Here is Love: Romans 8:38-39 What Heights or Depths

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

In the year of our 2018, we have Christians contending that their faith would be unshaken if the resurrection never took place. That argument is nothing new. For the orthodox Christian, this is not our first rodeo. Paul was already dealing with this argument thirty years after Jesus ascended to glory:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 1

Many people today and throughout history love to believe in the love of God, abide in the love of God and attempt to the best of their ability to live by the love of God. But they do that will no mindset or thought about Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

If you receive the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, then there are implications. Namely, I am a sinner in need of a great Savior.

But if I change or disbelieve in sin, sin’s effects upon me and my life and the results of separation apart from God forever—if I think sin is not that big of a deal— then the only thing I have to contend for is just the love of God apart from Jesus Christ our Lord.

What I hope that you, the reader, realize is that there is no love of God apart from Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sure, God has grace for the good and the evil, the just and the unjust. 2 And yes, we all know what John 3:16 says but let us look at the context of John 3:

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” 3

In writing this particular Gospel, the Apostle John never intended for verses, let alone for singular statements to be set apart and taken out of context. (Actually, no author, Biblical or otherwise, wants that.) But verse 16 is known throughout all the land. By itself, we can deduce that God did love the entire world and out of that love he gave his only begotten Son.

Here is the rub: the world expects that that they will be saved because God love them so much by given them His Son. I am not saying they are explicitly thinking this. But they are living under a presumption of the love of God that saves everybody. But we can clearly see in this passage that there is a distinction between those who do not believe and those who believe.

John goes on to say:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 4

This verse (and with the rest of the Bible) flies in the face of what the world thinks is the love of God.

The love of God for you has to be through Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior in order for you to be saved to God. Apart from Jesus, you then remain under the wrath of God.

To the Christian, the 8th chapter of Romans is a full-blown out description of Christ as the path of life, the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore 5. This is a book that cries out, “See what God has done! Come to Him, one who gives great love and sweet rest for your tiresome soul!”

Let me contend to you that God has spelled out precisely what His love is all about—that is, it was all about Jesus Christ his Son.

For here is love: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.6

And here is love: “She shall bare a son and you shall call his name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.7

And here is love: “For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.8

And here is love: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.9

And here is love:
… Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’10

And here is love: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.11

And here is love: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.12

And here is love: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus our Lord.13

And, “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.” 14

The birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ is the love of God manifested to us all. Believe in him, trust in him, and obey him and you will have eternal life.

But if I am honest with myself, my belief, trust, and love for God waivers. I get distracted. I have let the world wear me down. Here’s a frightening thought: what if God’s love was solely based on my own love for Him?

That thought terrifies me because I can do nothing perfect. Ever.

But by the sheer grace of God, I do not have to be.

Let me fall away seven million times, but I am counted righteous unto him and get up seven millionth and one more.

Let all of life wear me down. And then watch the Father come running after me to rescue me yet again that I might live to Him.

Let death come knocking on my door. But yet, Death is a defeated foe because my Savior championed over Death. I will step on Death’s prostrated neck and spring forth to glory and perfect relationship with God. 15

Let angels, rulers, and powers come at me! For my Christ Jesus is the Commander of the Most High and the Grand Champion and Conqueror over Satan, demons, sin, hell, and death. He is my shield, my sword, strong tower and mighty fortress. I shall not be moved!

Let circumstances fall where they may. There is nothing that I have done or will ever do that would reconstruct the eternal chasm between God and myself. Why? Jesus Christ fills the void and is the measure and distant between the eternal God and me.

My God ascends to glory far above and away from my sins. Yet, despite the dark depths of my sin and depravity, my Christ Jesus went deeper still to eradicated my sins once and for all.

Let the cosmos fall. Let this planet be torn asunder. Let the unthinkable happen. My Lord is Lord above all and in his hand are power and might over all.

Nothing, absolutely nothing will separate me from God’s love for me that only comes through Jesus Christ my precious Lord and Savior. Amen.

Notes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:12–14
  2. Matthew 5:45
  3. John 3:12–21
  4. John 3:36
  5. Psalm 16:11
  6. Genesis 3:15
  7. Matthew 1:21
  8. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  9. Ezekiel 11:19-20
  10. Romans 9:25-26
  11. John 3:16
  12. Romans 8:1
  13. Romans 8:38-39
  14. 1 John 4:10
  15. 385. Octavius Winslow, No Condemnation In Christ

Fullness in Christ

... that it is my duty, out of a sense of emptiness, to go to Christ, possess, enjoy his fullness as mine, as if I had it in myself, because it is for me in him; that when I do this I am full of the Spirit, as a fish that has got from the shore to the sea and has all fullness of waters to move in, for when faith fills me, then I am full; that this is the way to be filled with the Spirit, like Stephen, first faith, then fullness, for this way makes me most empty, and so most fit for the Spirit to fill.

– from Fullness in Christ
The Valley of Vision

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:4b Fear No Evil

My God,

I fear no evil.

For your precious Son has already conquered sin, Satan, demons, hell, and death.

I have no enemies on earth. Those are not my real enemies.

Rulers, princes, and principalities: they crouch for my soul. They wait to devour my heart. They do not hesitate to fire a million arrows of fire just to consume my being.

But you, O Lord, are my strength, my armour, my fortress and strong tower. It is in you alone that I trust forever.

You have slewed the dragon.

Of whom can I be afraid? You are my Lord and my God forever.

Christ the Word

When I sin against thee I cross thy will, love, life, and have no comforter, no creature, to go to. My sin is not so much this or that particular evil, but my continual separation, disunion, distance from thee, and having a loose spirit towards thee. But thou hast given me a present, Jesus thy Son, as Mediator between thyself and my soul, as middle-man who in a pit holds both him below and him above, for only he can span the chasm breached by sin, and satisfy divine justice.

– from Christ the Word
The Valley of Vision