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Is the gospel enough?

Posted by Stephen Witmer on December 14th, 2015

Together with several other Christian brothers, I’ve recently taken up a simple challenge intended to make the gospel more central to our daily lives. We’re each choosing a Bible verse that points us to gospel truth, memorizing that verse, and then applying it in situations of temptation, despair, anxiety, fear, doubt, etc. In other words, we’ve decided that rather than listening to ourselves, we’re going to preach the gospel to ourselves (thanks for this idea, Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

The verse I’ve chosen is 1 John 3.1: ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.’

Yesterday morning as I thought about this verse, God gave me a fresh insight. I realized that, functionally in my life, I often want more than this verse promises. That’s crazy, because this verse it tells me that through the gospel God has made me his own child. He hasn’t just justified me; he has welcomed me into his family. I’ve loved as a son. I’m rich in grace! I have nothing to prove. I’ve received what I could never earn.

But functionally, I confess I often want more. Depending on the day, my versions of 1 John 3.1 might look like this:

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God who are good writers and get their material published; and so we are.’

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God who preach well; and so we are.’

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called respected children of God; and so we are.’

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called highly successful children of God; and so we are.’

Seeing it like this helps me to see how ridiculous it is to pine, yearn, strive, and struggle for more than the best.

What are your versions of 1 John 3.1?

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God who parent well and have successful, accomplished children; and so we are.’

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called wealthy children of God; and so we are.’

- ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called tenured children of God; and so we are.’

Let’s hear the good news again. It’s that God has welcomed us into his family. We need nothing more. We have all we need and could desire: the love of our Father and the fellowship of his people. 1 John 3.1 stands as written. Memorize it with me, and let’s thank God that he can’t improve on what he’s already done for us.

‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.’