What I’ve Done…

2007wid_1000The hymn below by English poet and cleric John Donne (1572-1631) says it all: God meets my ongoing sin with his inexhaustible forgiveness. 70 times 7.

My friend Shane Rosenthal sent me a note explaining that, according to some commentators, there is double meaning in the line, “Thou hast done” which repeats throughout the poem. It obviously refers to that which God has done for Donne in contrast to that which Donne has done (and continues to do). But the other meaning, especially clear in the last stanza, is a play on the poet’s own name: “Thou hast Donne.” It is his realization that despite his weak grip on God, God’s grip on him is perfect and forever, that finally ends his fears.

It never ceases to amaze me that, if you are in Christ, you can never, ever, ever outsin the coverage of God’s forgiveness. Amazing love…how can it be?

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast Donne ;
I fear no more.

  • Shaun says:

    Awesome..great reminder

  • Ellery says:

    Good news…great news… Always
    His love is absolutely AMAZING!

  • I am following the running “dialogue” concerning your supposed views on sanctification and grace and Pastor Philips, Jen Wilkin, and the gentlemen at TGC. It’s amazing to me that we still have Judaizers in our midst (it’s not really surprising. I’ve pastored 3 SBC churches). Not all the above are Judaizers, of course.

    Anyway, may God strengthen you by His Spirit and be your Comforter during these days when you are under the gun, so to speak.

  • V Smith says:

    Beautiful poem.

    Johnny, that’s an incredibly serious charge to make so haphazardly. Which of the above do you believe to be Judaisers?

    • It wasn’t made “so haphazardly.” Jen Wilkin, for one.

      • V Smith says:

        By ‘haphazardly’ I mean throwing the charge out there without concrete subjects or examples. It’s like irresponsibly throwing out “there are so many ministers in reformed and non-reformed congregations today who mix up law and gospel!”

        If Ms. Wilkin is indeed a Judaizer, then she should be cut off from the fellowship of her church and handed over to Satan so that she can learn her error. Have you contacted her church and let them know that they have a heretic in their midst?

        • I know what you mean by haphazardly. Judaizers aren’t to be simply “cut off from the fellowship of” their churches until they learn the error of their ways, they are anathema. After Pastor Philips falsely accused Tchividijian of saying something he did not say, I began following the controversy that led the Gospel Coalition to end their association with Tullian (easier to spell). When I read Wilkin’s article on failurism and Tullian’s response to her and then Pastor Philips’ respone to Tullian where he suggested The Gospel Coalition disassociate themselves from Tullian, I decided to respond with my own thoughts on the matter.

  • Gladys says:


    I’am totally on your side in as far as Grace is concerned. I have been a believer for over 20 years, and as a new believer, I thought i could be righteous on my own and that God was constantly measuring my performance. Now that i’am older, i totally understand Christ’s “imputed righteousness”. I’am a firm believer that we are positionally righteous because of Christ’s work on our behalf (though in practice we are not). I do believe Grace motivates us to live a holy life as much as we can in this sinful flesh, but at the same time know that I will never be perfect in this world. That is why just as Paul did, I yearn to “put on incorruptable” . As long as we are in this sinful flesh, we will never stop sinning completely. Though i believe by the power of God’s grace we do NOT have to live a lifestyle of sin. I identify with Paul “chief of sinners”. He himself found that he was far from being righteous, so I rest on Christ’s imputed righteousness not my own.

  • Steve Martin says:

    Grace is even better than that, Gladys!

    “…motivates us to live a holy life…”

    We are declared holy and righteous…for Jesus’ sake.

    A MUCH better deal!

  • Gladys says:

    I think Imputed righteousness has been forgotten. Paul talked about it, and yet, it is hardly preached today. I really do hope when I stand before God that i’am not mistaken about imputed righteousness. In my opinion it would have to be because, how exactly is God going to measure righteousness if we had to stand on our own righteousness and performance. I have to believe the standard is Jesus work on the cross on our behalf. Otherwise it would make Jesus work incomplete. I have to believe that imputed righteousness is the only way we would be able to stand before God and not be found guilty.

