by Susan Sampson

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).  Do we tend to think lightly of the riches of His kindness to us in Christ?  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me again who I once was and where I once was — without God, without hope, rejected, excluded. and very far off.

Matthew Henry’s words quoted in the recent Who Am I in Christ lecture spoke to my heart: “You should remember what you have been, and compare it with what you now are, in order to humble yourselves and to excite your love and thankfulness to God.” Compare:

Ephesians 2:12 — “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

Ephesians 2:13 — But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Jesus brought us near.  Jesus brought us in.  Jesus made us one.

I am reminded of a passage from Lesson Seven of the Who Am I in Christ study, “By Grace You Have Been Saved.”  It says, “All we have and all we have become are all from God!  It is because of God’s amazing grace that we have been saved through faith, which is not a result of anything we have done or anything we would do.  Even our faith is a gift, so none of us can boast that we are somehow more holy, more righteous, or more humble than those without faith.  Out of the treasure of His merciful heart, God gave us faith as a gift.” Amazing grace. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace”  (Rom. 11:6).

Jesus did it all, all to Him I owe.  It is because of this mercy and grace we have been shown that we are moved to love the Lord and one another.  But again, apart from the Lord we could not love with a sacrificial love.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).

God is glorified.  He has done it all.  We were far off.  We were His enemies.  He brought us near.  He brought us in.  He made us one.  One new man, one new body, one Spirit in Christ!

by Laurie Aker

The Lord can seem so close at times and yet so far. We want to talk with Him, yet He seems out of reach. We cry out, yet we are not sure if He has heard. Our heart reverberates with a longing that we don’t know how to satisfy; then a fog settles in, clouding our vision, and the dampness of doubt and mistrust snuffs our expectations. The longing remains, but now it is weighted with disillusionment. Faith must overcome or our love will fade. We must fight the temptation to question God’s goodness and lovingkindness.

Comprehending how much God cares about us or how deeply He loves us can feel well beyond our reach, particularly when we are wrestling with some of the crazy stuff that happens in our lives—not only the big things, but the small things. In fact, more than we want to admit it’s the small things that take us down: the disappointments, the nagging thoughts, the lonely nights, the misunderstandings, unrealized dreams. Insidiously, the incessant minutia of everyday life can whittle away our faith; unknowingly our weather-worn foundation begins to crumble in disrepair. We know intellectually that God’s Word repeatedly tells us He loves us and cares for us like a mother cares for her newborn child and that He will never will leave us or for- sake us. Jesus implores, Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Lk. 12:6-7). But we have a hard time believing.

God often administers His love, care, and protection differently than we would, so in “trusting” Him and His Word we apply our own thinking and insight. We doubt, we question, and we worry. Our faith teeters because our foundation of belief is unstable. It isn’t because there is something wrong with God’s love; it is because His lovingkindness is beyond our comprehension.


God’s love is the most powerful, yet gentle, force in the universe, and it has the power to heal the deepest wound, transform the most deformed life, fill the greatest void, and even bring the dead back to life. Getting our minds or our hearts around this love can be an expanse that seems beyond our reach. Because His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts, we are often unaware of His loving and merciful hand at work in our lives. God’s love for us can’t be measured by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Too often, our eyes are fixed on our failures, distracted by our surroundings, or cued into the world’s perspective. Thankfully God’s love is not dependent us—on our love, on our understanding, on our circumstances, or on our ability. He loves us unconditionally. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.


This blog post is an excerpt from the Thistlebend Discipleship Study Falling in Love Again with Your Lord available here.

by Laurie Aker and Scott Kaczorowski

Our time is limited when we are together each week and often we don’t have time to delve into each topic to the depth that I would like. We recently touched on the sensitive topic of infants and salvation. Rather than gloss over it, my heart’s desire is for you to know and understand the fullness of the doctrine. We have said before that our doctrine impacts our deeds, and this is so very true. But our doctrine is also crucial when we are faced with very difficult times. God is love and His ways are perfect. We can’t understand them completely but we are to seek to understand what He has entrusted to us. With this mind I thought it would be helpful to work with Scott Kaczorowski and provide for you a synopsis of our understanding of God’s Word on the subject.

The issue of how salvation works for infants is a difficult one and the Bible does not speak with comprehensive clarity on this issue. However, here are some points that we can glean from the Scriptures:

  • We know that due to Adam’s transgression everyone who is born from his line (that is everyone in the human race) starts out spiritually dead and therefore separated from God. Romans 5:18 says, “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” and verse 19 continues, “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” So Paul can say, “you were dead in the trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
  • There is biblical data that nevertheless suggests that God mercifully saves infants. David says of his deceased son, “But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23). In Matthew 21 we read, “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant, and they said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read,”Out of the mouth of “infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise”?'” (Matt. 21:15-16).
  • God’s attitude towards children (in general) notes their preciousness. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:16-17).
  • We also see in Scripture that God is very willing to extend mercy especially in cases of ignorance. Paul says, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…” (1 Tim. 1:13). (This does not of course guarantee that God extend mercy in every case of ignorance; in fact, we know that He does not. But it is to note God’s disposition to be gracious especially in cases of ignorance.) In the case of infants, we have some of the most profound cases of human ignorance.
  • The Bible also suggests that there is an age when we become accountable for our sin. In Isaiah 7:15-16 we read, ” He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.” This suggests that before a certain point, there is not the cognitive ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
  • The Bible event hints that there may be circumstances in which infants have a form of saving faith.1 David said of his experience, “Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Psa. 22:9-10). In the case of John the Baptist, the angel tells Zechariah his father, “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15) which was probably fulfilled when Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit and John responded in joy to the presence of Jesus–in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:41-44).

All of this biblical data still does not yield easy answers to this question, but at the level of general impression we can say that believes should have great hope in God for the salvation of their children, and we know that we can trust that the judge of all the earth will do right (Gen. 18:25).2


1I owe this point to another author, probably John Frame.
2Another author has made the point from Gen. 18:25 (though possibly in another context). Unfortunately I cannot recall the source. The language here may be substantially similar.