NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
“As it is written:
For your sake we face death all day long;
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life; neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future; nor any powers; neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39.
These are some of the most loved and treasured words in the whole Bible. Over the past eight chapters, Paul has built his case for the power and effectiveness of the gospel against the backdrop of real hardship. Believers were alone in the world. Both Jews and Gentiles were against them, and not just mildly antagonistic; they were murderously anti them, to the extent that they martyred Christians everywhere for their faith, even as Paul wrote.
Even as I write, the persecution of believers is escalating in the Middle East. Brutality against people simply because they believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, is driving people from their homes and taking their lives in hundreds and thousands.
Did Paul have an answer to this carnage? Does the gospel really work? Why does God allow these things to happen? Why does He not intervene to protect His people? Where is His power now?
God has given us enough evidence to persuade us of His love for us. He did intervene, but not just to rescue us from physical death. There is so much more to life than breathing. He sent His only Son to rescue us from eternal death. By dying and rising again, Jesus conquered death. Death no longer has the power to hold us in its eternal grip. Yes, His children may have to face a gruesome and horrible death, but it is only the gateway to a new life where there is no more death.
Killing people for their faith is the worst that the enemy can do. All they are doing is facilitating what must happen to us anyway. Jesus viewed His death from another perspective, not as the violent end to His life or as a terrible waste of a young life, but as the planting of a seed. From His death would come a harvest of new life in the many who would believe in Him.
One of the early church fathers, Tertullian, wrote of the martyrdom of believers in his day, “As often as we are mown down by you, the more we grow in numbers; the blood of the Christians is the seed.” (http://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/tertullian).
Those who kill Christians think that they are getting rid of them. If only they would realise that everyone they plant in the ground will produce a harvest of many more. Since God has done everything necessary to bring us back to Himself, there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can separate us from Him love, not even martyrdom.
Whatever happens to us, good or bad, can only serve to strengthen our faith in Him and our experience of His faithfulness. God allows us to go through tough experiences, not to punish us or alienate us from Him but to purify our faith and to strengthen our confidence in Him. He surrounds and steadies us in the storms of life so that we can know, without a doubt, that we are His deeply loved children.
Does the gospel work? Yes! A thousand times, yes! Jesus died to remove our sin and reconcile us to the Father. His life in us gives us power to overcome the desire to satisfy fleshly lusts and sets us free from the fear of death. Tragic as it is that believers are being slaughtered for their faith in Jesus, death is not the end but the doorway into God’s immediate presence and the fullness of life.
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