Palm Reading and Crystal Balls
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Spurgeon, seeing “God is love” written on a weather vane, told its owner he felt those words were inappropriate to have on such a changeable thing. The man said Spurgeon had misread the intent. The inscription was on the weather vane, not to demonstrate the fickleness of God’s love, but to say, “God is love, whichever way the wind blows.”
Amen! No matter what is happening around us, God is love. Our text reminds us, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:38a (Holman) For I am persuaded…
“Persuaded” is a heart-word. Paul had confidence, a deep-seated personal conviction, about this matter. It was part of his creed. He had committed his whole being to what he said here. He was sure nothing could separate us from the love of God in Christ. We need this persuasion. It gives us a blessed assurance, a deep-seated faith regarding our spiritual security.
Romans 8:38b … that not even death or life, …
The love of God in Christ for us cannot be affected by our state of being. Once in Christ, neither the living nor ending of this life can sever us from His love. “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (RM 14:8).
Death can separate us from the world and cut us off from friends, but its scissors break when it tries to separate us from God’s love. In fact, God mocks the gloomy separator by turning it into the vehicle that consummates our communion with Him. The divider thereby becomes the uniter.
Death cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ, nor can anything in life separate us from God’s love. Many Christians believe if they die while saved, they are secure, yet fear they may yet fall away in this lifetime. Blessed are they who grasp the truth of our text. However numerous our pains, burdens, disappointments, and temptations, they can never separate us in this life from the love of God that is in Christ.
Romans 8:38c … angels or rulers,…This refers to invisible spirits that surround us. Not even supernatural beings can thwart the love of God for us in Christ; neither good angels, who would not if they could, nor bad angels, who would if they could. Evil spirits are powerful, but impotent when it comes to nullifying God’s love for us.
The good spirits, angels that surround God’s throne and minister to us, cannot absorb and intercept all of God’s love. There is plenty for all. Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are nearer the sun and soak in its radiance, but do not keep it from also shining on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Angels are close to God, and numerous. However, they cannot keep God’s love from passing on to those of us on the outskirts of the throng.
Romans 8:38d …things present, or things to come, . . .
Time has no bearing on Jesus’ love. God knew all about us before He set His love on us in the first place. No new revelations about our character can surprise Him. He loves us despite our sin; time cannot change this fact.
Romans 8:39a … hostile powers, height or depth…
Height and depth were astrological terms. The former referred to one’s “star” being at its zenith; the latter designated it as at its nadir, preparing to rise. The ancients believed stars tyrannized lives. Astrologers were consulted to foretell the events of one’s life. Astrology was normal life to Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Arabs.
Astrology flourished in Europe. Shakespeare appealed to this ancient belief, calling his tragic twosome Romeo and Juliet “star-cross’d lovers.”
People truly believed a person’s life was determined by which way the Zodiac was positioned at the time of their birth. Paul rejected all such nonsense. Stars determine nothing. God created them solely to give light.
Sadly, astrology and its sister superstitions refuse to die. People still seek fate in the stars, read palms, check horoscopes, look in crystal balls, and use charms. God forbid that any of His children should consult such things.
Anathema on petty fears as Friday the 13th, walking under a ladder, crossing the path of a black cat, breaking a mirror, or stepping on a sidewalk crack. Away with charms: horseshoes, throwing salt over the left shoulder, lucky pennies, and four leaf clovers. A woman recently found a five leaf clover; she may win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. If a rabbit’s foot brings good luck, why did the rabbit lose all four of his? If knocking on wood brings good fortune, why isn’t a woodpecker King of Beasts?
Such silliness leaves God out of the reckoning, an unspeakable evil. God, not luck or fate, rules Earth. Our life is guarded by God’s love in Jesus.
Romans 8:39b … or any other created thing …
Paul tried to mention every category he could think of: state of being, supernatural beings, time, and astrology. In case he missed something, he added one last catchall phrase. Paul knew human minds are prolific in conjuring up all sorts of imaginary terrors. Our brains conceive all sorts of fanciful disasters, but this phrase gives peace by nullifying all our fantasies.
Paul won’t let doubt gain even the smallest foothold within us. He wants us to be persuaded nothing…
Romans 8:39c … will have the power to separate us from the love of
God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Paul took pains to clarify his meaning here. God’s love flows from an infinite supply, but in a prescribed channel. Only by receiving Jesus can it be appropriated. Universalism is no option.
Some wish to take the heart out of John 3:16, my favorite Bible verse, and make it read, “For God so loved the world that no one shall perish, and all will have everlasting life.” No! The verse contains two all-important clauses. One, God’s love is seen in His Son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus, the Father’s one and only begotten Son, embodied God’s love.
Two, God’s love can be appropriated only through His Son: “that whosoever believes in Him (Jesus).” Till these two clauses are understood and acted on, we cannot say, “will not perish but have everlasting life.”
We must meet God’s conditions, and once we do, our position in His love is secure. Our text brought comfort to the beloved and saintly Robert Bruce of Kinnaird at the time of his death. At breakfast, he asked for his Bible and, his vision being poor, requested that his fingers be placed on Romans 8:38-39. Assured he was touching these words, he quoted them, and said to his family, “God be with you, my children; I have eaten breakfast with you, and shall eat supper with my Lord Jesus Christ tonight.” Sure enough, that day he sat at the Lord’s table.
Our text provided Robert Bruce assurance. Does it give us the same peace? Do we hear what Paul said? Has our heart embraced his meaning? May God grant us a believing spirit, thereby granting us confident peace.