We recently had the pleasure of hosting a short women’s conference–called “Transform–with Elyse Fitzpatrick. Elyse epitomizes gospel-centeredness and an author I turn to time and time again. My wife and I love her stuff.
Below are some notes that one of our members took from that conference.
As Christians, why should we reconsider God’s love for us in Christ? Because our love for Him is responsive in nature. John says that “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our responsive love will only grow as we contemplate God’s love for us, primarily in the gospel. Our faith in God grows in direct proportion to our apprehension of His love, and our obedience must be fueled by this love.
Obedience that is not motivated by love is worthless. As Paul says, in Christ “neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). And if responsive love does not motivate our obedience, then it is nothing less than self-righteous penance. How would you know the difference? You might look at how you respond when you fail: Do you spend hours in self-recrimination? Do you beat yourself up over your failures? Or you might look at how you respond to trials: Do you think that God is punishing you for your failure to obey? Do you get angry at him for not holding up his part of the bargain?
In your pursuit of godliness, is it possible that you have left Jesus behind?
Many of you are suffering from a form of spiritual amnesia. Even though we believe the gospel, the places where the gospel actually intersects with and powerfully affects our daily life is infrequent. For instance, how does John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” impact your heart’s responses when you don’t receive the coveted invitation, when your children disrespect you in front of friends or when your roast fails to cook?
One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is because we’ve forgotten that we were cleansed from our sins. When we really see this, it changes us:
- Our faith will grow because we can see beyond the record of our failure.
- Our virtue or moral excellence will grow in direct proportion to our apprehension of the fact that we’ve been cleansed, forgiven and loved.
- We’ll grow in our knowledge and acquaintance of him because we won’t be afraid of him. In fact, studying and fellowshipping with him will become our delight because he is so delightful.
- Self-control will come more easily because the idols that used to draw us away from him will have lost their power to entice. It doesn’t take much self-control to compel loving service to one who is so wonderful you love to make him smile.
- And we’ll love because we’ll be sensible to the fact that we’ve been loved.
Our glorious new identity in Christ, all the wonderful indicatives in Scripture, must always remain the catalyst, motive and ground for our transformation into Christ’s image. To believe this is to walk “by faith and not by sight.” I must believe that God continues to love me despite my continual sin; that everything I’ve ever needed to be pleasing to him has been given me in the gospel; that I can be bold and courageous in my war against sin because I know that he’s forgiven me and continues to love and support me.
Failing to concentrate on God’s love for us in Christ isn’t a trivial thing. It will always eventuate in apathetic living. Only the gospel can so invigorate us that we burn with ardor for him in all that we do.