God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 7, 2023

David Jeremiah writes:

At every moment in all the history of our fallen race, people have faced threats from both the present and the future, on both a personal and a cosmic level. And each time Christians have asked, “Is God still with me through all this?”

If ever a young man had the right to ask this question, it would seem that George Matheson did. Born in nineteenth-century Scotland, George became a brilliant student in theology at the University of Glasgow, where he earned a graduate degree. While at school, he fell in love and was soon engaged to be married. Meanwhile, his eyesight began to fade rapidly. When he became totally blind at age twenty, his fiancée broke off the engagement, explaining that she was not cut out to be the wife of a blind man.

Matheson was devastated. The pain of her abandonment stayed with him in his blindness. He never married, yet he went on to become a highly successful pastor at a large church in Edinburgh where he preached to fifteen hundred members every Sunday.

Many men enduring such blows might have struck out at God, thinking He had abandoned him. Many would have thought: I’ve dedicated my life to You, God. Yet You allowed me to fall in love, and then You snatched away my fiancée and my eyesight. You must not really love me after all.

But Matheson knew better. Though his beloved fiancée had left him, he knew that God would not. Out of his pain emerged the classic hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” His first verse is a ringing affirmation of the love of God, reaching across the chasm of his sadness:

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I give Thee back the life I owe,

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

Though George Matheson was physically blind, his spiritual vision was 20/20. Those who trust in the ways and purposes of God will be strengthened in the present and prepared to face whatever the future holds. Suffering is inevitable; it comes to everyone. But only those who live in the certainty that God’s love will never let them go are able to accept with confidence and assurance both the troubles of the present and the troubles that may come tomorrow.[1]

We have been talking about God’s love for us.

My theme today is:

God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

  1. Who shall separate us from God’s love?
    1. Paul asks a question and then goes to great lengths to show that no one and nothing can separate us from God’s love.
    2. Paul asks a question with a negative answer.
    3. Before we read the verses let’s put this in context. Romans 8:35-39 is in the context of Romans and Romans is Paul’s great treatise on salvation. Romans is Paul making the case for salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. Paul went to great lengths to show that Jews and Greeks all need Jesus’ free offer of forgiveness.
    4. Some have called Romans 8 the most powerful chapter in the Bible. Romans 8 is sandwiched between Romans 7 showing that we cannot keep the law and then Romans 9 which is about God’s sovereign choice.
    5. Look with me at Romans 8:35 (ESV) 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
    6. About this passage David Jeremiah shares:
    7. It’s a bit like an old commercial for superglue in which a car was suspended in midair, held to the cable by nothing but a dab or two of that incredible adhesive. The test was intended to convince people that this glue would do any job needed. If it could hold that car, surely it would patch up your broken vase.
    8. Twice Paul emphatically asserts that nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus (vv. 35, 39). Surely few would disagree that this is the greatest message of the Bible—that nothing in the entire universe can stop God from loving us. It simply cannot and will not happen.
    9. Please notice that Paul doesn’t say we must hang on to God’s love; he says that God’s love hangs on to us. [2]
    10. Paul asks the question, who shall separate us and then lists several nouns to show that no, they cannot separate us.
    11. God holds us. God holds us close to Him. It is all His staying power on us.
    12. We will go through tribulation, but guess what? God is with us. It cannot separate us from Him.
    13. We will have distress, but it cannot separate us from Him. God is with us.
    14. We will face persecution (see 2 Tim. 3:12), but God is with us, and Jesus says we are blessed (Matthew 5:11-12).
    15. We will face famine, nakedness, and danger, but God is with us and that famine will not separate us from Him.
    16. You know the interesting thing? These verses say that these hardship will NOT separate us. If we know Jesus we will not leave Him, because He is holding us. That does not mean we will not question things, or ever have doubts, but no, we won’t leave Him.
    17. Romans 8:36 is a quote from Psalm 44:2 which Paul references to bring up hardship.
  2. We are hyper-conquerors.
    1. Look at Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    2. In all of what he wrote about in verse 35 we are more than conquerors.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: The Greek word for “conquer” is hypernikao, a compound word made up of hyper (“more, above, beyond”) and nikao (“to conquer or prevail”). The term is a unique one, occurring nowhere in the Bible but this particular verse. It has no single-word counterpart in English, so we must cobble together two or three words to get the sense of what it means. Scholars have tried such phrases as “overwhelmingly conquerors” and “beyond conquering,” but the favorite by far is “more than conquerors.” Many of our contemporary translations contain that familiar phrase.
    4. But let’s try another one: “hyper-conquerors.” It has a modern ring to it and suggests the idea of a new league of superheroes—“The Hyper-Conquerors”! I think I like it. Let’s try it out on what Paul is telling us:
    5. In the midst of all these things that try to bring us down (tribulation, distress, persecution, you name it), we are hyper-conquerors.
    6. When facing any problem that life can dish out—you are a hyper-conqueror.
    7. In struggling with that problem you’re worrying about this very day, which is ______________ (fill in the blank), you are a hyper-conqueror.[3]
    8. Jeremiah gives an example: How does this work in real life? Here’s a story that gives us the answer. During his reign of terror, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini turned his war machine on Ethiopia and expelled all the Christian missionaries there. Christians everywhere began praying immediately. The answer came in two waves: first, in the protection of the expelled missionaries; and second, in reopening the doors of Ethiopia to the Gospel after the military pride of Italy lay broken in the dust and Mussolini was executed by his own countrymen.
    9. But during the missionaries’ absence, the Word of God multiplied in Ethiopia, and the returning missionaries found a larger, stronger church than the one they left. One group, the United Presbyterian Mission, had only sixty believers when the missionaries were expelled. On their return, the sixty had grown to thirty churches with a membership of sixteen hundred! These believers were more than conquerors.8[4]
  • Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
    1. Look with me at Romans 8:38–39 (ESV)
    2. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: Paul gives us five pairs of contrasting forces that may challenge us. The big idea is that you can go from one end of any spectrum to the other—from life to death, from things present to things to come—without going beyond the scope of God’s love.
    4. Here Paul uses a rhetorical device known as a merism, which involves stating a pair of contrasting words to represent the full range of everything in between. We use a merism when we say, “He knows his subject from A to Z.” When the psalmist declares that God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), he is using a merism to explain that God has removed our sins in totality.[5]
    5. Death nor life cannot separate us from God’s love.
    6. Death, then, is not a wall that separates us from God. Dr. James Montgomery Boice points out that it’s much the opposite. Far from tearing us away from God, death ushers us into the full glory of His presence. “The separator becomes the uniter.”4[6]
    7. Paul says, “angels nor rulers…” Why would he say angels? Most think he is referring to demons. Demons will not separate us from Christ’s love.
    8. Rulers will not separate us from Christ’s love.
    9. Sometimes, many times, Christians have felt the weight of oppressive rulers, but we are still held by God’s love.
    10. Things in the present, things in the future, they will not separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.
    11. Powers, they won’t separate us from Christ.
    12. Romans 8:39 continues… Height nor depth… they won’t separate us from God’s love.
    13. Nothing, nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople was such an eloquent preacher that, after his death, the Greek word chrysostomos (“golden mouthed”) was added to his given name, John. History has since known him as John Chrysostom. He did not hesitate to point out abuses of power wherever he found them, and his outspoken oratory got him in trouble with both the church and the Roman Empire. On one such occasion, he was brought before the Roman emperor. Tradition tells us that the emperor fixed Chrysostom with a glare and said: “I will banish you if you do not give up your faith.”

“You can’t banish me,” Chrysostom replied, “for the whole world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will put you to death.”

“No, you can’t. My life is hid with Christ in God.”

“Then I will take away all your material possessions.”

“No, you can’t. My treasure is in heaven along with my heart.”

“But I can drive you away from man. You will have no friends left.”

“No, you can’t make me friendless. I have a Friend in heaven from whom you can’t separate me. I defy all your attempts to silence me. There is nothing you can do to hurt me.”5[7]


[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

7 William Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 301.

[3] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

8 Adapted from J.C. Macaulay, Expository Commentary on Acts (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 130-31.

[4] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[5] Ibid.

4 James Montgomery Boice, Romans, Vol. 2: The Reign of Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 1001.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

5 Paraphrased from R. Kent Hughes, Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), 171.

[7] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

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