    Now I do believe that God does expect us to walk in Christ’s righteousness though. I believe that he does call us to holy living, but I just don’t think we will ever be completely sinless as long as we are in this world and flesh, and God must know that so that is why Christ’s righteousness would have to satisfy. I hope that I’am correct when I stand before God.

  • Steve Martin says:

    Are you Baptized?

    Then God considers you to be sinless.

    And “we ought to consider ourselves to be dead to sin”, as well.

  • Vaclav Vasil says:

    In myself by sin, undone. But Christ by his life and death and resurrection, he has done, what I could not. And now by faith “in Christ” one with, him I partake of, “He has done it!” Joy and peace… (Ps.22:31c). Thanks for the words and a great poem, Tullian!

  • Ed Nugent says:

    May God bless and keep you Tullian as are pressed for speaking the Truth! The improper distinction between Law & Gospel is rampant in the church and has been for so long that it has become ingrained in the language and culture of much of Christianity. To speak against this language and culture is obviously dangerous to your reputation and career, but it must be done if the Gospel is to be heard in all of its greatness and the captives set free. You are held up in the prayers of many and your fight has encouraged many others who have fought this fight for years to continue to press on. Grace & Peace to you my friend.

  • Gladys says:

    That is the question isn’t it, what is the standard for God, is it perfection? if so then we need Christ’s righteousness, or our own righteousness. The NT seems to imply both. the NT states both imputed righteousness and that we must walk and act righteous, so which one is it or is it both? I have come to the conclusion that is has to be both. I think God does expect us to walk in righteousness and holy living as much as we possibly can (though I think we will never be sinless in practice). I think God’s Grace enables us to do so not law.

    I really do hope I’am correct about imputed righteousness when I stand before God. I wish these questions about righteousness, sanctifaction, sin were settled issues, but they are not. Their are so many different interpretations and opinions on this subject, it is mind boggling! Why so many different opinions, interpretations, on something so vitally important, it so frustrates me!. Well i will just have to work out my salvation “in fear and trembling” but sometimes I just don’t know what is the correct way to believe on these issues. Paul certainly talked about imputation, but then in other parts of the NT righteous living is required, for I believe John says “do not be decieved those that behave righeous are righteous” So which one is the correct doctrine, oh so frustrating?

  • Gladys, lets talk…but not here. I simply do not want to tie up space on this site. Visit my blog, leave a comment on one of the posts and I’ll get back with you. You can view my profile while you’re there, if you like.

  • btw, I didn’t mean to leave my original comment on this particular post on Tullian’s blog. I was aiming for the relevant article concerning Jen Wilkin. Sorry.

  • Gladys Wisener says:

    Johnny T, Helms

    What is the URL to your site?

  • Marlyn Staggs says:

    Gladys, I first heard Pastor T. speak about “Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World” on November 8, 2013 at the Right Now conference in Dallas. I (one of ‘the exhausted’) finally understood the truth of God’s amazing grace – that it is for every day of my life as a Christian! I have every kind of church setting in my own background and have struggled with “growing as a Christian” all my life. Below is the post I sent last week just before the change to LIBERATE. i thought it might encourage you. With love , Marlyn
    Grace is scary. We really do live with the fear that “we’re not doing it right or doing enough,” or we look at all we are doing and (‘pridefully’) think, “I’m getting better.” One brings exhaustion and discouragement, the other often brings a great fall. But when we realize and start seeing and believing God’s radical grace: that Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves . . . The Great Exchange, it changes everything. We stop looking at our lives, our faith, our doing, our right turns and our wrong ones. Everything starts being about Jesus – the Author and Finisher of our faith. Out of that comes a heart filled with the desire to live out of His love and amazing grace – and to share it with everyone . . . the saved and the lost!

  • mike says:

    Great poem by a great man with great understanding of grace. I believe in this 21st century the church will widely understand the gospel of grace message instead of just a few churches. His grace is truly amazing. Thanks to Pastor T and others thank God this teaching is going forth

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