One of the best devotional books published in recent years is Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by my food friend Joe Thorn. His introductory chapter is easily worth the price of the book. Joe brings the balance of preaching both the law and gospel as a normal means of spiritual growth. He writes:
“It is not just gospel that we need to preach to ourselves, but law and gospel. Just as the lost cannot come to know Christ apart from an understanding of law and gospel, neither will the believer grow in grace apart from the preaching of both law and gospel.”
After concise and clear explanation of the importance of the law, he proceeds to the gospel. Below is a portion of that chapter where he explains why the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is good news to the believer.
“At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and is offered to all who believe. This is therefore very ‘good news.’”
1. The Life of Jesus – Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. Where we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful.
“The life of Jesus offers hope to the broken, to those who recognize their inability to keep God’s law, and to those who are frustrated with their own fallings and failings. The gospel is the life of Jesus for sinners. His righteousness is our righteousness, and this gives us hope and confidence before God. Here the broken find encouragement, for in Christ we are righteous.”
2. The Death of Jesus – Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation.
“The death of Jesus offers hope to those who are overcome with guilt and conviction by offering cleansing and acceptance. Though we are sinners, God will not count our sins against us. He receives us because Jesus has died and put away our sins and reconciled us to God, who now, and forever, relates to us as a father relates to his son, and nothing can separate us from his love. Here the broken find hope, for in Christ we are cleansed.”
3. The Resurrection of Jesus – Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.
“The resurrection of Jesus offers courage and strength to persevere because his victory over sin and death is ours both in this life and in the one to come. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, sanctifies us, and empowers us to follow Christ and serve the mission of the church. And we know that the spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will raise us as well when Jesus returns. Here the broken find hope and courage, for in Christ we have power and victory to obey, and we will, in the end, be raised in his likeness.”
If you have not picked up Joe’s book, I encourage you to do so. He is a faithful guide in learning how to preach truth to one’s own soul.