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Bible Search
The Security of Salvation #11

 

Salvation is Irrevocable - Part 3
Romans 8:35-39
 
Open your Bibles to Romans chapter 8 as we come to the final portion of this great chapter. In Jeremiah 31:3 God said to His people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."
 
That is the kind of love that God places upon those who belong to Him eternally. And that's what we've been learning in this great chapter.
 
It all began in verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." If you're in Christ, if you've been placed in Christ, into union with Christ in faith in Him, there will never be any condemnation. The rest of the chapter goes on to demonstrate why that is true and culminates at the very end in verses 31 to 39 by answering any possible objections.
 
Verse 31, "What then shall we say to these things?" What can we expect as a response? Well, this anticipates that some will object. Some are going to say, "Well, in spite of all that we've learned, we could lose our salvation, it is possible."
So Paul takes the conceivable objections and answers them as he closes this chapter.
 
He starts in verse 31 by saying, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Who could be successful in overturning God's plan? Well the answer, of course, is no one because no one is more powerful than God. And if God has determined that we're in a no-condemnation status, and that no-condemnation status is eternal, no one can alter that.
 
God is greater than anyone He has created.
Therefore, no person can successfully remove our no-condemnation status. 
 
Now somebody might suggest that God might remove our salvation. But that is answered in verses 31 and 32. 
 
"God is for us." And verse 32 says, "He who did not spare His own Son, God who gave up His Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him...that is along with giving us His Son...freely give us all things?" In other words, if He gave us the greatest gift to save us, He will give us the lesser gift to keep us.
 
Somebody might suggest, "Well, maybe Satan can cause God to remove our salvation by accusing of before God. Maybe Satan can cause God to let go of us."
 
Verse 33, "Who will bring a charge against God's elect?" Answer: Satan will, "He is the accuser of the brethren but unsuccessful because God is the One who justifies."
 
Verse 34. Satan may be the one who condemns, but Christ Jesus is He who died, yes who was raised, is at the right hand of God who also intercedes for us."
 
And Christ won't let us go either, He already died for us, rose for us and now is at the right hand of God interceding for us. And we saw that all in our last study. There is not a person, or persons who can cause us to lose our salvation.
 
Then we come to verse 35 and we come to the matter of circumstances. If persons cannot cause us to lose our salvation, if we can't do it ourselves, if other people can't do it, as we saw, if God won't let go of us, if Satan can't cause it to happen, if Christ won't because He is ever living to intercede for us, is it possible that some circumstance could do it?
What if under the pressure of temptation we would fall and reject Christ? What if the cost of discipleship is so high and the price to pay for following Christ so great that we're no longer willing to do that?
 
Well, that takes us to verses 35 to 37.
 
Now verse 35 can be looked at two ways: Either it is the conclusion to what is being said about persons, or it is the beginning of a new thought. If it is the conclusion, then the correct word to begin with is “who”. 
 
If it is the beginning of a new thought, then the correct word to begin with is “what”. 
 
There isn't anything that can separate us from the love of Christ. And though that implies our love to Him, it most notably speaks of His love for us.
 
Verse 37, "Him who loved us."
Verse 39, "The love of God," which obviously in that context He has for us.
 
So those verses would lead us to believe that the primary issue here is His love for us, though certainly it brings into mind our love for Him.
Is there anything that can cause us to lose our love for Him and therefore have Him cease loving us?
 
Well, the answer to that could come from John 13: 1. We looked at this a number of weeks ago, and now we come full circle back to it today. 
 
In John 13, the feast of Passover was about to happen and Jesus was very much aware that He was going to die, and it says at the end of verse 1, "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end."
 
He loved them to the max. That's what it means. He loved them supremely, He loved them perfectly. He loved them completely. He loved them ultimately. And what that is saying is, God loves His own who are in the world to the full and complete extent of His capability of loving. That is a remarkable thing.
 
And I might add that it has nothing to do with whether we are lovable, because there was hardly a time when the disciples were less lovable than at the very moment of John 13. They were in the upper room. It was the night that Judas was going to betray Jesus. They were having the the last supper, the Passover meal. Judas was about to be dismissed from that gathering and he would go immediately and sell Jesus who then the next day would be taken captive and crucified.
 
The disciples were disinterested in what was going on with regard to Jesus. In fact, they are much more concerned about themselves, so much so that they were in the middle of a debate about which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom.
 
Jesus told them that He was going to die. He had told them what was coming. They literally let it run off like water on a duck's back. Instead, they were arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. They were really very unlovable at that moment.
 
And isn't it wonderful that the text of Scripture chooses that very moment in which to tell us that Jesus loved them to the max? And the bottom line is: His love for us is an eternal love, set upon us, not because we are loveable or because we deserve it. We’ve not done anything to achieve it and we’ll not do anything to lose it. 
 
