Monday, November 16, 2009

Nothing Can Separate You From the Love of God

A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"

In supporting the Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine, people will sometimes refer to the following text saying that "nothing" can separate us from the love of God.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39

In a previous article, we reviewed how this text actually contains our promises to God as well as God's promises to us.

The first part reflects our vows to God. It depicts things that we experience as His children; it is written from our perspective. God, I won't let the things I encounter in this earth - even unpleasant and threatening things - deter me from the love I have found in you. Whether tribulation, distress, persecution, famine...and even death. I will not be swayed, but I will endure them because of the love we share.

The next section reflects God's vow to us. It is written from God's perspective, a Heavenly view that sees what is beyond our earthly realm.

Paul starts saying, "For I am persuaded..." Persuaded by whom? By God, and by His love for us! Paul believes and is persuaded by God's promises in this area. In these promises, God commits that things we cannot see nor control, things which we know not, spiritual powers which may come against us, none of these things will separate us from His love.

Notice again what God promises us, "...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us." This text does not dismiss the personal choice of the person staying in covenant to God.

It specifically says "nor any other" creature. So the natural question is, "Anyone other than whom?" Clearly "creature" can only reference the believer for God is the Creator, not a created being. God is promising not to let anyone else (any other) come between Him and the believer. Yet again, there is no absolving of the believer to remain faithful nor does God promise to keep the believer in the covenant.

In all of the things mentioned which could affect our relationship with God, one important item is not addressed: the believer himself. All of the things which God will disallow to separate us from His love are external to the believer. God never says that we cannot remove ourselves from His covenant of love, or that He will stop us from doing so.

The same principle is seen in the following:

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10:27-29

In this depiction, the believer is physically in God's hands. If we are in God's hands, the only one who could attempt to pluck us out of His hands is someone other than ourselves. Yet again, this does not address man's choice to walk away from God. Consistent with the text above in Romans, it asserts that no outside force will be able to remove us from God.

Take a look at the following.  If "nothing can separate us from the love of God" (including ourselves), then how do you explain the following.

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Matthew 24:12

"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Revelation 2:4-5

Please note that something has separated those referenced above from God's love.  The love they once had has gone cold and they have "left" their first love.  How is it that they have left God's love if such is not even possible according to proponents of Once Saved Always Saved?  

Note as well that it is not God or His love which has changed, but those who were the recipients of His love.  It is the individual who has placed himself outside of the bounds of God's love.  How does Jesus respond to such individuals?  Repent, (which means turn)!  In other words, come back to the Father's love.

People are using the "nothing can separate me from the love of God" as a mantra to support what the text itself never says.  As much as others would like to claim that it is so, God never promises to refuse to let us leave Him. Indeed, His word continues to say that we can depart from Him and warns us of the consequences of such actions.

This article is part of a 6-part series evaluating a doctrine referred to as Once Saved Always Saved, Eternal Unconditional Security, or Preservation of the Saints.

  1. God Doesn't Mince Words
  2. "IF"
  3. Salvation is a Result of Covenant
  4. Sealed Until the Day of Redemption
  5. A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"
  6. The ONLY Reason Salvation Can Be "Lost"

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