"The Spirit does not take his pupils beyond the cross, but ever more deeply into it."
-J. Knox Chamblin
I finished reading the Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney the other night and since that time I've been reflecting on the journey that the Lord has had me on over the past 8 months. During this time He has been revealing to me how little I actually knew of the Gospel. I knew the Gospel at the knowledge level, but I didn't really know it at an experiential level.
I started to realize my "Gospel deficiency" while I was on staff on summer project and we were leading Bible studies on Justification, Sanctification and Glorification. As I prepared for these, I learned so much and my appreciation and love of the Gospel really began to deepen in a way I had never known. For the first time I began to really understand and be deeply impacted by the truth of justification as a once and for all declaration of my complete righteousness only because of Jesus' abundant grace. Understanding that has freed me up from a lot of legalistic thinking. There isn't a thing I can do, good or bad, to change my standing in Christ; I am loved fully by the Lord even in the very midst of my guilt and shame. I don't earn His favor because I'm a good Christian or because I did ministry full time for awhile. Everything I have is from Him because it pleases Him for it to be so. Thankfully, the Lord has brought me through some experiences over the past few months where I have really had to put this intellectual understanding to the test. It has been super challenging at times and I have really wrestled with the Lord and questioned His ways when they seemed hurtful and difficult. It didn't make sense to me how things could seem so hard even though I was doing "everything right" as a Christian. Through all of this, what has become deeply and wonderfully written on my heart is the depth of the Gospel. When nothing has made sense and everything has hurt, there stood the Gospel, as perfect and as satisfying as ever. It is a deep bottomless well filled with refreshment and nourishment. I am so thankful!
I used to think that I could somehow "graduate" from the Gospel and move on to other topics, as though it were something that was only relevant early on in one's conversion. I am truly grateful for what God has been teaching me lately.