Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Preach the Gospel to Yourself


Galatians 2:20-21
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Back in the 90s, when I return to school to earn my teaching certificate, I am fortunate to land a position at a local Christian school in the spring to teach sixth grade in the fall.  I am thrilled to be saying good-bye to my paraprofessional job at a public school, and looking forward to making more money in a God-friendly environment.

I am savoring my summer home with my children and preparing for the exciting year ahead, when I get the call.  It is the secretary of the Christian school.  She informs me that the headmaster, who hired me, has resigned, and new one wishes to meet with me.  No other details are forthcoming, and I agree to an appointment the next day.

Hands shaking, I return the receiver to its cradle, and try in vain to quell the nauseating panic rising within.  What if he saw something in my resume that raised a red flag?  Will he fire me before I've even had a chance?  Oh, God, I've already resigned my former job; what will I do if I lose this one?

I am an unhappy camper, my tent erected in the dark night of the soul.  Needless to say, many prayers are said, right up until the moment I walk through the door to the headmaster's office.

The exchange of pleasantries and his gracious smile go far to put me at ease.  Then the bomb drops.  "Martha, this being a Christian school, I must know definitively one thing about all my faculty and staff.  Tell me, please, when and how you accepted Jesus as your Savior."

The words tumble out.  I won't go into details here, but suffice it to say, my testimony, much to my surprise, is enough for him.

In the third chapter of his book, A Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges writes:
The doctrine of trusting in Jesus Christ alone for one's salvation is a basic truth of the gospel.  Without acceptance of it there is no salvation.  All believers by definition accept that fact.  But it is important to realize that we were not only saved by faith in Christ at a particular time, but we are to live by faith in Christ every day of our lives . . . I must continue to renounce any confidence in my own goodness and place my confidence solely in Christ every day of my life, not only for my eternal salvation, but for my daily acceptance before a holy God.

Yes.  Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is step one.  But I must agree with Bridges that continual growth in our relationship with Him is an absolute necessity.  We must, each and every day, take up our crosses and follow Jesus.  We must, as the title of chapter three states, preach the gospel to ourselves.

Says Bridges:  The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history.  Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it.

Not once during my tenure at the Christian school did the headmaster, nor any other fellow teacher, ever check in with me about the state of my Christian journey.  Perhaps they simply assumed that my moment of salvation guaranteed a closer walk with Jesus.

But friends, it didn't.

Though I believed in Christ Jesus with all my heart, I did not clearly understand the gospel, nor was I finding the joy that comes only from living it.

Fortunately for me, our God had unflagging patience.  Over the years, He has opened the doors to that closer walk, even, and perhaps, especially, when I didn't know how to knock.  He has shown me green pastures and led me by still waters, time and time again.

And I've come, at long last, to fully understand Paul's words:  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

I can, with a heart overflowing with joy and gratefulness, preach the gospel to myself.

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for Your unending grace and patience poured out upon us.  Let us pray to know Your will, to do all things for Your glory, and to remember, each and every day, that Your gospel "is the only essential message in all of history."  May we preach it.  May we live it.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen



For the next ten weeks, I will be participating in a study of Jerry Bridges' A Discipline of Grace.  The discussion is led by fellow Christian bloggers, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, who welcome you to read the book along with us, and chime in at any time you feel so moved.  Even if you decide not to read the book, I hope you will hook up with me here every Wednesday for a new reflection.  God bless!

22 comments:

  1. Martha - a great story and a great lesson for all of us. The Gospel isn't something that happens at one moment in time. It happens for all time.

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    1. Amen to that, Glynn! The gospel happens daily, hourly, and by the minute.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Love the theme of this post. It's exciting all over again when I get the chance to tell how I got saved or how God has helped me through so many difficult times. It's a battle daily to live His life before others instead of my own life and the enemy hates it when He wins and shine brightly through us. Good post.

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    1. Glad you liked the theme, Betty!
      Yes, it is a daily battle to make sure we are preaching that gospel to ourselves and truly living it out so that others might see us, and want the peace we have. And when we are praying that Jesus shine through us, we will face opposition, guaranteed. Nice to know God has the final victory!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Love the theme of this post. It's exciting all over again when I get the chance to tell how I got saved or how God has helped me through so many difficult times. It's a battle daily to live His life before others instead of my own life and the enemy hates it when He wins and shine brightly through us. Good post.

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  4. We have too many who make the assumption that salvation solidifies a walk with God as a sure thing. Pastors make the same mistake. It doesn't. Good point MJ. We have way too many who make that wrong assumption. They fill our pews each week.

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    1. Yes, Bill, it is a sad assumption to make, that's for certain. Reading and reflecting on this chapter made me realize that I should be checking the pulse of my Christian friends, not just my own, in an encouraging, uplifting way, of course. We all need to be held accountable, to make sure our loved ones and friends are living out gospel joy.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Truly the Truth sets us free. Often, we may choke up or be hesitant to share our testimony and how the Lord came to save our wretched souls, but in the end, we leave the conversation, smiling pretty!





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    1. Always, the Truth sets us free, Shira, and we should be eager to share the reasons we believe with others. Who knows? We could be the very person who wins another life for Christ.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Truly the Truth sets us free. Often, we may choke up or be hesitant to share our testimony and how the Lord came to save our wretched souls, but in the end, we leave the conversation, smiling pretty!





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  7. Martha, thank you for sharing this. You are spot on--there is so much more than simply being saved. We need to grow too. For too many years I seemed to not get that part of the equation. Thankfully that changed for me several years ago. Sharing my testimony is one thing that I've neglected to do on my blog! I'll correct that at some point, I'm sure.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. I went through that same drought/stagnation, too, Kim, but thanks be to God, the writing and Bible study have grown me in such awareness of the gospel and what it truly means in terms of not just my life, but the lives of so many others.
      I would LOVE you to share your testimony, my friend! That would be awesome! I did share mine in a blog way back when, but will have to look it up.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. Our spiritual stories speak volumes ... there is grace there. His alone ...

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    1. Yes, indeed, Linda, yes, indeed!
      Love and blessings!

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  9. I'm learning to pray that God will give me wisdom to learn and mature through the trials that come my way. Growth happens in the storms. This book is helping me understand the impotence of clinging to the Gospel, of living IN Christ and not relying on self during all the trials of life. I need Him daily.

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    1. Yes, TC, there is such a huge difference between just reading the Gospel and truly living in Christ Jesus. And you are so right that our spiritual growth happens in the storms of life. When we trust that Jesus is right there with us, we can and will make it through!
      Love and blessings!

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  10. Love your story and application. Not many care to check in with our progress or relationship status, but we have the responsibility to daily believe, daily trust, and daily grow. In His grace, we can. Thanks Martha.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, Jason, and the application. Yes, even when folks don't check up on us and our progress, we need to push forward, seeking daily growth in our faith. All I can say is, I've come a long way since those days!
      Love and blessings!

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  11. A good point Martha and one I agree with. It's not our one time belief or declaration but how we live daily. The Gospel isn't to be read and savored but put into effect in our daily personal lives which I am trying to do everyday.

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    1. Yes, Vishnu, the Gospel must not just be read, it must be put into action each and every day. Praying God will always help me to do just that.
      Love and blessings!

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