What preaching the gospel to yourself means

From Erik Raymond:

There is a lot of (necessary) talk these days about preaching the gospel to yourself. This is truly a great need for every Christian. We all found ourselves slouching back to the self-promoting, self-worshiping default position of our hearts. That is, we forget the gospel.

But let’s be very clear about what it means to forget. We are not simply talking about forgetting facts or Bible verses. It is not like we somehow can’t remember the definition of substitutionary atonement or that Jesus came to save sinners. No, no, it is much bigger than this.

The Issue is Our Satisfied Delight
When we talk about forgetting the gospel we are talking about forgetting to see the glory of Christ in the gospel. That is, we forget to see the infinite value of Jesus as the redeemer. In this we see our infinite sinfulness, hopelessness, idolatry, and separation from God. The only thing we have to do with God apart from Jesus is to be on the wrong side of his barrel of divine wrath. So in seeing the beautiful sufficiency in Jesus, both his person and his work, we begin to delight in him as our Savior.

In other words, what we don’t just forget facts, but rather to delight in the glorious God behind the facts! Christ and his work is both historical and personal. That is, it happened in time and it happened for sinners like me and you! And the fact that it is successful and available for a rebel like me causes me to be amazed, humbled, refreshed and happy as I bask in the illuminating beams of the glory of Christ through the gospel.

More than an Upload of Data
Preaching the gospel to yourself is not just a mind exercise. You are not to be just reciting facts without the engagement of your heart. The gospel is to stir our minds with theological truth but that stirring also is like a divine oar in the water of our hearts, as it stirs us with rich gospel happiness.

In the gospel we are seeing the glory of Christ in his condescension for us; we see his infinite stooping to rescue infinite sinners and provide eternal righteousness. And then, one day, we’ll see his perfect righteousness and preserving power and unfailing love on full display as we, his bride, the church is wonderfully presented to him as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. This is all done through his work as the husband par excellence washing us, his bride with his word (Eph. 5.25-27)

So yes, preach the gospel to yourself everyday, even multiple times a day. But do not treat it like you just need an upload of data. Because, in reality, you need much more than that. You need divine help through the Spirit to happily see the glory of Christ in the gospel that you might be transformed into his own image (2 Cor. 3.18)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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