Crossway’s Trackback Thursday – The Great Work of the Gospel


This week’s Trackback Thursday features John Ensor’s The Great Work of the Gospel—written that we might know the message of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and experience God’s ongoing and outworking grace.

Here’s a reminder of how Trackback Thursday works: Simply link to the blog post from your blog, leave a comment on Crossway’s Facebook Page, or re-tweet Trackback Thursday on Twitter @Crosswaybooks. Winners are picked on Friday morning.

The prerequisite work of God in grace is an examination of guilt. God, the surgeon of our souls, cuts deep into our natural pride to convict us of the reality of our guilt. The desirability of God’s forgiveness can grow only as the deniability of our own sinfulness shrinks. In human experience, God’s convicting work is evident in the humble confession that it prompts. (pp 31).

Ultimately, God shows us the reality of our guilt by showing us the purity of his goodness. H. R. Mackintosh said, “God touches the spring of penitence in men through many deep experiences, but the experience is always that of beholding a goodness that shames us.”11 God is good, and everything he does reflects his goodness. “Good and upright is the LORD” (Psalm 25:8). “You [God] are good and do good” (Psalm 119:68).

Isaiah saw the goodness of the Lord and shouted, “Woe is me!”

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

The light of God’s goodness revealed the cracks in Isaiah’s character:

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (6:5).

When we see the God of glory, the ugly reality of our sin becomes self-evident. Until brilliant white paint is put on the wall, the old off-white looks fairly white. But before God the truth of ourselves is laid bare.

At that moment we will run or we will kneel. In kneeling we are owning up to our guilt. Jesus once advised, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser” (Matthew 5:25). In this case our accuser is God himself. In kneeling we are agreeing with God. (pp 42-43).


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