This is our third and last look at Milton Vincent "A Gospel Primer for Christians." We have seen that the major point he makes is that we (Christians) should preach the gospel to ourselves, we should refresh our hearts with the greatness of the wonderful salvation that God has provided for us.
One of the things Vincent says is that we have allowed things to cloud our focus; earthly things to kind of dull the absolute marvel, that is our salvation. We need to stop and just think about the gospel, we can't allow ourselves to become so busy, that we do not take, make the time to rehearsh what God have done for us through Jesus Christ. The reality of it is that God in His providence has made it so that we will find ourselves having the need to draw on the resources He has provided His people in the life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, intercession, of Jesus Christ. If God is sovereign and He is, everything that happens is permitted to happen because God allows it. The difficulty we encounter each day, are there to cause us to call out to God "call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall glorify me." (Psalm 50:15) Also, when we realize that all of creation was created to bring glory to God, and everything ultimately will bring glory to God. We are humbled, arrogance has no place before the face of God.
Vincent says that preaching the gospel to ourselves is a great way to keep God's amazing love before our eyes, so that we might experience its power to produce in us a passionate love for Him in return.
Captured by His love in this way, our smitten heart increasingly burns to do His will and feasts itself on doing so,
Vincent points out our controlling self-love. He says we love ourselves supremely because we think we can do a better job at it than anyone else, this is deeply ingrained in our sinful flesh. The gospel frees us, by assuring us that the love of God is infinitely superior to any love that we could ever give to ourselves. It does this my revealing to us the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God. I think he makes a very key point here when he says, The more we behold God's glory in the gospel, the more lovely He appears to us, and the more lovely He appears, the more self fades into the background. I say this is an important key because we can only behold the Glory of God through His Word, as the Holy Spirit quickens it to our hearts. Therefore, if we are not reading the Word, we are not seeing (experiencing the truths of God's Word in our hearts) God's love, we are not seeing the glory of God. Reading the Word of God is a personal encounter with the living God. Reading the Word of God is God preaching to us the reader. It a basis principle of Christianity, God had it written down so we could read it, not just once, but to continue in beholding the glory of God.
Vincent says that the deeper we go into the gospel, the more we comprehend and confess aloud the depth of our sinfulness. The gruesome death that Christ endured for us would only be required for one who is exceedingly sinful and unable to appease a holy God.
The more we appreciate the magnitude of God's forgiveness of our sins, the more we love Him and delight to show Him love through heart-felt expressions of worship. (Luke 7)
Vincent also points out that we are to die daily. Crucifixion hurts, it is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. Nevertheless, we must set our faces like flint toward the cross and embrace this crucifixion in everything we do. We should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God' commitment to our dying, and we must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ's death, no matter the pain involved. "And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23).
The gospel tells us this dying, that we must do, is not an end but a beginning, for Christ resurrection and exaltation stand as proof positive that God will not leave us for dead, but will raise us similarly, if we would only allow ourself to die, in fact, on the other side of each layer of dying lie experiences of a life with God that are far richer, far higher, and far more intimate than anything we would have otherwise known.
Another point; though we are saved; we are daily beset by a sinful flesh; that always craves those things that are contrary to the Spirit. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another... (Galatians 5:17). These fleshly lusts are vicious enemies, constantly waging war against the good of our soul. "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) Yet they promise us fullness, and their promises are so deliciously sweet that we often find ourselves giving into them as if they were friends, that have our best interests at heart. On the most basic of levels, we desire fullness, and fleshly lusts seduce us by attaching themselves to this basic desire They promise to fill the empty space in us. So the key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to eliminate the emptiness within us and replace it with fullness; and we accomplish this by feasting on the gospel. He is the One who "Which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:23. ...that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God," (Ephesians 3:19). That is the God of the gospel, a God who is satisfied with nothing less than our experience of fullness in Him! What happens to our appetites for sin when we are filled with the fullness of God in Christ? Jesus provides this answer: "He who continually comes to Me will never hunger or thirst again." (John 6:35) Eyes do not rove, nor do fleshly lusts rule, when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus!
The more absorbed we are in the gospel, the more grateful we become in the midst of our circumstances, whatever they may be.
In the New Testament, the gospel is several times referred to as "the gospel of God." (Romans 1:1, Romans 15:16, 2 Corinthians 11:7, 1 Peter 4:17) , it not called that simply because it is from God, or because it is accomplished through God, but also; because it ultimately leads us to God, who is Himself its greatest Prize.
The essence of eternal life is intimately knowing God and Jesus Christ. Everything else that God gives to us in the gospel serves merely to bring us to Himself so that this great end might be achieved. Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be brought "to God" (1 Peter 3:18)
As we meditate on the gospel each day, we find our thoughts inevitably traveling from the gifts we've received to the Giver of those gifts; and the more our thoughts are directed to Him, the more we experience the essence of eternal life. The "gospel of God" is from God, comes through God, and leads us to God, and it is in Him that our souls find their truest joy and rest. ...in your presence is fullness of joy; in your right there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)
This has been a wonderful study by Milton Vincent - the book is considered by some as a modern classic. My prayer is that these studies will gives us some practical advice helping us to understand that Christ died for our sins to bring us to God. Christ has brought us into the presence of a great and holy God, and He has given us His Spirit to help us, let us seek him with fervency, humility, reverently, as we stand in His presence - coram Deo.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!