Sunday, May 3, 2015

Preach the Gospel to Yourself | Desiring God

By David Mathis

I'll never forget when I first learned about self-talk. I was in my young twenties early in my Army career learning about a very valuable skill set called resiliency - the ability to bounce back especially in the midst of turmoil and hardship. Many times it is we ourselves who turn a struggle that is truly small into something bigger than it should be. We "make a mountain out of a molehill." This is the result of negative self-talk and thinking.

In his book Spiritual Depression, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones introduces and reaffirms the idea of Godly self-talk. He challenges readers to follow the Psalmist's example relying solely on Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5. The context of the Psalm speaks for itself, beginning with "As the dear pants for the water brooks, so my soul longs for you, O God." God is the source of all our panting and the Psalmist if fully sure of this. Three times he reminds himself: 

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence."

Becoming intimate with the Gospel means more than just reciting the basic truth of the Gospel each day. It means becoming intimate with Jesus Christ - allowing Him to minister His good news to practically permeate every every area of our lives as His disciples. It is important we remember to catch ourselves, especially in the morning, and take ourself by the hand and remind ourself of the Gospel. How God loves us, sent His only Son for us who lived among us and died for us, and ascended to heaven to intercede for us. I might add that we should remember that each day is the day that the Lord has made, and to be glad in it. (Ps 118:24)

Here's David:

No one is more influential in your life than you are. Because no one talks to you more than you do.

So observes Paul Tripp — and in doing so, he accents our need to daily preach the gospel to ourselves.
In our sin, we constantly find our responses to life in our fallen world to be disconnected from the theology that we confess. Anger, fear, panic, discouragement stalk our hearts and whisper in our ears a false gospel that will lure our lives away from what we say we believe.
The battleground, says Tripp, is meditation. What is it that is capturing your idle thoughts? What fear or frustration is filling your spare moments?
Will you just listen to yourself, or will you start talking? No, preaching — not letting your concerns shape you, but forming your concerns by the gospel.

Defensive and Offensive

Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a spiritual discipline that is both proactive and reactive. It’s reactive as we encounter temptation and frustration and seek to restock in the moment, or as we reflect back on our sin and circumstances and try to evaluate them with a gospel lens.
But it’s also proactive — it goes on the offensive — when we feed our souls in some regular rhythm before the events and tasks and disappointments of daily life begin streaming our way. Tripp counsels that we make it a daily practice to 1) gaze on the beauty of Christ, 2) remember who we are as a child of God, 3) rest in his power and provision, and then 4) act in reliance upon him.

The Gospel and the Scriptures

There is a difference, Tripp notes, between merely reminding ourselves of truth, and preaching to ourselves the truth of the gospel. The latter is self-consciously and intentionally reminding ourselves of the person and presence and provisions of our Redeemer.
But while gospel self-preaching is not the same thing as Bible reading, the connections and interdependences are profound. The Scriptures, says Tripp, provide the material for preaching to ourselves the gospel of grace. They are the content to be taken up and applied to our lives in view of Jesus’s person and work.
It will not adequately strengthen our soul, in the long run, just to hear the same canned gospel repeated over and over. Neither will it sustain our spiritual lives to merely take in information without seeing it in light of Jesus, and pressing it into our hearts.

Our 50th Episode

In this new episode of Theology Refresh — our 50th episode overall — Paul Tripp shoots us straight about this all-important practice of preaching to ourselves, and helps us understand the need for, and the power in, this life-giving Christian routine.


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