Thursday, January 01, 2009

MMM: Memorizing the Gospel

Happy New Year! Today marks the kickoff of Mega Memory Month. Last week as I pondered what to work on, I picked up Milton Vincent's fantastic little book A Gospel Primer for Christians.

The publisher explains the book's purpose this way:
"God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. He offers it to us every day as a gift that gives to us everything we need for life and godliness. ...Use this book to preach the gospel to yourself daily and you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life."
Suddenly I knew exactly what to memorize. The Gospel Primer, which I first heard about a couple of years ago, has been an incredible encouragement to me. The book begins with 31 "Reasons to Rehearse the Gospel Daily," outlining some of the powerful effects of the gospel in our lives. It then provides prose and poetic versions of a gospel narrative, which summarizes and paraphrases scores of Scripture passages. I've chosen to work on memorizing the prose narrative this month--a daunting project, but without a doubt worthwhile.

Released in book form just this year, A Gospel Primer for Christians is worth every penny of the $10.95 it costs here (shipping is free). It is an invaluable resource for preaching the gospel to yourself! I have also been told that a pocket-sized version of only the prose gospel narrative (below) will be available soon--I'll post details when I have them.

I think memorizing this will serve me well as I seek to trust and cling to God's promises and speak truth to myself in 2009. Here it is (for simplicity's sake, I haven't included the Scripture footnotes; if I get ambitious, I'll repost at the end of the month with links to the verses):

A Gospel Narrative

The Glory of God
My God is immense beyond imagination. He measured the entire universe with merely the span of His hand. He is unimaginably awesome in all of His perfections, absolutely righteous, holy, and just in all of His ways.

He has also been unbelievably good and merciful to me as the Creator and Sustainer of my life. Every breath, every heartbeat, every function of every organ in my body is a gift from Him. Every legitimate pleasure I experience is a gift from His loving hand to me. All that I am and all that I have I owe to Him and to His goodness. My life in every way is, and will continue to be, utterly dependent upon Him in whom I live and move and have my being.

This wonderful God is the most supremely worthy Object of admiration, honor, and delight in all of the universe; And He has created me with the intention that I might glorify Him by finding my soul’s delight in Him and by living in joyful obedience to Him in all of my ways.

My Sin Against God
Yet I could not have failed this great God more miserably than I have. Instead of giving thanks to Him and humbly submitting to His rule over my life, I have rebelled against Him and have actually sought to exalt myself above Him. Going my own way and living according to my own wisdom, I have broken countless times either the letter or the spirit of every one of God’s Ten Commandments. Thinking myself to be wise, I have shown myself to be a fool; and because of my arrogance, God has every right to damn me to the everlasting experience of His terrifying wrath in the Lake of Fire.

So as for myself, apart from Christ I am bound by the guilt of my sins and also bound by the power of sin, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures. Apart from Christ, I am also utterly deserving of and destined for eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, completely unable to save myself or even to make one iota of a contribution to my own salvation.

God’s Work on My Behalf
However, what I could not do, God did—and in doing it, He did it all, sending His own Son into the world to die on the cross for my sins, thereby showing me unfathomable love. God loved me so much that He was willing to suffer the loss of His Son, and even more amazingly, He was willing to allow His Son to suffer the loss of Him at the cross. Jesus loved me so much that He was willing to lay down His life for me. No one could ever love me more or better than Jesus.

On the third day after Jesus’ death, God raised Him from the dead, thereby announcing that His death was completely sufficient to atone for every sin that I have or will commit throughout my lifetime. God then exalted Christ to His own right hand, where Christ now reigns from on high, granting salvation and forgiveness to all who call on Him by faith.

My Salvation
Now when my time came and I placed my faith in Jesus, God instantly granted me a great salvation. He forgave me all of my sins, past, present, and future. He made me His child, adopting me into His family. He gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit, who gives me God’s power, who pours out God’s love within my heart, and who tenderly communicates to my spirit that I am a child of God and an heir of eternal glory in heaven.

In saving me, God also freed me from slavery to any and all sins. I no longer have to sin again, for sin’s mastery over me has been broken! In saving me, God also justified me, and being justified through Christ, I have a peace with God that will endure forever. In justifying me, God declared me innocent of my sins and pronounced me righteous with the very righteousness of Jesus.

