Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 5 Study # 5
Thesis: God is still "for us" even if we are not "for Him".
Introduction: In our studies of Paul's declaration that God is "for us", we have looked into two major questions. First, can "another", by accusation, cause God to act to destroy us? As an absolute element in this question is the fact that the accusations are true. God does not refrain from moving to destroy us because we are innocent. He, according to the apostle, refrains from moving to destroy us because He has "justified" us.
Second, is God, Himself, of such a character that He really wishes to "condemn" us? Though Paul would never admit that to be true, for the sake of argument he allows the lie to stand so that he might show how that, even if it were true, He still could not/would not follow through. Why? Because, on the one hand, Christ both died in our stead for our sins and was raised again on the third day to absolutely validate the effectiveness of that death; and, on the other hand, Christ is at the right hand of God so that, even if God did want to destroy us in His heart of hearts, Christ could argue for the fallen saints in "intercession".
Thus, God is "for us" most fundamentally because He is the Author of both the Plan and the effective means of justification.
This evening we are going one step further as we look into Paul's third question: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? In actuality, this is the only question left. Can "another" bring us to destruction? No, God has justified us. Is God, Himself, really "out to get us"? No, even if He were, there is the death, resurrection, and intercession of the Son in His way. Well, then, what about the only category of person left? Can we bring on our own destruction by alienating the interceding Christ?
Let's look into Paul's question as he expresses it himself. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
June 3, 2008
- I. The Significance of Such a Separation.
- A. In the first question, the issue was "accusation unto destruction".
- B. In the second question, the issue was "condemnation out of the deepest root of God's character".
- C. There is no reason to think that this third question has anything different in mind.
- 1. Separation from love has two elements at issue.
- a. The first issue is the outer "what" that love provides.
- b. The second issue is the inner "what" that love provides.
- 2. Paul is addressing both of these elements, but not equally.
- a. He is fundamentally addressing the outer what: can anyone get Christ to withdraw the external provisions of His love?
- b. He is also, however, addressing the inner what because it is his interest not only to establish our security in the love of Christ theologically, but as an integrated part of our inner life.
- 1) This can only be done by persuasion.
- 2) Faith makes experience what it is.
- a) Experiencing the impact of love within is absolutely dependent upon the attitude a person takes in the setting and not even Paul can deny that we can be separated from the experience that a good attitude creates.
- b) Paul's denial of "separation" is about the objective, outer, impact of love.
- II. The Significance of the Question.
- A. It is cast in a "who" sense.
- B. But its reality is an "I" sense.
- 1. It is already clear from the two preceding questions that "others" will be ineffectual in any attempt to bring us to destruction.
- 2. The only persons left who might be able to bring us to that destruction are the persons who react to the actions of the others that are in the picture.
- a. There are two such "reactors".
- 1) One is the one being subjected to the named actions: the child of God.
- 2) The other is the One being subjected to the reactions of the first reactor.
- b. The question: Will Christ, in any sense, be persuaded to withdraw the overt, objective fruit of His love for any of the children of God?
- c. The issues of the text.
- 1) Without exception, all of the particular difficulties named are in the mix because of the intention of evil men to attempt to force the saints into compromising, ungodly, disloyalty to Christ.
- 2) In no sense whatever can the question be tied to the right responses of the saints.
- a) It would make no sense whatever to ask if Christ would withdraw His love from a faithful believer.
- b) Nor does it make any sense for Paul to deny the undeniable fact that the difficulties others heap upon the saints often cause their disloyalty. [It is noteworthy that Paul does not even address the disloyalties of the children of God that are caused, not by their subjection to difficulties created by others, but by their own lusts in good times.]
- c) This means that Paul's question is a question of Christ's reaction to the illegitimate reaction of the child of God.
- 3) The bottom line, then, is this: does the unbelief of the child of God cause Christ to cast them away from His love?
- III. The Impact of the Old Testament Quotation.
- A. The quote comes from Psalm 44:22, a psalm that questions why the faithful are being mistreated.
- B. The point of the quote is basic: God has planned that those faithful to Him will be subject to great difficulties without deliverance because of their faithfulness.
- C. The challenge of the quote becomes huge: what are we to do about a God Who allows those most faithful to suffer the most?
- IV. The Resolution of the Issues.
- A. We will not be cast off by Christ for any cause.
- B. We are to respond to His loyalty with a loyalty of our own.