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God's Everlasting Love

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God’s Everlasting Love Romans 8:31-39

IDOP 2005. Maranatha Baptist Church

Sunday November 20, 2005. 10 am

CONCERT OF PRAYER: SLIDE 1-23

 

SLIDE 24,

SLIDE 25

 

Today, more than 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the word – our brothers and sisters in the faith – face brutal opposition and persecution because of their faith in Jesus.  The number one request they have when asked, is always “please pray for us”. So today we bring their request to you, to plead their cause before a gracious God. Together, our prayers help suffering believers to experience the faithfulness of God, to see their societies transformed by the Gospel, to know, along with Jesus’ sufferings, the peace and victory of Jesus.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, probably during a winter in Corinth, between 55-57AD, it was a time with great peril looming. It would not be many years before they would face fierce persecution from a pagan government and people that now tolerated them with indifference. It would not be long before the blood of those to whom this epistle is addressed would soak the sands of Roman amphitheaters. Some would be mauled by wild beasts, some would be slain by ruthless gladiators, and others would be used as human torches to light Nero’s garden parties. Paul was writing to instruct remembrance to aid the Roman Christians who would face peril.

Perhaps, the concept of persecution is so foreign it is hard to comprehend. We face so many calls for our attention, it is easy to have appeal fatigue. But the message from God though the Apostle Paul is one of a lesson and help us as well as our persecuted brethren in the faith.

When faced with peril, doubt or challenge for example, how do you react. When faced with challenges, the temptation is to second guess ourselves, our resources and understanding of the situation.  The message of Romans 8 however is assurance regardless of the peril, doubt or challenge ahead, we can have assurance in the God who is in control. We see:

 

SLIDE 26

The impossibility of meaningful 1) opposition v. 31, 2) depravation v.32, 3) accusation v.33, 4) condemnation  v.34 and 5) separation v.35-39.

1) The impossibility of meaningful opposition,

Romans 8: 31 a What then shall we say to these things?

Judging from what Paul says in the rest of the passage, these things doubtless refer to the issues he has already dealt with in the chapter. Much of what he says in verses 31–39 relates to the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, but the specific focus is still on the security that His atonement brings to those who believe in Him.

Paul realizes that many fearful believers will still have doubts about their security and that false teachers would be ready to exploit those doubts. To give such believers the assurance they need, the apostle reveals God’s answer to two closely related questions: Can any person or can any circumstance cause a believer to lose his salvation?

Persons Who Might Seem to Threaten Our Security

INTERROGRATIVE/ RHETORICAL QUESTION

Paul begins with an all-encompassing rhetorical question, If God is for us, who can be against us? The word if translates the Greek conditional particle ei, signifying a fulfilled condition, not a mere possibility The meaning of the first clause is therefore Because God is for us.”

The obvious implication is that if anyone were able to rob us of salvation they would have to be greater than God Himself, because He is both the giver and the sustainer of salvation. To Christians Paul is asking, in effect, “Who could conceivably take away our no-condemnation status?” (see 8:1). Is there anyone stronger than God, the Creator of everything and everyone who exists?

Please turn to Psalm 41

SLIDE 27

 

David declared with unreserved confidence, Ps. 27:1(Of David). The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

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In Psalm 46, we read, Psa 46:1(To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. ) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psa 46:2  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, Psa 46:3  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. Psa 46:11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

In Romans 8:31 Paul does not specify any particular persons who might be successful against us, but it would be helpful to consider some of the possibilities.

 

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First of all, we might wonder, “Can other people rob us of salvation?”

Please turn to Acts 20:28

The Roman Catholic church teaches that Can salvation be lost by committing so-called mortal sins? Can a church claim power for itself both to grant and to revoke grace?. But such ideas have no foundation in Scripture and are thoroughly heretical. No person or group of persons, regardless of their ecclesiastical status, can bestow or withdraw the smallest part of God’s grace.

When Paul was bidding farewell to the Ephesian elders who had come to meet him at Miletus, he warned,

Act 20:28  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Act 20:29  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; Act 20:30  and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Paul was not suggesting that true believers can be robbed of salvation but was warning that they can be seriously misled, confused, and weakened in their faith and that the cause of the gospel can be greatly hindered. Although false teaching cannot prevent the completion of a believer’s salvation, it can easily confuse an unbeliever regarding salvation.

