“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:35
Well? Who shall? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine. Death, life, angels, principalities, powers…? Any one? Any thing? Us? God’s Elect? Believers in the mighty Jesus? Really, this is not a question at all. It’s a challenge. The answer is: No one! No thing!
Isn’t it comforting, dear Christian? What a strength this affords for every burden, every care, every pain. What an incentive it gives to fight to the bitter end the battle of faith, whatever the odds, whatever the sacrifice. God’s comforts may be expressed in various ways. Always it comes down to this, does it not?
What a beautiful song is Romans 8, and what a mighty climax is reached as the chapter crescendos steadily and majestically toward the grand finale that begins with the words of our meditation. As the beloved apostle goes on, his glorying becomes more and more intense, his language of faith, ever more confident, his hope more and more fervent, until he ends with that glorious shout of complete triumph: “ I am persuaded (Whether you can say that I cannot say: but I am ) 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.” To me this last part of the chapter is the “Hallelujah Chorus” of the grandest of all oratorios.
How wonderful, too, that we can sing all this now, while we’re still in this present evil world. Paul does not rejoice here as one who has finished the battle and is already in heaven. This is the song of a believer, who is still struggling and bleeding in the arena of this life, who still lives amidst all the imperfections of this present time, all the enemies and dangers and trials and sins of this present world.
Hence! “There is therefore no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus” now. “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” now. “If God be for us, who can be against us” now.
And so – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? now.
The love of Christ!
Grammatically, this could refer to our love for Christ. However, it doesn’t. True, we also love Christ, and from that love, too, no one can separate us. Nothing can extinguish that flame in the heart of the child of God. But, that is not the love referred to here, nor is it on this that our eternal salvation depends.
This is the love of Christ for us; the love that sent the Only Begotten of the Father into this sin-sick world for a poor, lost sinner like me; the love that drove Him to the garden of sorrows, and from there to a cruel Golgotha, where He poured out His soul into death that we might have life forever more.
A few verses later the apostle will call the same love “the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There he tells us, that it has its source eternally in the Triune God while Christ is the channel through which it reaches us.
Who shall separate us from that love? Tear us away from that heart of God and of Jesus Christ our Savior?
Not: Who shall deprive us of the consciousness, the blessed experience, that God loves us? This is possible for a time, because of sin. Even then, however, our loving Father will not forsake us, but lead us back out of that fearful night to the blessed sunshine of His love.
But: Who shall separate us from that love as such? So great, for it is the love of Christ! So wonderful, for it enabled Him to bear for a sin-cursed world all the agonies of the damned! So free! So sovereign! So unconditional! So eternal!
Is there reason for this challenge? You know there is.
Numerous and deadly foes are constantly on the prowl to do just that and how able they are in their own evil way. Listen as Paul calls their roll: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, and depth. What an array! And to make sure all are included he ends by saying: any other creature.
Young people, this enemy is real! Make no mistake about that. The apostle is not merely speculating on what might be, but actually isn’t. He isn’t dealing in mere hypotheses. Listen again as he applies the complaint of Psalm 44 to the church of all ages: “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter”. On their list to be butchered! Always the world hates us; breathes threatening and slaughter against the church of Christ.
Don’t underestimate this enemy. He is big and strong. He seems to be omnipresent. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you meet him. He sits in the high places and lurks in the depths. And think of what he can do to you. From every direction and through all sorts of means, he shoots his poisonous darts at the church. In last instance he has at his disposal the whole power of the sword, which can determine life and death. He can persecute and afflict, tempt, seduce, mock, cast out and kill.
And always he has only this one purpose: to separate us from the love of Christ. He will kill you as a last resort. However, that not his real purpose. He wants to destroy you spiritually.
Is the Christian afraid?
Not if his faith is in Christ!
Listen as he taunts that whole fearful horde: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Any one? Any thing? “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
You can take away all my earthly possessions! You can kill my body!
But you cannot touch my soul!
Thanks to His all-conquering love!