I was reading a really sweet book in a big box bookstore recently, considering whether or not it would be one worth bringing home for my family. It was a kids book, one written to tell children that God delights in them, which is certainly true. But it seemed to go a step further. It put the child in the center of all God’s hopes and dreams, as though the child is what God lives for.
This is not a “we should feel bad about the idea that God loves us” post, by the way. That’s not really my jam, anyway. God absolutely loves and delights in his people. But what stopped me from purchasing this book is that I want my kids to have a bigger picture of God than this book offered. I don’t want them to see themselves as being at the center of God’s dreams, because, frankly, that’s way too much pressure.
I want them to see God as approachable and as a God who delights in them and rejoices over them as Scripture says he does. But I want them to rejoice in knowing his happiness isn’t dependent upon them. That we don’t worship a God who can be manipulated or controlled in that way.
This is going to be one of those, “Jesus is not safe” posts, isn’t it? Well, sure, but only because it bears repeating. There is a difference between approachable and safe. An approachable Jesus is the one we find in Scripture. The one who invites us to come boldly before the throne of grace. A Jesus who humbles himself and takes the form of a servant, submitting himself to obedience, even to the point of death. If one might be so bold, he is approachable because he approached us.
There is a difference between approachable and safe. An approachable Jesus is the one we find in Scripture. The one who invites us to come boldly before the throne of grace. A Jesus who humbles himself and takes the form of a servant, submitting himself to obedience, even to the point of death. If one might be so bold, he is approachable because he first approached us.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
The most far-reaching promise of God’s future grace is found in Romans 8:32. This is the most precious verse in the Bible to me. Part of the reason is that the promise in it is so all-encompassing that it stands ready to help me at virtually every turn in my life and ministry. There never has been, and never will be, a circumstance in my life where this promise is irrelevant.
By itself that all-encompassing promise would probably not make the verse most precious. There are other such sweeping promises such as Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” And 1 Corinthians 3:21–23, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” It is difficult to overstate the spectacular sweep and scope of these promises.
But what puts Romans 8:32 in a class by itself is the logic that gives rise to the promise and makes it as solid and unshakable as God’s love for his infinitely admirable Son.
Romans 8:32 contains a foundation and guarantee that is so strong and so solid and so secure that there is absolutely no possibility that the promise could ever be broken. This is what makes it an ever-present strength in times of great turmoil. Whatever else gives way, whatever else disappoints, whatever else fails, this all-encompassing promise of future grace can never fail.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all . . . ” If this is true, says the logic of heaven, then God will most surely give all things to those for whom he gave his Son!
Is it possible to fully understand the immensity of God’s love?
The Bible tells us repeatedly that God loves us and has given us plenty of evidence to back up his words. He created us. He created a marvelous world in which we are called to create. He provides for us. And he forgives us, even though we are rebellious. He even went so far as to send his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us while we were still sinners. God did it all because he loves us.
The Apostle Paul prayed that believers would comprehend the incomprehensible dimensions of the love of Christ, and that we would know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge.
It is a remarkably bold prayer:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…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 3:14-19, emphasis mine)
We Need Strength
Paul prayed for us to have strength to comprehend the love of Christ. That strikes me as unusual.
If I were to pray for someone to better know my love, I would ask for their eyes to be opened, or for a hidden depth of feeling to become realized, or for wisdom to be gained—but it wouldn’t occur to me to pray for strength to understand love.
The love of God must be in a different category from human love if we need strength to begin to understand it.