Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

At Kaleo Church we teach that the Gospel isn't just a means of salvation, but it is the very way we grow as Christians.  When Paul writes his letters to the Galatians or Corinthians, he addresses each problem in the Christian community with the gospel.  (eg., Peter, who eats stops eating with the Gentiles isn't told to 'stop' which would be legalism, but is told that his actions aren't walking in line with the gospel.  His motivation for change is a reminder of who Christ is and what he has done for us and how that sets us free by grace.)

preaching-gospel-diagram.gif From this a term used is, 'I need to preach the gospel to myself'.  It refers to the need to go through the same process Paul does when he addresses sin.  But how do we preach the gospel to ourselves, what exactly is the process?  I decided to create a diagram to illustrate it (click on thumbnail for larger Preaching the Gospel diagram)

preach-gospel.gif UPDATE: David Fairchild preached an excellent sermon based on this, you can see the sermon at Sermon Cloud: How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself.  It includes (1) a Word document handout that outlines the process, a (2) PowerPoint slide (click on image to the right), (3) the sermon notes and (4) the mp3 for you to download.

How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself

The two critical events are repentance and faith.  Errors people commonly fall in are (1) only dealing with the surface sin instead of the root sin and (2) preaching moralism to ourself instead of the gospel.   

PART I  DOWN THE SLOPE OF REPENTANCE – Objective: To see and confess that I am a bigger sinner than I thought. 

1. See and Own Your Sin:  Examine yourself in the mirror of God's Word, your negative emotions and attitudes, and the responses of others to you.  Guard yourself against sin's deceitfulness: the tendency to water down God's standard, compare yourself to others, shift the blame or commit ourselves to trying harder.

2. See the Sin Beneath the Sin: Don't move too quickly to confess and receive forgiveness for the surface sin (cheap grace, "I'm just a sinner" attitude.  If you are anxious, yes go to Phil. 4, but what is causing your anxiousness?)  Push the 'Why?' question until you find what you are looking to other than Jesus (your functional messiah) for meaning and value in life.

3. Expose the Idols of your Heart: Idols always disappoint 

They are weak: They can't deliver when you succeed; they can only raise the bar. They can't forgive you when you fail; they can only lower the boom.
They are harmful: They hurt you spiritually, emotionally and physically.  They hurt others by undermining your ability to love.
They are Grievous: Most importantly, by going after these idols/other lovers you are saying to God: "Jesus is not enough.  I also need _________ in order to be happy.

EXAMPLE: Athletics
Sin: I get frustrated when I don't win at sports.
Sin beneath the sin: I need the approval of others to feel better about myself.
IDOL: ACCEPTANCE of others/Self Worship

Weak: The approval is always based on your performance.  If you fail, you get angry/rejected.  When you succeed you need more/to continue to perform and receive value.

These idols will lead you into slavery James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

CONCLUSION: I am a much bigger sinner than I thought.  I am a worthy recipient of God's judgment.  Trying harder won't cut it.  I am helpless and hopeless in myself.  BUT there is One… 

PART II UP THE SLOPE OF FAITH – Objective: To thank God that Jesus is a much bigger Savior than I thought.  

1. Repentance is a gift: Pray for the gift of repentance.  Do not 'try' to stop sinning, but ask God to change your heart.  If the Holy Spirit does not address your heart, your repentance is only 'horizontal' and true gospel change will not happen.  You may change for a season by your own 'will-power' but eventually you will become resentful or fall back into worshiping your false idols, which are your true 'functional messiahs'.

2. See Jesus as the only true Savior

Jesus lived for me.  Think about and give thanks for specific ways Jesus has lived obediently where I have failed.

Jesus died for me. Think about Jesus' death on the cross for my specific sins and idolatry.  Thank God that my sin has been punished once and for all.

God sees me in Jesus. Think about how God sees me in Jesus, clothed with His perfect righteousness.  Thank Him specifically for how He provides for me in Christ that all my idols promised but could not deliver.

Jesus lives in me.  Thank God that He does not leave me to live the Christian life on my own, but the Spirit of Christ now dwells in me.  Ask Him to live His righteous life through me, specifically in the areas where I have confessed sin.

3. Gospel-motivated living: Embrace and know that the gospel is how you change (2 Cor. 3:18b), it is the gospel that empowers you to serve (2 Cor 3:5) and it is through the gospel that you meet God (2 Cor 3:18a; 4:6)

CREDITS: The pastors of Harbor, Tim Keller @ Redeemer and David Fairchild at Kaleo. 

  • Mike Edwards

    October 26, 2006, 4:19 pm

    Dang–that might be one of the most useful blog entries EVER.


  • Michael Foster

    October 28, 2006, 7:01 am

    Well done, good and faithful Drew, enter thy teaching into my portfolio of stolen ideas.

