Christ's Eternal and Inexhaustible Love

Dr. Brian Allison

Ellen Degeneres, the star of that popular sitcom, Ellen, recently came out of the closet. She revealed that she is gay. In a recent interview, she indicated that it was time for her to be honest about her lifestyle. She indicated that as a gay, she is happy and content with her life. Let us be very clear: gay love is unnatural and misdirected love. Gay love is wrong. Sexual love should be heterosexually, and not homosexually, expressed. Degeneres has opted for immorality; homosexuality is sin.

And yet, we would not deny the need and the power of love. Love is an essential and fundamental dynamic and characteristic of the human experience. We are created to love, and for love. Now, the reason why this is the case is because love is an essential dynamic and characteristic of our Creator-God. The Scriptures emphatically state that God is love. Love is God's character.

When we consider our fallen condition as human beings, when we consider the fact that we are sinful, selfish creatures by nature, we should stand amazed, astounded, and overwhelmed that God loves us. I find that an incredible thought that God loves me, knowing whence I have come, knowing the evil that still lurks in my flesh, recognizing the sin that I still commit; I stand amazed that this God loves me. Equally astounding as this: God has chosen some to be the peculiar objects of Christ's redeeming love. Jesus Christ is not obligated to love us, but He is pleased to love us, and that is our particular concern in this article. We read in Romans 8, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (v. 35); and "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (v. 37); and "Nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v. 39).

The nature of Christ's love to us

As true believers, we will always be the special objects of Christ's love. Now, there are two basic aspects of this love. There is a volitional aspect and an emotional one. So, with respect to the volitional, God chooses to do us good. He has been pleased to make a commitment to provide for us and to care for us. The volitional relates to the specific exercise of the will. With respect to the emotional, God is affectionately disposed towards us. He desires our companionship and our fellowship. The emotional relates to the presence of feelings. Accordingly, when we consider the volitional aspect of Christ's love, we think, for instance, of the time when He fed the five thousand plus. He was moved with compassion, which is simply an expression of love. He provided for their physical needs. Further, when we consider the emotional aspect of His love, we think, for instance, of the special relationship which He sustained with the apostle John. At the last Passover which our Lord observed, the apostle John rested in the bosom of Jesus; and John is identified as the apostle 'whom Jesus loved'.

My Christian brothers and sisters, God's love for you is both volitional and emotional. On the one hand, He has decided to provide for you. He has committed Himself to your good and welfare; but not only this, He is affectionately disposed towards you. His heart runs out to you. He desires your fellowship and companionship; He feels very deeply for you. What do you think about that? Does that move you?

Christ's love is unquenchable

Christ's love is eternal and inexhaustible – "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" His love is enduring and unremitting. Absolutely nothing will come between His love and the believer. John 13:1 reads, "Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." The phrase "to the end" literally means "eternally." Christ loved His disciples to the uttermost, without end; and that is how He has loved believers. That fact, of course, is clearly demonstrated, proven, in that He died for believers. Romans 8:34 reads, "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." And thus, the apostle Paul asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" He subsequently offers possible answers, but notice by the form of the language, that the answer to the question, in every case, is 'no' or 'nothing'. Again, he asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Possible answers: "Shall tribulation?" (I don't think so). "Or distress?" (Absolutely not). "Or persecution?" (No way). "Or famine?" (Impossible). "Or nakedness, or peril or sword?" (Definitely not). "Just as it is written, 'FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED'" (v. 36).

Now, what is the apostle Paul teaching here? He was not suggesting that these afflictions or these sources of suffering, in themselves, could possibly hinder or prevent the expression of Christ's love. That kind of reasoning does not make sense. There is no logical reason why these sources of suffering should prevent Christ from loving us. For instance, if you had a son or a daughter, or a mother or father, in a war torn area, why would their distress affect the reality of your love? It makes no sense. Or why would their distress dictate the absence or presence of your love? In fact, if your loved one was in such a distressful situation, in deep affliction, rather that hindering or preventing your love, wouldn't it accelerate and increase it?

So, what is the logic here? What is the apostle teaching? By way of background, remember that the thread running through this particular passage is the assurance of salvation, eternal security in Christ. The central point is that the true believer is guaranteed salvation. And the salvation of believers is guaranteed because God has chosen them from before the creation of the world and has predestined them for glory. Hence, notice what is written earlier in the chapter, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son...and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified" (vv. 29,30). And so we read further, "What then shall we say to these things [i.e., What can we infer from what has been stated? What does this all mean?]? If God is for us, who is against us?" (v. 31). So, God is sovereign, He determines all things, and His will and purpose cannot be countered, frustrated, or overturned. Furthermore, He is the judge. He is the One who acquits, and He is the one who condemns – "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies" (v. 33). Thus, if God justifies and saves, then there is absolutely nothing that can result in the true believer's rejection by God; and there is no one who can challenge or accuse the believer before God, resulting in the believer's destruction. Again, true believers are chosen, and so their salvation is guaranteed. That is the thread running through this passage.

