God has blessed me in so many ways, many of these blessings coming in the midst or aftermath of what I can only call trial or testing. I have not always done as well under pressure as I would have liked. He has graciously shown me at such times how to gain greater victory. Anyway, what I started to say was this: God has blessed me in so many ways, but nothing has ever surpassed the way He opened my eyes to see that Christ died for me, that His Son was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities.
No matter what blessings of God may or may not come my way, I cannot imagine any encounter with God ever surpassing the wonder of encountering Jesus and His cross. The cross has never become a familiar truth to me, it has never lost its power to awaken me to worship and thanksgiving. “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” I hope my memory remains reasonably good as long as I live on earth – Heaven is my hone but I am not homesick yet – but if it gets a bit dodgy in years to come, I hope that I will be able to say with John Newton that I remember two things: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.
This is no exaggeration for me, nor sentimental piety. The conviction of sin I felt as a 13 year old was so deep that had I known of Paul’s claim to be the chief of sinners I would have fought him for that title. To someone never awakened by the Holy Spirit of truth, it would seem ludicrous for a teenager brought up in a good Christian home to think of himself in that way, but for me it was undeniable truth: I was a sinner who needed a Saviour.
There was no hell fire preaching that brought me to such a realisation. It is perhaps thinking of going to Lewis in June, God willing, that made me remember the lead up to Duncan Campbell’s conversion. He left a dance one night saying this, “I have just discovered I am on my way to hell.” Well, I discovered that too, a fact that was as clear as day. It is where I would still be heading were it not for the love of God: the rich mercy of The Father, the grace of the Son and the awakening power of the Holy Spirit bringing me to birth to be one of the beloved children of God’s family for time and eternity.
I try to walk in unity with brothers and sisters in the Lord, but I can have no fellowship in the gospel with those who have laid aside the Good news that there is a Saviour for sinners to replace it with the message that we are all really wonderful people and just need to recognise it for ourselves and for others to recognise it too. I am indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. Poor self image, even wickedly destroyed self image, is a reality from which Christ can and does deliver so many. Thankfully it is so. But what a tragedy to be delighting in my own beauty, gifting and talents, feeling good about myself as I enter an eternity separated from God, dwelling forevermore in a realm where the worms never die and the flames are never quenched.
“Whatever happened to the Gospel” is a title of a book by R.T. Kendall. I find myself thinking about that question a lot. Of course sophistry can get to work on that and say in superior tome, “Oh, there are many different dimensions to the gospel.” Indeed there are but let’s never forget this about the Gospel: it is the power of God to save everyone who believes, for in it a righteousness from God is revealed for sinful people to believe in and to rest in by God given faith.