Read His Words Before Ours!
Little did I realize when I chose to write this particular Journey Study that I would be participating in a conference in which the key speakers would be teaching through Galatians. I’m very aware that God is always working in us, but sometimes He clarifies that with a defining “voice.”
Years ago I read a statement by my favorite author, which has become a litmus test of sorts by providing a starting place and a heart filter for my everyday walk with Christ. Although I always refer to him when I quote it, in his book “The Discipline of Grace” Jerry Bridges credits Dr. Jack Miller for the original expression: “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.”
Through my childhood and teen years as a believer, I didn’t really think much of it. I considered the gospel to be a one-time message. I saw it as something I’d heard, received, and was supposed to proclaim to others who also needed to hear and receive it. As I’ve matured in my faith, I’ve come to understand that scripture paints a much more daily and working picture of the gospel. This comprehension has profoundly impacted me.
In fact, the depth of the gospel message brings
restoration and resurrection
to any weary believer who is bogged down in the muck and mire of a graceless religion
that has subtly substituted the work of the cross with human effort and obedience.
The word “gospel” is a biblical term (used over 90 times) meaning “good news”. And at the very root of it all, I knew that my heart must be gripped by this good news. There was certainly bad news and I knew it well: I am a sinner. But in order for the gospel to become part of my everyday thinking and doing, I needed to start preaching the true gospel to myself. As I did, I discovered much more abundant living. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, the apostle Paul summarizes the basic components of the gospel message. The death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of the resurrected Christ are the essence of the life-changing good news.
At the conference, one of the speakers said that “the gospel is the announcement that there is a kingdom. And the King has come. He touched base on earth and broke the power of the Evil One. One day He will return to consummate His great kingdom. The good news is that between now and then, amnesty has been offered to those who have rebelled against the kingdom.
Someone paid the price and it’s the core of the amnesty that’s offered to us that makes the gospel good news.”
Yes! As a law breaker, there’s nothing that causes me to celebrate more deeply and loudly than news of a pardon. I’m clearly guilty of death. But the good news of God’s mercy has set my spirit free to dance and sing a song of joy. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” The psalmist, not even fully understanding the sacrificial payment that would be made for his sinfulness, proclaimed: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices …” (Psalm 16:9)
When I preach the gospel to myself daily, it is not that I cease from owning up to my own sinfulness. But it changes my perspective.
As soon as I feel the weight of my transgressions, I immediately call to mind my standing with God. I accept by faith the fact that there was only One who was capable of doing the work of fully satisfying the law of God by taking on Himself my judgment. I find rest in the precious words of Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
At the very moment I am about to shrink away in defeat, I am able to look to the cross and remember that my sin died with my Savior. Remember, oh rule-following Christian: By grace. Through faith. Not works. This is so important that Paul said it three times in Galatians 2!
So I preach the gospel to myself every day because I must never forget that reconciliation has always been in the heart of God. Isaiah proclaimed it to the people of his day when he said “let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7
When I think about the magnitude of my freedom from the penalty of sin, I am overwhelmed like Paul. When he considered the scope of salvation, he had so much enthusiasm that he broke out into a spontaneous run-on sentence that lasted for 11 verses in the original Greek (Ephesians 1).
When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free; for God, the Just, is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there, the risen Lamb, my perfect, spotless Righteousness;
the great unchangeable I AM, the King of glory and of grace.
One with Himself, I cannot die; my soul is purchased by His blood.
My life is hid with Christ on high; with Christ, my Savior and my God.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!