The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
by Dane Ortlund
2020 / 224 pages
Note the subtitle. If Dane Ortlund has a mission for this book, it must be, at least partly, to show us that Christ loves His people, not only in spite of their sin, but even especially in their sin - not because He tolerates sin, but because sinners are sufferers. And how do we know that He loves sufferers?
Because He tells us. He tells us that His heart is "gentle and lowly" - that He yearns to extend His love to us. Dane Ortlund reveals how the Puritans loved to "wring out" the understanding of Christ's love for us, and in surveying their work, he also soaks us in the knowledge of how much God loves His people to come to Him for help and forgiveness. Ortlund excerpts the work of John Bunyan (the author of The Pilgrim's Progress reviewed here in this blog) and others in looking at verses from both Old and New Testaments that show how God yearns for His suffering (and even sinning) people:
- John Bunyan looks carefully at every significant word in the verse "Whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37).
- Jonathan Edwards, the famous preacher of the fiery sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," still called grace God's natural work, and judgment His "strange work," on the basis, largely, of Hosea 11:8-9.
- Ortlund also reveals how our "Lawish Hearts" often obscure the depth of God's "Lavish Heart" when we doubt (consciously or in our desperate attempts to earn His favor) whether He can or will forgive us. John Newton (the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace") indicts us for our "legal spirit" when he, like Bunyan, ponders God's grace revealed in John 6:37.