And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)especially 35–39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  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. (ESV)
This is one of the great passages of the Bible. It is a passage I have used many times in ministering to people, especially when the end of their life approaches.
This passage is so memorable because in it Paul lists things that cannot separate us from the love of God. In a sense it is the very opposite of what Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower that we heard a couple weeks ago from Matthew 13.
In the parable, Jesus talks about seed that is sowed on the path. The devil comes and snatches it away. In Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, these would be the angels, rulers and powers.
In the parable, Jesus talks about the seed that is sown on rocky ground. This seed springs up quickly but tribulation and persecution cause the plants to wither and die because they do not have deep roots. In Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, these would be tribulation, distress and persecution.
In the parable, Jesus talks about the seed that is sown among thorns or weeds. This seed is choked out by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth. In Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, this would be life and height and other worldly things.
In Jesus’ parable we see these bad things interfering with the growth of the seed. Here in this text Paul affirms that none of these things can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There may be other things that may cause us to wonder about being separated from God. A powerful force of nature like this pandemic? A sin you just can’t get rid of? A grudge you just can’t get over? What are you afraid will separate you from the love of God?
Maybe you have not felt all that close to God ever and are still wondering when that will happen.
Separation from the love of God is the same as separation from God because, as John says in his first epistle, “God is love”.
Don’t be afraid. Whatever it is that you think might separate you from the love of God is not going to separate you from his love.
We know this is true because we have been predestined to eternal life. In the first part of this chapter, Paul says that we are God’s adopted children, and co-heirs with Christ. Everything that Christ has is ours. When it comes to predestination the only question to ask ourselves is, “Was Christ predestined?” Clearly the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes.” And if Christ was predestined to eternal life, and we are God’s adopted children in Christ, then we are predestined.
Or as Paul puts in the epistle: Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
If you are ever called upon to comfort someone who is going through a tough time or is dying, this beautiful passage from Romans 8 would be a great passage to read to them. As God’s beloved and adopted children, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.