“My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.” - Psalm 71:15
In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, in the process of leading the first ships to circumnavigate the globe, attempted to sound the depths of the central Pacific Ocean. He spliced six lengthy lines together and attached them to a cannonball. He lowered the cannon ball until the line ran out—four hundred fathoms or about 2400 feet. He concluded the ocean was immeasurably deep—literally “unfathomable.” At that place in the Pacific, he would have probably needed as many as fifty such lines spliced together to hit bottom.
When we come to the infinite richness of the gospel, we are like sailors out in a dinghy, pulling pieces of string out of our pockets, splicing them together and trying to find the bottom of the ocean. Certainly, the Apostle Paul must have felt something like that. After writing eleven chapters of the deepest and richest description of gospel doctrine in the Bible, he reacted in wonder and amazement at what God had revealed through him: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out (Rom. 11:33)!
"Though we cannot in this world know the measure of our salvation, yet we should study it carefully, get to know it thoroughly, rejoice in it completely."
A single verse from the Psalms helps capture how infinite is this message: My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure (Psalm 71:15). The Psalmist literally says he doesn’t know the “number” of God’s acts of salvation. The full measure of all God has done in one individual life and around the world is beyond calculation. Though we can never fully know the measure of the saving works of God, yet it is richly beneficial and essential to our ongoing salvation to study them all. We cannot know the full measure of our salvation for a variety of reasons:
- We don’t perfectly understand how sinful we were, still are, and will continue to be until we are glorified.
- We don’t perfectly understand how holy God is and how offensive were our sins against Him, how hot and righteous was His wrath against us, and how great was our danger (eternity in hell).
- We don’t perfectly understand how great is our heavenly inheritance, how much joy and blessing awaits us when we are finished being saved, nor do we understand what kind of glory will be revealed to us (external to us in heaven) and in us (in that we ourselves will be glorious).
- We don’t perfectly understand the price that was paid on our behalf, the infinite value of the blood of Christ and of the immense suffering He absorbed in propitiating the wrath of God.
- We don’t perfectly understand the infinite power that is at work in us and around us to guarantee our final perfection in Christ, the completion of our salvation.
- We don’t perfectly understand the human sacrifices that were made along the way in two thousand years of church history to ensure that we would at some point hear the true and pure gospel.
- We don’t perfectly understand how much God does for us every day to keep us in the faith—to protect us from the devil, to resist our own fleshly sinful tendencies, to filter out temptations that are too hard for us, to feed and nourish our faith.
- We don’t perfectly understand how much of all these same things God is doing to a countless multitude from every tribe and language and people and nation around the world.
Though we cannot in this world know the measure of our salvation, yet we should study it carefully, get to know it thoroughly, rejoice in it completely.