Beyond Concepts

“And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.”  Matthew 8:2

I am thankful for the growing gospel renaissance in our times.  My own enjoyment of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from all my works continues to grow.  I see the Lord stirring many men this way.  The Gospel Coalition is one manifestation of this upsurge of gospel clarity and passion among us.  I hope it never stops.  I hope we never start thinking, “Okay, we get this now.  Let’s move on.”

The doctrines of grace imprint on our consciousness the conceptual structures that reveal who God really is and who we really are and what he has done about that in grace.  But we also need the Lord himself to touch us at a profound personal level, especially where we are most sinful and miserable.

I don’t change when gospel concepts start surprising me, wonderful and essential as that is.  Gospel concepts spread the table, so to speak, for the feast of Christ himself, who fills me and heals me and energizes me.  I change, really change, when I feel loved by him. I change when I feel accepted by him.  I change when I feel set free by him.  That goes beyond concepts.  It is an experience.  That experience follows the logical and psychological trajectory set by the doctrines.  But what I need is the touch of Christ himself.

Through the ministry of the gospel, Jesus comes to us.  He gets involved in our subjectivity.  He opens the eyes of our hearts (Ephesians 1:18).  He slakes the thirst of our souls (Psalm 34:8; 63:1).  He tells our hearts that we belong to him (John 10:27).  The fragrance of him spreads (2 Corinthians 2:14).  The “senses of the soul,” if I may put it that way, come alive.

Let’s keep pressing into the doctrines of the gospel.  Let’s also keep asking Jesus for his visitations at a deeper level, where we actually change.

~Ray Ortlund (Original Post:

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