“As a pastor, I constantly pray and engage the people of the Village Church to keep what is “of first importance” at the center of their thinking, in both their justification and their sanctification. Over the years, I have become painfully aware that people tend to drift away from the gospel soon after their conversion and begin to try their hand at sanctification. In other words, they operate as if the gospel saves them but doesn’t play a role in sanctifying them. In the end, people become exhausted and miss out on the joy of knowing and walking with the Spirit of God. They miss out on intimacy with Jesus.”
I bumped into this paragraph a few days ago while doing a re-read of Jonathan Dodson’s book called Gospel-Centered Discipleship. The paragraph above has me grabbing the pen and highlighter on a few different levels. But before we get to that, consider these words by Jesus. Words that…..if you are like me, you know them well and yet you need to be reminded.
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)
Gospel things I need to be reminded of today…..
- I need the gospel TODAY!
Yes, the gospel is needed for salvation and yes the gospel is needed for sanctification. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection not only cleanses the Christian from all unrighteousness, but it continues its work of sanctification until Christ returns. Bottom line: I need the gospel’s sanctifying power today!
- Because, I am a “drifter”
Drifting from the gospel is easy. It comes naturally. It requires no effort to drift. Friends, pay no attention to the gospel today and you will naturally drift into seeking to secure you standing before God based on your efforts. I love the words to the hymn Come thou Fount. These words are how I am seeking to bring the gospel to my heart today.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Join with me and sing this song today and while singing let’s apply the gospel to our drifting hearts.
- Sanctification that is not motivated by the gospel is….exhausting and deflating!
Pursuing Godliness without the gospel does not leave us nowhere, as if we are a blank slate. Trying to grow in godliness (sanctification) without the gospel drives you somewhere. That somewhere is guilt ridden, legalism driven, and soul crushing, defeat. Joy is soon gone. The mountain of sins suddenly looks larger than the glory of that hill called Calvary.
- Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind….
What the Matthew text is calling for is nothing less than full devotion to the Lord. How are you doing with that full devotion? Have you mastered it yet? Neither have I!! And that is why I need the gospel today. Let’s remember some gospel facts as we seek to love God with full devotion.
- I am forgiven – I John 1:9
- He is my righteousness – Philippians 3:9
- I am fully justified – Romans 3:24
- He who began a good work will bring it to completion… Philippians 1:6
- He calls me to love Him only because He loved me first – I John 4:19
- He has paid for all my sins – Isaiah 53:4
- I have a new life in Christ – Romans 6:4
- I am a new creation, the old is gone the new has come – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!