“The news of the gospel must be great joy because it is all joy; the Lord Christ has brought news of such fulness that He left nothing for anyone else to add. If you think something might be missing from the gospel you must look higher than God, for He gives Himself through Christ...”
- William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armour
William Gurnall, a Puritan minister from the 17th century, wrote what is certainly the most comprehensive work ever written on the "Armor of God" passage found in Ephesians 6:10-20. I came across his work during my sermon preparation for this passage over these past couple of weeks. Gurnall's work on this passage is more than 1200 pages over three volumes. I have read maybe 100 pages of his second volume, but what I have read so far has been so incredibly rich and my heart and mind have been blessed by his work on this critical text. This passage, dealing with spiritual warfare, can be a scary text if one take stock of what Paul is truly addressing. Paul is confronting us with the stark reality that, as followers of Christ, we are engaged in a war, a wrestling, a battle against an enemy like none other. This is an enemy we cannot see and that we rarely even think about. An enemy that is pure evil, is crafty, and is powerful. We are promised in this passage that we are a central participant in this fight and we are under continual attack. Read those last few sentences again...scary stuff!
But, thank you Jesus for the but, we are also promised that we have been equipped for the battle. Just as any good country equips their soldiers for war, our good God has equipped us for the battle that we engage in daily. As Paul understood, and Gurnall is highlighting, this equipping comes through the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan attacks, schemes, tempts, and seeks to lure us away from the Gospel by presenting temporal trappings of this world as more fulfilling, more beautiful, and more joyful than the Gospel. Because of our depraved nature, although we trust in the Gospel, we continually buy into Satan's lie that money, work, family, gadgets, etc... are better than the truth of the Gospel. Gurnall's quote seeks to center us, once again, on just how fulfilling, beautiful, and joyful the Gospel truly is. The Gospel, as Gurnall states, is "all joy." The Gospel is all fulfilling and cannot be added to because the Gospel is the gift and offering of God Himself! As Gurnall says, if we think that the Gospel is lacking than we "must look higher than God, for He gives Himself through Christ." Do we understand this? Do we truly understand and embrace this truth for our lives? There is nothing better than the Gospel because the Gospel is the offering of God. As John Piper says, "God is the Gospel." Through the Gospel we gain communion, as adopted children, with the Creator God of the universe.
How have you bought into Satan's lie? What is Satan presenting to you right now that feels more fulfilling, more satisfying, more pleasurable than the Gospel? The hard part of this discernment process is that many times what Satan is presenting are good gifts from God; a spouse, children, a vocation, etc... Any of these good gifts, though, can be distorted by placing improper value on them. Anytime we place any of these gifts ahead of their giver they become idols and Satan, in his scheming, is pleased. We must do the difficult work of discerning what those things are in our lives that we, in our most honest moments, believe are better than the Gospel. Take time today, this week, this month to discern your own heart. Take time to meditate on the Gospel, that through Jesus' atoning work on the cross, you have been adopted as a child of God and are now called to find your deepest joy and your ultimate satisfaction in your communion with Him.
As we fight this daily battle of sin and temptation may we be reminded that the Gospel is "all joy" and that Jesus "has brought news of such fulness that He left nothing for anyone else to add."