One of the greatest gifts to believers is the assurance of our salvation—to know that we are safe in the arms of God. This kind of assurance finds itself in the unyielding, unceasing, unchanging, unalterable, unfailing love of God.
I once had a friend who was famed for rhetorical questions. When asked if he was coming to lunch, he might say, “Is the Pope Catholic?” (He had a degree from a Catholic University.) On another occasion, I heard him respond with, “Does a bear poop in the woods?” (He also had a passion for the outdoors.) My personal favorite, however, was when he combined the two. “Does the Pope poop?”
Rhetorical questions create a dramatic effect in order to make a point. They are not meant to get an answer. Paul uses this literary device when finishing up his writing on God’s powerful love. It happens in Romans, his magnum opus on the theology of salvation. There, in the middle of the book is chapter 8, which begins and ends with some rather securing news. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and “there is no separation from the love of Christ” (paraphrased, Rom. 8:39). These are two powerful bookends: no condemnation and no separation.
In the thick of the chapter, Paul tells us that God sets us free (Rom. 8:2), God atones for our sin (Rom. 8:3), God applies His righteousness to us (Rom. 8:4). He also says that God adopts us and makes us heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:15) and raises us up in glory (Rom. 8:25). This is why “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). God secures us, so that He can accomplish in us what He desires. Those whom God chose, He justifies and glorifies (Rom. 8:30).
The point is this: For the Christian, everything is as good as done. God saves. God sanctifies. God glorifies. What He starts, He finishes. What He plans, He accomplishes. What He desires, He receives. So, “What then shall we say to these things?” (Rom. 8:31). This is what prompts his blast of rhetorical questions.
Question #1. “Since God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Is there a person who is greater than God that could knock Him out and steal us away? Certainly not! God’s love is an extension of God’s nature. He is unconquerable. God’s love is unyielding.
Question #2. “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?” (Rom. 8:32). In other words, God gave His great gift to us while we were His enemies. Do you think He will not give us the lesser when we are His friends? Certainly not! God’s love is unceasing.
Question #3. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Rom. 8:33). This is a judiciary question. In the divine courtroom, God is the all-knowing judge, jury, and defence. Is there a sin that He did not already consider and wash in the blood of Christ? Certainly not! God’s love is unchanging.
Question #4. “God justifies, so who can condemn you?” (Rom. 8:33-34). Is there anyone who can overrule God’s judgment? Is there a greater and more wise judge than God? Certainly not! There is nothing that will change His mind. God’s love is unalterable.
Question #5. “Jesus is the one who died and was raised to the right hand of God and who is interceding for us, so who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:34-35). Jesus is our full-time interceder. His track record is flawless. He died for our sins. He rose from the grave. He sits on the divine throne. He is batting one-thousand. Do you think that when He goes to the Father on our behalf is fails? Certainly not! God’s love is unfailing.
Question #6. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Rom. 8:35). Is there any lesser thing that you can think of that might separate us from the love of Christ? Certainly not! God’s love is unlimited.
There is nothing that will condemn His children and nothing that will rob them from His love—absolutely nothing. Listen to his final words on the subject. He really covers all the basis.
“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” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Paul didn’t leave anything out. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The real question—and not a rhetorical question at all—is this: Is God’s affection set upon you?