Surprised by God

Free Bible Study Materials for Christian Discipleship
 December 2016

Dear fellow disciple-maker,

A genuine Christian is continually surprised by God! The famous preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, "A Christian is a person who is surprised that he is one." This simple observation is very insightful.

He is so aware of his personal failures that he is surprised by the forgiving love of God. He is surprised that Jesus would go to such lengths to come to him, seek him, speak to him, die for him, and bring him back to God. He is surprised that God, the maker of heaven and earth, for some unfathomable reason would want him as his friend. And what's more, he is surprised that God would give up his Son to accomplish this purpose.

In virtually every story in the Bible there is an element of surprise. This is certainly true of the Christmas story as recorded in Matthew and Luke. The characters in the Christmas story were no doubt surprised that God would want to include them in one of the greatest miracles ever recorded in Scripture – the miracle of God becoming man.


Mary was certainly surprised when the angel said to her, "Don't be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:30). Was this a conversation that Mary would have ever imagined? No! Not in a million years would Mary have ever dreamed that God would single her out to be the earthly mother of his son.


Joseph was certainly surprised when an angel appeared to him and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Joseph was a just man and probably didn't know what to make of Mary's pregnancy. His sincere desire to help her avoid shame is a testimony of how much he loved her. How surprised he must have been when an angel from heaven informed him that everything Mary had told him about how she became pregnant was actually true!


The shepherds were certainly surprised when an angel appeared to them in the middle of the night and said, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). Why would a group of poor, unknown shepherds be the recipients of this news before anyone else? How surprised and privileged they must have felt to be the very first people to see Jesus, the Son of God, lying in a manger.

photo courtesy of Steve Evans

Are you surprised by God?

Are you surprised that you are a Christian? Are you surprised that God knows all about you yet is never disillusioned? Are you surprised that God still loves you despite your sin and guilt? Are you surprised that God loves you for yourself and does not require you to first get your life together?

Are you surprised that God loves you so much that he would send his Son to die on the cross for all of your sins? Are you surprised that God would send the Spirit of his Son to live in your hearts and continue to teach you day by day?

Are you surprised to realize that God is with you every day, and that there is no moment when his eye is not on you, and no moment when he stops caring for you? Are you surprised that God promised to never leave you for forsake you? I think we would all agree that our salvation is a big surprise.

A true Christian is so surprised with the grace of God that he lives his whole life with tremendous relief and unceasing gratitude. His confidence in the loving kindness of God is only magnified at Christmas. A Christian is a person who is truly surprised that he is one!

Merry Christmas!

Author:Paul Schlieker

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