Sermon: Who Can Separate Us?

Today Pastor Choi concludes his sermon series on the adequacy of God.  Expounding on Paul’s assertion that nothing or no one in the universe can separate God’s elect from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, he assures God’s people that God is resolved to keep them eternally secure in Christ’s love.

 

     Who Can Separate Us

 

 

 

Following is a summary of the sermon:

 

Who Can Separate Us?                                                        Romans 8:31-39

Romans 8:31-39 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Introduction

Personalize today’s text with the congregation (will come back to that later).

Let me read to you again vv. 31-34 paraphrased in my own words.

V.31: What can I say about life that is full of surprises, temptation, challenges, discouragement, and despair?  In moments of struggle, I will remember who’s on my side!  God is!  If God is for me, no one and nothing stands a chance (by the way, my enemy the Devil knows this quite well and sees this all the time.  Sadly, however, it is I who forget and often fail to see this spiritual truth).

V. 32: Do I know how much God loves me?  He gave up His most precious Son and willingly sent Him to the cross to pay the wages of my sin.  That’s how much He loves me.  If that’s the case, I am sure the same God will also give me all things freely with Jesus for my eternal happiness and joy.

V. 33: (Now, I am speaking to the Devil and to those who oppose me).  If you think about bringing a charge against me, God’s elect, think again.  Who do you think you are dealing with?   God !  He is the Supreme Judge of One and He is my Father.  Yes, you heard me right.  My loving Father.

V. 34: You think you can condemn me, God’s elect?  Wake up, because you have zero chance of convicting me.  Why?  Because Christ has already taken care of my punishment at the cross and it is forever effective!  His action covers sins of my past, present, and even sins of my future. Don’t forget the same Christ now at the right hand of God makes intercessions for me 24/7 and the Judge always listens to Him.

Recap: In the past three Sundays, we talked about the adequacy of God.  God is sufficient for all our needs, problems, and challenges.  In the first week, we discovered that God is our Sovereign Protector.  The best way to counter the fear of opposition is to know that our God is greater than any challenges and hardships we face in life.  In the following week, we learned that God is our Sovereign Benefactor.  Not only does God know our needs, but He also provides them all and doesn’t withhold anything good from us.  With such trust in God, we counter the fear of privation.   In the third week, we countered the fear of rejection by God; the Scripture assures us that once God declares that we are chosen and justified, that’s final and eternal.  No one can review His verdict.  He is our Sovereign Judge and Champion.

Today, as the conclusion of the series, I would like to speak about God as our Sovereign Keeper.  He keeps us eternally secure in Christ’s love.  Like Krazy glue that keeps two objects together, Christ’s love brings God and us together and keeps us together forever.  No separation from Christ’s love can ever befall us.  No one or nothing in the world can separate us from God’s love.

 

Contents

In verses 35 through 39, Paul reveals the eternal truth in the relationship between God and us His elect.  We are eternally secure in God’s love.

Paul repeats twice in v. 35 and v. 39 that nothing (either visible or invisible) and no creature (natural or supernatural) in the entire universe can separate us from the love of Christ and from the love of God in Christ.  35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ?…  38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Separate (v. 35, v. 39): Let’s consider the verb ‘to separate.’  This verb is used in the New Testament in the following contexts: divorce (Matthew 19:6), separation of body and spirit (James 2:26), and departure from one place (Acts 1:4).   Basically, it is to cause things apart and keep them apart.   E.g. In particle physics, scientists probe fundamental structure of universe with an attempt to separate particles through collision at the speed of light (e.g. molecule—atom—proton (+)—neutron—electron (-)— protons and neutrons are made of three quarks each).  Let me tell you: even the most sophisticated instrument in the world cannot separate us from God’s love.  That’s how strongly we are secured in God’s love.

Sheep to be slaughtered (v. 36): In verse 36, Paul remembers what he has been through in his life.  Indeed, he has been through numerous challenges that none of us will ever go through.  In his own words, he was daily delivered over to death (2 Corinthians 4:11).  How did he feel in the midst of his trials?  Dead.  Done.  The last day of my life.  He puts this way in v. 36: Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered
(Psalm 44:22).