 

SLIDE 28

 

We might wonder if Christians can put themselves out of God’s grace by committing some unusually heinous sin that nullifies the divine work of redemption that binds them to the Lord? Tragically, some evangelical churches teach that loss of salvation is possible. But if we were not able by our own power or effort to save ourselves-to free ourselves from sin, to bring ourselves to God, and to make ourselves His children-how could it be that by our own efforts we could nullify the work of grace that God Himself has accomplished in us?

SLIDE 29

We might wonder if God the Father would take away our salvation?

Phi 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

We have seen:

SLIDE 30

 

The impossibility of meaningful 1) opposition v. 31,

And now to answer the questions, we see:

The impossibility of meaningful 2) depravation v.32,

Romans 8:32 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?

How could it possibly be that God would sacrifice His own Son for the sake of those who believe in Him and then cast some of those blood-bought believers out of His family and His kingdom? Would God do less for believers after they are saved than He did for them prior to salvation? Would He do less for His children than He did for His enemies? If God loved us so much while we were wretched sinners that He delivered up His own Son … for us, would He turn His back on us after we have been cleansed from sin and made righteous in His sight?

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross not only is the foundation of our salvation but also of our security. Because the Father loved us so much while we were still under condemnation,

2Co 5:21  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 8:32 concluded by saying:

Romans 8:32b will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

When Romans 8:32b specifies that God graciously gives translates charizomai, which means to bestow graciously or out of grace. In some of Paul’s other letters the same word carries the idea of forgiveness (see 2 Cor. 2:7, 10; 12:13; Col. 2:13; 3:13). It therefore seems reasonable to interpret Paul’s use of charizomai in Romans 8:32 as including the idea of God’s gracious forgiveness as well as His gracious giving. If so, the apostle is also saying that God freely forgives us all things (cf. 1 John 1:9). God’s unlimited forgiveness makes it impossible for a believer to sin himself out of God’s grace.

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In his letter to Ephesus the apostle is also speaking of fellow believers when he says, Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

If God blesses us, His children, blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, loss of salvation is clearly impossible. All believers receive that eternal inheritance.

SLIDE 31

 

We have seen: The impossibility of meaningful 1) opposition v. 31,2) depravation v.32, and now

3) accusation v.33,

Rom 8:33  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.

Please turn to Zechariah 3:1

 

We might wonder if Satan can take away our salvation. Because he is our most powerful supernatural enemy, if anyone other than God could rob us of salvation, it would surely be the devil. He is calledthe accuser of [the] brethren” (Rev. 12:10), and the book of Job depicts him clearly in that role:

Zec 3:1  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Zec 3:2  And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" Zec 3:3  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. Zec 3:4  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."

The world and Satan are continually bringing charges against God’s elect, but those charges amount to nothing before the Lord, because He justifies, the one who decides who is righteous before Him. They have been declared eternally guiltless and are no longer under the condemnation of God (8:1), the only one who condemns.

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Rom 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

GOD SETS THE STANDARD

God conceived the law, revealed the law, interprets the law, and applies the law. And through the sacrifice of His Son, all the demands of the law have been met for those who trust in Him.

 

ILLUSTRATION

That great truth inspired Count Zinzendorf to write the following lines in the glorious hymn “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” translated by John Wesley:

Bold I shall stand in that great day,

For who ought to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through Thee I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

THE ACCUSATIONS ARE OFTEN TRUE

It is not that the accusations made against believers by Satan and the unbelieving world are always false. The fact that we are not yet sinless is obvious. But even when a charge against us is true, it is never sufficient grounds for our damnation, because all our sins-past, present, and future-have been covered by the blood of Christ and we are now clothed in His righteousness.

SLIDE 32

We have seen: The impossibility of meaningful 1) opposition v. 31, 2) depravation v.32, 3) accusation v.33, and now:

4) The impossibility of meaningful condemnation  v.34

Rom 8:34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

 

SLIDE 33

We  might wonder if our Savior Himself would take back our salvation? Anticipating that question, Paul declares, Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

 

It is because Jesus makes continuous intercession for all believers, God’s elect, Christ says:

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Joh 10:28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

For Christ to take away our salvation would be for Him to work against Himself and to nullify His own promise. Christ offers no temporary spiritual life but only that which is eternal. He could not grant eternal life and then take it away, because that would demonstrate that the life He had granted was not eternal.

