There’s this quote that I absolutely love from Charles Spurgeon. I first read it a couple of years ago, and one I keep coming back to. Here’s what Spurgeon said:
A Puritan was told that he was too precise; but he replied, “I serve a precise God.”
What always gets me is the Puritan’s response: “I serve a precise God.”
How often do we consider the preciseness of God? Some time ago, maybe two hours before I first read this quote from Spurgeon, I noticed a few Facebook friends “liking” a silly page called “God created men first, cause you always make a rough draft before a masterpiece!” (And, yes, I get the joke.)
Some time ago, I was reading Galatians chapter two, wherein Paul is explaining how after fourteen years of preaching the gospel, he went to Jerusalem because of a revelation that had come to him. In verse two, Paul explains that:
I went up . . . and set before them [the Apostles] . . . the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.
Notice Paul’s concern for precision of his gospel. He set before the Apostles “the gospel that [he proclaims] in order to make sure that [he] was not running or had not run in vain.”
Paul was desperate to make sure that the gospel he proclaimed—that Jesus Christ had lived a sinless life on our behalf, died on the cross and bore the punishment for our sins, rose again bodily from the grave on the third day and was now seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven; that salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone—he was desperate to make sure that this was, in fact, the gospel!
He didn’t want to be responsible for dividing the church between Jew and Gentile, especially if it was still required that God’s people obey the Old Testament food regulations and rituals.
Was he correct? Was his gospel precise?
He understood that if the gospel is Jesus + anything, it equals nothing.
It’s vanity to believe in anything else or to proclaim anything other than the precise gospel found in Scripture. To believe anything other than, to borrow the title of Tullian Tchividjian’s book, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”
The Apostles got this. Peter, in his famous sermon at Pentecost, spoke of “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
Focus on these words for a second: ”The definite plan and foreknowledge of God…” God was incredibly precise in how He predetermined events to unfold. It’s one of the miracles of both history and Scripture. We see how Jesus, throughout His earthly life and ministry as well as His death & resurrection, perfectly fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament.
All according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
This is great news for us; because God is precise, we get to live in confident expectation that the promises He offers will come to pass. That when we place our trust in Christ and in His finished work on the cross, we will most assuredly stand with Him in glory at the end of the age.
Because God is precise, we know that there will be an end to sin, to death, to suffering. That one day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where none of these things will exist.
Because God is precise, we have hope.
And we serve a precise God because if He was anything other than, He would be no God at all.
So, study the Scriptures diligently. Learn sound doctrine. And rejoice in the hope that comes from knowing that we serve a precise God.
An earlier version of this post was first published in August 2010.