Martin Luther liked to say that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. What did he mean by that? I think it’s about the importance of remembering the depth of my own sin.
When I understand and accept my own sin and rebellion against God, the depth of God’s love for me is seen more clearly. Those who have experienced the forgiveness of God know that something was deeply wrong with them on the inside before they were captured by Christ.
Few of us really consider all of our sins when we begin to comprehend God’s grace and unconditional love. But the more I consider His grace, the more I am overwhelmed with the abundant mercy and tender kindness He offered through Jesus Christ.
When I reflect on the beautiful saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I experience a sense of wholeness and inexpressible joy. It moves me to tears when I think that He made a way for me to be right with the living God, and it brings me joy to know that I will be with Him in eternity.
I had never doubted that God existed and that I would answer to Him one day. But when I accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for myself and was filled with His presence, I knew I had been made a new creation. It was something so very different from anything I had experienced before.
The gospel starts with our sin—sin so bad that we could never rescue ourselves from the punishment. We have no way of atoning for it ourselves. This sin makes us dead spiritually, cuts us off from God, and condemns us to everlasting separation from His presence … until Jesus endured the cross on our behalf.
This sacrifice gives us the opportunity to accept the free gift of adoption. And God chose this path for His Son because of His unquantifiable and incomprehensible love for each of us.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us." -Ephesians 1:7-8a
Preaching the gospel to ourselves means to constantly be reviewing and thinking about the big words that the New Testament uses to describe what happens as a result of the cross.
- Redemption: He brought us out of slavery from sin.
- Adoption: He made us full members of His family.
- Propitiation: Jesus took all of God’s anger against our sin upon Himself.
- Justification: God gave us the same righteousness as Jesus.
Never forget the meaning of each of these words. Constantly be remembering and reviewing their meaning in our relationship with our heavenly Father.
Yes, every one of us has played a part in what makes the world a miserable place—a broken place, full of hurt and sorrow. And religion never will get rid of self-centeredness or self-absorption. It cannot change the heart. Only Jesus can do that.
Go tell someone what Jesus has done for you. And as you go, preach the gospel to yourself.
John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.