In verse 34 Paul reveals four realities that protect our salvation in Jesus Christ.

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1) First, he says that Christ Jesus … died. In His death He took upon Himself the full penalty for our sins. In His death He bore the condemnation that we deserved but from which we are forever freed (8:1). The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf is the only condemnation we will ever know.

 

SLIDE 34

2) Second, Christ was raised from the dead, proving His victory over sin and over its supreme penalty of death. The grave could not hold Jesus, because He had conquered death; and His conquest over death bequeaths eternal life to every person who trusts in Him. As Paul has declared earlier in this letter, Christ “was

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Rom 4:25  (who) was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

His death paid the price for our sins and His resurrection gave absolute proof that the price was paid. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He demonstrated that His Son had offered the full satisfaction for sin that the law demands.

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3) Third, Christ is at the right hand of God, the place of divine exaltation and honor.

Phi 2:8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phi 2:9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

There were no seats in the Temple, because the sacrifices made there by the priests were never finished. They were but pictures of the one and only true sacrifice that the Son of God one day would make. The writer of Hebrews explains:

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Heb 10:11  And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. Heb 10:12  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

 

SLIDE 35

4) Fourth, Christ also intercedes for us. Although His work of atonement was finished, His continuing ministry of intercession for those saved through His sacrifice will continue without interruption until every redeemed soul is safe in heaven.

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Heb 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

If we understand what Christ did on the cross to save us from sin, we understand what it means to be secure in His salvation. If we believe that God loved us so much when we were wretched and ungodly that He sent His Son to die on the cross to bring us to Himself, how could we believe that, after we are saved, His love is not strong enough to keep us saved? If Christ had power to redeem us out of bondage to sin, how could He lack power to keep us redeemed?

 

Christ, the perfect Priest, offered a perfect sacrifice to make us perfect. To deny the security of the believer is therefore to deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ. To deny the security of the believer is to misunderstand the heart of God, to misunderstand the gift of Christ, to misunderstand the meaning of the cross, to misunderstand the biblical meaning of salvation.

SLIDE 36

We have seen: The impossibility of meaningful 1) opposition v. 31, 2) depravation v.32, 3) accusation v.33, 4) condemnation  v.34 and now

5) The impossibility of meaningful Separation v.35-39.

Circumstances That Might Seem to Threaten Our Security

Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Rom 8:36  As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." Rom 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, Rom 8:39  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.

 

After establishing that it is impossible for any person to take away our salvation, Paul anticipates a similar question that some will ask: “Is it possible for circumstances to rob a believer of his salvation?” The apostle now proceeds to show that that, too, is impossible.

The interrogative pronoun tis (who) is the same word that begins the previous two verses. But the Greek term also can mean “what,” and the fact that Paul speaks only of things and not people in verses 35–37, makes clear that he is now referring to impersonal things.

Paul anticipates and refutes the notion that any circumstance, no matter how threatening and potentially destructive, can cause a genuine believer to forfeit his salvation.

In verse 35 Paul lists a representative few of the countless ominous circumstances that faithful believers may encounter while they still live in the world.

First of all, it should be noted that the love of Christ does not refer to the believer’s love for Him but rather to His love for the believer (see vv. 37, 39). No person can love Christ who has not experienced the redeeming work of Christ’s love for him:

 

SLIDE 37

 

 

1Jo 4:19  We love because he first loved us.

Please turn to 1 John 4:9

In this context, the love of Christ represents salvation. Paul is therefore asking rhetorically if any circumstance is powerful enough to cause a true believer to turn against Christ in a way that would cause Christ to turn His back on the believer. At issue, then, are the power and permanence of the love of Christ for those He has bought with His own blood and brought into the family and the kingdom of His Father.

As John makes clear in his first epistle, “the end” does not refer simply to the end of Jesus’ earthly life but to the end of every believer’s earthly life:

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1Jo 4:9  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1Jo 4:10  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1Jo 4:17  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

We have confidence as we face the day of judgment, because we know that the divine and indestructible love of Christ binds us eternally to Him.