Why? He loved His own who were in the world to the max.
 
And then it goes on to tell you something else about these typical believers. They were sitting at dinner already eating and nobody had washed feet. Now that's not a big issue in your house, because you keep your feet covered all day.
 
It's a big issue there because the roads are either muddy or dusty, nothing is paved except some stone streets, and most people would walk on dirt all day. They wore sandals and supper like this, a Passover meal like this was hours together and it was more than sitting in a chair.
 
It was reclining and if your head reclined, you tended to recline toward somebody's feet. Common courtesy indicated that there should be a foot washing. And it was the lowest slave on the social totem pole who had that job. And since they rented the upper room, probably no slave came with it.
 
And none of the disciples was about to volunteer since they were all arguing about who was the greatest, and none of them wanted to disqualify himself from such consideration by taking the role of a servant. They were exhibiting selfishness, indifference and pride. And Jesus Himself had to get up, take off His outer garment leaving only His inner cloak, put a towel around His waist, and do the dirty work Himself.
 
I say all of that to say there's nothing to indicate that they were worth loving at this moment. But the love of God is not dependent on how we act in any given circumstance in life. It is an unending love. At that very time He loved them to the very max. That is just a profound truth.
 
So, the question is then, back to Romans 8, is there anything that can separate us from Him loving us to the max? He loves us to the fullest extent that it is possible for Him to love His creature. He cannot love any creature more than He loves His own. That's just incredible. Is there anything that can come into our lives and affect us in such a way as to cause us the forfeiture of that love?
 
That is what is being asked here in verse 35. Well, the answer is here in verses. Is it tribulation, is it distress, is it persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword?  Can any of those things do it?
 
Tribulation means pressure or outward difficulty. It could be bodily harm or accusation or rejection.
 
And then the word "distress" probably means inward difficulty. This is an interesting word. "Distress" means to be hemmed in to a narrow way from which there is no escape. Are there temptations that are so inescapable? External pressures, internal temptations so inescapable that we just can't sustain our faith? Can they cause us to totally collapse so that there's absolutely no way out?
 
What about persecution? What about abuse for the cause of Christ?  Can that break the back of our faith? What about famine? Not even having necessary food, being deprived? What about nakedness? That means you don't have any clothes, nothing to wear. You're so poor and impoverished, you don't have any food and you don't have necessary clothing.
 
What about peril? That simply means being exposed to danger that you can't identify. Fear is what's involved there, the dread of potential and impending disaster. What about the sword? What's that talking about? Execution.
What about all that? Can that do it? Is that a powerful enough catalogue of circumstances as to destroy true faith?
 
Well we know one thing: it will destroy shallow illegitimate faith.
 
Jesus talked about seed that went in to the stony ground and came up for a little while but as soon as there was persecution, it died and never bore any fruit. We know false faith can be destroyed by persecution. False faith, according to the rest of that parable and that thorny weedy ground can even be destroyed just by the love of the world, the love of riches which is a form of temptation.
 
But the question is can the real stuff, real true faith, genuine salvation be devastated by these things? Can they drive us to doubt if we're genuinely God's? Can they drive us to sin? Can they drive us to the rejection of Jesus Christ and the abandonment of our faith and hope and trust in Him?
 
When we struggle with those kinds of things, does that mean He’s stopped  loving us? No.
 
In fact, verse 36 says, "We expect it, this stuff is supposed to come just as it is written."
Jesus said "In this world you shall have all that tribulation."
 
In John 16 He says, "They're going to take you prisoner, they're going to bring you before the councils, they're going to take your life."
 
This is what it says and Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long. We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
 
All the saints have endured that. That's not surprising. That just kind of goes along with belonging to God because the hating world is going to persecute the Lord's own.
 
What is the proper response of the child of God? 
 
Look at verse 37. "No...he says...but in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
 
We are super-conquerors, winners of a resounding victory. To put it in the sport's vernacular, we trounced them, we obliterate them. We defeat them in an overwhelming fashion.
That's what the phrase, “more than conquerors” means, super conquerors.
 
In all our trials, in all persecutions, in all our temptations, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, in all of that we don't just barely eke by, we are triumphant, we are victorious.
 
The trial works to our greater good. Those kinds of trials in our lives make us humble, drive us to God, expose us to greater grace, break our self-confidence and make us powerful. They enable us to strengthen others. So he says we overwhelmingly conquer, not in our own strength but through Him who, what? Loved us.
 
Listen: here’s what you need to hold on to: When you're going through all of that, He never lets go. He loves us all the way through that and He holds on to that. It is an unbreakable bond.
 
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing. In all the things that come we will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us because His love for us will never be broken. 
 
We may have our moments of doubt, but our faith will not die. 
 
