Yesterday, we learned that the gospel or good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the MOST IMPORTANT message we can ever hear, share, embrace, and live by.
Let us explore another truth about why it is important to declare God’s gospel.
There is power in the gospel.
Read Romans 1:16
As a gospel-centered church, there is no greater truth that we can proclaim than the gospel. It has inherent power. There are many messages we need to preach. We need to preach and teach and share the whole counsel of God’s Word, but the primary message we need to camp out on over and over again is the gospel.
We often think that once we become Christians we are to move on to deeper things that will grow us in our Christian walk. We go off on tangents like creationism, or end times teachings, or parenting techniques or some new secret that the latest and greatest book or televangelist has come up with for us to grow.
These teachings in and of themselves are not inherently wrong. But yet, true growth and true transformation always comes back to the gospel.
A few years ago our men’s Bible study went through Jerry Bridges’ excellent book entitled “The Gospel for Real Life” and his thesis of the book is that as Christians we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily.
He says this: “Why do so many believers live in quiet desperation? On answer is that we have a truncated view of the gospel, tending to see it as a door we walk through to become Christians. In this view, the gospel is for unbelievers. Once you become a Christian, you don’t need it anymore except to share with people who are still outside the door. What you need to hear instead are the challenges and how-to discipleship. . . . The reality of present day Christendom is that most professing Christians actually know very little of the gospel, let alone understand its implications for their day-to day lives. My perception is that most of them know just enough gospel to get inside the door of the kingdom. They know nothing of the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
As Christians we need to hear the gospel over and over again. We need to preach it to ourselves over and over again. It is our bedrock. It is our ballast in the boat of our souls that prevents us from getting off course and being beaten by the wind and waves of the world.
Why? Because we are prone to wander.
We can all relate to the words in that famous hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” which says: “O to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.”
We wander into either legalism or despair. If we lose track of the gospel in our lives, we tend to drift toward the performance trap. This is where we tend to work for God’s approval and do things so that God will love us. We are legalistic. We try hard to earn God’s acceptance. We are in a trap of performing so that God will somehow be obligated to love us and forgive us.
The other way we drift or wander is into despair or condemnation. We live in fear. We live our lives in guilt thinking that God is always upset with us and the we are so bad that we could never be loved by Him. That somehow we don’t deserve His forgiveness. We fret that we’ve sinned beyond His reach or that somehow we’ve lost our salvation. We have feelings of condemnation that lead to despair.
Both of these are wrong. The gospel centers us back to the fact that through Christ God relates to us as a loving Father. He accepts us on the basis of Christ. We don’t have to prove our worthiness to Him. We obey and serve Him out of gratitude and joy, not legalism or fear. And when we do sin, we cry out for forgiveness and we rest in the finished work of Christ on our behalf to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
In other words, being gospel-centered keeps us sane!!!
Milton Vincent in his book “A Gospel Primer for Christians” writes these very encouraging words: “There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemning of my heart, and the lies of the world and the devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.”
Would you spend time today “preaching” the gospel to yourself! Saturate yourself in the beauty of the gospel and meditate on God’s love for you in Christ.
The only way to fight feelings of pride on the one hand and guilt on the other hand is to daily overwhelm yourself with the glory of the gospel!
Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross . . . Every Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), 14-17
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2008), 14.