Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Everyday

Preach the Gospel to Yourself Everyday…

* Check out the comments section of this post.  There are some pretty good thoughts offered by Rev. Jason Van Bemmel and Amy Hauck.

Several years ago I attended a Christian conference that powerfully changed my perspectives on the gospel.  This conference, which addressed the Christian’s “Sonship” and adoption in Christ, was offered through the ministry of World Harvest Mission.  It was here that I learned that the gospel was more than a “front door” to the Christian life, but was in fact, the very heart-beat of Christianity.  From that point on I have grown more and more in my understanding of the vital and essential nature of the centrality of Christ and the ongoing need I have of the gospel in my Christian life.  I have also learned the importance of “preaching the gospel to myself everyday”.  I first heard this phrase during that Sonship week in Chattanooga over 15 years ago.  This was a phrase that was introduced by Dr. Jack Miller of World Harvest and popularized by Jerry Bridges in his books “Discipline of Grace”, “The Transforming Power of the Gospel”, and “The Gospel for Real Life.”  The perspectives of these men along with Dr. Timothy Keller and the good folks at the CCEF Christian counseling foundation, have revolutionized my walk with Christ.  They have blessed me with a perspective of ongoing Christ dependence by which I am able to experience the deep mercies and love of Christ, even in the midst of my ongoing battle with sin.  They have helped me to understand my sin as heart idolatry and encouraged me to engage in repentance that aims at authentic worship of Christ and not mere behavior modification.   They have helped me to understand that even though I am more messed up and evil than I would have ever thought possible, I am also more loved than I could ever dare to believe.  They have taught me to preach the gospel to myself every day.  Much thanks to these beloved men and women of the gospel.

Unfortunately, there are number of preachers and teachers who oppose the teaching of Gospel centrality.  (If you would like to read one such unfortunate critique, you can do so by clicking HERE.)  The opposition says that the idea of “preaching the gospel to yourself” is unhealthy and unbiblical for the “normal” believer and should only be reserved for those who are very weak and immature in their faith.   If this is true, then count me among the weak and immature crowd.  Count me as one who needs more than one Sunday morning Gospel reminder per week.  Count me as one who needs gospel reminders every day…every minute.  Count me as one who needs Jesus today, more than I needed Him yesterday.  Count me as one who is a foolish person that God has gracefully chosen to shame the strong and wise (I Cor 1:27).

To those who criticize, I would plead with you to consider that the idea of “preaching the gospel to yourself every day” is a vital Christian practice.  It is a simple encouragement for the believer to continually turn to the Savior in renewed repentance and faith.  It is not a so called “return” to justification.  No.  It is a dance with Christ that is learned upon the “foundation” of Justification.  It is knowing that my house was built upon the rock of Christ’s Love yesterday and continues upon that rock today.  It is being reminded of the gentle nature of Christ who says “Come unto me…”.   It is a daily reminder of my pride, but Christ’s humility; my shame, but His glory; my wretchedness, but His power; my eternal need, but His infinite provision.

We who preach the gospel to ourselves, do so because we forget the gospel so easily.  We preach the gospel to ourselves because our faith is weak, and will continue to be so, but the Eternal Object of our puny faith is not weak, but gloriously powerful.  We preach it because the Magnificent Savior who rescued me the hour I first believed is the very same Savior who rescues me this very moment.  We preach the gospel to remind ourselves that we are foolish and vacuous and supercilious and that using words like vacuous and supercilious is vacuous and supercilious. We preach the gospel to ourselves because we believe that we are cunning beyond our knowing; and that we would take the very things of God – the Word, the table, the church, and the waters of baptism – and use them to harden our hearts against the Blessed Caretaker of our souls. We preach the gospel to ourselves because when Christ is lifted up, the affections of our hearts are drawn to Him and lifted out of the squalor of idolatry, especially religious idolatry, which is the insidious friend of every pastor and every seasoned believer.  We do so because without the good graces that come through continual preaching of the gospel to ourselves, our hearts would become a notorious factory of idols, producing more errant thoughts and behaviors than we could ever hope to harness.

Finally, we preach the gospel to ourselves every day for the same reasons that gospel preachers preach it to us every Sunday morning – so that by the foolishness of preaching it, the Holy Spirit might equip us for every good work; and so that the Spirit-filled, Gospel-saturated, Biblical exposition and application of God’s word will speak to our hearts, drawing us to the Savior in a way that renews repentance and deepens our worship.

We preach it because it is the truest and bestest news that our starving hearts have ever known – that we are indeed more messed up and sinful than we know, and we are more loved than we could ever dare to dream.

* Check out the comments section of this post.  There are some pretty good thoughts offered by Rev. Jason Van Bemmel and Amy Hauck.

Gospel Thought – 1. Know your Friend, 2. Know your enemy, 3. Know your weaknesses

Recently I have been reading Jack Miller’s book “The Heart of a Servant Leader.”  On page 59 we read a letter that Jack wrote to a young pastor who encountered resistance to his teaching on how the grace of Christ is designed to change hearts.  Jack writes…

“One irony that strikes me is that so often people who emphasize the third use of the law (reminding believers of the mark at which we are to aim, namely Christ – Tim’s ad) are really not great law keepers themselves.  For example, I have noted that sometimes church members given heavy doses of the third use of the law have little idea of the inner nature of the law as a delighting in God.  I have also noted a tendency to exclude the tongue and a a critical spirit from consideration as well, so that you can get the irony of believers defending the law with a harshness that itself breaks the law!  What sinners we can be!But I do think that the Heidelberg Catechism (see question 32 – Tim’s ad) and the Belgic Confession have an excellent emphasis on faith and sanctification.  It is also interesting to see that (as best I can recall) the Larger Catechism speaks of the third use of the law and relates its role to breaking us and driving us to Christ.  Add that emphasis, and grace follows.  For what it is worth, here is how I see the theological emphasis of English Puritanism 1.  Know your enemy – the word, the flesh, the devil; 2 – Know your personal limitations – your own particular fleshly characteristics and habits; 3 – Know your Friend – the grace of God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Continue reading