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Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers

av Dane C. Ortlund

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490637,295 (4.63)Ingen/inga
"Shows how the heart of Christ feels about God's people as they sin and stumble their way through life"--
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I was recommended this book by minister friend who said that it was one of the best books he??d ever read. I read it and similarly loved it. It brought great balm to my soul and joy to my heart. It has been wonderful to have had my eyes fixed upon the love of the Lord Jesus. What a blessing this book has been. ( )
  PGWilliams71 | Jan 31, 2021 |
A beautiful but unbalanced account of Jesus’ heart for sinners and suffers.

I say beautiful because it was not merely a reminder of Jesus heart for the world, but there were fresh insights about his heart for me today. Ortlund makes the point that Jesus is not bored, impatient or overwhelmed every time we call him up for help. His heart repeatedly is moved with compassion in the gospels when people reach out to him with their needs. And Jesus isn’t just happy to help, but actually gets extra joy when we go to him for help. We never inconvenience him. He loves to welcome us.

I think this is was new idea to me. I always knew if I come to Jesus, he won't drive me away. But I kind of thought, he’s be a bit like the NRMA—at call and able to help, but still he doesn't love being called out at 2am in the middle of winter during a storm. Not so Jesus! To quote Ortlund, ‘Christ’s heart is not drained by our coming to him; his heart is filled up all the more by our coming to him… He lives for this. This is what he loves to do. His joy and our's rise and fall together.’

That’s why I think the book is beautiful — it’s lifts up the glory of Jesus gentleness, patience, love and kindness towards us.

Nevertheless, I found the book unbalanced for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the immediate question that comes to mind for any attentive reader is, “if Jesus heart runs toward us, does he ever get angry or displeased or disappointed with us?” I don’t think Ortlund ever really answers that question clearly. He does state throughout that Jesus is never tired of us, he never grows cold towards us but is forever calm, tender, soothing, restrained. His heart is always for us. This is an oversimplification and the book would have been strengthened with some discussion of the complacent love of God whereby we can please him (Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 4:1, 1 Tim 2:3; 1 Tim 5:4; Heb 13:16, 21; 1 Jn 3:22) and if we obey his commands we stay in his love (John 15:13). But the flip side is that we can also grieve him (Eph 4:30), he on occasion does have something against us (Rev 2:4, 14, 20), we can arouse the Lord’s jealousy ( 1 Cor 10:22) and he does discipline those he loves (Heb 12:3-11). Ray Ortlund (the author’s father) has written helpfully on God’s complacent love over at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/ray-ortlund/fully-pleasing-to-him/

Another reason I found the book unbalanced was because there were times the author made promises to the reader which may not hold true for them. Ortlund powerfully puts before the reader the glorious promises that God will not cast out those who are his (ch 6). But Ortlund fails to clarify who really belongs to Jesus. On page 62 Ortlund (quoting John Bunyan) asks whether the great sinner, the heard-hearted sinner, the backsliding sinner, and the servant of Satan will be rejected by God. His answer, quoting John 6:37, is that Jesus will not cast any of these away. It’s a beautiful and true promise if you do belong to Christ but a deceptive and destructive promise if you don’t belong to Jesus. At too many points Ortlund provides the sweetness of the gospel without warning of its bitterness to those who reject Christ. He rarely questions the reader as to who they are in relation to Jesus. I don’t think it works to assume the reader is Christian (if that is what Ortlund is doing). One reason is because the book is actually a beautiful portrait of Jesus’ heart for people and something I really want to pass on to unbelievers. Another reason is because there are many “so-called believers” who the New Testament writers repeatedly warn are in danger of being cast out. When Ortlund makes the promise without providing a warning to repent, I fear he is leaving the ambivalent wayward Christian in their spiritual mud pie and in danger of judgement. Yes, Jesus heart runs toward these wayward Christians, but his heart is also for them to turn, to change, to repent, to put sin to death, to live worthy of the gospel, and to please God by obeying his commands. By divorcing the promise of God’s saving love from the command to repent and believe will reassure those who should not be sure or certain of their salvation. It may create unrepentant Christians who love cheap grace rather than repentant Christians who love saving grace.

