I continue to plow my way through William Gurnall's treatise The Christian in Complete Armour.
A more thorough exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20--God's gracious provision for spiritual battle-- likely does not exist. Nearly 500 pages in, I finally arrived the other day at the third piece--what Gurnall calls "The Christian's Spiritual Shoe."
We read this in Ephesians 6:15: "and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace." Gurnall begins this section by unpacking what is meant by the gospel--the good news of Jesus Christ which saves sinners.
He labors over its transforming impact in our lives. It results in ravishing joy which can abide even in the throes of life's difficulties. He writes:
No ill news can come after the glad tidings of the gospel, where believingly embraced. God’s mercy in Christ alters the very property of all evils to the believer. All plagues and judgments that can befall the creature in the world, when baptized in the stream of gospel-grace, receive a new name, come on a new errand, and have a new taste on the believer's palate, as the same water by running through some mine, gets a tang and a healing virtue, which before it had not. ‘The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity,’ Isa. 33:24. Observe, he doth not say ‘They shall not be sick.’ Gospel grace doth not exempt from afflictions, but ‘they shall not say, I am sick.’ they shall be so ravished with the joy of God’s pardoning mercy, that they shall not complain of being sick. This or any other cross is too thin a veil to darken the joy of the other good news. This is so joyful a message which the gospel brings, that God would not have Adam long without it, but opened a crevice to let some beams of this light, that is so pleasant to behold, into his soul, amazed with the terror of God’s presence. As he was turned out of paradise without it, so he had been turned into hell immediately; for such the world would have been to his guilty conscience. This is the news God used to tell his people of, on a design to comfort them and cheer them, when things went worst with them, and their affairs were at the lowest ebb, Isa. 7:15; Micah 5:5. This is the great secret which God whispers, by his Spirit, in the ear of those only [whom] he embraces with his special distinguishing love, Luke 10:21; I Cor. 2:12, so that it is made the sad sign of a soul marked out for hell, to have the gospel ‘hid’ from it, II Cor. 4:3. To wind up this in a few words, there meet all the properties of a joyful message in the glad tidings of the gospel.
Jan and I received news recently of someone dear to us taken quite ill. We have been praying much for her. Her misery got so bad at one point that an attitude adjustment was needed. She decided to lie down outside on the patio and rehearse with thanksgiving every gospel blessing she could bring to mind.
I have no idea if she knows anything about William Gurnall, but she certainly knows something about the grand altering properties of the gospel.
My prayer is the same for you!