“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour”.
As much as I want to encourage us to memorise Scripture, as we go to work on our respectable sins, these words of John Newton, towards the end of his life, are worth quoting and remembering.
As we read this chapter I’d suggest we note each of the Bible passages Bridges refers to. Then set aside an hour to read each passage of Scripture and drink in the reality of the gospel as God’s remedy for sin, whether scandalous or respectable. This really is the chapter that drives me to the Scriptures –to read, recall, remember, rest in and respond to the redemption won for me by God through the cross of Christ.
There are a number of comments Bridges makes in this chapter that I want to keep in the top drawer of my thinking.
I was, and still am, a great sinner.
I should expect to see evidence of sin in my life. This frees me up to go looking for it! Having identify sins (including those I’m inclined to ignore), to acknowledge it as sin, and start dealing with these sins.
I can expect to become more sensitive to sin.
As I grow in Christ-likeness, and as the Spirit does his work of conviction, I’ll see respectable sins as unacceptable, in the eyes of my Holy God’s. And I’ll rejoice and be glad to see this happening in me!
The gospel is not only for unsaved sinners, but for saved sinners.
The gospel reminds the saints of the cost to the Father and the sacrifice of the Son when they dealt with our sin and that I must to take seriously my ongoing sin.
The gospel reminds saved sinners of how totally and sufficiently God has dealt with their sin.
The gospel assures me that the guilt and power of sin have been dealt with, and I’m freed up to acknowledge every expression of sin in me and to start dealing with it.
When we “get” the gospel message we are filled with an enormous sense of thankfulness for what God has done for us and continues to do in us.
Have a look at the opening chapters of Paul’s letters to the saints in Rome, Ephesus, Colossae. Each letter begins with a powerful gospel summary. A deepening appreciation of the the gospel of God’s grace in Christ, is what will motivate saved sinners to live lives of holiness and to address their sins (Rom1-8, Eph 1-2, Col 1:15-23). Paul reminds Titus, and us, that it’s the “appearing” of the grace of God that brings salvation (2:11) and of the kindness and love of God (3:4) (ie the gospel), that will empower and motivate the saints to say “no” to ungodliness and be devoted to what is good.
And so it’s enormously helpful for us to be actively preaching the gospel to ourselves, and to each other. What Scriptures would help you to preach the gospel to yourself? Jerry Bridges provides a great selection on p37-38. My preference is to to memorise longer passages of Scripture that contrast my life before and after God drew me to himself, rather than a single verse. But this does mean I can only manage to memorise 1 or 2 passages!
At the risk of sounding like Maria, here are “a few of my favourite gospel things” – Rom5:6-11, 2Cor 5:21, Eph2:1-10, Col 1:21-23, 2Tim1:8-10, Titus2:11-14, 1Peter2:22-25, and my personal favourite – Titus3:3-8.
Jerry Bridges mentions several great hymns that remind us that Christ is God’s gracious, powerful and effective remedy for sin, past, present and future. A Christian friend was recently seriously ill and in severe pain, and found herself reflecting deeply on the things that really matter. In the midst of the pain, the song that kept playing in her mind was Getty and Townend’s “My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness”. which speaks of Jesus who plumbed the depths of our disgrace , crushed the curse of sinfulness, but also clothes us in his light, and has written his law of righteousness upon our heart.
Toplady’s “A Debtor to Mercy”, Charitie Lees Bancroft’s “Before The Throne of God Above” and John Newton’s “The Look” are other hymns I’ve personally found helpful. Versions of these hymns can be found on the cd “Upward-the Bob Kauflin Hymns Project”, from Sovereign Grace Music.
As stirring and helpful as these hymns are, they should drive us back to the Scriptures. The Scriptures will always point us to Jesus Christ and his death as the remedy for our sin, and will keep reminding us that great sinners, like you and me, have a great Saviour in God’s Son.