I really loved the book. I have earmarked many pages, highlighted loads of paragraphs and underlined heaps key sentences. I loved hearing of Jesus unstoppable, gracious, enduring and patient love for me. Ortlund’s writing moved me to love Jesus more and to feel a greater confidence that he will never cast me away. I cannot overstate how wonderful many of Ortlund’s chapters are. But I really wished Ortlund had not obscured the need for the reader to repent and feel the weight God’s displeasure if they are complacently sinning and even to fear his rejection should we persist in unrepentant sin. It’s Jesus heart that we do repent and trust him because he loves to save all who come to him. ( )
  toby.neal | Dec 23, 2020 |
I've been reading on-and-off a chapter of this per night, as a short devotional, and it's been great. It brings together a bunch of Puritan authors to talk about the unfathomable, hard-to-convince-ourselves-of, and unwaning love of Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

When I started reading, I was at first a little put-off by the casual tone. Rather than a straightforward lecture, it's more an engaging speech encoded in words. Dane uses plenty of short choppy sentences to describe things. Like this. Many flowery adjectives. Other describing words. Probably adverbs. Unexpected metaphors at least.

I got over it (to be fair, I write that way sometimes), and it wasn't really a problem. It's like comparing the Isaiah to Paul's letters -- more poetic vs more propositional. Both have their place. ( )
  lachlanp | Dec 14, 2020 |
One of the most genuinely helpful Christian books I’ve read in the past decade, probably. Doctrinally rich in a heart-satisfying way; always biblically grounded. It’s made me love Jesus more, and I’ll be reading it again. Highly recommended, especially for those who struggle with assurance. ( )
1 rösta LudieGrace | Aug 11, 2020 |
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund feels like being wrapped in a warm, Puritan weighted blanket for your soul. I didn’t know such a thing existed, but here it is. It’s theologically rich, and at the same time easy to understand and encouraging. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of my favorites of the year.

Ortlund uses Matthew 11:28-30 as his primary text. It’s a favorite of mine:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

There’s so much hope and promise packed into that short passage. It has been popular lately for good reason. John Mark Comer focuses on the same passage in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Ortlund’s approach is a little different. Gentle and Lowly focuses on the fact that this is one of the rare times that Jesus tells us about his heart—the very core of who he is.

We tend to think that God is just barely putting up with us, especially when we are struggling with sin. I remember my hyperactive cousin testing my uncle’s patience when we were kids. His dad would take off his belt, snap it, and say, “One more time and see what happens!” That’s kind of how we think God deals with us.
Ortlund writes that this book is for—

Those of us who find ourselves thinking: “How could I mess up that bad—again?” It is for that increasing suspicion that God’s patience with us is wearing thin. For those of us who know God loves us but suspect we have deeply disappointed him. Who have told others of the love of Christ yet wonder if—as for us—he harbors mild resentment. Who wonder if we have shipwrecked our lives beyond what can be repaired... It is written, in other words, for normal Christians.

Ortlund points out that when Jesus tells us about his heart and who He is at the deepest level, he doesn’t mention impatience. In fact, he doesn’t say he’s demanding or strict or tough. He doesn’t even say he’s generous or joyful, though he is. He says, “I am gentle and lowly in heart.”

Well, what does that mean? That’s what Ortlund spends the rest of the book examining. He uses a wealth of cross-references from both the Old and New Testaments, scripture speaking to scripture. Ortlund also uses the Puritans as guides. Gentle and Lowly draws from Thomas Goodwin, Sibbes, Bunyan, Owen, and Edwards. The Puritans have the reputation of being focused on the wrath of God. After all, Edwards wrote “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but here Ortlund points us to how they treasured God’s mercy.

I greatly appreciated Ortlund’s ability to take dense passages from the Puritans and translate them into easily understandable language. For example, after quoting portions from Thomas Goodwin’s The Heart of Christ, Ortlund writes:

Translation: When you come to Christ for mercy and love and help in your anguish and perplexity and sinfulness, you are going with the flow of his own deepest wishes, not against them. We tend to think that when we approach Jesus for help in our need and mercy amid our sins, we somehow detract from him, lessen him, impoverish him. Goodwin argues otherwise.