In a majestic benediction at the end of the second chapter of his second letter to Thessalonica, Paul says,

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2Th 2:16  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 2Th 2:17  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Eternal comfort and good hope are the permanent gifts of God’s grace, because, by definition, that which is eternal cannot end.

SLIDE 38

1) The first threatening circumstance Paul mentions in Romans 8: 35 is tribulation, from thlipsis, which carries the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure. In Scripture the word is perhaps most often used of outward difficulties, but it is also used of emotional stress. The idea here is probably that of severe adversity in general, the kind that is common to all men.

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2) The second threatening circumstance is distress, which translates the compound Greek word stenochoµria, which is composed of the terms for narrow and space. The idea is similar to that of tribulation and carries the primary idea of strict confinement, of being helplessly hemmed in.

In such circumstances a believer can only trust in the Lord and pray for the power to endure. Sometimes we are caught in situations where we are continually confronted with temptations we cannot avoid. Paul counsels believers who are under such distress to remember that

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1Co 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Until He provides a way of escape, the Lord provides the power to resist.

 

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3) The third threatening circumstance is persecution, which refers to affliction suffered for the sake of Christ. Persecution is never pleasant, but in the Beatitudes Jesus gives a double promise of God’s blessing us when we suffer for His sake. He then bids:

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Mat 5:10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:11  "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Mat 5:12  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Famine often results from persecution, when Christians are discriminated against in employment and cannot afford to buy enough food to eat. Many believers have been imprisoned for their faith and have gradually starved to death because of inadequate food.

·        Lack of rain, failure of crops, natural disasters, war

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Nakedness does not refer to complete nudity but to destitution in which a person cannot adequately clothe himself. It also suggests the idea of being vulnerable and unprotected.

 

SLIDE 39

 

To be in danger is simply to be exposed to danger in general, including danger from treachery and mistreatment.

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The sword to which Paul refers was more like a large dagger and was frequently used by assassins, because it was easily concealed. It was a symbol of death and suggests being murdered rather than dying in military battle.

Please turn to 2 Cor. 11:23

PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

Paul was not speaking of these afflictions in theory or second hand. He himself had faced those hardships and many more, as he reports so vividly in 2 Corinthians 11. Referring to certain Jewish leaders in the church who were boasting of their suffering for Christ, Paul writes,

 

2Co 11:23  Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 2Co 11:24  Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 2Co 11:25  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 2Co 11:26  on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 2Co 11:27  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Quoting from the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) version of Psalm 44:22, Paul continues,

 Rom 8:36  As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

·         Present tense

In other words, Christians should not be surprised when they have to endure suffering for the sake of Christ.

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Paul assured his beloved Timothy that:

2Ti 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Just as we can only love God because He first loved us, we can only hold on to God because He holds on to us. We can survive any threatening circumstance and overcome any spiritual obstacle that the world or Satan puts in our way because:

Rom 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us

 more than conquerors is from hupernikaoµ, a compound verb that literally means to hyper-conquer, to over-conquer, to conquer, as it were, with success to spare. Those who more than conquerors are supremely victorious in overcoming everyone and everything that threatens their relationship to Jesus Christ. But they do so entirely through His power, the power of Him who loved us so much that He gave His life for us that we might have life in Him.

Because our Lord both saves and keeps us, we do much more than simply endure and survive the ominous circumstances Paul mentions in verse 35. First of all, we more than conquer by coming out of troubles stronger than when they first threatened us. Paul has just declared that, by His divine grace and power, God causes everything, including the very worst things, to work for the good of His children (Romans 8:28).

Second, we more than conquer because our ultimate reward will far surpass whatever earthly and temporal loss we may suffer. With Paul, we should view even the most terrible circumstance as:

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ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE

2Co 4:17  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

From the human perspective, of course, the over-conquest God promises often seems a long time in coming. But when, as true believers, we go through times of testing, whatever their nature or cause, we come out spiritually refined by our Lord.

Instead of those things separating us from Christ, they will bring us closer to Him. His grace and glory will rest on us and we will grow in our understanding of His will and of the sufficiency of His grace. While we wait for Him to bring us through the trials, we know that He says to us what He said to Paul:

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2Co 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore we can conclude:

Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, Rom 8:39  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.

