As we come to the end of this study, hopefully we will all pause to reflect on the work God did in us. It has been my prayer that we each experience a personal revival that spurs us to a renewed effort to share the love of God with the world around us, drives us to find deeper knowledge of the Gospel, and draws us closer to Christ in every aspect of our lives. If we have been open and honest, our encounter with the Gospel over the past eight weeks changed us. An encounter with Christ always changes us.
Emily Purvis was kind enough to share her thoughts as she reflected on J. D. Greear’s study. Many thanks to her and others who assisted in providing materials and input for our blog posts. We look forward to future posts and discussions as we transition to our next study.
Christ and the Cross by Emily Purvis
“Gospel- Recovering the Power of Christianity” just sounds like it will be good. I mean really- anything that emphasizes the power of Christianity is something I want to be a part of. Something I like to look at the church and say, “Oh yeah- THEY need to have a renewed mind of simply the power of the cross.” Hear me out, I know that is prideful, ignorant, and, even scarier, blind to my own sin. This past 8 week session at Forestville opened my eyes to how I, Emily, denied the power of the cross in my daily life without even realizing it.
Page 9, aka the first actual page of text reads: “Are we trying to earn God’s love and affection, or are we living in the joy of God’s love that’s been declared over us in the Gospel.” Needless to say, I wanted to stop. My flesh rises up against the idea that I would try and earn God’s love and in an indirect way say “Hey Jesus, the cross wasn’t sufficient for me.” Yet, that is where I find myself so often. I have spent many seasons of my life looking to earn more and more love. It wasn’t until recently that I understood more of what that looks like.
I have an incredible husband, parents, siblings, in-laws, and friends who love me. I genuinely know they love me. I just always think there is a reason and ways I can lose that love. I think they love me because I clean the house, worked hard in school, at times been easy to get along with, and I like to think I am funny. However, I could lose it easily if I became lazy, stopped attending family events, or threw water on my little brother (story for another time.)
J. D. Greear addresses just that when he discusses “Love Conquers All.” He explains how he loves his kids simply because they are his kids. Easy concept, but man does it change everything. My husband and I found out about four months ago that, Lord willing, we will have a baby this December. Sweetest news I have ever heard and from then until now little Anna Joy has caused me more sickness and exhaustion than anyone. I mean really, she has simply made me sick, tired, and other emotions I know really are on me. But my, oh my, we just love her. Never met her and she really has done nothing to earn my love aside from be completely dependent on me. We simply adore her. I love her.
It has clicked. I understand more of Christ love for me than I have ever before. All that to say, the first way the Lord has used “Gospel” in my life is to reveal to me my attempt to earn more of Christ love and the ways I have lived in fear of losing it.
“Our ability to have joy in all things is the measure of how much we understand and believe the gospel.” – Greear, pg. 57
He then references Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved”
If I believe the Word of God to be true, which I do, then this passage should not only bring me joy now, but in the worst of circumstances. As I am sure your family, like mine has had one wild summer of circumstances that seem in my temporal mind as bad. I wanted to cling to verses about God being a healer and to read and hear about how all things work together for good for those who love Him. Those verses are in Scriptures and they are true. But, I must not look past the cross. The Lord used this study to remind me of the comfort and joy found there.
If I recognize “the compassion of God was measured by the cross, and His ability to save was measured by the resurrection” I no longer want to read a book about healing or justify a bad event. I want to and choose to make a beeline for the cross and praise Him for the resurrection.
The second reminder/truth the Lord taught me was the reality of 1st Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Just Jesus and the cross – that is the Gospel message.
Paul talks to Timothy about the same thing we are talking about today years and years ago.
1 Timothy 6:20-21, “Oh Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.”
As a student pastor’s wife I have found myself many times wanting our students to be “good.” I have had that mind set many times and don’t even realize it. Even as I think of our little girl growing up, I don’t want her to be the bad kid in children’s church. However, I know from experience and the Word that rules and commitment will not develop a heart for the Gospel. As J. D. stated it, “I (or students or my children or my family or strangers) can’t develop love for God in my heart just by being more committed.”
“The only thing that produced love for God in your heart is experiencing His love for you.” -Greear
This series and time in my life group reminded me of my desperate need for the Holy Spirit to reign down on me, my marriage, my family, my life group, my church, and to the ends of the earth. My prayer is that people would experience God’s love for them not that their or my behavior would be better.
Christ and the cross. That is all.
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