In Chapter 13, Dane Ortlund helped us understand how the Holy Spirit makes the love of Christ a personal, experiential reality in our hearts.
In Chapter 14, he shows us from the Scripture the merciful heart of our Heavenly Father, which is revealed in his Son.
How often have you thought - or felt - that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit were substantially different in their heart towards you?
For instance, perhaps you have faith in Jesus, see the Father as a remote Judge, and think of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force.
These are all common ideas about the Triune God of love, but are they backed up by what the Bible itself reveals?
Dane Ortlund provides nuance and care in walking through why these misconceptions might arise - and what the Bible actually teaches. In particular, we read in 2 Corinthians 1:3,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
A correct understanding of the triune God is not that of a Father whose central disposition is judgment and a Son whose central disposition is love. The heart of both is one and the same; this is, after all, one God, not two. Theirs is a heart of redeeming love, not compromising justice and wrath but beautifully satisfying justice and wrath.
And quoting Thomas Goodwin:
If your heart be hard, his mercies are tender. If your heart be dead, he has mercy to liven it. If you be sick, he has mercy to heal you. If you be sinful, he has mercies to sanctify and cleanse you. As large and as various as are our wants, so large and various are his mercies.
So as we consider the heart of Christ and the heart of the Father, there is no separation in their merciful approach to us:
The heart of Christ is gentle and lowly. And that is the perfect picture of who the Father is. “The Father himself loves you” (John 16:27).
For me, the depths of my own need are so great that I am thankful to know I have the help of not just my Savior, but of the Father and the Spirit as well.
Second, the more I understand that God’s heart is united in mercy towards me, the more trusting I am of God’s help and aid. I can rely more fully on his mercy, without hesitation, because it is clearly confirmed that this is his disposition toward me.
Finally, this is a God that I want to share with my friends and family. What good news! To go through life without a merciful heavenly Father is to struggle more than we need to. What a great gift we have in an offer of relationship with him!
In what ways has your own experience (or lack of experience) of your earthly Father shaped your view of our Heavenly Father?
What other insights from this chapter touched your heart and deepened your walk with God?