  • Dan

    October 28, 2006, 10:42 am

    Thanks so much for this! This is incredibly helpful!

  • stew

    October 28, 2006, 3:34 pm

    good word… sounds familarly like Richard Baxter’s idea of Discoursive Meditation – a fancy term for preaching the gospel to yourself.

    Your post is way more accesible, though… thanks for the great words…

  • Dsnyd

    November 5, 2006, 8:36 pm

    This topic of preaching the Gospel to ourselves is the biggest reason my wife and I have enjoyed Harbor Presbyterian as this was new teaching to us that makes so much sense, gives you new perspective and can have such a great impact on your life and those around you. I highly recommend Kellers Gospel and the Heart study. I think the one that I did with Harbor in San Diego was adapted by Dick Kaufmann…I think, don’t quote me on that. Anyhow, I highly recommend it as a group study.

  • Justin Buzzard

    November 14, 2006, 10:51 pm

    Drew, just came across your blog today via Joe Thorn’s site. Bro, where you been all my life? Dig the blog. Super appreciate your gospel diagram and article. I’m going to link to this tomorrow. Good to know of another gospel centered Cali blogger.

    Thanks for your diagram and this post.

  • D. Goodmanson

    November 15, 2006, 10:33 am

    Justin, thanks and welcome. Great blog yourself. I can’t wait to see the P.G.T.Y bracelets become the next rage! Where are you in Cali?

  • Christian Schalesky

    November 15, 2006, 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the great insight. We’re in the midst of developing a vision for Spiritual Formation for our church and this has deepend my conviction of a Gospel centered approach. Thanks for the link Jbuzz.

  • Justin Buzzard

    November 17, 2006, 10:22 am

    Hey Drew. I’m in the Bay Area of Cali, halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. I live/work in San Carlos/Foster City. This is a great place to live, explore, preach, and be on mission. The S.F. Peninsula needs a few hundred more solid churches up here. Maybe God wants you to leave Kaleo and do an Acts29 plant up here! 🙂

    Looking forward to tracking with your blog,

  • Brian

    November 27, 2006, 4:51 pm

    That’s awesome, thanks! Tim Keller talked at times about how we have to use the Gopel itself to solve our problems and questions in life. So true. Why would God leave the work of His Son on the back burner and give us a bunch of other ‘cool’ options for ways to grow and fix ourselves?

  • D. Goodmanson

    November 28, 2006, 11:03 am

    Justin – I’d love to see an Acts 29 church in the Bay Area. I grew up in Oakland CA.
    Brian – I’m a Keller man. He has shaped a lot of my thought. I know you can hear his sermons on change @ Sermon Cloud: (there are three in the ‘how to change series: Changed Lives, Inside Out Living & How to Change)

  • Eric

    December 6, 2006, 2:10 pm

    Hey Drew, thx so much for your blog, your passion for the mission, everything! appreciate it all. one quick question…are you aware that the title ‘preaching the gospel to yourself” is the title of chapter 3, Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges? i would think this is the source from the Harbor guys and Keller. i’ve read this chapter over and over and continue to encourage people to read it all the time. i you haven’t read it get it. you’ll love it.

  • D. Goodmanson

    December 6, 2006, 11:42 pm


    I did not know that was a title chapter, but Bridges book may be the original source. Thanks for the book recommendation I’ll have to check it out. I wonder if this is the same as his book, ‘The Gospel for Real Life’?

  • mintsman

    December 7, 2006, 7:41 am

    great thoughts bruh! prompting a couple of sermon series for me….God will use this far past your intentions.
    love the pic on the newsletter too!

  • Eric

    December 8, 2006, 1:35 pm

    both books are great and “real life’ is definitely similar but ‘disciplines’ is my fav. for my wife and i this book was life changing.

  • Jonathan B. Hobbs

    June 18, 2011, 8:14 pm

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  • Brian

    January 22, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I love this summary and am planning on teaching it to my youth group tonight. Thanks!

  • BP

    December 3, 2013, 5:52 am

    Excellent thoughts. Reminds me of this quote: “There are many professed Christians whose confessions of sin are similar to that of Achan. They will, in a general way, acknowledge their unworthiness, but they refuse to confess the sins whose guilt rests upon their conscience, and which have brought the frown of God upon His people….
    Genuine repentance springs from a sense of the offensive character of sin. These general confessions are not the fruit of true humiliation of soul before God. They leave sinners with a self-complacent spirit to go on as before, until the conscience becomes hardened, and warnings that once aroused them produce hardly a feeling of danger, and after a time their sinful course appears right. All too late their sins will find them out, in that day when they shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. There is a vast difference between admitting facts after they are proved, and confessing sins known only to ourselves and God.—The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1881. BLJ 364.5 Ellen G. White