Jerry Bridges starts his book the Gospel for Real Life by making two points. The Gospel is for believers not just unbelievers. And that believers must preach the Gospel to themselves everyday. So in terms of his first goal of convincing us that we as believers need the Gospel - he does this admirably and movingly. As for the second goal of teaching us how to preach the Gospel to ourselves, well I think the verdict is mixed. I think that I now better understand how the Gospel applies to my day to day life, but I’m not sure that I better understand how to preach the Gospel to myself. There was no point where he stopped and said, ok we’ve talked about propitiation here’s how you would preach that to yourself in this particular situation. It just wasn’t there. But I feel challenged to live the Gospel, to live in light of the Gospel, and I feel inspired to preach the Gospel to myself.
But his central argument is absolutely correct. That too many Christians feel that the Gospel is how we get saved and is the message that we share with others so they can be saved, but it is has no lasting impact on how we live. This view certainly has some truth in it, the Good News that Jesus has died to atone for sins and that we can benefit savingly through repentance and faith, certainly this is the message that we need to saved and that others need to hear so that they can be saved. But Bridges is right to tell us there is more to the Gospel than a simple ticket to heaven. The Gospel shapes how we live and is our motivation for Christian living.
But I want to highlight two chapters that highlighted for me the importance and impact of the Gospel. First is The Empty Cup which was an explanation of the Bible’s teaching on how Jesus absorbed wrath of God for us. This truth that God has no wrath left for us should change how we live. We need not walk around obsessed with whether God is mad at us for our sins, instead we should embrace this truth, confess our sins, and get back to serving our Lord. Because if we live defeated lives consumed with this kind of fear, we will not be faithful to our God. Embrace this truth, God has no wrath left for His children, Jesus took it all.
The second chapter I want to highlight is The Scapegoat. This chapter hearkens back to Leviticus 16. Where the sin offering is made on the day of atonement with two goats. One goat is slaughtered to atone for sins pointing to Jesus atoning work on the cross. The second goat was sent away to a remote place, this pictured a work of Jesus that is too often forgotten, Jesus bore our sins away. We have no more sin to feel guilty about. Remember the promise in Psalm 103:12 - as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. They are removed from us. Once we have come to Jesus we have no more sin to make us feel defeated and guilty. It has been punished and carried away.
So now we are free to make these objective truths subjectively real. We must remember we do not fight the fight of holiness to be saved or to earn God’s favor or to make Him love us. We fight this fight for His glory, for our joy, and for the good of the Kingdom. So lets take the Gospel truths and remind our weak hearts each day what our might King Jesus has done for us.
Thank you Jerry Bridges for another awesome book, you are a Pastor to many of us.