Many a time, Paul must have felt dead when things were tough.  Have you ever felt like that before?  I am dead.  I am done for.  I am at the end of my rope.  I have no energy to carry on.  Have you ever felt like just giving up since there’s nothing you can do about the situation?  Like a lamb on the way to be slaughtered?

In all things (v. 37).  Paul is speaking from his own life’s experiences.  In all things, good and bad, easy and tough, he’s been there and done that.  All kinds of situations you and I face.  In all things.

We Overwhelmingly Conquer (v. 37): I don’t think Paul is exaggerating here.  Rather, he is honest.  Through it all, he says: I overcame life.  In all those situations, he declares, that he came out as the victor not as a victim.  He came out strong and as a winner.  All the time.  Without exception.  Pay attention to the verb ‘conquer’ here.  The Greek word (υπερ-νικωμεν) means conquer thoroughly— over and over again.  Win big time!   Every time. 

Through Him who loved us (v. 37):  Paul didn’t forget to give proper credit for his victory to the Right One.  Who makes his victory possible?  Not he but God who loves him (v. 37).   Not through his own might but through God and His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).  He points out to the same source of his triumph again in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  “What is the key to a triumphant life?” you may ask.  Paul says, “It is the love of God.  Ultimately, God.”  God and His unwavering love for us help us to prevail in all life’s circumstances.

I am convinced (v. 38):  Based on his life experience, Paul boldly declares the truth:  38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Paul is not repeating someone’s abstract theology that God is the source of victorious life.  He speaks from his heart and from his experience.  “Based on my life,” he concludes, “I am fully convinced that we are secure in God’s love.”  The very bottom of God’s adequacy for us is love.   Here’s one believer who is eternally secure in God’s unfailing love.

E.g. Hussein was 9 years old.   He and his family are believers in Christ living in Turkey.  In Turkey, even though it is a secular state, more than 96% people claim to be a Muslim.   Christians are unwelcome in many parts of Turkey, despite government claims and a constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.  Without his parents’ knowing, Hussein publicly proclaimed his faith in Jesus by wearing a cross necklace to school.  When his classmates saw the cross, some of them spat and swore at him.  He was threatened and bullied by his peers.  Some hit Hussein in the head and stomach with their fists, while others threw rocks at him and beat him with sticks.  Tears streamed from Hussein’s eyes, and he screamed in pain as the boys dragged him along the ground by the shirt.  His trouble didn’t stop there.  Every student in the class was required to write and recite the shahada, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” Hussein would not compromise his faith by reciting the shahada.  Annoyed by his disobedience, the religion teacher, an imam, hit him with a wooden rod about 2 feet long and as big around as a quarter.  Hussein endured repeated beatings for refusing to recite the shahada.  “I don’t like saying it,” he explains.  “It isn’t in my heart; it is just meaningless words to me.” After suffering more than three weeks of beatings by the imam, Hussein began to have severe seizures.   Hussein’s parents transferred him to a different school, where he experiences fewer attacks.  Hussein, now 11, says he would never return to Islam even if forced to endure worse abuse.  “Christ said we would suffer for him,” he says. “It’s okay to suffer for Christ, and we should be happy to suffer for Christ.  The Lord is with me.”  [pp. 6-7, The Voice of the Martyrs, April 2012].

 

Conclusion

No persecution or beatings can separate Hussein from Christ’s love.  Nothing will separate us from God’s love, either.  We are more than conquerors in Christ.  Go in peace today with such a conviction that God is your Sovereign Keeper.  He is resolved to keep you forever in His love.  Amen.

Invite the congregation to read together in one voice today’s text personalized as below.

Romans 8:31-39 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (personalized)

31 What then shall I say to these things? If God is for me, who is against me ?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for me, how will He not also with Him freely give me all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for me.35 Who will separate me from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

For Your sake I AM being put to death all day long;
I WAS considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things I overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved me.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.

 

 

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