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.
Think of a sports team playing an important game. The opposing team is formidable and expects to win. However it is the other team which wins but not by a small margin. The margin of victory is surprisingly wide and convincing. When asked the reason for their victory, the reply was simple: ‘our coach prepared us, helped us and was with us throughout the game. We owe it all to him!’ That is basically what Paul affirmed in verse 37, ‘we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’. Christians do not merely scrape through to victory by a tiny margin but are ‘more than conquerors through Him who loved us’. Victory for the Christian is never in doubt, however difficult it may be here and now. In verses 38 and 39 Paul now draws to a final conclusion.
Notice how he starts with ‘For I am persuaded …’. He has been using the plural ‘we’ and ‘us’ in previous verses, but now he uses the singular ‘I ‘. The reason is that this is a personal statement, one which he is ‘persuaded’ or ‘convinced ‘ about.
What is he so convinced about?
That nothing and no one now or in the future will ever separate him and other Christians from the love of God in Christ. This has been emphasised in different ways in earlier verses but here it serves as a personal note of confidence.
There are two interesting details to notice about the verb Paul uses: ‘persuaded’. First, the tense of the verb affirms he had become, and remained, convinced about this fact, implying there are degrees of personal assurance and certainty which Christians have concerning their security in Christ. We must recognise this, and gain comfort from the fact that the Spirit will enable us to grow in our assurance of God.
Second, the passive voice of the verb focuses attention on the person affected by the action of someone or something else. In other words, this persuasion Paul had was the result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in his life and the way the Word had been illumined and powerfully applied to his mind and heart by the Lord, even in difficult circumstances. The Spirit had used the trials to bring Paul into personal and intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus, all of which resulted in a powerful conviction concerning the permanent and unbreakable relationship which believers have with God’s love in Christ Jesus.
If we have lingering doubts and fears, let us learn from Paul who constantly depended upon God’s Word while praying for the Holy Spirit to enlighten his mind. May the Spirit also make the Saviour more real to us.
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)