all the goals have been scored and all the baskets have been counted, the champions will stand. The world loves a champion and there is a champion even in you.
Paul says, “We are more than conquerors.” We not only win, but we win big. There is a champion in you. Why is that so? Why is that so? How can Paul make such a profound proclamation? He speaks in this eighth chapter that seems to be kind of a hinge between the preceding part of this letter and the remaining part. He spends about eight chapters talking about doctrine and then the remaining chapters he’ll talk about duty. And it is this section on conquerors that seems to hold together or hinge between what he’s already said and what he is about to say. And it is in this section that he says “We are more than conquerors.” Why is that so?
First of all because of God’s presence in you there’s a champion in you. Paul says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Paul says, “All things work together.” There is a grammatical problem in this phrase because after suggesting that all things work together he then raises issues that give us another nuance and another implication of this text. He says, “All things work together.” Therein lies the problem because things is the subject and work is the verb. Things don’t work. Things have no volition. Things make no choices. Things have no mind. Things have no consciences. Things have no will. Things cannot work. A more accurate translation of this verse is probably found in the New International version that does not say so much that we know that all things work, but rather we know that in all things God is at work; A significant difference. In all things God is at work. God is working all things together to release the champion that’s in you. He’s able to blend and to work and to mix and to match all the elements of our lives to release the champion, the conqueror in you.
Few people in this room have ever had the pleasure of eating three or four cups of flour. Few people in this room have ever had the pleasure of drinking maybe a bottle of vanilla extract or a couple gallons of water or milk or various ingredients that come together that can make a cake. My momma had a way of mixing eggs and mixing flour and mixing ingredients and when she put them all together she had a pound cake. You don’t know about a pound cake here in Orange County, I know, but momma could make a pound cake by mixing ingredients that in and of themselves were not very tasty. Paul says God is at work mixing together elements of our lives that in and of themselves are not always pleasant. In and of themselves are challenging and painful and sorrowful and often discourage us and yet God says we know that in all of these things God is at work mixing and matching and blending and working together on our behalf so that He might release the champion that’s in you, because of God’s presence.
Also because of God’s power. He says “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The power of God, the presence of God in your life is there to release this champion that’s in you. Paul says that God is at work conforming us to His image. He’s doing a work in your life right now, conforming you to His image. God did not save you to bring you to heaven to be with Him, He’s not lonely, but rather that on your way to heaven you might become more and more like Jesus the Christ. And so the bible says that He’s conforming us to the image of His Son, so that He might release this champion that’s in you.
There was a very famous sculptor who one day instructed his servant to bring into his workroom this huge mass of unfinished marble covered with dust and covered with mud, rough, rugged looking piece of marble and he pulled it in and pulled it in and finally the servant said, ‘master what will you make of this unattractive mud and dust covered mass of marble?’ The sculptor backed up and looked at and looked at this way and looked at it that way and looked at it this way and looked at it that way and then he said, he said oh, he said, ‘I see a magnificent stallion.’ He says, ‘I see a stallion with glaring eyes and flared nostrils and flowing mane and I see, I see encased in this mass of unattractive marble, I see a magnificent stallion.’ And the servant said, ‘well master how will you get such a masterpiece out of this unattractive dust and mud covered mass of marble?’ The sculptor said, ‘well I’m going to take my hammer and I’m going to take my chisel and I’m going to begin to chip away and chip away and chip away and chip away and I’ll chip away everything that does not look like a horse. There’s a horse in there and when I get rid of everything that does not look like a horse, I’ll have a masterpiece.’
God says He’s working to conform you into the image of His Son to release the champion in you. And those times when it seems as though life is battering you and pain and sorrow and confusion and disappointment and discouragement and even failure, God says I’m going to chip away everything in your life that does not look like a champion so that when I finish the champion in you will come forth. There is a champion in you. God says He has the power to conform you to the image of the Christ in you who was a champion. Because of God’s presence, because of God’s power, because, if you will, of this same God who protects us, God’s protection. He says, “Who can separate us from the love of God?” And then he says, “I’m persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” He sets up two bookends. He says, “who can separate us” and then he says “I’m persuaded that nothing can separate us” and in between these two book ends the challenge separation he says now “we are more than conquerors.” “Who can separate us from the love of God?” “I’m persuaded nothing can separate us from the love God.” Why? Because we are more than conquerors.
Paul says, “I’m persuaded, I’m persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Who can separate us? But there’s another grammatical problem in this text. Because he says, he asks the question, “who can separate us?” But then he goes to give a list of things. He says who and then he talks about what. A grammatical problem. He says “who can separate us” and then he goes to give us a list of things; therein lies the issue. Paul says recognize that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. We don’t wrestle against the stuff and the things, but there’s always a who behind the what. That who can never separate us. The word means to pull apart. Who or what can pull me apart from God’s love? Paul says, I’m persuaded, I’m persuaded, the word means I’ve been moved. It suggests that I was once in this position and I’ve now been repositioned to a position of possibility and positivity. I’ve had a shift in my thinking and what I thought may have been possible, I now realize nothing can separate me from the love of God.
He says “neither things present nor things to come.” The summary is nothing now and nothing later can separate me from the love of God. The phrase things present means the things that are set before me now. The phrase things present means things that I’m dealing with now, things that are eminent now, things that are attacking me now, things that are challenging me now, things that are discouraging me now. Paul says none of the things that I’m dealing with now can separate me from the love of God. His love is that strong that none of the stuff that would seek to separate me will be successful. Weapons will be formed against you, but no weapon that is formed shall prosper because nothing shall separate you from the love of God.
