How is it that the transcendent, majestic, sovereign God could stoop Himself so low to our earthly affairs? How is it that the Son, who is God Himself (what a mysterious union this is, that Jesus is both the Son of God and God the Son, truly God and truly man!), condescends to our lowly estate in the Incarnation to suffer a brutal and humiliating death on a Cross? Then, this same God sends His Spirit to dwell within us in the act of salvation. The hope of glory Himself now tabernacles within us as Christians – again, how can we use simple words to explain the incredible union we now enjoy? Paul did not mean that we cannot explain the gospel. We can and do. We should and must. Our mission is to proclaim the gospel to this world, and that means reminding ourselves of the gospel daily.
Occasionally, I have reflected that I have spent many Sundays in the pulpit trying to articulate the gospel, through the Scriptures, in such a way to all who are listening, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19).
I am blessed beyond measure that I get to do this; that I have been called to preach the same gospel that was, “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints,” (Col. 1:26), which the prophets longed to fully see and hear and understand (Matt. 13:17, 1 Pet. 1:12), angels longed to look into (1 Peter 1:12) and is now revealed fully in Jesus Christ. This gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the greatest news the world has ever received. Paul is right when, thinking of this gospel, he joyfully exclaimed, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).
That phrase, “inexpressible,” is an interesting one. The other parts of the sentence make sense to us. Paul thanks God for the gospel. Those who are saved, of course, recognize that we must abound in thanksgiving toward our Savior. Mercy has been poured out upon us as God has not given to us what we did deserve, namely, justice and death for our sins. Grace has abounded toward us, the chief of sinners because God has given us His unmerited favor. He has given us what we did not deserve and could never possibly earn; namely, the forgiveness of sins, redemption, reconciliation, eternal life, adoption as the Father’s sons and daughters, union with Christ as His Bride, and sweet communion with the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
We thank God because the gospel is full of one gift after another. God gives His Son. The Son gives His life. The Holy Spirit gives regeneration (faith and repentance). God gives over and over again, and all we can do is receive what He has given. The salvation we enjoy in Christ, through the gospel, is a gift; it cannot be earned, bought, or stolen. God gives this gift, and it can never be taken. This gift is eternal, and those who receive it by grace are secured forever to God by God. There is no fear of losing grip on Him because He will hold us forever fast in His hands (John 10:28-29).