The love of God. 8:35-39
Paul's now concludes his "hymn of triumph", as C.K. Barrett calls it, a passage on Christian assurance which covers v31-39. Paul does so with powerful and encouraging words. God's love for his people is infinite and unchangeable and nothing in all creation can separate believers from it.
v35-37. "Can anything separate us from the love of Christ?" Paul's answer is that no external pressure can separate us from Christ's love. Paul, referring to Psalm 44:22, reminds his readers that persecution and trouble has always pressed in on God's people, but through all this the child of God is victorious. Such pressure cannot break us away from Christ. A believer's security rests on their relationship with Christ, a relationship dependent on faith in Christ. So, our standing before God is not dependent upon our love, obedience, perseverance or faithfulness, rather it rests on what Christ has done for us. At this moment we stand perfected before the throne of the Almighty God. We are eternally secure and are being daily renewed into the image we already possess in Christ. This is not our doing, but rather it is a gift of grace from a loving and merciful God.
v38-39. Paul now becomes more personal as he details all the pressures that move against us and try to separate us from Christ. Paul is convinced that none of these pressures can separate us from God's love, expressed and exercised through the person of Christ Jesus.
The pressures are presented in pairs:
i] "Death". This certainly can't separate us from our friendship with Christ. In fact, it is the passage by which that relationship is consummated. Nor can "life". All its distractions, pressures, pains, persecutions, enticements...... even these can't break the bond we have with God in Christ.
ii] "Angels nor demons". No supernatural power, either good or evil, can break the bond of love.
iii] "The present nor the future". Neither pressures of this day, nor of tomorrow, no matter how great, can affect our standing before God.
iv] "The powers of the heights and the powers of the depths". These are spiritual powers, the powers of the stars, astrological powers. Even they cannot break our bond with Christ.
v] "Anything else in all creation". This completes the list. Nothing in all creation can interfere with God's love for those who, through their relationship with Christ by faith, are his for eternity.
The encouragement of God's love|
"This is the last step in the climax of the apostle's argument; the very summit of the mount of confidence, whence he looks down on his enemies as powerless, and forward and upward with full assurance of a final and abundant triumph. No one can accuse, no one can condemn, no one can separate us from the love of Christ." These words were written by Hodge in his commentary on Romans and sum up the thrust of Paul's words. Compare Jesus' words in John 10:27-30.
Haldane in his commentary writes, "the feelings of the believer, viewed in Christ, as described in v35-39, form a striking contrast with what is said at the end of the former chapter, where he is viewed in himself. In the contemplation of himself as a sinner, he mournfully exclaims, 'O wretched man that I am!' In the contemplation of himself as justified in Christ, he boldly demands, Who shall lay anything to my charge? Who is he that condemns? Well may the person who loves God defy the universe to separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus their Lord. Although at present the whole creation groans and travails in pain together, although even Paul groans within himself, yet all things are working together for his good. The Holy Spirit is interceding for him in his heart; Jesus Christ is interceding for him before the throne; God the Father has chosen him for eternity, has called him, has justified him, and will finally crown him with glory. The apostle began this chapter by declaring that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus; he concludes it with the triumphant assurance that there is no separation from God's love. The salvation of believers is complete in Christ, and their union with him indissoluble."
By the grace of God through faith we stand perfected in God's sight. Paul started out this chapter by telling us that therefore there is no condemnation for those who are "in Christ" Jesus. He ends by telling us that therefore there can be no separation from the love of God for those who are "in Christ" Jesus. Good news indeed.
Paul affirms the solid and uncompromising love of God that is ours through faith in Jesus. Discuss circumstances in life that have taken you to the brink of your faith. When have you felt less "than conquerors"?
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