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What Can Separate Us?


Romans 8:35-39 NIV

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.



SERMON

To bring joy and comfort into the heart of grief and sorrow is a wonderful privilege that we have as Christians. It is not any power that we have of ourselves, of course, but of God.


When we are struck with the power of God’s word, then surely these words are some of the most amazing penetrating arrows that we have in our quiver, if you will pardon the archery terminology.


Romans chapter eight. Romans eight is for me, when all else flees from my mind, the words through which we enter into our friends and neighbour’s grief. Not only at times of death, but at other times as well. If you can remember nothing else, if you find yourself in a time of fear, or grief, or hardship, or pain, or disease, or facing surgery, then remember Romans eight.


They are some of the best Kleenex words that God ever moved human beings to write. Why Kleenex words? Because they can dry tears better than any tissue. Or at the very least, turn tears of pain and sorrow into tears of relief and joy, and those tears don’t sting so much, do they?


Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing around us, nothing outside of us, nothing above or beneath us. In fact, there is only one thing that can separate you from the love of God, and that is you.

We are the only ones who can drag ourselves away. If we turn our back on the love of God, it is still there, but we are no longer living in that love. God will not stop loving us. How could he? That would make everything that he has done for us worthless, wasted, for nothing.


We know what God has done for us. He did not spare his own son, Paul says, but gave him up for us all, will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?


He knew that we are not worthy even to respond properly to what he has done for us. We cannot even pray as we should, but God knew that too. He has all of the contingency plans in place, and the Holy Spirit does that work for us, because we cannot do it ourselves. The Spirit intercedes for us before the throne of God and therefore helps us in our weakness.


God had it all planned out from the beginning. From the beginning of the world, to its salvation, to your baptism, to your life lived in him, to the words from the Song of Simeon that are often spoken over you when your eyes close for that last time in death:


Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all people. A light to reveal you to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.


I have time and time again witnessed the beautiful completion of lives livedthat way, and I thank God every time that he gives me that privilege, to see the life, and death of one of his saints.

It is so right. It is so beautiful. It is so much the way that it is supposed to be.


We said that the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Well one great weakness that we have is our own human pride. So often, people can not see the simpleglory of God’s plan for our life, and they think that they can somehow improve on the plan of God. We are so weak, yet we think that we know better than the God of the heavens and the earth.


I don’t often quote Shakespeare, but a few words are in order here:


Shakespeare, in a play called King John, in Act 4, scene 2, said, "to guild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue onto the rainbow ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess."


Nothing has changed. When we today try to improve upon God’s plan of salvation by out own good works, our own righteousness, our own goodness, then we are trying to polish the pearl of the kingdom with our own rough, coarse uneven and unbalanced grinding-stone. We are trying to guild refined gold, to paint the lily.


The gospel lesson today tells us of the pearl of great price as a parable of the kingdom, and the pearl has been given to us without us having to do so much as to open an oyster!


Do you ever wonder why Jesus wants us to have faith like a little child? A child hangs on the promises made to them by those that they trust. They do not try to second-guess them. Hang on to this promise, children of God: Nothing, nothing in all creation, can separate you individually, or us as a family, from the love of God.


Nothing on this earth can separate us from the things of heaven. Certainly not death, or disease, or all of the parts of this life.


Nothing in the heavens can separate us from the love of God. Not angels or demons. Why? Because we wear the mark of the cross on the forehead and on the breast that we received in our baptism. We are marked as God’s people, and that is a mark that carries the authority of the almighty behind it, a mark that is noticed by angels and demons alike. No other power can prevail as long as we trust in that power, as long as we trust in the one whose mark we bear: God almighty.


No evil is greater than the good which is God. Nothing can separate us from his love. All the talk about spiritual warfare scares some people too much. Butk now for sure that you are God’s, and nothing is strong enough to fight with him any more for your soul, as long as you hold on to this promise. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.


Is your life one of fear? Are you worried about your salvation? Are you sure that you are going to heaven? Are you sure? Put your hand up if you know that you are going to heaven!

Why are we sure? Finish the sentence for me: Because “nothing…..

What can?

Nothing.

I have had people say: Yeah, but you don’t know what I have done:

Nothing.

The thief on the cross, David the adulterer and murderer, peter the denier, you name them, the lions couldn’t separate Daniel from the love of God, even those who took Stephen life, the first martyr. Jesus stood to welcome him into heaven as an honoured guest.


What can separate us from the love of God?:


Nothing.


What?


Nothing.


Be certain of it. Hold onto God like a little child. Don’t second-guess him. Don’t try to change his plan of salvation. Do it his way. Trust in his promises.

We are more than conquerors. Now, and to eternity.

Amen.

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