“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.”
This chapter begins with a declaration that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, and concludes with the assurance of our text, that there can be no separation from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. This was not only the firm conviction of the mind of the apostle, but the inspired truth of the Holy Ghost. This blessed security from condemnation, and assurance of the immutable love of God, belongs to them who are in Christ Jesus, and to none other. As we are deeply interested in the subject, it becomes us to inquire earnestly, and to search diligently whether we are in Christ Jesus, and numbered with those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If we are not in him, we certainly have no part or lot in these great and precious declarations. If we are in him, we were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, according to Eph. i. 4, for Christ Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. (Heb. xiii. 8.) The exceeding greatness of the mighty power of God is exemplified in him; all things are put under his feet, and God has given him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. (Eph. 1. 19-23.) Consequently if there ever was a period in time or eternity when any of the members of his church were not in him, then there has been a period when his body was not full. But to imagine the existence of a head without a body, or a body without a head, or a perfect and complete head, and an imperfect and deficient body, does not suit our understanding of the declaration that It pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell. (Col. i. 19.) Again it is written, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye the saints and faithful brethren in Christ,] are complete in him which is the Head of all principality and power.” - Col. ii. 9, 10. All the members of Christ are in him, even as the eternal Father is in him. He is the dwelling place (not of one-third part of the Godhead, as some seem to understand it,) but of all the fullness of the Godhead. “That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one,” &c. - John xvii. 21-23. If the church is in Christ as the eternal Father is in him, must they not have been in him from everlasting? Would Christ be complete if the Father were not in him, or if all the fullness of the Godhead were not in him? Or could the fullness of the Godhead dwell in him bodily, if any part of the Godhead did not dwell in him’? Certainly not. Equally certain is it then as the church is in him as the Father is in him, and they are his body and the fullness of him, that all the members required to make his mystical body perfect and complete, must have been in him as well before the world began, as they will be when this world shall be no more.
We are not contending that our earthly, corrupt and depraved natures were in him, and were a part of his fullness before the world began; for they were not even in the earthly Adam until after the world began, nor did Christ himself come in the flesh until he was made of a woman; until his advent. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] also himself likewise [or in like manner] took part of the same.” - Heb. ii. 14. His children partaking of flesh and blood, shows that their relationship to God as children was perfect before they partook of flesh and blood; and that participation of flesh and blood no more constituted them children, than Christ’s coming into the world, and “also himself likewise partaking of the same, constituted him the Son of God, or the Head of Immortality to his body, the church. “That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” - Rom. ix. 8. If that earthly life which was given as in the earthly Adam could be distinctly identified so as to involve us in the guilt of Adam’s transgression, almost six thousand years before we were born of the flesh, is it hard to understand in the antitype Adam, that our spiritual, immortal and eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested, (1 John i. 2,) and which was given to us in the unspeakable gift of God’s dear Son, according to the record borne by the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, (1 John v. 7, 11,) should so fully identify us in Christ, that it could of truth be said of us that we were chosen in him before the foundation of the world? (Eph. i. 4.) Or as still more expressly stated, Eph. ii. 18: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This term created has reference to the new or spiritual creation. It is not like the creation of the natural world, the creation of something out of nothing: but it is the giving of the members of Christ a place, a standing in, and identity with him who personifies their immortality, or their eternal life. This life instead of being called into existence after the manner of the old creation of the natural world, is the manifestation of a life which is eternal, which always was hid with Christ in God. For it was, as we have proven by 1 John i. 2: (“For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.”) “And we know that the Son of God,” (in whom the record of Father, Word and Holy Ghost declares that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son,) “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true; even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” - 1 John v. 19, 20. Thus to be in Jesus Christ seminally, as the spiritual embodiment and progenitor of a seed that shall serve him, and be counted to the Lord for a generation, according to Psalms xxii. 30; Isaiah liii. 10-12; 1 Peter ii. 9, involves the Bible doctrine of eternal Union. A union of life, love and immortality. One with Christ even as Christ is one with the Father.
But to be in him manifestatively by a new and spiritual birth, implies that we are, or must be born again; not of a corruptible seed, but of that seed which was in Christ our spiritual progenitor, from everlasting. By the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (1 Peter i. 23; John i. 13.) A birth is not the creation or origination of life, but the manifestation of life by what is called pro-creation. Our earthly nature which in christians is called the old, or outward man, was created in Adam, but pro-created by natural generation. But that immortality which is in the christian, and which is denominated the new, or the inward man, was given us in Jesus Christ, and is manifested by spiritual generation when born of God. As we are, and were strangers in our earthly character, to this spiritual life which is hid with Christ in God, until he who is our life appears, or is revealed in us, so when that revelation is made, we are no more strangers, we are brought forth bearing the image of the heavenly progenitor, as we have in our flesh borne the image of the earthly Adam. Hence, if any man be in Christ Jesus, manifestatively and experimentally, he is a new creature, a subject of the new or spiritual creation, and as an evidence of this, old things have passed away, and all things have become new. His old element, which was sin, darkness and death, is passed away, he is quickened by eternal life implanted, the light of life shines in his heart to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, the love of God is shed abroad in him, he is delivered from wrath, he is taken up out of a horrible pit, his going is established, and a new song is in his mouth. All these things are entirely new to him, for they are not the productions of his flesh, but they are the fruits of the Spirit of which he is now born. He is delivered from the power of darkness in which he was before held, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
As the love of God, from which the members of Christ cannot be separated, is in Christ Jesus, we have dwelt the more particularly on the unity of Christ and his members; for if the love of God is in Christ Jesus, and we are not in him also, then there is no connection between us and the love of God which is in him; and it would be preposterous to talk of the impossibility of being separated from that with which we are not and never were connected.
