Monday 17 February 2014

Bible Book:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (v. 35)

Romans 8:31-39 Monday 17 February 2014


These verses draw to its close one of the major sections ofPaul's Letter to the Romans. He began the letter by explaining thatboth Gentiles (non Jews) and Jews turn away from God, in differentways - "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans3:23). He continues by exploring the relationship between sinand righteousness, playing with complex Greek words - 'pistis'which means both 'faith' and 'belief', and 'dikaiosune'which meansboth 'justice' and 'righteousness' - in a dazzling display ofverbal skill underpinned by passionate theological conviction. Heappeals to his hearers as an advocate might do in court: "whatshall we say?" (Romans 4:1; 6:1; 7:7).

Now, Paul has reached his summing up, and the words tumble fromthe page, lyrically expressing his absolute conviction that thereis nothing greater than the love of God, made ours in Christ. Hebegins by referring back to a string of verbs in verse 30: God haspredestined, called, justified, glorified. God, for Paul, ischaracterised by dynamic power. On this basis, then, comes thefinal set of proofs. There is no doubt that God is on our side,since God did not withhold even Jesus, the only son. The words usedhere echo those used to tell the story of Abraham's sacrifice ofIsaac (Genesis 22:1-19), seen in Jewish tradition asthe perfect sacrifice and a source of God's blessing. God'sself-offering in Christ surpasses even this, giving Godself for us.The more closely we understand the bond within God, Father and Son,through the Spirit, the better we can make sense of the Son's deathas God's complete self-abandonment for us.

If God has done all this for us through Christ, we can beconfident that God will not go on to abandon us. And in comparisonwith this, the hostile powers of this world become insignificant.Paul had experienced his own share of troubles for the gospel (thegood news of Jesus) (2Corinthians 11:23-28), and it is likely that the Roman churchtoo had faced problems (Acts18:2). Paul reassures them that this is part of what theyshould expect (verse 36), quoting Psalm44:22, a psalm of lament which asks God the question: 'why doyou hide your face?'. God has now risen up and come to the help ofthe people in their troubles (Psalm44:26). In a world where people believed that hostile powerswere many and dangerous, Paul assures his readers with passionateconviction that nothing at all can separate them from God's love inChrist - the one and only Lord.

To Ponder

  • What difference does it/might it make for you to be 'maderight' with God in your own life?
  • In a society where food banks and payday loan companies arebecoming ever more significant, how can we share the good news thatno deprivation can separate people from God's love in Christ?

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