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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32 ESV)

Many of us are very familiar with these verses and others similar. But I think they are just beginning to pierce my own heart. It started last Sunday with a discussion about Hudson Taylor and how the missionaries of the late 1800s were not merely sacrificing their own lives by going but the lives of their own families. Hudson Taylor lost 1 wife and 7 children in China. Adoniram Judson lost 2 wives and 7 children in Burma. William Carey lost 2 wives and at least 3 children in India. These are no light losses. These also were not surprising to these men. Adoniram, when desiring to court and marry his first wife, Ann, wrote this:

I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left is heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteous, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

Shockingly, the father consented and left the decision to his daughter! Adoniram was right, though. Nearly everything in his statement above came true. So where is the line? Were men like Taylor, Judson, and Carey foolish to put their families in such a harsh environment? Were they in sin? Should they have taken better care of their families? Was it worth the cost? It’s likely that over 2 million Burmese Christians can trace their spiritual heritage to Judson. Who knows how many with regard to Taylor and Carey? Who knows how many other missionaries there would be without Carey? Was it worth it? How do we, as fathers, know when it’s right to do the same for the sake of the gospel? It’s a hard question! But as we discussed this, one thought came to mind as I was praying: God willingly gave up His only Son! How profound is that? God the Father did this for His enemies (us!) nonetheless.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)

Think about it for a second. We were utterly lost in sin. We did not love God but lived for ourselves and for Satan’s purposes (Ephesians 2:1-10). We spit in God’s face. He was barely a thought for us. All our intentions and deeds were bent away from Him. We were dead.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

Do we understand what God did? Who of us would sacrifice our own lives for our friends? Maybe. Who of us would lay our own lives down for an enemy? Nope. But God didn’t mere do just that. God laid down the life of His only Son for his enemies! If given the choice, even the worst of the worst parents would take a bullet for their child. Any of us parents would gladly lay down our own lives for our kids given such clear choice. But would I give up the life of my own son for even a friend? As ND Wilson says: Hell no.

It’s a joke to even think about whether I would let my own son die for my enemies. I would think myself a bad father! To lose a child is crushing. To yield a child to die is unfathomable. Yet this is what God did. He didn’t make it easy either – sending His Son into our world in poverty to then later be crushed and tortured and to be executed in one of the worst ways ever invented. This would seem evil for God to do except that we know Jesus was willing and endured for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12). Jesus said, “I will go and walk in their shoes, be betrayed, take the 40 lashes, and painfully die for them!” Jesus did this for me. The Father did that for me. How ridiculous is it for me to ever question His love and good for me! How much does it grieve my heavenly Father when I doubt His love or His intentions? Our Father sees us, knows our hurts, and says, “I sent my only Son to the cross for you! What more can I do to show you my love?” Our Father is for us. He willingly gave His only Son for our sin. He loves us.

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