Remembering the Gospel with Machen

Gospel-Title-Slide-960x5461Last Sunday I emphasized in my sermon to the children of our church the fact that in order to stand in defense of the gospel, we must treasure the gospel. We guard most what we treasure most. I attempted to portray the gospel in words that show how truly satisfying the message of God’s salvation of sinners is.
We also discussed how we lose sight of everything in our lives when we lose sight of the gospel. This is why Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy. In order to guard the gospel, we must keep our gaze on the Christ and his gospel. One way to do that is to remind yourself of the gospel. I gave the kids a basic outline of the gospel and challenged them to read it throughout the week.

One of the many things I love about preaching is that through the proclamation of the Word, the Holy Spirit applies it even to the heart of the one preaching. As I continue to read through J. Gresham Machen’s What is Faith?, I came across an eloquent and beautiful explanation of the gospel. It stirred my heart and has compelled me to more intentionally apply the gospel to my life. Sometimes just sitting and seeing the good news play out before your eyes can cause your heart to sore in worship of Jesus.

Machen, in the tradition of Luther and Calvin, has a unique gift for showing just how dreadful the condition as sinners really is before God, which he uses to display the glory of God’s grace in the gospel. Machen had a high view of the law and he emphasized the necessity of not only the existential reality of Jesus of Nazareth, but also the biblical message of what his life, death, and resurrection actually mean. You will see all of this and more in Machen’s extensive and beautiful exposition of the gospel. It is a bit lengthy, but well worth the effort to work through. The last paragraph is just a straight gospel-bomb that will rock your world. Be encouraged by the gospel in the words of Machen today.

“How shall we become right with God? The most obvious answer is: ‘By obeying the law of God, by being what God wants us to be.’ There is absolutely nothing wrong in theory about that answer; the only trouble is that for us it does not work. If we had obeyed the law of God, if we were what God wants us to be, all would no doubt be well; we could approach the judgment seat of God and rely simply upon His just recognition of the facts. But, alas, we have not obeyed God’s law, but have transgressed it in thought, word and deed; and far from being what God wants us to be, we are stained and soiled with sin.

The stain is not merely on the surface; it is not a thing that can easily be wiped off; but it permeates the recesses of our souls. And the clearer be our understanding of God’s law, the deeper becomes our despair. Some men seek a refuge from condemnation in a low view of the law of God; they limit the law to external commands, and by obeying those commands they hope to buy God’s favour. But the moment a man gains a vision of the law as it is—especially as it is revealed in the words and example of Jesus—at that moment he knows that he is undone. If our being right with God depends upon anything that is in us, we are without hope.

Another way, however, has been opened into God’s presence; and the opening of that way is set forth in the gospel. We deserved eternal death; we deserved exclusion from the household of God; but the Lord Jesus took upon Himself all the guilt of our sins and died instead of us on the cross. Henceforth the law’s demands have been satisfied for us by Christ, its terror for us is gone, and clothed no longer in our righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ we stand without fear, as Christ would stand without fear, before the judgment seat of God” (What is Faith?, 163-165).

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.


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