This is part 2 in a series of posts intended to highlight resources to better understand how to “preach the gospel to yourself everyday”. More importantly, to better understand the gospel itself. The gospel is commonly seen as the message we hear and respond to and then we move on to other things. Indeed, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is the good news of Jesus Christ died, buried and resurrected that saves us and moves us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light but it is also intended to do more than save us (justify us). The gospel also intends to make us more and more like Christ (sanctify us). One of the men who has been helpful to my understanding and grasp of the necessity of the gospel in daily life is Milton Vincent. Vincent is the Pastor- Teacher at Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church in Riverside, CA. He was also my Beginning Hebrew Professor in Seminary and it was a privilege to sit under his teaching and pastoral heart during my training for full-time ministry. His book is A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love. A Gospel Primer is just that, a primer on the gospel. It is a short book (97 pages) that seeks to cultivate a passion to glory in the realities of what God has accomplished for us in the person and work of Christ. The book is divided into four sections. Section I offers 31 reasons the believer should remind himself daily of the gospel. This section is full of the glorious truths about what the gospel accomplishes for us. Vincent recounts the blessings, promises and deep comforting truths that belong to those who have embraced the gospel. Truths we must never forget and will empower you to live a Christ centered life. Sections II and III contain a Gospel Narrative. The author offers the gospel in both prose and poetic form to facilitate “memorization and smooth recital of the gospel”(p.7). The fourth and final section is a brief testimony of the author’s personal struggle as a believer, theology student and pastor to grasp the reality of certain aspects (and depth) of God’s saving grace. His testimony serves as a clear reminder of the danger in believing that we are saved (justified) by grace but then we become Christlike (sanctified) in the power of the flesh. I believe this is a common misunderstanding in the church today and much of it results from a lack of honest, careful and joyful reflection on the realities of our salvation. Vincent writes,
“The more I read (Romans 5), the more I began to see something I had not seen before. As a justified one, I am under God’s gracious favor at all times because of what Jesus did! This favored standing with God has nothing to do with my performance, but only with the performance of Jesus! As I read through the length of the chapter, I began to see that my justification was not something to agitate over, but t exult in, not something to wrestle for, but to rest in. I stole a glimpse into chapter 6 and realized that even when I sin, God’s grace abounds to me all the more as He graciously maintains my justified status.”
I am grateful for the impact Pastor Vincent has had on my life and I am grateful for his Gospel Primer.