God's Triumphant Love!
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul strains at the leash of language to tell of the triumphant love God made available in the gospel of God. Five times in this great chapter, Paul has asked questions to draw out the amazing privileges of belonging to Jesus Christ. Verse 31: If God is for us, who can be against us? Verse 32: How will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Verse 33: Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? Verse 34: Who is to condemn? Verse 35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Paul raises questions relating to horrible things that could come our way in life in order to affirm and confirm that God's love is triumphant; that no thing or person can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God's love is not the sloppy, slushy, sentimental, sensual concept that passes for love in our modern society. John Piper defined the love of God as, "his doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost to himself or to us, so that we will see and be satisfied by the love of God in Christ forever and ever."
Love is not just one of God’s many attribute. For example, God is wrathful toward sin, but Scripture never says God is wrath, because his wrath has reference to something outside of himself - our sin. There was a time in eternity past when God's wrath had no expression. But there has never been a time when God was not love, for the love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father is eternal.
Absent sin, God could still be God without wrath. Absent sin, God could still be God without mercy. Absent sin, God could still be God without patience. But God cannot be God without love, for God is love, and there has never been a moment, and never will be a moment, when he is not.
It is easy to think that God and his love must revolve around me and my problems, and we evaluate his love based on how we feel he's doing at loving us. But God's love was perfect before we ever arrived on the scene, and it will remain perfect long after we leave. The eternal and therefore prior love of the Father and the Son for each other reminds us that at the end of the day, life and love is not about me. Though the love of God for me is real, it is also derivative, an overflow of this most fundamental love within the Trinity itself.
Many today look around at the scary global events and wonder if the disciple John were writing today would he still say, "God is love," in the face of this world's tragedies? The answer to the question isn't found by looking around for evidence in the world. The answer is found by looking at God, and the revelation of his love for his Son, Jesus Christ. If we find love firmly established in the nature of God, then there is hope, despite what we encounter here. After all, the ultimate reality of the universe is God, and God is love.
Look with me at a few of the traits of God's triumphant love:
- The Love of God is Unaffected by the Most Extreme Changes of Our Condition -- 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."
The Apostle begins his catalogue of vanquished foes by a pair of possible enemies that cover the whole ground and represent the extremes of change which can befall us. The one stands at the one pole, the other at the other. The most violent change which we can experience does not in the least matter to the grasp which the love of God has on us.
Life, with all its ups and downs, moments of happiness and moments of horror; moments of glee and moments of grief; life itself is unable to affect the love of God for His people one bit!
Death, the inevitable enemy who severs and separates us from family and friends, does not, in the slightest degree, affect the essential nature of the eternal life of the soul of the believer; so it does not, in the slightest degree, affect the outflow of God’s love to that soul. And the cause of that death is incidental, whether it be at the hand’s of an enemy, or by disease, or by one's own hands. It does not alter the eternal love and life of God that is the unforfeitable possession of every child of God. Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39).
- The Love of God is Undiverted from Us by Any Other Order of Beings. - ‘Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,’ says Paul. This expression refers to evil fallen angels, including the Devil and all of his demons. Good angels would never attempt to separate God and his people. They rejoice at their good, minister to them, are their guardians while here, at death they carry their souls to heaven, and at the last day will gather all the elect together. But evil angels do endeavor to separate them by convincing believers that they are hopeless and have no future here; by temptations to sin, and accusations for it; by stirring up heresies and persecutions, to destroy them. However, they cannot succeed because the saints are upon God's heart, in Christ's hands, and the Spirit of God is in them. So, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
- The Love of God is Unbreakable by the Power of Time. - "...nor things present, nor things to come ..."
Nothing that can happen to us today, or at any time in the future, can separate us from the love of God.
Looking on all the flow of ceaseless change, the waste and fading, the alienation and cooling, the graying and decaying of our bodies, we can lift up with gladness, heightened by the contrast, the triumphant song of the Old Testament people of God: “Give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good: because His mercy endures forever." We can add and his love is ever-lasting, his promises are steadfast and sure, and we as believers in Christ have been birthed into the ever-living, ever-loving, ever-lasting family of God!”
- The Love of God is Unlimited in Its Dimensions. - "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Neither the height of prosperity and preferment, nor the depth of adversity and disgrace; nothing from heaven above, no storms, no tempests; nothing on earth below, no rocks, no seas, no dungeons can separate us from the love of God.
- The Love of God is Unknowable Except in and Through Christ Jesus Our Lord. - True, there is a general love of God for all mankind, but there is a special love that can be found only in a believing, trusting, love relationship with God made possible through Christ Jesus, who is your Lord.
We read in 1 John 4:9, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." When God would show His power, He makes a world. When God would show His wisdom, He puts the world in a frame and form with a backdrop of vastness that staggers mortal minds. When God would manifest the grandeur and glory of His name, He makes a heaven and puts angels and archangels in it. When God would manifest His love, He becomes a man. He then permits men, whom He had created, to chop down a tree that he had also created, and nail Him to it.
Based on the terms of the New Covenant, God's people can live in the calm peace and blessed assurance that although they may fall grievously ‑ they will not fall from grace; that though they are sorely chastened by the Father ‑ they will not be condemned with the world.
Jesus said in John 10:28, "And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
When time is no more, eternity will reveal that all His sheep have been safely brought into the fold; that not one member of His mystical body, the Church, will be missing; that not one empty place will be found at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The hymn writer summed it up so eloquently:
The work which his goodness began the arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Believing what God says about His love for us and our Home in Him and His in us provides true identity, internal beauty, and progressive maturity!
The basis of our identity is of utmost importance. Most people try to answer the question of their identity by what they do for a living, where they go to school, how lovely their family is, what they own, etc.
If you come to understand that as a child of God, you have been chosen as a nothing and nobody who has become everything to the most important Somebody in this Universe ‑ Jesus ‑ then you can get down and do the little and lowly tasks that no one else is willing to do without feeling that you're being treated as trash. My identity is not found in my job assignment or in the assessment of other persons, but in the forever acceptance and approval that I have with the Father, as He sees me in Christ as Christ, and loves me in Christ as Christ.
It is the unmerited, unobligated, and unmanipulated love of the sovereign God revealed to believers through Jesus Christ that is mankind's only hope of salvation. There is no hope of salvation for humanity; and there are no solutions to mankind's critical problems beside that wonderful gift of God's love to the world ‑ the Lord Jesus Christ.