As a pastor of a church plant, I am often asked how we gear our church services; are we aiming at the unbeliever or the believer? In other words, what people are asking me is whether I focus on saving the unbeliever or strengthening the believer. My answer is always the same:
Because our every worship service is geared toward sinners, the preaching of the Gospel is intended to reach both the unbelieving sinner and the believing sinner. Both groups are in constant need of God’s grace: the grace of rescue . . . the grace of revival . . . the grace of restoration! Because God is in pursuit of rebels on the run, the Gospel applies to believers and unbelievers equally.
The question is not what group we are targeting for our messages; rather we must ask ourselves this: Is the Gospel message—that Christ died to pay the penalty for all our sins and rose from the grave, thereby cancelling sin’s penalty and undoing its power—being preached clearly and forcefully?
The Gospel is for sinners, after all, and you and I are still sinners after we have been saved. Even after we welcome Jesus into our hearts, we are still sinners, both by nature and by habit. As I often tell our congregation, it is true that sin no longer reigns after we place our trust in Christ, but sin still remains and it is constantly trying to drag us away from our Savior. Christian believers of all ages and stages of growth are in constant need of being redirected away from sin and toward our Savior. We are prone to wander! We are sheep who are easily lured away to search for greener pastures than the one God has graciously provided for us.
There are countless voices trying to get our attention on a daily basis. And every one of those voices seeks to shape your life by ruling your heart. That is why you must be intentional about preaching the Gospel truths to yourself every single day. There is no voice with greater potential for influencing your life than your own. You are constantly talking to yourself, and you believe what you tell yourself . . . so why not be intentional about reminding yourself of the words of Gospel life?!
Just as the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, service, and giving are “means of grace,” preaching the Gospel to ourselves is another means that God has graciously given us to strengthen our faith, grow us up into Christ, and help us live the life God has called us to live. We benefit from this grace in both of the following two perspectives: proactive and reactive.
PROACTIVE: we fix our focus on the truths of the Gospel daily. It is our daily meditation, making the Gospel one of the most powerful “offensive” weapons against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
REACTIVE: we overcome our temptations and sin patterns (doubt, fear, disappointment, frustration, anger, etc.,) by recalling the truths of the Gospel, thereby developing a Gospel perspective and evaluating what is happening by looking through the Gospel lens.
So . . . how are you doing at preaching the Gospel to yourself? Do you do it daily? Do you remind yourself that God so deeply an eternally loved you that He sent His only begotten Son to die in your place? Remember: what rules your heart shapes your life. The more you preach the Gospel to yourself the more it will rule your heart and shape your life!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!