I absolutely MUST recommend this book. It is by far and away one of the most helpful, comprehensive books on the Gospel that a Christian will ever read and understand.
As Christians I know we think and you must be thinking, "I know the Gospel, why would I read a book about it?"
One of the things I have been learning the past 4 or so years of my life is that the Gospel is a daily thing. I read the Cross-Centered Life when we were becoming members of a Sovereign Grace church in NC about 4 years ago and it enlightened me to the concepts that a Christian should be familiar with.
Preaching the Gospel to yourself..."continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life"
- AGREE with our conscience about our guilt and then remind ourselves that our guilt has already been borne by Christ
- REMEMBER that God himself devised a way for His wrath against sin to be fully executed apart from our actually experiencing His wrath
"It is not our contrition or sorrow for our sin, it is not our repentance, it is not even the passing of a certain number of hours during which we feel we are on some kind of probation that cleanses us. It is the blood of Christ...that cleanses our consciences and gives us a renewed sense of peace."
Since having kids and feeling like I am continually falling short by my lack of patience, frustration and even anger toward them at times, it has become an easier realization (and my goal) to go to the Lord in those times of struggle as I realize how sinful I am and how much I actually need him. It's so easy to feel like we can handle things on our own UNTIL we fall incredibly short and realize our need for a Savior. Why not just admit this BEFORE we fall short? Why not preach the Gospel to ourselves BEFORE we fail? Not to say that this will prevent us from failing, but it may help, comfort and challenge us to pursue a life of holiness through Christ and help us to succeed in our daily struggles, whether it be in thought or action.
Bridges uses the analogy of having a "good" and "bad" day spiritually to portray our thoughts toward God based on our performance mentality.
On a bad day spiritually, we fall short, we know it and then we feel guilty. Here are some scriptures to combat those feelings:
- Christ bore our sins in his own body...1 Peter 2:24
- By faith we appropriate the blood of Christ to cleanse our conscience...Hebrews 9:14
- He justifies the wicked (sins are merely the expression of my sinful heart)...Romans 4:5
- There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...Romans 8:1
On a good day spiritually, we have read our Bibles, prayed and are feeling pretty good about ourselves. Here are some scriptures to combat those feelings of pride, like we can do anything to earn our standing before God:
- Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect...Matthew 5:48
- Whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it...James 2:10
We are ALWAYS dependent on God's grace.
"God never intended that we relate to Him directly. Our own performance is never good enough to be acceptable to Him. The only way we can relate to God is through the blood and righteousness of Christ."
As those who are dependent on God's grace, a deep sense of gratitude and of Christ's love for us is what motivates us toward a life of committed discipleship, not duty or guilt. A heart that doesn't trust in Christ won't be able to be committed because it may be out of obligation or guilt, or perhaps even a desire to change but without the power to do so.
I plan to blog some more on this book. This post just scratches the surface of the goodness and truth that is contained in it.
I hope this challenges you to live differently, to think differently.
Don't just read this and move on. As a matter of fact, many of you probably just skimmed over this blog post. I understand, I do the same thing sometimes. But I challenge you to take a moment and consider how you can preach the Gospel to yourself this coming week and then actually do it. See if it doesn't change your perspective on God, on your day...