And so he says in summing it up in verse 38, "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
 
Folks, that says everything that could possibly be said. I am persuaded...this is a confident declaration of a Holy Spirit inspired man, I have a settled conclusion and I'm telling you this, not even death, the great enemy, not even death can separate us, not even the gates of Hell which Satan wants to use against us.
 
The devil says, I think I’ll just kill you . So what? For us, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Death can't separate us from the love of Christ, in fact death just ushers us into it, doesn't it?
 
What about life? Life with all its dangers, life with all its difficulties, life with all its temptations, life with all its trials?
What he is saying here is there is no state of being here or there, live or dead, there is no state of being in which we can be separated from the love of Christ.
 
There is no sphere in which you could exist. There is no state of being in which you could exist which would be outside the eternal love of Christ.
 
And there is no created thing: andgels or principalities, that is good angels or bad angels, no holy angel and no demon can interfere. There is no state of being in which you could be separated from the love of Christ and there are no supernatural angelic beings either good or evil who could effect such a separation.
 
And then just to throw in anything else, "Nor things present, nor things to come." There is nothing here and now, there's nothing in the present age, in the present time at the present moment and there's nothing in any future time, any future age or any future moment, including the judgment of God that's coming on the world.
 
You know, it's really sad when you meet people who don't know if they're Christians. Their eternal destiny is up in the air. 
They don't know if they're going to make it, they don’t know if they can hang on; they are worried that it may be okay right now, but I don't know what's going to happen in the future and they live in fear and the worst fear if you ever die with any unconfessed sin, you might not know about it but God does and when you get to the judgment you'll be cast into hell.
 
Listen to these verses again: There is nothing that could happen in the future, including the judgment of God, that could separate you from the love of Christ. No state of being, no supernatural power either good or evil angels, and no dimension of time or eternity...not the present and not the future, not now and not ever could we be separated from the love of Christ.
 
And then he adds, "Nor powers..." When used plural in a plural form in the New Testament, it most frequently refers to miracles.
 
There is no mighty work or supernatural miracle that can undo our security. So no state of being, no supernatural creature, no period in time or eternity and no power source in existence could separate you from the love of Christ.
And then if that's not enough, he says, "Nor height, nor depth..." You say, "What does that mean?" Well, that just covers everything. Height is an astrological term.
 
It was a term used to describe the orbit of a star or the apex of the orbit of a star. When a star was at its zenith, the highest point that they could imagine, or conceive of.
 
It’s Paul’s way of saying, there's nothing in infinite space above, there's nothing in depth. That was the term used to describe the star at its lowest point of orbit. There's nothing that the extreme and infinite point of the highest heaven and the extreme and infinite point of the lowest heaven...there's nothing anywhere from one heaven to the other that can separate us from the love of Christ.
 
There is no state of being, not in time or eternity, there is no created being whether holy angel or an evil one, there is no dimension of time either in time or eternity, there is no source of power, and there is no place in the endless universe where there is anything that can ever sever us from the love of Christ.
 
Nothing in this life or the life to come, nothing in time, nothing in eternity, nothing in the world of angels, nothing in the world of demons, no power, nothing on earth, nothing in the infinite heavens, and just in case someone says, "Except..." he adds, "Nor any other created thing." No exceptions, none shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 
You understand that the love of God toward us is all bound up in Christ and the reason God has set His eternal love on us is because He has covered us with the righteousness of Christ so that His love for us is not conditioned on what we are, but on what Christ is. Understood? And that can't change, that's unalterable.
 
You notice in verses 31 to 34 the emphasis is on the love of God, in verses 35 to 39 it's on the love of Christ and the two are linked inseparably.
 
Nothing can change it. All of our failures and all of our stumblings and all of our sins and all of our willful disobedience doesn't change the fact that He loves us to the max and His love is ours from eternity to eternity. He has set His love upon us in eternity past, and He will love us throughout eternity future.
And He loves us not because of what we are but because of what we have become in Christ. He loves what we are in Christ.
 
One of the greatest hymns about the secure love of God was penned by a man by the name of George Mathison. 
 
Mathison was born in the city of Glasgow, Scotland on June 6th, 1842. As a boy, he had only partial vision, and by the he was 18, he was totally blind.
 
Despite his blindness, he was a brilliant scholar at the University of Glasgow, both in the university and the seminary. Amazingly, he became the pastor of a two thousand member church in Edinburgh and became one of the greatest preachers and pastors of his day. 
 
George he never married. But there's a story about why he never married. Early in life, when he was in his late teens, he became engaged to a young lady, and all was going well until he told her just before their marriage that he had just learned that he would soon be totally blind.
 
Upon hearing that, she left him.
It was out of the pain of that very experience that he wrote a tribute to the love of God which never forsakes. The hymn went like this:
 
"O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe
that in Thine ocean depths its flow
may richer fuller be."
 
With a girl it was a love that easily let him go.
 
But with God it was a love that wouldn't.
 
And we're right back where we started, Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."
 
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