Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reflection: Romans 8:35-39 (John Stott, The Message of Romoans: God’s Good News for the World)
God’s Spirit in God’s children (8:1–39)
The Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.
(vs 28–39) The steadfastness of God’s love
The eternal security of God’s people, on account of the eternal unchangeability of God’s purpose, …is itself due to the eternal steadfastness of God’s love.
(vs 31–39) Five unanswerable questions
Question 5: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (35a).
Paul brings forward a sample list of adversities and adversaries that might be thought of as coming between us and Christ’s love. He mentions seven possibilities (35b). He begins with trouble, hardship and persecution, which together seem to denote the pressures and distresses caused by an ungodly and hostile world. He goes on to famine or nakedness, the lack of adequate food and clothing…. Paul concludes his list with danger or sword, meaning perhaps the risk of death on the one hand and the experience of it on the other…. A willingness for martyrdom is certainly the final test of Christian faith and faithfulness.
Those of us who have never had to suffer physically for Christ should perhaps read verses 35–39 alongside verses 35–39 of Hebrews 11, which list unnamed people of faith who were tortured, jeered at, flogged, chained, stoned, and even sawn in half. Faced with such heroism, there is no place for glibness or complacency. Nevertheless, can pain, misery and loss separate Christ’s people from his love? No! On the contrary, far from alienating us from him, in all these things (even while we are enduring them) Paul dares to claim that we are more than conquerors. For we not only bear them with fortitude but triumph over them, and so ‘are winning a most glorious victory’ through him who loved us (37).
Everything in creation is under the control of God the Creator and of Jesus Christ the Lord. That is why nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (39b).
Paul’s five questions are not arbitrary. They are all about the kind of God we believe in. Together they affirm that absolutely nothing can frustrate God’s purpose (since he is for us), or quench his generosity (since he has not spared his Son), or accuse or condemn his elect (since he has justified them through Christ), or sunder us from his love (since he has revealed it in Christ).
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen