Defined by Love
How do I now do justice to the beauty of the cross? I cannot. Indeed, I will be worshiping Him for the way He has saved me from my sin for all eternity.
With the last post in this series, I waded through some truths about sin. That post about sin and wrath has made this one all the sweeter to anticipate. As Thomas Watson said, “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.” There is a Savior!
Here are three words I have learned describe what Jesus has done on the cross for me:
Penal: The just punishment that my sin deserved
Substitutionary: was placed on Christ instead
Atonement: allowing my relationship with God to be fully restored in eternal peace.
Christ took my sin so completely that His perfect obedience could be applied to me. J. D. Greear teaches, “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You [God] love me more and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.” By Christ, I am forgiven, declared righteous (justified), and healed: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
The acceptance with God I have in Christ is mine because it has been freely given to me—not based upon merit, but according to His grace: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
How good to know that justification is by His grace alone; for by this truth, I can be assured that it has not depended upon me: “But by His [God's] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Justification was not given based upon my goodness, but upon Him and His goodness. Perfect Jesus took on sin so that He might attribute His righteousness to me: “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The last post closed with the reasons of hope from Scripture that the unborn and infants who die in this life are taken to be with Jesus. I think about my daughter in that wonderful place. My stillborn child was a real, beautiful, human person designed by God. And she is a real, beautiful, human person who was designed by God and is with God.
She who used to be with me and who is now in heaven gives me all the more impetus to believe that heaven is real. For heaven to house my child, it must be—for it is as though a part of me is already there. Heaven has come into view like never before—this yearning for heaven is a beautiful gift that my child has given to me.
When I start thinking about heaven so intently, in turn, I understand all the more that Jesus Christ is my only hope. My yearning for heaven becomes paired with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is strong to save me from sin and wrath. Over time, I have been led to this peace: Heaven is good because it is where I will see my Savior face-to-face.
This brings peace because I do not look to another human for hope or protection; I know my child can ultimately bring me neither. The only One who is able to truly save, watch over, and protect me from deepest, eternal harm—Jesus Christ—is the single foundation of my hope. Losing my child has not defined me. I have peace He is a solid foundation upon which my child and I stand. I am defined by the fact that I can never lose Him. I am defined by Love: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Prior to losing my first daughter, I had expected her to experience many firsts, like a first smile, first step, and first word. But I did not expect that she would experience a first that I still await. She was first to meet our Lord. As a mother, it does not seem that my own little baby should go much of anywhere without me, much less be first to do something that is still incomprehensible to me on earth. In an earlier post in these series, I wrote about how I had hoped to “be there” for her in this life. But I could not be there for her in death. I could not go with her. I could not tell her what to expect. I could not help her through. But Jesus could. And I have hope Jesus did. My baby, too, is defined by Love—saved eternally by the mercy and grace of God alone.