Following here is the last installment of the questions and quotes from Dane Ortlund’s reflection on the heart of Christ published by Crossway in 2020. This guide has been written with a small group in mind, but can also be useful for individual reflection through the book. The first three installments are here, here, and here.
All of the installments have been collected into a downloadable PDF here.
Chapter 19: Rich in Mercy
Key Verse: “But God, being rich in mercy. . .” Ephesians 2:4
What do you normally think of when you hear the word “lavish.” Read Ephesians 1:3-10. What does it mean that God has lavished His grace on us? How does that relate to His wealth of mercy?
Divine love is not forbearance or longsuffering or patience. . .p. 174
Are there times when you think that God is impatient with your sin? How does a flood of mercy sweep that expectation away?
Christ was sent not to mend wounded people or wake sleepy people or advise confused people or inspire bored people or spur on lazy people or educate ignorant people, but to raise dead people.p. 175.
As you read this chapter, what are some of your impoverished views of God’s mercy that were exposed?
Chapter 20: Our Lawish Hearts, His Lavish Heart.
Key Verse: “The Son of God, who loved me. . .” Galatians 2:20
What is the difference between living for God or living from Him?
The battle of the Christian life is to bring your own heart into alignment with Christ’s, that is, getting up each morning and replacing your natural orphan mind-set with a mind-set of full and free adoption into the family of God through the work of Christ your older brother, who loved you and gave himself for you out of the overflowing fullness of His gracious heart.p. 181
As you read the description of the boy’s activities on page 182, how did you begin to see your own orphan-behavior in response to God?
Dane uses one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite dead friends, John Newton: “Our sins are many, but His mercies are more; our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater; we are weak, but He is power” (p. 183) How do we devalue God’s gifts of mercy, righteousness, and strength when we attempt to earn them through our law-ish attempts?
In what ways does it feel natural to attempt to work for our acceptance in the family of God? How is our understanding of our identity in Christ skewed?
What are we saying when we identify ourselves by our particular sin? How does true alignment of our reality swimming in Christ’s mercy challenge us to move away from that sin toward our true identity?
If God’s mercy is found in the ministry of Jesus, how do we see the richness of that mercy worked out? What incident in Jesus’ life comes to mind? How does that mercy work out in your own life?
Chapter 21: He Loved Us Then; He’ll love us now
Key Verse: “God shows His love for us. . .” Romans 5:8
Read Romans 5:6-11. What are the descriptors of our state before we received reconciliation through Jesus?
God wasn’t waiting to see if we would turn out to be good followers. While we were weak, ungodly sinners, enemies under His wrath, He loved us. How does God’s heart of mercy give you security today because of that past work?
He loved us in our mess then. He’ll love us in our mess now.p. 194
Read Romans 8:31-39. Rejoice. Savor the concept of nothing separating you from God’s love.
Those in Christ are eternally imprisoned within the tender heart of God. We will be less sinful in the next life than we are now, but we will not be any more secure in the next life than we are now.p. 195
Chapter 22: To the End
Key Verse: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1
What did B. B. Warefield mean (p.200) when he said that Jesus “died not of the cross, but, as we commonly say of a broken heart”?
Think back to a time when you felt utterly rejected. How can that pain help us to think more clearly about the cross and what Jesus experienced?
How is the cross proof that Jesus set His heart to love us?
Chapter 23: Buried in His Heart Forever More
Key Verse: “. . .so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us.” Ephesians 2:7
How would you describe your purpose for existence? Reread the summary for Jonathan Edwards:
The creation of the world seems to have been especially for this end, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse, toward whom he might fully exercise the infinite benevolence of his nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense foundation of condescension, love, and grace that was in his heart, and that in this way God might be glorified?p. 206
How do you think about heaven? How would you describe it to someone who had never heard of it before?
What did Jonathan Edwards mean when he said that those were were Jesus’ saints would “swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love”? (p. 208)
As he closed this chapter, Dane reflected on the transformation of all our brokenness “that will one day be rewound and reversed. Take a few moments to listen to the song Advent Gloria by Ryan Foglesong, Jeff Althoff, and Grace Nixon. The second verse contains the line: “All of our sadness here will come untrue when he returns in power to raise us.” Meditate on the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives. How do these sure realities impact our daily lives?
Jesus’ invitation was simple: “Come to me.” Rest well, friends.