Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

Jay Adams

Doubtless, this idea seems strange to many Christians today, yet it is the rage in some circles. Such ideas as going deeper into the Gospel and that the Gospel is the means of sanctification, all bundled up together with a half dozen other such statements can be found—not in some backward-thinking, offbeat fundamentalist weirdo church—but in the preaching and writings of a number of big guns as well!

It seems as if one writer is attempting to outdo the next in getting in his licks on the subject, even though it is a denial of the Reformation doctrines of Justification by grace through faith and sanctification by the work of the Spirit in obedient cooperation of the believer with him in accordance to the commands of the Word of God.  Philippians 2:13 (God gives “both the desire and the ability to do those things that please Him”) seems to have disappeared from their Bibles. Instead of a cooperative work brought about and sustained by the Spirit, it is an act where one immerses himself into the Gospel. When asked about the matter of biblical obedience, we are told such things as “Oh,  it’s hard work getting into the Gospel more deeply.” Such “hard work” replaces biblical obedience to Scriptural commands.

There is a kind of Monkish mysticism in this idea. Think of all that Jesus did for you on the cross—over and over (“Preach the Gospel to yourself every day”)– and somehow or other you will be sanctified thereby. Sanctification no longer is a matter of becoming more and more like Christ by putting off sinful ways and replacing them with biblical ones. Though most mysticism is difficult to articulate, it seems that what is being said is that Gospel immersion automatically makes you a better Christian without learning and doing what God commands by His Spirit’s wisdom and power. No wonder members of formerly doctrinally sound congregations are becoming confused! Such efforts to get one’s self more into the Gospel every day, when it doesn’t work, and when it becomes impossible to articulate, can do nothing but discourage believers who want to become more like Christ. The sad part is that it is these sincere people, who know no better, who get caught up  in the movement, only to be disappointed again and again—blaming themselves when it turns out that their lives don’t improve as was promised.

- Jay Adams