Nothing separates us from the love of God

450 nothing separates us from the good of GodAgain and again, "Paul argues in Romans, that we owe it to Christ that God sees us as justified. Although we sometimes sin, these sins are counted against the old self crucified with Christ; our sins do not count against what we are in Christ. We have a duty to fight sin - not to be saved, but because we are already children of God. In the last part of Chapter 8, Paul focuses his attention on our glorious future.

The entire creation is waiting for us

The Christian life is not easy. The fight against sin is not easy. Persistent pursuit is not easy. Coping with everyday life in a fallen world, with corruptible people, makes life difficult for us. Yet Paul says, "That this time of suffering should not weigh on the glory that is to be revealed to us" (verse 18). As it was for Jesus, there is also joy for us - a future so wonderful that our present trials will seem insignificant.

But we are not the only ones who will benefit from it. Paul says that there is a cosmic implication for God's plan being worked out in us: "For the creature's fearful waiting waits for the children of God to be revealed" (verse 19). Creation does not only want to see us in glory, but the creation itself will also be blessed with change when the plan of God is brought to perfection, as Paul says in the next verses: "Creation is subject to transience ... yet on hope; for the creation too will be freed from the bondage of transitoriness to the glorious liberty of the children of God "(Verse 20-21).

Creation is now subject to decay, but that is not what it should be. At the resurrection, if we are given the glory that rightly belongs to the children of God, the universe will somehow be freed from its bondage. The entire universe has been redeemed through the work of Jesus Christ (Col 1,19-20).

Patient waiting

Although the price has already been paid, we still do not see everything the way God will accomplish it. "The entire creation now sighs under her condition, as if she were in labor pains" (Rom 8,22 NGÜ). Creation suffers as if it is in labor pains as it forms the womb in which we are born. Not only that, "but also ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, still sigh internally, awaiting adoption as sons and the salvation of our bodies" (Verse 23 NGÜ). Even though the Holy Ghost has been given to us as a pledge for salvation, we too are struggling because our salvation is not yet complete. We fight with sin, we struggle with physical limitations, pain and suffering - even as we rejoice in what Christ has done for us.

Salvation means that our bodies will no longer be subject to corruptibility (1, Kor 15,53), made new and transformed into glory. The physical world is not trash that needs to be disposed of - God has made it good, and it will make it new again. We do not know how bodies are resurrected, nor do we know the physics of the renewed universe, but we can trust the Creator to complete his work.

We still do not see perfect creation, neither in the universe nor on Earth, nor in our bodies, but we are confident that everything will be transformed. As Paul said, "Because we are saved, we are hopeful. But the hope that one sees is not hope; because how can you hope for what you see? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we wait for it with patience "(Rom 8,24-25).

We wait with patience and zeal for the resurrection of our bodies as soon as our adoption is completed. We live in the situation of "already, but not yet": already redeemed, but not yet completely redeemed. We are already freed from the sentence, but not yet completely from the sin. We are already in the Kingdom, but it is not yet in its fullness. We are living with aspects of the coming age, while we are still struggling with aspects of this age. "Likewise, the spirit of our weakness also helps. For we do not know what we should pray, how it is due; but the spirit itself sings us unspeakable sighs "(verse 26). God knows our limitations and frustrations. He knows our flesh is weak. Even though our minds are willing, God's Spirit works for us, even for needs that can not be put into words. God's spirit does not eliminate our weakness but helps us in our weakness. He bridges the gap between old and new, between what we see and what he has explained to us. For example, we sin even though we want to do the good (7,14-25). We see sin in our lives, but God declares us to be just because God sees the end result, even if the process has just begun.

Despite the discrepancy between what we see and what we want, we can trust the Holy Spirit to do what we can not do. He will get us through. "But he who studies the hearts knows who the mind of the mind is directed; for he represents the saints as God pleases "(8,27). The Holy Spirit is on our side and helps us so that we can be confident!

Called by His Counsel In spite of our trials, our weakness, and our sins, "we know that all who serve God's benefit serve all things, those who are called by his counsel" (verse 28). God does not cause all things, but he lets them and works with them according to his counsel. He has a plan for us, and we can be sure that he will complete his work in us (Phil 1,6).

God planned in advance that we should become like his son Jesus Christ. So he called us by the gospel, justified us through his Son, and united us with him in his glory: "For whom he has chosen, he has also foreknown that they should be like the image of his Son, that he may be the firstborn among many brothers. But what he predestined, he also called; whom he called, he did justly; but he made righteous, which he also glorified "(Rom 8,29-30).

The importance of election and predestination is hotly debated, but these verses do not lead to a clarification of the debate, because Paul does not focus on these terms (and not elsewhere). For example, Paul does not comment on whether God allows people to reject the glorification He has planned for them. Paul wants to assure readers, as he approaches the high point of his proclamation of the Gospel, that they need not worry about their salvation. If they accept it, they will receive it. And for rhetorical clarification, Paul even speaks of the fact that God has already glorified them by using the past tense. It has almost happened. Even if we are struggling in this life, we may reckon with glorification in the next life.

More than just overcomers

"What do we want to say about this? Is God for us, who can be against us? Who did not spare his own son, but gave it to all of us - how could he not give us everything with him? "(Verse 31-32). Since God has gone so far as to give his Son for us when we were still sinners, we can be sure he will give us whatever we need to accomplish it. We can be sure that he will not be angry with us and take away his gift. "Who wants to accuse God's elect? God is here, righteous "(verse 33). Nobody can blame us on the Day of Judgment because God has declared us innocent. Nobody can condemn us because Christ, our Redeemer, intercedes for us: "Who wants to condemn? Christ Jesus is here who died, yes, rather, who is also risen, who is at the right hand of God and represents us "(verse 34). Not only do we have a sacrifice for our sins, but we also have a living Savior who is constantly on our way to glory.

Paul's rhetorical fate is revealed in the moving climax of the chapter: "Who wants to separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation or fear or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written (Psalm 44,23): "For your sake we are killed the whole day; we are respected like slaughter sheep "(Verse 35-36). Can circumstances separate us from God? If we are killed for the faith, did we lose the fight? By no means, Paul says: "In this all we are more than conquerors by the one who loved us so much" (Verse 37 Elberfelder). Even in pain and suffering we are no losers - we are better than overcomers because we share in the victory of Jesus Christ. Our prize of victory - our heritage - is the eternal glory of God! This price is infinitely greater than the cost.

"For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor powers nor powers, neither present nor future, neither high nor deep nor any other creature, can divorce us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Verses 38-39). Nothing can divert God from the plan he has for us. Absolutely nothing can separate us from his love! We can trust in the salvation He has given us.

by Michael Morrison

pdfNothing separates us from the love of God