By Sean Cole, Lead Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Sterling, CO
Why do so many Christians live in quiet desperation? Why do so many believers either struggle with a works-based legalism on one hand and an overwhelming sense of guilt and despair on the other? Many wonder in fear if God truly accepts them in His wonderful grace and they in turn get caught up in a performance trap in order to win the approval of our heavenly Father.
The remedy to this problem is to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. When I use the term “preach the gospel” to ourselves, I do not envision a pastor standing in the pulpit on Sunday mornings, but a call to every believer to meditate upon, reflect, think deeply, and immerse him or herself in the glorious truths of the gospel on a daily basis. By doing this, we can avoid the dangerous traps of legalism on one hand and despair on the other.
Titus 3:3-7 gives us what I call the gospel in a “nutshell”. In these five verses, we find some glorious gospel declarations that tell us what God has done for us in Christ and how we can be assured of His love for us.
Paul writes: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
I want to encourage you with seven gospel declarations that emerge directly from this passage of Scripture that I pray you can use to saturate your heart and soul with the good news of God’s love for you in Christ.
Gospel declaration #1: The gospel tells me of my former identity as an enslaved sinner before trusting Christ. Notice in verse three that Paul says we were “ONCE” these things—foolish, disobedient, enslaved to passions and pleasures, living lives of sin. In other words, that is not our identity anymore. We were once dead, blind, foolish, enslaved, and in bondage to sin, but no longer. The gospel tells me that I have a new identity. Here’s how you preach the gospel to yourself: I’m no longer an enslaved sinner. I have a new identity. Praise you Jesus that you have taken me out of the kingdom of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of light.
Gospel declaration #2: The gospel tells me that God’s awesome mercy and love have come to me personally through Jesus Christ. I’m not the source of salvation. Salvation starts in the heart of God for lost sinners and He chooses to shower us with goodness, and loving kindness and mercy through sending Jesus. So here’s how you preach it to yourself. You thank Jesus for His grace. You thank Him for His mercy. You bask in His love for you.
Gospel declaration #3: The gospel tells me that salvation is all of grace and nothing that in any way I can contribute. How do you preach this to yourself? You constantly remind yourself that God is sovereign in your salvation and that you can’t do any good work to make God love your more or love you less. As a believer God loves you perfectly—on your best day when you’re doing everything great for Jesus and on your worst day when you fail miserably, God’s love for you is constant. It doesn’t change based upon your performance one way or the other.
Gospel declaration #4: The gospel tells me that I have been born again as a new creation in Christ. Remind yourself daily that God has washed you. God has regenerated your heart. God has caused you to be born again. You are a new creation in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come.
Gospel declaration #5: The gospel tells me that God has richly given me the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us as the very presence of Christ. We have the power of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to live this gospel-centered life in our own power, but through the Holy Spirit.
Gospel declaration #6: The gospel tells me that I am totally accepted by God and have an innocent record before Him. That’s what is means to be justified by his grace. We are declared righteous. We are accepted by God. Our record is wiped clean and we have the record of Christ. We stand not guilty clothed in Christ’s righteousness and not our own and God accepts us on the basis of Christ, not our performance.
Gospel declaration #7: The gospel tells me that I have the hope of eternal life. Remind yourself daily that this is not your true home. You have a home in heaven. You will one day see Christ face to face. He has an inheritance waiting for you. He holds you in His grip and will never let you go. He will ensure that you make it to heaven.
There is inherent power in the gospel not only to bring a sinner to salvation but for the daily progress in the Christian life for one who is already a believer. Mediate on these truths. Allow the power of the gospel to affect your thinking, your affections, your actions, and celebrate God’s amazing grace for sinners in His Son Jesus Christ.