From The Heart, Chapter 5

By JANA HENRY|CONTRIBUTOR

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”[1]

In last week’s blog, I wrote of my desire, along with my inability, to share with you all the riches of God’s sovereign covenant love that have been running around in my head these days. I ended by writing that I hoped, in the weeks ahead, that I would be able to take one facet of God’s love which has been deeply impressed upon my heart and share it with you.

In chapter 5 of this week’s study of Women’s Ministry in the Local Church,[2] we discussed submission. We saw that it is an attitude of the heart that works its way outward in dress, speech, and actions with respect to our God-ordained roles in the home and in the church. As I reflected on this idea of submission, I saw the beauty of God’s love shining through.

Scripture reveals God’s love from eternity in the Covenant of Redemption.[3] This covenant made within the Godhead—where the Father chooses, the Son saves, and the Holy Spirit applies—is the basis for the Covenant of Grace which is our salvation. What I want you to see today is the key part submission plays in our salvation.

Christ’s Submission

Our Savior effects salvation from start to finish by submission. In submission, he gave up his rights to glory and humbled himself to become incarnate of the virgin Mary. What humility! What love! I can distinctly remember when I was bowled over by the depth of God’s humility and love revealed through the King of Glory condescending to start life in the womb of a woman: to be birthed through her and fed by her.

He then went on submitting to his earthly parents’ authority, to all the moral requirements of the law, to facing temptation, to all the rigors of living life in a fallen world, and finally submitting to death on a cross, so that we might be redeemed, saved, sanctified, and one day live forever with him in eternity. Oh, the depths and the riches of God’s sovereign covenant love shown to us through submission!

Submission to the Gospel

What is our response to this great love? Is it not submission? Prior to salvation we are dead in our sins. We are unable to submit to God’s commands because in our unregenerate state we refuse to acknowledge him for who he is. When God, by the Holy Spirit, gives us a new heart and opens our eyes to the truth about himself, ourselves, and our desperate need for a savior, we humbly submit, and by faith and repentance unto life receive cleansing from our sins and the gift of eternal life with our Savior. Oh, heavenly bliss! To be cleansed, to be pardoned, to be made a new creature in Christ, to be declared righteous, and adopted as a true child of God!

In our hardened state toward God, being deceived by the world, the flesh, and the devil, we think we are free, when, in reality, we are enslaved in the domain of darkness. Our salvation is a gift from God, and faith is the means by which it is applied to us. By grace alone through faith, we submit to the gospel and are transformed into the kingdom of light. Living in this new kingdom, we are now truly free. Oh, the depths and riches of God’s sovereign covenant love given to us in submission!

Submission in Sanctification

Not only do we lay hold of our faith through submission to the gospel, we lay hold of our sanctification through submission. Being conformed to the character of Christ is a lifelong process of dying to self and submitting to God. Submission to God means submitting to what he tells us to do. Much of what we are told to do involves how we are to relate to others. Going through the epistles of the New Testament sent to the newly-formed churches of the 1st century, we see that we are to have an attitude of submission that thinks of others first.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” [4]

We are called to walk worthy of our salvation by:

Bearing with one another

Loving one another

Building up one another with our words

Forgiving one another

And finally, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.[5]

In doing this, our hearts come to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge as we rest in humble submission to his will. And not only that—the riches of God’s saving love shine through our hearts to a dark and hurting world, bringing glory to God. How beautiful is that?! Oh, the depths and the riches of God’s sovereign covenant love experienced by us through submission.

Submission in Glory

And finally, I would like you to consider with me how submission is seen in our glorification. No more will we battle sin, and sorrow, and all the rigors of living life in a fallen world. In eternity, we will live in the New Heaven and New Earth with completely glorified and sanctified bodies. The rest of eternity will be lived in glorious and glad submission to our Savior God. Oh, the depths! Oh, the bliss!

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”[6]

[1] Romans 11:33

[2] J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006)

[3] I Peter 1:1, 2; II Thessalonians 2:13, 14; Ephesians 1:3-14

[4] Philippians 2:1-3

[5] Ephesians 4:1, 2; I Peter 1:22; 4:29, 32; 5:21

[6] Romans 11:36