God’s Gift of the Gospel

The Law of God can be intimidating as it shows our sin and our disobedience to Him. Blessedly, we have the Gospel, which shows us God’s love and how He has saved us in Jesus. The Gospel is just one of God’s many gifts to us as it reassures us of His never-ending forgiveness and love. Read below a section from Grace, Faith, Scripture: Portrait of a Lutheran by Daniel E. Paavola about the Gospel and God’s forgiveness for us.

I Knew It from the First Moment

“This is the one.” That’s the line that starts many good relationships. You’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve said it. The moment you saw him or her, you knew. This is the one. The relationship was set before it began. You were as good as married. You just needed to find out her name.

God’s relationship with us is that full and immediate choice by God of us. He has chosen us from eternity, but knows every detail of our lives when He makes that choice. He has full forgiveness of all our sins already won by the death of Christ on the cross. This is a relationship that’s driven by God’s choice. Paul described it this way: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15). In this adopted relationship, we are His completely by His choice, today and forever.

Our Amazing Relationship with God

How many best friends do you have? How many best, best friends? How many really, really, best, best friends? Probably only thirteen-year-olds worry about these fine distinctions. Still, it would be nice to have something unique about your relationship. You’re the only two who go fishing together or attend the book club. You two are the only ones who love old movies. Because this is your special relationship, don’t invite someone else to come along. This time is yours alone. This is especially true when dating. Don’t bring your roommate on the date. This is just for the two of you.

That is what makes the Gospel message so unique. We’re in this wonderful relationship with God, who has created us and chosen us as His own. But we’re not alone. He has the same love for every person who has ever lived, and that’s just fine with us. This dynamic would never work in any other relationship. Imagine a new dating relationship in which you discover that every love letter, text, and email he sent to you was sent at the same time to every other woman on campus. Well, that’s the end of that relationship.

God’s Love Covers All 

But that message of God’s love is the foundation of our relationship. It is because God loves the whole world that He sent His Son to die. In addition, it is because He loves the whole world that we know He loves us. He cannot say that He loves the world but then say to one of us, “But not you.” His love for the whole world is the assurance that you are loved. That love covers all the sins that we alone know, that love listens to our midnight worries, and that love has planned our future. His love is spread but never thin. It is shared but never any less.

As our relationship with God grows, we are brought into His thoughts and ways. At first, it is a stunning message. The Law tells us that merely trying harder won’t work. The Law is strong, black coffee with no cream or sugar. It starts the meal of God’s message with a sharp warning. But then, when we are tongue-scorched and heartsore, God gives us only Gospel.

It is the cool sweetness of God’s free forgiveness. It comes completely free. It is God’s own meal, unlike any we have made ourselves. It takes patience and trust to hear both Law and Gospel, but only through this combined recipe does God feed us as we need.

Post adapted from Grace, Faith, Scripture: Portrait of a Lutheran, copyright © 2019 Daniel E. Paavola. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

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Daniel Paavola

Dr. Daniel Paavola has been teaching the essence of the Lutheran faith for twenty-two years as a professor of theology at Concordia University Wisconsin, where he currently serves as the theology department chairman.

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