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.
The closing words in these verses are of major importance, ‘in Christ Jesus our Lord’. The phrase occurs frequently in Paul’s letters and in other New Testament letters, describing a major central truth concerning salvation – it is of great significance.
Union with Christ does not begin with our conversion but goes back into eternity when God the Father sovereignly chose a vast number of people to be saved but he did so only ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:4-6). This was done exclusively in Christ who, in accordance with the divine plan, eventually died in the place of the elect for their pardon and reconciliation to God. It is important to grasp that Christ was united to his people, and we were united to him, in his earthly ministry when he died on the cross and rose again (Romans 6:2-11 and Ephesians 2:4-6).
We therefore, when we become a Christian, are intimately joined to Christ by new birth and faith and can enjoy communion with the living, reigning Christ by the Holy Spirit. Christians live ‘in Christ’ (Romans 8:4-11), die ‘in Christ’ (1 Thess. 4:14, 16) and are glorified ‘in Christ’ (Romans 8:17). This takes us back to the ‘golden chain’ of salvation in Romans 8 verses 29-30.
Each and every blessing the Father gives to believers comes through and is mediated by the Lord Jesus Christ in whom we are eternally secure.
Paul goes on to list ten potential threats to us in this life, but yet again, none can harm us if we are ‘in Christ’. What a glorious truth!
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)