Andrew, our youngest son, is graduating from high school in May. This means it is time for Laura and me to put some words on paper to be printed on his senior page. In doing so, we have written the following sentence:
May you continue to love God and your neighbors.
However, upon further consideration, we also feel the need to follow the above statement with the following sentence:
More importantly, may you always grow in understanding how much God loves you.
Why the distinction? Why the emphasis? Why do we find the second sentence more important than the first? Two reasons come to mind:
First, we believe the first sentence states God’s good Law, but the second sentence states God’s good Gospel. Therefore, the first sentence presents that which Andrew cannot possibly keep because he cannot perfectly keep it, while the second sentence states that free gift which has purchased and presented to Andrew — that which he can never lose. The first sentence is Andrew’s good expectation; the second is Andrew’s Good News.
Secondly, we believe as Andrew grows deeper in understanding the good Gospel, the more he will find himself longing to keep God’s good Law. We are convinced a deeper comprehension of the Gospel by him will manifest itself in greater Gospel-affection, and this will manifest itself in even greater Gospel-love towards God and man.
Friends, I am convinced the Apostle Paul believed and preached such:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-20)
Do you see how Paul presented himself? He was their friend who was regularly found on his knees in prayer for his Christian family.
Do you see that for which he prayed? He supplicated before the Father that his already-filled brothers and sisters might be freshly strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Specifically, Paul asked that the Father and Spirit might grant these believers an increased measure of faith.
And why was an increased measure of faith so important? Paul understood the more they believed the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s Gospel affection, the more they would be inflamed with the fullness of God and the spiritual-fruit of Gospel-love. Putting the pieces together of Paul’s teachings together, Paul believed that a …
Deeper Law-Comprehension would lead to a …
Deeper Gospel-Comprehension, which would lead to …
Deeper Gospel-Affection, which would show itself in …
Deeper Gospel-Love towards God and man.
Upon writing this, Paul got excited. He ended this section of his letter by penning some of the sweetest words found throughout God’s Word. He gave the following benediction:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:21)
He was sure, God was going to glorify Christ; he would not be defeated. God was the all-powerful one who worked for, in, with, and through his image-bearers. God was the one who would finish that which he had already began, and he would do far more within these Gospel-recipients than he or they would ask or could think. Great was the power of God to provide positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and perfect sanctification.
Friends, in God is our confidence, and we rejoice in what he is doing for, in, through, and with Andrew. Yes, Jesus’ work of atonement is finished for our son, but God is not finished working in his life. God has given his word that he will finish that which he has already begun, and he will never back away from any of his promises. We know that because of God’s love for Drew, he will be fruited with faith and love in ever-increasing measure. Great is our confidence in God. He has done great work, and he is able to do far more abundantly that even his parents can ask or think.
This is what God has done and is doing in us — Andrew’s parents. The Lord has seen our horrible sin and has foreloved us. He has lived for us, died for us, and forgiven us entirely. Our debt is paid, our righteousness quota has been forever met. The Lord has adopted us, filled us, and is sporadically fruiting us. There has never been one day where Joe and Laura have ever loved Jesus as we ought, but he has been faithful and unchangeable, and because he is merciful, gracious, and loving, he has looked upon us with white-hot affection. Over the past few years, as a couple, we have been learning to swim in the grace of God’s Gospel like never before, and the results are fantastic. We are learning to rest in Christ more. We find ourselves learning to love him back with white-hot affection. More and more, we are looking away from the Law and towards the Gospel for our identity, and yet find ourselves liking God’s Law and pursuing worship more. And on some days, we smile as we see the Spirit fruiting us from within with increased faith and love. Yes, as we have focused on the goodness of God and not our own goodness, we have found ourselves practicing goodness. God has been the one doing the work. God is the one doing the work. God is causing us to work more and more, and he is doing far more than we have ever asked or thought possible.
Fellow Christians, this is what God wills do for, in, through, and with you. Today, instead of beating yourselves up with God’s good law, seek to fathom the unfathomable. Right now, look into God’s Gospel-eyes and see his affection. Hear the Gospel-words coming from his mouth, “You are clean in my sight because of my Son.” Feel his Gospel hands about you; right now he is drawing you near and is eager to hug. Brothers and sisters in Christ, relish afresh in the never-fluctuating and never-ending grace of your Lord. Comprehend the Gospel better. Preach it to yourself and find a place that refuses to do otherwise. And as you rest in the unfathomable grace of the Gospel, you too will find the Spirit freshly inflaming you from within. You too will find yourselves with a deeper faith and deeper love. You too will give glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for them doing more than you can ask, think, or even dream.
God and his Gospel of Grace — they are unfathomable. Now fathom this more.