God also allowed His future and present wrath against me to be completely propitiated by Jesus, who bore it upon Himself while on the cross. Consequently, God now has only love, compassion, and deepest affection for me, and this love is without any admixture of wrath whatsoever.

God always looks upon me and treats me with gracious favor, always working all things together for my ultimate and eternal good. God’s grace abounds to me even through trials. Because I am a justified one, He subjugates every trial and forces it to do good unto me.

When I sin, God’s grace abounds to me all the more as He graciously maintains my justified status as described above. When I sin, God feels no wrath in His heart against me. His heart is filled with nothing but love for me, and He longs for me to repent and confess my sins to Him, so that He might show me the gracious and forgiving love that has been in His heart all along. God does not require my confession before He desires to forgive me. In His heart He already has forgiven me; and when I come to Him to confess my sins to Him, He runs to me (as it were) and is repeatedly embracing and kissing me even before I get the words of my confession out of my mouth!

God does see my sins, and He is grieved by my sins. His grief comes partly from the fact that in my moments of sin, I am not receiving the fullness of His love for me. He even sends chastisement into my life; but He does so because He is for me, and He loves me; and He disciplines me for my ultimate good.

I don’t deserve any of this, even on my best day; but this is my salvation, and herein I stand. Thank You, Jesus.

"A Gospel Narrative: Prose Version” from A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent. Focus Publishing, 2008 (p. 57-65). Reprinted with permission from the publisher.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, girl, you are ambitious!!! I have been reading "A Gospel Primer" as part of my devotions and have benefited greatly!

Amy said...

I'll only be the grace of God if I actually get it finished...I have it divided up so that I cannot miss even one day using my method. Yikes! I think though, that although it's long, it'll be easier to memorize than the Romans I've been working on--Milton Vincent writes a lot more clearly, or at least more the way I think and speak, than Paul!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how lovely! Is this kind of like a super-accessible self-catechism? What a creative undertaking--love it!

Anonymous said...

Glunk. (That was the sound of my swallowing.) You set high goals.

I've taken you up on your MMM challenge, although my goal's not as expansive. I will be working on Phil. 2, the first long passage of it.

Amy said...

please don't let my over-ambitious goal discourage you!! for one thing, I haven't actually ACHIEVED it yet :) for another, I would wholeheartedly echo Ann K.'s words on her MMM posts--"mega" is different for everyone; the important thing is just DOING it, not how big or small your project is compared to anyone else's.

I'm setting a high goal because 1) I've done a lot of memory work and am trying to push myself, and 2) God has blessed me with a mind which memorizes easily--it probably comes more easily to me than to most. it's a lot harder for some people, so their smaller goals are just as admirable and just as valuable!

that, and I've got a foolproof method :) I already posted the link, but I'll post details next week.

Pauline said...

Hello Amy "O)
I love the sound the Primer. I am going to see if I can find a copy of it here in Australia somewhere!! And all the very best with your MMM challenge! Look forward to keeping up with how you are going in January "O)

me said...

Just wanted to stop by and encourage on you MMM challenge. I know it is only day 2, but you said you couldn't miss a day the way you had it set up! How is it going so far?
I am also participating in the MMM challenge. My goal for this month is to memorize 1 Peter 2:13-25. My ultimate goal since August last year has been to memorize the whole book of I Peter. So far so good. I read on your blog that you are working on the book of Romans as well? Wow! How is that going? How wonderful it would be to have that great book committed to memory. Well just wanted to stop by and introduce myself and cheer you on in your memory work!
Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

thanks for stopping by, Dea and Pauline! so far, so good--I've done the first two days, and as I anticipated, it does seem quite a bit easier than Romans :) I'm not trying to memorize all of Romans, at least at this point. I started with Romans 8 a couple of years ago, and then this fall worked on Romans 6 as it addressed some of my struggles. once I finished that it seemed to only make sense to connect them by doing chapter 7 - I've got about five or six verses of that left. I wanted to finish it before starting this, but January came too quickly and I had to put it on hold. hope this month of memorizing is a profitable one for you both!

Jennifer said...

This is beautiful. May God bless you as you ponder these words.