We think it will be admitted even by those brethren who dispute the doctrine of eternal Union, that God loved his people even when they were dead in sins. (Eph. ii. 4, 5.) That he even loved them as he loved our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he loved before the foundation of the world. (see John xvii. 23, 24.) Admitting then the testimony of our text that this love is and eternally was in Christ Jesus, must not the objects of it also have been in him as anciently as they have been loved of God in him? So we confess it looks to us, and for this blessed assurance we are more than willing to bear all the reproach, slander, abuse and persecution to which we have been subjected for trying to set it forth.
From the foregoing considerations it strikes us that so long as God himself maintains his eternal immutability, there can be no separation of the saints from his love which is in Christ Jesus. Paul was persuaded that death could not effect a separation. Death’s boasted power is impotent and weak compared with the love of God in Christ. Our death in trespasses and sins could not abate the love of God, since it is written that, “God, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins,” &c. Death could enfold our earthly nature in its cold embrace, but all the dark floods of death could not quench its eternal flame. Again, death and the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, met in dreadful conflict on Mount Calvary, but death was vanquished, and immortality was brought to light in the sequel of the contest, and God commended his love, in that when we were yet sinners, in due time Christ died for us.
“He saw us ruined in the fall,
Yet loved us notwithstanding all.”
Neither shall death in his last assault upon these mortal bodies, tend to separate us; but instead of alienating that love, it shall only remove the intervening curtain, that we may realize its eternal fullness in unclouded glory forever. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, and then, “He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit which is in us.”—Romans viii. 11.
Nor life. Young christians in their early experience of this love, desire to die, to depart and be with Jesus, not only from the powerful attractions they feel drawing them to him, but from fear that their life in the flesh may bring some reproach upon the blessed cause, and that they may by some waywardness on their part lose the sweet and heavenly enjoyment of that love. But although the children of God do not always while here in the flesh enjoy the vivid evidences of the love of God, yet in Christ, where it is treasured up for them, it is immutable, and never can abate. It is among the “All spiritual blessings with which God has blessed them, according as he hath chosen them in him before the foundation of the world.” - Eph. i. 3, 4. He has established our goings; and he controls all things, and causes all things to work together for the good of them that love him, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Nor angels. Holy angels have neither the disposition nor the power, for unto the angels he [God] hath not put in subjection the world to come, of which we speak. (Heb. ii. 5.) Wicked angels have tried all their power, but never have, never can possibly produce an abatement of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
Nor principalities. Should all the governments of earth combine their forces, as many of them have, they may indeed be permitted to annoy and harrass the saints, they may, if permitted, torture these frail, dying bodies, chain them to the stake, and consume the earthly tabernacle with fire, but the love of God is in Christ Jesus, and therefore out of their reach.
Nor powers. Of whatever sort or kind, for all power both in heaven and earth, is vested in him in whom this love of God is secured, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. There is no power but that is of God, and perfectly subject to the orders of his throne. The power of sin, the power of darkness, the power of the law, cannot effect an alienation, for Christ has redeemed his people from all these; nor are there any powers in existence that are or shall be able to succeed.
Nor things present. Although for the present, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, though clouds may obscure our skies, tempests may beat, and thunders shake the world, there is nothing in the present tense that can lessen the love of God to his saints in Christ.
Nor things to come. The coast is clear. O, christians, look ahead. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith; there is nothing in the impenetrable future to fear.
“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread.
Are big with mercy, and shall break
With blessings on your head.”
Should the mountains be uprooted and hurled into the midst of the sea, should the waves thereof swell and roar, should death sweep over the earth, the sun forget to shine, the moon turn into blood, and the pillars of the universe totter to their fall, there is nothing in all that can come to pass that can separate you from the love of your God and Savior.
Nor height. Look upward then, and trace the fearful omens of the heavens. See blazing comets approach with sevenfold speed of lightning; if your God commands them so they may come in contact with this little dwelling-place of worms and dash this world to atoms. Pestilence, like winged warriors, may come on every wind, thunders may shake the earth, lightnings may bear the bolts of almighty vengeance far and scatter death abroad, but no heights, with their infinity of space, can possibly deprive you of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, treasured up for you.
Nor depth. No hidden fires in secret caverns burn beneath your feet, nor volcanic terrors which may tear the earth, can change the love of God towards you; and could your eyes unbar the doors of death, gaze into the gloomy chambers of the grave, and sepulchres of the mighty, or could you even penetrate the deep confines of hell, and scan the horrors of the damned, still undismayed let faith lay hold upon the infallible assurance, it cannot separate you from the love of God.
Nor any other creature. Death and life, angels and principalities, powers, and things present and things to come, and heights and depths, are all the creatures of God. He has created them not in vain, they shall accomplish his purpose and do his pleasure. Neither these nor any other creature is to be regarded by the saints as having power to dispossess them of what God has given them in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If then there is nothing in death nor life, nor in principalities nor powers, nothing high nor low, nothing present nor to come, that can remove the saints from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, may the Lord pity the graceless wretch who dares aver that the children of God may fall from grace, lose their interest in the love of God, and sink to hell at last.
Middletown, N. Y.
November 1, 1858.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 149 - 157