Now in order for there to be a separation someone must move. God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If you turn around and God is not there, guess who moved? God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The word leave means it means to stay behind. God says I will never let you go into this challenge and I will stay behind. I’ll never leave you. I’ll never let you face this problem, this trial, this pain, this affliction while I stay behind. “I’ll never leave you.” Then he says “I’ll never forsake you.” The reverse. Forsake means to go ahead of. God says I’ll never go ahead of you and let you handle the problem and catch up when you can. I’ll never do it. God says I protect you with my presence. I’ll never leave you nor will I forsake you. In order for there to be separation, one of the parties has to move, but what if I am moved? What if the challenge, the problem that I face shakes me loose? What if the struggle that I’m facing dislodges me from the presence of God and I sense, I feel that I’m out there all by myself. Champions feel alone sometimes. Champions feel abandoned sometimes. Champions feel like giving up sometimes.
But what happens when I find myself off course? He says “I’m persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” The love of God. We are conquerors through the love of God. This love of God, listen now, God’s love is not linear. It is not straight line God. It is not He only loves me as long as I’m on this straight and narrow path. Not so. God’s love is not linear, God’s love is angular. So that even when the trials of life blow me off path, even when the struggles that I face, the failures that I experience, the bad decisions that I make, the bad choices that I make get me off course, His love, because it is angular and not linear, loves me back to Himself.
Paul says I’m persuaded. Paul says I’ve been moved, I’ve been repositioned, I’ve been shifted, I’ve been brought back in a relationship with Him. He loves me back to Him. He moves me closer to Himself because God always has the last move.
There was a man walking with a friend through a museum and he came buy this one particular picture that caught his eye and he stopped and looked at it and he said to his friend, ‘there’s something wrong with this picture.’ He said, ‘because you do know I am an international chess champion.’ So the man began to study and ponder this picture, scratched his head. He said ‘man, there something wrong with this picture.’ Because the picture was a scene of two men sitting on opposite sides of a table and in the midst of that table there was a chessboard and the title of this game, of this picture was, Check Mate. It was a picture of two men sitting opposite sides of a table, one obviously portrayed as the devil, the other as a bewildered, perplexed man and the board or the picture suggested that the game was over because there were no more moves on the board. And the title of the picture was Check Mate.
But this man looked at it and studied it and looked at it and studied it and said ‘there’s something wrong with this picture because I am an international chess champion. And as I studied this board, something is wrong.’ He began to look at the board and look at the picture and move his hand and look at it and move his hands and look at it and move his hands and look at it and move his hands. He said, ‘I’ve figured it out. We must contact the man who painted this picture because he must either change the name or change the picture.’ Because the picture was named Check Mate, which suggested that the game was over, but this man said ‘I am an international chess champion and something is wrong with this picture. I have studied it and we must contact the artist and tell him to either change the picture or change the name. And I have studied this picture and I have concluded that the King still has one more move.’
This game is not over yet because the King still has one more move. It does not matter how life tries to dislodge you. Does not matter how struggles try to pull you away from God, how your faith begins to weaken, God always has the last move because the King still has one more move. Does not matter what happens on the stock market, does not matter what happens in the economy with the falling real estate and the challenges of the corporate world, God always has the next move because there’s a champion in you and you will come through this. You will make some adjustments. You’ll make some changes but by the champion that’s in you, you shall come forth. Success is on you. Favor is on you. The power of God holds you up and pulls you through because there is a champion in you and God will always reposition you to get that position of glory because the King still has one more move.
You remember Moses don’t you? Moses was down at the Red Sea leading the people out of Egypt. He came to a cul-de-sac with the Red Sea in front of him, mountains on both sides and Pharaoh’s army behind him. Looked as though all was over, as though the game was over. God told Moses ‘raise your rod,’ God did a karate chop on the Red Sea, parted the waters on both sides and the people of God walked through on dry land, why? Because the
King still has one more move.
You remember Paul and Silas don’t you? Paul and Silas were in a Phillipian jail with shackles on their hands and shackles on their feet and they were doomed and they were struggling and somebody said, Paul said long about midnight let’s have a prayer meeting. Paul said the old preacher said Paul said my name begins with “P,” I’ll do the praying. Silas your name begins with “S,” you do the singing. Long about midnight they began singing and praying and singing and praying and singing and praying. God called an earthquake and said go down and release My children. God said to the earthquake go down and shake the place up. Earthquake said do you want me to level it? He said no just do a whole lot of shaking going on. He shook the place and they walked out because God is the King and the King still has one more move.
You remember Jesus don’t you? They put Jesus on a old rugged cross, they put nails in His hands and rivets in His feet, they put a spear in His side and crown of thorns on His head looking like the game was over and it was check mate. They took Him down from the borrowed tomb; put Him in a tomb all night Friday night, all day Saturday, all night Saturday night. Here comes my Baptist, y’all: But early Sunday morning He got up with all power and heaven and earth in His hand because the King still has one more move.
I came to tell somebody today, someone watching by television, don’t throw in the towel, don’t throw up your hands, don’t walk off the court because the King still has one more move and there is a champion in you. Give yourselves a hand for the champion that God wants to release in your life. You are victorious, you are successful, you’ve got the power of God and the favor of God; the King still has one more move. Come on and give God glory in this house. Come on and bless Him.
There is a champion in you. It does not matter what you are wrestling with today, does not matter what kind of attack you are under today, does not matter how discouraged you might be today, there is a champion that God wants to release in you. It might be a delayed release like Mike Flynt, but there’s a champion in you that God wants to release and come forth in success and in victory. You are more than a conqueror. You don’t just win; you win big because the King still has one more move.
Father we bless You in this house today. We thank You for Your word. Father, now I ask that You would encourage Your children with Your strength, oh God, bring us through every challenge that we face physically, financially, mentally, relationally. Release the champion in us and then You take all the glory. You are the king and You always have one more move. In Jesus’ name, Amen.