Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
The Gospel. The Good News of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. As believers we know it, we remember it, and we celebrate it at Christmas and Easter, and we know we need to share the truth of the Gospel to the lost world around us. The question I want us to ponder is–how does the gospel impact our lives as believers every day?
This is a lengthy post, and I encourage you to take your time going through it prayerfully.
Are You Gospel Focused?
It is the incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, burial, bodily resurrection, ascension, and eternal reign of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
~ Definition of the Gospel from Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick
What are you passionate about? What do you find yourself thinking about the most? Is it on the truths found in John 3:16 or 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3? Let me share with you from Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing how you can tell that the gospel is not at the center of your life:
-You often lack joy
-You're not consistently growing in spiritual maturity
-You're love for God lacks passion
-You're always looking for some new technique, some “new truth” or new experience to pull all the pieces of your faith together.
Until we as believers can learn to rest in God's perfect love for us through Jesus Christ, we will continually find ourselves falling into the trap of basing our view of God on our feelings and our performance or dwelling more on our sin than on God's grace. It will be impossible to live a life full of joy and gratitude if we don't truly grasp and grow more and more in our understanding of the cross of Christ and how it applies daily to our lives.
In Christ Alone:
Everything we need has been given to us in Christ. Ponder that: everything. Not some things or many things, but everything. Let's look at just a few of the wonderful truths that are ours if we are in Christ: We are loved, adopted, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, citizens of heaven, children of the King, no longer under condemnation, sealed by the Holy Spirit, God is working all things in our lives together for good, never alone, and in the twinkling of an eye will spend all eternity with Him in glory–to just name a few.Everything we need has been given to us in Christ.
These truths, of all that is ours in and through the gospel, should change the way we look at everything. His love for us is not based on our outward performance. His love for us is based on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
We don't need to read self-help books that give us 10 steps to having it all together. We need to find ourselves so hidden in Christ and Christ alone, knowing that it is only there we find true purpose, peace, and contentment in this world.
Reminding Yourself of the Gospel:
God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness. The wise believer learns this truth early and becomes proficient in extracting available benefits from the gospel each day. We extract these benefits by being absorbed in the gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do.
~Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer
The gospel serves as the means by which God daily constructs me into what He wants me to be and also serves as the channel through which He gives me my inheritance every day of my Christian life (Acts 20:32). Hence, it could be said that the gospel contains all that I need “for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). It is for this reason that God tells me to be steadfastly entrenched in the gospel at all times and never to allow myself to be moved from there. (Colossians 1:23). The mere fact that God tells me to stay inside the gospel at all times must mean that He intends to supply all of my needs as long as I am abiding in that place of luxury (Colossians 2:8-10, 2 Peter 1:3).
How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself:
Jerry Bridges has written on the importance of the daily preaching the gospel to yourself. In The Discipline of Grace, he shares:
“When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.”
“To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”
I'm thankful for how he shares even more in Respectable Sins, how he preaches the gospel to himself every day:
Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.
I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.
What Scriptures do I use to preach the gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.
Whatever Scriptures we use to assure us of God’s forgiveness, we must realize that whether the passage explicitly states it or not, the only basis for God’s forgiveness is the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us. As the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22), and the context makes it clear that it is Christ’s blood that provides the objective basis on which God forgives our sins.
~ Above excerpt taken from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
What would our days look like if we continued daily practice of reminding ourselves who we were and now who we are in Christ?
A Gospel Focused Day:
Below are some ways to keep the Cross of Christ at the forefront of your day. My hope is that you and I will ponder and let our minds and hearts be overwhelmed with Jesus' sacrificial love, grace, and mercy. We must never move beyond these truths and think they are only for new believers. We need to take the time to relearn them over and over again.
-Spend time reviewing or memorizing verses that remind us of the gospel. Here is the list I use that is recommended in Mr. Mahaney's book – 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:31-34, Isaiah 53:3-6, Romans 3:23-26, Romans 5:6-11, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and Galatians 2:21.
-Thanking the Lord during your prayer time that you can come before Him confidently and boldly because of the Work of His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross.
-Pouring the truths of the gospel into your children during the day. I highly recommend Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Revive Our Hearts has an interview that I encourage you to listen to here with Elyse Fitzpatrick.
-Listen to music that focuses on the gospel. Sovereign Grace Ministries has a CD out called Songs for the Cross Centered Life that will keep you singing the gospel to yourself all throughout your day. The Gospel Song is a favorite for children too.
-Continue to be a student of the gospel. Never be content in your knowledge of it but continue to grow more and more in the grace and knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ. We can never unearth all the many facets of the gospel and its application to our lives on a daily basis.
–Listen to sermons free online that are cross-centered. The Functional Centrality of the Gospel is a good one to start.
-Spend time in Romans and Galatians. Pick up a good commentary to aid in your reading. Matthew Henry's Commentary is free online.
-Take the time when you are reading God's Word to see the gospel. The more you take the time to take notice the more you will see how God's Word points to the coming Savior.
-Make it a goal to read one book a year on the Cross of Christ. Some recommendations are A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent, The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges, Living The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney, The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges and Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
–The most important truth to remember is we can't do any of this on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to open up the truths of the gospel within our hearts. This is true for every moment of our lives. Continue to ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and make the gospel alive to you again.
Better than we Deserve:
C. J. Mahaney's response when people ask him how he is doing is, “Better than I deserve.” The truth is, as negative as that may sound to some, it is true for those who are in Christ. We all deserve hell, and before we were in Christ, we were under God's wrath. In Christ, we are His adopted children, and heaven is our home. We are loved and forgiven by an Almighty God. All of it undeserved.
When we understand and grasp these truths – it truly is Amazing Grace! I can forgive others because I have been forgiven. I can show patience because Christ has been patient with me. Only through the cross can we overcome the guilt of sin and gain power over sin.
Any sin someone has committed against you will never be as serious as the sins you have committed before a Holy God. The cross will transform your perspective on all of life.
Take the time today to dwell and pray and ponder on the truths of the gospel. May Christ and His death on the cross for your sin and my sin be the greatest treasure in your heart. Never stop being amazed at the gift of grace.
Every day of our Christian experience, should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. We are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day.