Ortlund is aware that there could be a tendency to overlook other aspects of God while focusing on his affectionate heart. He addresses that concern early in the book. Gentle and Lowly doesn’t overlook or downplay the wrath of God in any way. He is careful to judge everything against what the Bible says. This is by no means a theologically weak book. Ortlund writes:

...the wrath of Christ and the mercy of Christ are not at odds with one another, like a see-saw, one diminishing to the degree that the other is held up. Rather, the two rise and fall together. The more robust one’s felt understanding of the just wrath of Christ against all that is evil both around us and within us, the more robust our felt understanding of his mercy...

He goes on:

Throughout the rest of our study we will return to the question of how to square the very heart of Christ with actions of his or biblical statements that may seem to sit awkwardly with it... In short: it is impossible for the affectionate heart of Christ to be over celebrated, made too much of, exaggerated. It cannot be plumbed. But it is easily neglected, forgotten. We draw too little strength from it. We are not leaving behind the harsher side to Jesus as we speak of his very heart. Our sole aim is to follow the Bible’s own testimony as we tunnel in to who Jesus most surprisingly is.

Everything in Gentle and Lowly is grounded in scripture. I used to wonder how pastors could take just a few verses and talk about them for forty-five minutes. Ortlund points out that the Puritans would take a single verse and “wring it dry” for an entire book. Many chapters of Gentle and Lowly begin with a single verse, but then dive into every word in the verse and what it means in relation to Jesus’ heart.

The book flows naturally from defining what gentle and lowly means, to Christ being able to sympathize with us, on through how Christ’s heart demonstrates his great love for us. Along the way, the book dismantles our human assumptions that God is somehow like us, which is a good thing. The truth is much more encouraging.

My favorite chapter is “His ‘Natural’ Work and His ‘Strange’ Work,“ which I felt especially reveals our common misconceptions about God and his feelings towards us. The chapter opens with Lamentations 3:33—He does not afflict from his heart. Ortlund illustrates how This verse tells us that yes, God does afflict, but the promise is that it is not His heart. He finds no joy in it. He argues that even the Old Testament is leading us to a savior whose heart is gentle and lowly.

The chapter uses Thomas Goodwin, Jonathan Edwards, Lamentations, Hosea, and Jeremiah to unpack what exactly is God’s natural work. None of those sources are exactly hesitant about God’s wrath; yet, they all point to God rejoicing in doing us good rather than afflicting us. Ortlund writes:

Edwards, Goodwin, and the theological river in which they stand were not mushy. They affirmed and preached and taught divine wrath and an eternal hell. They saw these doctrines in the Bible (2 Thess. 1:5–12, to cite just one text). But because they knew their Bibles inside and out and followed their Bibles scrupulously, they discerned also a strand of teaching in Scripture about who God most deeply is—about his heart....

Left to our own natural intuitions about God, we will conclude that mercy is his strange work and judgment his natural work. Rewiring our vision of God as we study the Scripture, we see, helped by the great teachers of the past, that judgment is his strange work and mercy his natural work.

Which leads me back to one of my favorite quotes from Gentle and Lowly:

This is why we need a Bible. Our natural intuition can only give us a God like us. The God revealed in the Scripture deconstructs our intuitive predilections and startles us with one whose infinitude of perfections is matched by his infinitude of gentleness. Indeed, his perfections include his perfect gentleness.

I found myself wanting to highlight quotes on just about every page of Gentle and Lowly. If you need an encouraging and Biblical book in these uncertain and difficult times, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It releases on April 7, 2020 from Crossway. I’ll leave you with anther favorite quote from the book:

Christ was sent not to mend wounded people or wake sleepy people or advise confused people or inspire bored people or spur on lazy people or educate ignorant people, but to raise dead people. ( )
1 rösta wilsonknut | Mar 21, 2020 |
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Fatherlike he tends and spares us
Well our feeble frame he knows
In his hand he gently bears us
Rescues us from all our foes

H. F. Lyte, 1834
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[Introduction] This is a book about the heart of Christ.
My dad pointed out to me something that Charles Spurgeon pointed out to him.
[Epilogue] What now?
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