Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 14 — Father of Mercies

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

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.

He explains:

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!

Discussion questions:

  1. In what ways has your own experience (or lack of experience) of your earthly Father shaped your view of our Heavenly Father?

  2. What other insights from this chapter touched your heart and deepened your walk with God?

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Hello, Carson! This question has actually caused me to wonder in what ways my relationship with my earthly dad may have contributed to how I view The Father. To be clear, for many, many years now my dad and I have been best friends. He is always very willing to listen and talk and is eager to visit with us. When we were kids, however, it was just the opposite. Don’t they call your childhood years your formative years? Back then he was under immense stress on a routine basis and there was a lot of rage all the way through childhood and into our late teens. Well, from both parents, to be fair. Additionally, he very much seemed to favor my younger brother (who looked just like him lol).

That all changed for the better quite some time ago, but now I do have to wonder if the first 18 years of life didn’t have profound impacts on the way I view the Father that I may not be aware of. That genuinely astonishes me, because when I first believed on Jesus I was keenly aware to the fact that He is the most patient, loving, kind, and understanding person in existence. All opposite qualities from what I had expected of Him at the time. Still, do my early years with my earthly father still cloud my view of The Lord? I’m prayerfully considering this now.

These two stood out very much for me. When I first joined with Connect I talked about the many years of wandering into grievous sin and how terrified I had become that I had gone too far even though I had eagerly, earnestly repented of all that. Well, it still haunts me. Those two quotes do bring me some respite and joyful hope that all is not lost and restoration is possible or has already happened. I want that with all of my heart, but then I wonder, “Do I truly? The heart is desperately wicked, so is it sincere?” I question my motives like that quite a lot.

I really enjoy and appreciate these discussions, Carson, and hope you’ll keep doing them.

With all sincerity may He bless you wonderfully today.

*Edited for numerous typos. ha ha

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