In his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, J.I. Packer has a chapter entitled “The Gospel as of First Importance.” In that chapter, Packer discusses the pastoral and formational applications of the Gospel. Many are familiar with the quote from Tim Keller that “the Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life; it is the A through Z of the Christian life.” Packer writes,
“In that spirit we offer the following ‘Gospel Alphabet’–twenty-six pastoral and formative reasons why the Gospel must retain primacy as the content of Christian education” (108).
This week, we come to the letter “L”.
L is for Love
The Gospel is the revelation of God’s abounding love: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). We do well to immerse ourselves and the saints we serve in that Good News. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, for example, is an ongoing, multi sensory reminder of Christ crucified (1 Cor. 11:26). God’s Gospel love also calls forth love as response. The Lord’s Supper both declares God’s love and demands that we love one another in turn (1 Cor. 11:27). John, “the beloved apostle,” makes these truths very clear. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). And again he writes, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Would we see love grow in the hearts of God’s people and reach to their neighbors–both saints and sinners? Then we must school them continuously in the Gospel of love.