Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nothing can separate us from the Love of God

It has been a tough week at First Assembly of God as we have had several people that we love go home to be with the Lord. We celebrate for them, but grieve for those left behind. I want to share with you something that blessed me this morning as I read from Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek."

Paul said, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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" (Romans 8:38,39).

Notice that Paul said, "For I am persuaded." The word "persuaded" is the Greek word peitho. It means to be persuaded, to be convinced, or to be swayed from one opinion to the opinion held by another. This word describes a person who has been coaxed from a particular conviction to embrace a different one. Furthermore, the Greek tense implies that this was a persuasion that had occurred to Paul in the past but is still so strong that it continues to be his conviction in the present. He was persuaded, and he continues to be persuaded. It could therefore be translated, "For I have been persuaded, and I remain convinced."

The word "death" is the Greek word thanatos, the Greek word for physical death, but it can also be used to depict mortal danger or a dangerous circumstance. In this case, Paul's primary meaning is that the love of God is so strong, even physical death cannot separate us from His divine love. Death may separate us from the earth and from people we love, but it is impossible for death to separate us from the love of God, for God's love doesn't stop with the cessation of life.

It is a fact that many believers feel overwhelmed by the situations they face in life. In fact, they often feel so confused and weighed down that they wonder if God is still near to them. This is precisely why Paul adds that even life cannot separate a believer from the love of Jesus Christ.

Just as the word thanatos describes physical death, this particular word for "life," the Greek word zoe, refers to physical life. Paul uses this word to let us know that neither the cessation of one's physical life nor the complex issues and events related to one's life on this earth are strong enough to separate a believer from the love of God.

Next, Paul lets us know that no spiritual being, good or bad, has enough power to separate us from God's love. The word "angels" is the Greek word angelos, which refers to brilliant, spiritual, angelic beings. Such angelic beings are extraordinarily strong, as is evidenced by hundreds of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament.

The word "principalities" is from the word archai. This is the same word that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12, where he describes the rank and file of the devil's kingdom. The word archai is the plural for archos, the Greek word for a ruler or one who has long held a lofty position of power. The plural version of this word depicts an entire group of high- ranking demon spirits that have held their positions of power since the most ancient times. Although angels and demonic powers are indeed strong, they are not strong enough to disconnect a believer from God's love.

Paul also mentions "powers." This is taken from the word dunamis, which is the Greek word that sometimes depicted the powerful governments of men. Certainly Paul had been arrested, bound, and restricted by evil governments on many occasions, but none of these actions were ever sufficiently powerful to separate him from the love of God. A jail cell may have separated Paul from other believers. However, even in the deepest, darkest, most gruesome prison cell, Paul tangibly felt and personally experienced the love of God.

In addition to these points Paul has already mentioned, he uses the phrase "things present" to let us know that nothing that currently exists is able to prevent a person from experiencing God's love. The words "things present" are derived from the Greek word enistemi, a compound of the words en and histemi. The word en means in, and the word histemi means to stand. Thus, when these two words are joined to form the word enistemi, the new word describes something that is presently standing in its place. In this case, it means nothing presently existing or nothing that currently stands is sufficient to separate a believer from the all-powerful presence of God's love.

But Paul doesn't stop with the things that presently exist. He goes on to say that "things to come" are also not able to separate a believer from the love of God. The Greek word used here is from the word mello, and it describes events that will occur in the future. These are things that haven't happened yet, but will take place in the days and years to come. Paul has already said that nothing currently existing is strong enough to separate a believer from the love of God. Now he boldly declares that nothing will ever happen in the future that will contain enough power to hinder a believer from knowing and experiencing God's love.

As he continues, Paul also declares that neither "height, nor depth" shall be able to separate us from the love of God. The word "height" is the Greek word hupsuma, which expresses the notion of something that is overhead. It would include anything that is lofty, such as the sky and the heavens above. The word "depth" is the word bathos, the Greek word that expresses the notion of something that is exceedingly deep, like the deepest, darkest parts of the sea. Now Paul uses these illustrations to say that nothing in the sky or in the deepest parts of the earth has the power to keep one of God's children from knowing and experiencing His love.

To make sure absolutely everything is included in this comprehensive list, Paul adds "any other creature" to the list. The word "creature" is the Greek word ktisis, and it categorically refers to all created things in both the physical and spiritual worlds. Absolutely nothing in either of these spheres "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The words "shall be able" is from the word dunamai, which describes strength, capacity, or ability. The word "separate" is the Greek word choridzo, meaning to sunder, to sever, to disunite, to tear apart, to disconnect, to cut off, to disengage, or to withdraw. Notice that Paul says that nothing is capable of tearing a believer "from" the love of God. The word "from" is the Greek word apo, which means away and implies distance. This clearly means that there is nothing that can put distance between a believer and his Heavenly Father.

In light of the meanings of these Greek words in Romans 8:38 and 39, an interpretive translation of this verse could read:

"I have been persuaded, and I remain convinced, that neither death, nor the complications that often arise in life, nor powerful angelic beings, nor even an entire group of high-ranking demonic spirits, nor anything that currently exists, nor anything that could potentially happen in the future, nor any political power, nor anything in the highest heavens, nor anything that resides in the deepest depths, nor anything that has ever been created is capable of disconnecting us from the love of God or of putting any distance between us and the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Never forget this message Paul proclaimed. Nothing in this world has enough power to disconnect you from the love of God. No angel, no demon, no government, no creature — and no mistake of your own making — will ever be capable of cutting you off from the love of God. God's love is greater than man will ever be able to comprehend. It reaches to the highest mountain, and it penetrates to the lowest parts of the earth. Regardless of what you are facing in your life today, God's love is with you — and nothing will ever be able to disconnect you from this awesome, powerful, all-consuming love! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


Anonymous said...

As usual, this is exactly what I needed to hear today.