How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself
On Tuesday we saw that one of the ways to present the gospel is to use God-Man-Christ-Response. We also looked at Isaiah 6 to see what that looks like. Today I want to show you how to do something similar to what happened to Isaiah. How do you preach the gospel to yourself using the attributes of God?
First, start with an attribute of God. An attribute is a quality or feature of who God is. This is where I’ll provide some help each day. Each day we will take an attribute of God, and I’ll give you a quick primer on that particular attribute. We will try to define each attribute and then we’ll think and pray through that attribute. On Monday I’ll write a meditation on God’s independence. For our time today, though, I’ll show you what doing this will look like.
Let’s start with God’s independence. A helpful definition is from Wayne Grudem. Grudem defines this as, “God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation glorify him and bring him joy.” Take that definition and meditate on that truth for a bit. Think through many of the implications of this. We will then be encouraged to journal our thoughts in the form of a prayer. Mine would look something like this:
- You do not need me. I do not fill up some sort of vacuum in your heart. Making much of you gives you delight but you do not have an empty love tank. You are fully satisfied in yourself and independent of me. Your existence, your being, your truth, all of you is not dependent upon my belief in you. You exist and are true regardless of how humanity responds. And yet you take joy in us. I can make you smile.
As you are confronted with this majestic God you will naturally move to knowledge of yourself. You will, much as Isaiah did, be overwhelmed with feelings of being undone. Now you meditate on your relationship to this particular attribute of God. Again, journal your thoughts in the form of a prayer. I’ve been reading through Daniel in my devotional times as well—so you can see that reflected in my journaling:
- In myself I cannot make you smile—I can only bring your wrath. You do not need to save me. And yet you have. I am also the opposite of independent—I am completely dependent upon you. I am not keeping my lungs filled with air at this moment, I am not keeping my heart beating or my brain functioning, just as with King Nebby you could take it all away in a moment. And yet I have—much like Nebby and his son—filled my mind with thoughts of independence. I’ve rebelled from you. And in this rebellion you are not smiling. I have brought a curse upon myself.
Now you are prepared to apply the provision of Christ. Much as the Lord touched Isaiah with coal from the altar so here, we see God provides for us in the form of Christ. So, meditate now on all of the ways the Lord Jesus has in himself this same attribute and also how he bridges the gap between us and God. Journal your thoughts. Mine look like this:
- You swallowed my curse. You did not need to come and redeem me. I am/was a rebel who thought I was totally independent of you. And yet you came and rescued me—a rebel. There was not some need within you which caused you to leave the splendor and glory of heaven, and yet you came. You have, through your precious blood, secured the smile of the Father. And you have united yourself to me—broken though I am, so that I can feel the gaze of His smile.
You aren’t quite finished. How are you going to respond to the provision of Christ? This is where I pray and ask the Lord to help me apply what He is teaching me. At times my response will be a simple thanksgiving. Sometimes it will be repentance. At this step you simply respond to the way God is leading you:
- Let me live as one dependent upon You. Help me to live in such a way that you are pleased and which causes you joy. I know that you do not need my worship but it is my greatest joy. This is the natural outgrowth of the wonderful things you have done in uniting yourself to me. Thank you for rescuing me, though you didn’t need to. May I live a life of continual thankfulness—knowing that you did not have to save me but purposed before the foundation of the world to purchase sinners just like myself.
There you have it. God-Man-Christ-Response using the attributes of God as a kick starter. Of course these need to be saturated in the Word. This is not a substitute for daily Bible reading. It’s just a way to take good systematic theology and apply it to your heart. Each day I’ll try to provide a few Scripture passages to study as well. On Monday we will look more in depth at God’s independence…or to use the nerdier term—his Aseity.