Every single one of us has days where we want to lay down on our bed, put our head in our pillow and go to sleep, to wake up Lord-willing the next day. These are the days we must understand where we grow the most in our walk with the Lord. Whether it’s a difficult person at work, a disagreement with our spouse, being depressed about life, or anxious, we all struggle in a variety of ways. In my own life, I’ve battled with anxiety and depression for a long time. During these times, I have to go back to who and what Christ says about me in His Word. One of the best ways I’ve learned to do this is to preach the truth of the gospel to myself from the Word of God.
Scripture and the Beauty of Jesus
Preaching the gospel to ourselves from the Word of God means taking the truth of Scripture and applying it to myself. It is the application James 1:22 which says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Our goal in reading Scripture isn’t to only read and study it but apply it to our lives. Whether it’s anxiety or discouragement, when I go back to preaching the gospel from the Word of God to myself, it exposes my sin and points me toward the beauty of Jesus.
Dr. Piper explains, “The gospel of Christ crucified and risen is meant to be preached to our soul–both in corporate worship where we hear it week after week and from hour to hour as we preach it to ourselves in the daily fight for joy…The cross must be central in the fight for joy. We must put ourselves under it’s preaching on the Lord’s Day, and we must preach it to ourselves all day every day”.[i]
Preaching the gospel to ourselves helps Christians learn that the gospel as Tim Keller has said is the A to Z of Christianity, or as J.C. Ryle said the ABC’s of Christianity. From beginning to the end of the Christian life and everywhere in-between the Christian has a great need for Christ and a Christ great who meets our great need. The great doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones is right when he says, “The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace wondrous grace.”
You and I don’t become Christians by cleaning ourselves up. We also don’t continue to be Christians because we get ourselves back up spiritual bootstrap style. Instead, as Christians we have been justified by faith alone in Christ alone, so we can grow to be more like Christ each day.
Jerry Bridges is right when he says, “Preaching the Gospel to oneself means that one appropriates 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.”[ii]
Appropriating Who We Are Now in Christ to Our Daily Lives
Preaching the gospel to oneself means taking the precious words of Romans 4:7-8 seriously. It also means that believing what Romans 8:1 says that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Preaching the gospel to ourselves means dwelling on the promise that God has removed one’s transgressions from one as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), that He has blotted out one’s transgressions and remembers our sin no more (Isaiah 43:25). It also means realizing all of these wonderful promises of forgiveness are based on the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Preaching the gospel to oneself means preaching the cross and resurrection. After all, the gospel is the means by which the Christian has been saved, and by which one can put sin to death and shine brightly for the Lord Jesus each day. Paul in Romans 3:24 teaches that one is justified by grace, referring to what one might call the point-in-time salvation, the day one trusted in Christ. Paul in Romans 5:2 spoke of “this grace in which we now stand.” Here he refers to the day-to-day standing before God on the basis of justification- that is, by grace. This grace- unmerited favor is for those who deserve wrath and comes to God’s people only through the finish work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is the “God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10) and is disposed to deal with people by grace, but not at the expense of His justice. With God’s justice now satisfied through the death of Jesus, God can now deal with sinners in grace, both in salvation and in one’s day-to-day relationship with Him. Preaching the gospel to oneself will help you to pursue holiness day-by-day. All of this is why, through preaching the gospel to ourselves from the Word, we can enter the spiritual battle for the souls of others, as we engage the spiritual battle ourselves.
Preaching the Gospel Is a Vehicle to Help God’s People Grow in God’s Grace
We get in our cars to drive to the store, to church, or work, or even to a meeting, and more. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is like driving a car down the road. The further we go down the road with preaching the gospel to ourselves, the more natural it becomes. Just like driving down the road, preaching the gospel to ourselves becomes instinctual as we face a variety of situations, both challenging and blessed. And the more, we preach the gospel to ourselves from the Word of God, the deeper we grow in God’s grace. The deeper we grow in God’s grace, the more we will treasure Christ.
What we treasure most is what we love most. This is why preaching the gospel to ourselves should be like driving down the road. Instead of swerving away to avoid an accident like when we are driving down the road, we must face it head on by preaching the gospel to ourselves. As we daily preach the gospel to ourselves, our self-sufficiency will decrease. While we may still suffer from anxiety or depression, as we go back to who we are in now Christ, we proclaim to ourselves that through Christ we are as loved and as accepted as we can possibly be.
Whether it’s anxiety, depression, marital difficulty or a whole host of other issues, the Bible speaks loudly to the daily issues of our lives. And this is why preaching the gospel is a vehicle to help carry us deeper in the grace of God. Every Christian should preach the gospel to themselves from the Word of God. The whole Bible is for the entire Christian because the whole Bible has a unified message in the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Let’s you, and I daily preach the truth of God’s Word to ourselves, appropriating who we are now in Christ so that we may grow deep and wide in the endless ocean of the grace of God.
[ii] Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2006), 59.