This chapter closes with a beautiful summary of what has just been said. The apostle assures his readers that he was not teaching them anything about which he himself was not fully convinced/sure.

He was convinced first of all because of the nature of salvation, which God had revealed to him and which he presents so clearly in these first eight chapters. His counsel is also a personal testimony. He was convinced because he had experienced most of the things mentioned and they did not separate him from Christ. Both revelation and experience convinced him.

Paul was saying to believers in Rome the same thing he would say some years later to Timothy:

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2Ti 1:12  which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

 

SLIDE 40

 

1) Paul begins his list with death, which, in our earthly life, we experience last. Even that supreme enemy cannot separate us from our Lord, because He has changed death’s sting from defeat to victory.

We can testify with David that:

Psa 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

ILLUSTRATON

Donald Grey Barnhouse told a personal story that beautifully illustrates death’s powerlessness over Christians. When his wife died, his children were still quite young, and Dr. Barnhouse wondered how he could explain their mother’s death in a way their childish minds could understand. As they drove home from the funeral, a large truck passed them and briefly cast a dark shadow over the car. Immediately the father had the illustration he was looking for, and he asked the children, “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by the shadow of a truck?

“That’s easy, Daddy,” they replied. “We would rather get run over by the shadow, because that wouldn’t hurt.” Their father then said, “Well, children, your mother just went through the valley of the shadow of death, and there’s no pain there, either.”

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2) The second supposed hindrance does not seem like a hindrance at all. We think of life as something positive. But it is in our present earthly life that spiritual dangers lie. Not only does death itself hold no harm for believers, but it will bring the end of all harm. It is while we still have this life that we face tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword (8:35) and the many other trials that Paul could have mentioned. But because we have eternal life in Christ, the threats during our present life are empty.

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3) The third supposed threat is angels,  it seems likely that the ones mentioned here are holy angels. Paul’s reference here to angels presupposes a purely hypothetical and impossible situation, just as did one of his warnings to the Galatians. He told the Galatian believers :

Gal 1:8  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

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4) The fourth supposed threat is not in the least hypothetical. Rulers seems to refer to evil beings, specifically demons. Like the Greek term (archeµ) behind it, Rulers indicates neither good nor evil. But the obvious negative use of archeµ in such passages as Ephesians 6:12 (“rulers”), Colossians 2:15 (“rulers”), and Jude 6 (“own domain”) - as well as its apparent contrast with the term that precedes it here (angels)-seems to indicate fallen angels, the demons. If so, Paul is saying that no supernatural created being, good or evil, can sever our relationship to Christ.

Things present and things to come represent everything we are experiencing and will yet experience.

Powers translates dunamis, the ordinary Greek word for power. But in its plural form, as here, it often refers to miracles or mighty deeds. It was also used figuratively of persons in positions of authority and power. Regardless of the specific meaning Paul had in mind here, powers represents another obstacle that Christians need not fear.

Paul may have used height and depth as astrological terms that were familiar in his day, hupsoµma (height) referring to the high point, or zenith, of a star’s path, and bathos (depth) to its lowest point. If so, the idea is that Christ’s love secures a believer from the beginning to the end of life’s path. Or perhaps he used the terms to signify the infinity of space, which is endless in every direction. In either case, the basic meaning is that of totality.

To leave no doubt that security is all-encompassing, Paul adds nor anything else in all creation. Since only God Himself is uncreated, everyone else and everything else is excluded.

There is nothing anywhere at any time that will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our salvation was secured by God’s decree from eternity past and will be held secure by Christ’s love through all future time and throughout all eternity.

 

 

 

ILLUSTRAION

George Matheson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1842. As a child he had only partial vision, and his sight became progressively worse, until it resulted in blindness by the time he was eighteen. Despite his handicap, he was a brilliant student and graduated from the University of Glasgow and later from seminary. He became pastor of several churches in Scotland, including a large church in Edinburgh, where he was greatly respected and loved. Matheson wrote the beautiful hymn which begins with the following stanza:

 

SLIDE 41

 

 

O love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I give Thee back the life I owe,

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

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