In my sermon on Sunday, I said one of the ways we are to let the gospel abide in you (1 Jn. 2:24) is by “marinating in the gospel.” To remain in the gospel, we need regular exposure to the gospel. In my sermon I listed a number of ways this can happen.
- Read and study the Bible.
- Memorize portions of the Bible.
- Meditate on the Bible or, in other words, “preach the gospel to yourself daily,” to quote Jerry Bridges.
- And participate regularly in corporate worship.
I promised I would post some resources this week that will help guide you in the discipline of marinating in the gospel. In this post, I’d like to fulfill part of that promise. How do you preach the gospel to yourself?
I was first introduced to the notion of gospel-central living and thinking by Pastor Mike Bullmore in a lecture he gave in 2008 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s annual ROM Lectures titled “The Functional Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching.” I might be too bold in saying that this lecture may have had a greater impact on me than anything else I learned while in seminary because it continues––almost daily––to affect the way I look at myself, my Bible, and the church. Why do I say I might be too bold in saying this lecture had the greatest impact on me while at seminary? First Free paid a lot of money to send me to seminary. But this was a free lecture, open to the public. Bullmore wasn’t even one of my professors! While the lecture is addressed to preachers, I think you would benefit from it. But what I’m confident you’ll benefit from is the little book Bullmore recommended we buy at the end of his lecture…
I think every evangelical Christian should own a copy of Milton Vincent’s The Gospel Primer. Jerry Bridges tells us why we must preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Vincent teaches us how to do it. The book is divided into four parts. The first part gives 31 ways the gospel applies to our real lives––one for each day of the month. This is the most helpful part of the book for me. I’ve gone through it dozens of times. The next two parts are Vincent’s articulation of the gospel, one in prose and one in poetry. The fourth section is about Vincent’s own journey from fundamentalism to grace. It is not a book to read, really. It is a book to be used in your devotional time with the Lord. It is a book to meditate on slowly and prayerfully. It is a book heavily footnoted with Scripture. I recommend you memorize many of the verses in the footnotes, chew on them, journal about how they hit your head, your heart, your life.
I also think every evangelical Christian should own a copy of The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers. If you want to see what it looks like to pray the gospel, here’s your book. If you want to learn how to pray the gospel yourself, here’s the book. As a young child learns to write, tracing the dotted lines of the letter shapes on the page, so we can learn to pray by making the prayers of godly men and women our own. If you are the type of person who likes a program, I recommend Joe Thorn’s schedule for praying through The Valley of Vision prayers. It has you praying three times a day.
Marinate in the gospel! This is a critical way to “let what you heard from the beginning abide in you,” and thus to “abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 Jn. 1:24).
[Check back later for a couple more posts on the topic.]