Oh, the Love of God!

But now, God's message:
The God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You are mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end -
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That's how much you mean to me!
That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
So don't be afraid: I'm with you.

~Isaiah 43:1-5a in "The Message"

Someone (a friend who does not attend Harvest Church) said to me yesterday, "The grace of God is the gospel!" I agree. With all my heart, I agree. You can't separate God from His grace. You can't separate grace from the gospel, or the gospel from grace. You can't compartmentalize the atonement, justification, or the truth about the power of the Holy Spirit doing the works of God in and through the believer...it is all the gospel.

Because the gospel is many faceted, and the grace of God is, in Peter's words, "manifold", God raises up pastors and teachers who spend their lives for it...explaining it, living it, reminding everyone of it, at every opportunity.

Just because a limited, finite human vessel (like a pastor or teacher) has 45 minutes to an hour, once a week, to instruct and illustrate manifold "grace", does not mean grace has somehow been separated from the person of Jesus, or isolated from the other aspects of His nature. I'm sure there have been heretical antinomians who've done that, but I don't know them by name.

The "first things" that CS Lewis referred to? (see blog entitled "First Things") They are always all-of-a-piece. First things, (like the love of God), have no power apart from their source. You cannot slice and dice the Godhead. They dwell in an eternal, unchangeable state of unity amongst diversity. God is love. God is justice. God is wisdom and peace. God is grace. God is truth. Grace is the truth about God, and the truth about God is His grace.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (I Cor. 1: 30, 31)

Because of God, we are in Christ Jesus, who because of God is our imputed wisdom, our imputed righteousness, our imputed (and ongoing) sanctification, and our complete redemption. That pretty much covers it all. The entire Trinity has conspired to make sure Jesus is our entire substitute, so that all we can take credit for is His Finished Work.

To focus on any aspect of this gospel, such as grace, using Scripture as your authority - what seems like a singular focus will automatically put you in the rip-tide of the Holy Ghost. You will be pulled, inexorably, into all God is; you will be drawn into the depths of all that Christ has accomplished on your behalf. Why? Because "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is one God." You might begin with grace, and you still end up with....GOD!

But until it becomes personal, until it becomes something we realize we desperately need, it is mere creed. The only thing that takes the gospel from creed to need is a constant exposure to The Message. More than a one-time "prayer of salvation", more than a doctrine; the more you see God, the more you become aware of your stark need of Him - his power, grace, and love.

Grace is the gospel. The atonement is the gospel. Righteousness is the gospel. The love of God is the gospel. He'd "sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you."
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