Category Archives: Dane Ortlund

“A junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus” by Dane Ortlund

“Let me suggest that you consider the possibility that your current mental idea of Jesus is the tip of the iceberg. That there are wondrous depths to Him, realities about Him, still awaiting your discovery.

I’m not disregarding the real discipleship already at play in your life and the true discoveries of the depths of Jesus Christ you have already made.

But let me ask you to open yourself up to the possibility that one reason you see modest growth and ongoing sin in your life– if that is indeed the case– is that the Jesus you are following is a junior varsity Jesus, an unwittingly reduced Jesus, an unsurprising and predictable Jesus.

I’m not assuming that’s the case. I’m just asking you to test yourself, with honesty.

When Christopher Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492, he named the natives “Indians,” thinking he had reached what Europeans of the time referred to as “the Indies” (China, Japan, and India).

In fact he was nowhere close to South or East Asia. In his path were vast regions of land, unexplored and uncharted, of which Columbus knew nothing.

He assumed the world was smaller than it was. Have we made a similar mistake with regard to Jesus Christ?

Are there vast tracts of who He is, according to biblical revelation, that are unexplored?

Have we unintentionally reduced Him to manageable, predictable proportions?

Have we been looking at a junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus of our own making, thinking we’re looking at the real Jesus?

Have we snorkeled in the shallows, thinking we’ve now hit bottom on the Pacific?”

–Dane Ortlund, Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), 22-23.

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“He deals gently with us” by Dane Ortlund

“When we sin, we are encouraged to bring our mess to Jesus because He will know just how to receive us.

He doesn’t handle us roughly.

He doesn’t scowl and scold.

He doesn’t lash out, the way many of our parents did.

And all this restraint on His part is not because He has a diluted view of our sinfulness. He knows our sinfulness far more deeply than we do.

Indeed, we are aware of just the tip of the iceberg of our depravity, even in our most searching moments of self-knowledge.

His restraint simply flows from His tender heart for His people.

Hebrews is not just telling us that instead of scolding us, Jesus loves us.

It’s telling us the kind of love He has: rather than dispensing grace to us from on high, He gets down with us, He puts His arm around us, He deals with us in the way that is just what we need. (Hebrews 4:14-5:4)

He deals gently with us.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 54-55.

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“For those united to Him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence” by Dane Ortlund

“We cannot present a reason for Christ to finally close off His heart to His own sheep. No such reason exists.

Every human friend has a limit. If we offend enough, if a relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up.

With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resumé items that qualify us to approach Him. Nothing but coming to Him is required—first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with Him upon death.

Perhaps it isn’t sins so much as sufferings that cause some of us to question the perseverance of the heart of Christ. As pain piles up, as numbness takes over, as the months go by, at some point the conclusion seems obvious: we have been cast out.

Surely this is not what life would feel like for one who has been buried in the heart of a gentle and lowly Savior? But Jesus does not say that those with pain-free lives are never cast out.

He says those who come to Him are never cast out. It is not what life brings to us but to whom we belong that determines Christ’s heart of love for us.

The only thing required to enjoy such love is to come to Him. To ask Him to take us in. He does not say, ‘Whoever comes to me with sufficient contrition,’ or ‘Whoever comes to me feeling bad enough for their sin,’ or ‘Whoever comes to me with redoubled efforts.’

He says, ‘Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’

Our strength of resolve is not part of the formula of retaining His good will. When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand.

He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year-old’s grip is not very strong. Before long it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him.

Left to his own strength he will certainly slip out of my hand. But if I have determined that he will not fall out of my grasp, he is secure. He can’t get away from me if he tried.

So with Christ. We cling to Him, to be sure. But our grip is that of a two-year-old amid the stormy waves of life. His sure grasp never falters.

Psalm 63:8 expresses the double-sided truth: ‘My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.’

We are talking about something deeper than the doctrine of eternal security, or ‘once saved, always saved’—a glorious doctrine, a true doctrine—sometimes called the perseverance of the saints.

We have come, more deeply, to the doctrine of the perseverance of the heart of Christ. Yes, professing Christians can fall away, proving that they were never truly in Christ.

Yes, once a sinner is united to Christ, there is nothing that can dis-unite them. But within the skeletal structure of these doctrines, what is the beating heart of God, made tangible in Christ?

What is most deeply instinctive to Him as our sins and sufferings pile up? What keeps Him from growing cold?

The answer is, His heart. The atoning work of the Son, decreed by the Father and applied by the Spirit, ensures that we are safe eternally.

But a text such as John 6:37 reassures us that this is not only a matter of divine decree but divine desire. This is heaven’s delight.

Come to me, says Christ. I will embrace you into my deepest being and never let you go.

Have you considered what is true of you if you are in Christ?

In order for you to fall short of loving embrace into the heart of Christ both now and into eternity, Christ Himself would have to be pulled down out of heaven and put back in the grave.

His death and resurrection make it just for Christ never to cast out His own, no matter how often they fall. But animating this work of Christ is the heart of Christ.

He cannot bear to part with His own, even when they most deserve to be forsaken.

‘But I…’

Raise your objections. None can threaten these invincible words: ‘Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’

For those united to Him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence.

You are not a tenant; you are a child.

His heart is not a ticking time bomb; His heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of His presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments.

It is who He is.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 64-66.

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“If you knew His heart, you would” by Dane Ortlund

“The Christian life boils down to two steps:

1. Go to Jesus.

2. See #1.

Whatever is crumbling all around you in your life, wherever you feel stuck, this remains, un-deflectable: His heart for you, the real you, is gentle and lowly. So go to Him.

That place in your life where you feel most defeated, He is there; He lives there, right there, and His heart for you, not on the other side of it but in that darkness, is gentle and lowly.

Your anguish is His home. Go to Him.

If you knew His heart, you would.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 216.

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“If you are united to Christ, you are as good as in heaven already” by Dane Ortlund

“Christ died, placarding before you the love of God.

If you are in Christ– and only a soul in Christ would be troubled at offending Him– your waywardness does not threaten your place in the love of God any more than history itself can be undone.

The hardest part has been accomplished. God has already executed everything needed to secure your eternal happiness, and He did that while you were an orphan.

Nothing can now un-child you.

Not even you.

Those in Christ are eternally imprisoned within the tender heart of God.

We will be less sinful in the next life than we are now, but we will not be any more secure in the next life than we are now.

If you are united to Christ, you are as good as in heaven already.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 194-195.

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“The anguish and tears of others” by Dane Ortlund

“Twice in the Gospels we are told that Jesus broke down and wept. And in neither case is it sorrow for Himself or His own pains.

In both cases it is sorrow over another– in one case, Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), and in the other, His deceased friend, Lazarus (John 11:35).

What was His deepest anguish? The anguish of others.

What drew His heart out to the point of tears? The tears of others.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 26.

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“Not a pointed finger but open arms” by Dane Ortlund

“Meek. Humble. Gentle.

Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated.

He is the most understanding person in the universe.

The posture most natural to Him is not a pointed finger but open arms.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 19.

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