Again, what is the apostle teaching in verse 35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" The critical point is this: the assurance of salvation, the eternal security of the saint, is rooted in the love of Christ. The love of Christ is the reason and the motivation, and thus the believer's guarantee, for salvation. Similarly, Ephesians 1:4,5 reads, "Just as He chose [i.e., elected] us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." It is because Christ loved us, and does love us, that our salvation will be fully realized. Nothing can assail the effectualness of that love. That love cannot be frustrated, it cannot be defeated; it cannot be quenched; and practically, His love is synonymous with His power. So, when the apostle lists these sources of suffering or affliction, the implied point is that nothing, absolutely nothing, can or will destroy us. Nothing can prevent us from being the special objects of Christ's redeeming love. Nothing can cause us to perish, so that we fail to enter salvation. Simply, we are going to live forever. So, our salvation is guaranteed because of His love for us – it is enduring and unremitting.

My Christian brothers and sisters, what do you think about that? Does this humble you? Does it melt your heart? Does it strip you of all pride and carnal self-confidence? How is it that Christ could love you? Is there anything meritorious to commend your to Him? I don't think so; but rather there is everything to disqualify you from being with Him. You know the wickedness of your mind, and I know the wickedness of mine. You know the evil that lurks in your heart, that which no one else knows, and I know the evil that lurks in mine. These moral realities cause us to turn our heads downward in shame; and yet, God graciously gives us this assurance that nothing, absolutely nothing, shall separate us from the love of Christ. Tribulation will not ultimately destroy us, persecution will not ultimately overcome us, so that we fail to enter eternal salvation. That should cause our hearts to be thankful; and not only that, it should cause us to be empowered to live for Him, realizing that such a God could love us, as miserable and as wretched as we are.

Through Christ's love is glorious victory

Now, as we think of these sources of suffering and affliction, rather than these things destroying us, preventing us from experiencing the ultimate end of Christ's saving love, we indisputably overcome them through His love – "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (v. 37). Christ's love translates into needed help. His love is revealed in giving us persevering grace; His love is seen in experiencing strength and joy. We are enabled, and thus we triumph in, and over, every situation. It is by His love, revealed by His power, that we overwhelmingly conquer everything. Thank God for a love like that!

That love will keep you, my friend. There is no situation, absolutely no situation, that should or can defeat you. Do you believe that? When that loved one contracts cancer and your world begins to fall apart, and the future seems dark, bleak, and black, remember that you will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved you, and does love you. When you suffer financial loss, or become dispossessed of home and goods, remember that you will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved you, and does love you. When your long-held dreams are dashed – all for which you have diligently striven – and you do not know what the future holds, remember that you will overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved you, and does love you. Do you believe that?

Practically speaking, suffering, pain, and hurt, does not mean that Christ has stopped loving you, but rather these things comprise the experiential context in which you can clearly feel and experience that love. At the end of his life, the apostle Paul stood on trial for the faith. He had been a nurturer and a comforter to many, but when his turn came to receive comfort, there was no one around. He wrote, "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth. The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen" (2 Tm 4:16-18). He overwhelmingly conquered through Christ who loved him.

My friend, never measure the reality and the sincerity of Christ's love in terms of the absence or the presence of suffering and pain. Never! His love remains constant. We, as true believers, overwhelmingly conquer, that is, our victory is in excess; in contemporary terms, it is 'overkill'. No weapon has been formed to defeat us. Thus, the apostle Paul affirmed, "For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us" (Rm 8:18) – the wonder of Christ's love. Christ loved you, and He yet loves you, and absolutely nothing is going to separate you from that love. That is tremendously comforting. I cannot even express its wonder; I cannot adequately consider it in order for you to really appreciate its depth and glory. The Spirit must reveal it to each one of us in our hearts.

So, Christ's love is unshakeable and undeniable. Accordingly, the apostle concluded, "For I am convinced [i.e., he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vv. 38,39). My Christian brothers and sisters, rejoice in that eternal and inexhaustible love. That is the only reason why you have been saved, and it is the only reason why you will live throughout all eternity in His presence. It is that love that holds you, and guarantees that you have a place in heaven, and ensures that one day you will see Him face to face; and what a day that will be! So, ever rejoice in the enduring and unremitting love of Jesus Christ.