Nothing Can Cut You Off From God’s Love in Christ

nature-forest-waves-treesFor various reasons and purposes, dams are constructed almost anywhere there is a significant body of water. Sometimes dams are created to prevent flooding. Other times they are constructed to create lakes. But always, dams are constructed for the purpose of blocking water from reaching a certain area. Dams trap water in a certain area and prevent water from reaching another area.

Paul is finishing his answer to a question he has posed in verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul isn’t asking if God loves us. He’s asking if there is anything that can block God’s love from reaching us. He’s asking if there are any dams that can prevent the river of God’s love from flowing to us. He lists ten possible dams that might separate us from God’s love in Christ. Let’s look at each of them in three categories.

First, can life or death separate us from God’s love? No, because God’s love busts through each of these dams since “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20). Even death is used by God’s love to only increase your experience of it.

Second, can angels or rulers or powers separate us from God’s love? No, because even Satan himself, the highest evil ruler and power, only serves the expansion of God’s love. Satan tempted Judas to betray Jesus to his own demise. God’s love crushes these supernatural and evil would-be dams. They cannot keep God’s love from you.

Third, can height or depth or anything else in all creation separate us from God’s love? No. Nothing. Nada. Goose egg. Not one conceivable person or thing can separate us from God’s love. There isn’t one single ruler, power, person, angelic or demonic being that can block God’s love from incessantly flowing to his people. Even death itself is a pawn in the hands of a loving God used for the ultimate good and joy of his people.

So, those of us who have unstoppable access to the river of God’s love must be rivers of living water (John 7:37-38). The love of God in Christ that has freely flowed to us must freely flow through us to others. Don’t construct any dams between you and others. Freely offer the love that has been given to you. Love relentlessly. Love incessantly. Love like your Father.

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Throwback Thursday: Francis Turretin on the Love of God

Throwback ThursdayGod is love (1 John 4:8). This simple, yet profound sentence is a crucial basis for Christianity. The apostle John makes a crucial distinction. He doesn’t say, “God loves” or “God has love,” but rather, “God is love.” Love is inherent to God. It is part of who he is. Spend any amount of time meditating on the love of God and the sin of man and you should glow in gratitude for God’s love. It is clear that no one deserves God’s love, yet the God who is love has chosen to set his love upon his creation and specifically his people.
The God-is-love maxim has sinisterly become a defense for things that God in fact hates. God is love. So, how could he judge sin? God is love. So how could he oppose my autonomy? God is love. So how dare these “backwoods, fundamentalist” Christians tell me how I should live my life. God is love.

Our church culture has slowly taken a crucial doctrinal truth about the nature and character of God and turned it for its own favor. The church would do well to take God at his Word everywhere they find his Word, not just in places that suit their personal preferences. But the truth about God’s love is that it is not as simple as we want to make it. The love of God is beautifully complex. It is seen from before creation and seen in the fully consummated new creation, and everywhere in between. It is seen in his common graces showered on all of mankind, as well as his special graces shown only toward his people he has redeemed through Christ. God loves us before he creates us. God loves us as he creates us. God loves us when he recreates us. His love is tender and firm. It faces no barrier it cannot destroy. It faces no hurt it cannot heal. It faces no sinner it cannot change. From eternity past to eternity future, when God sets his love on you, it will never leave.

Theologian Francis Turretin clearly explains the complexities of God’s love as it is attested in Scripture in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology. He discusses three aspects of God’s love–benevolence, beneficence, and complacency. Here, Turretin examines how God loves us first and then loves us because of his work in our lives, which includes our response. Meditate on the complex glory and goodness of God’s love as you marvel at why he would ever set it on sinners like you and me from eternity past to eternity future.

A threefold love of God is commonly held; or rather there are three degrees of one and the same love. First, there is the love of benevolence by which God willed good to the creature from eternity; second, the love of beneficence by which he does good to the creature in time according to his good will; third, the love of complacency by which he delights himself in the creature on account of the rays of his image seen in them. The two former precede every act of the creature; the latter follows (not as an effect its cause, but as a consequent its antecedent). By the love of benevolence, the love of complacency, he loves us when we are (renewed after his image). By the first, he elects us; by the second, he redeems and sanctifies us; but by the third, he gratuitously rewards us as holy and just. John 3:16 refers to the first; Ephesians 5:25 and Revelation 1:5 to the second; Isaiah 62:3 and Hebrews 11:6 to the third.


11751958_1209158262442953_3486622930933138849_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.