Gospel Logic: Taking God at His Word

Over the last week, I put up a handful of posts on how the Old Testament saints reasoned from the promises of God in order to follow God in amazing ways.  That is, they did not simply do what they were supposed to do, because they were unswervingly obedient.  Rather, the promises of the gospel took up residence in their heart and they were compelled to act by the faith they had in God’s word.

Today, I list them in one place/one post.  I hope they can be helpful.  There are more places where this gospel logic is seen in Scripture too.  Perhaps, we can come back to it another week.

Gospel Logic: Learning To Take God At His Word

Abraham’s Gospel Logic

Moses Gospel Logic

The Gospel Logic of Psalm 42-43

The Gospel Logic of Psalm 103

What God Commands, He Gives: A Reflection on 2 Peter 1:3-11

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Gospel Logic from Psalm 103

Gospel Logic Remembers God’s Covenant Faithfulness.

This week we have been taking especial note of the way biblical characters think.  Since our mind is the seat of all change in our lives, and because God’s word has called us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2), and because God has supplied us in his Word with all that we need for cognitive transformation (2 Pet 1:3-4; cf. Ps 19:7-11), we ought to think often about how we can fill our minds with gospel truths, and to know where to find such thoughts when times of trouble come–and they will come.

One of those places of personal gospel proclamation is Psalm 103. Today, we are simply going to point out a nine truths from Psalm 103–truths that have the power to lift weary souls and engender hope in the hearts of the desperate.

Gospel Logic speaks to himself; it does not listen to himself (v. 1).

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Gospel Logic reminds oneself of the comfort that memory brings; poor memory is one of the first steps towards misery (v. 2). 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, . . . 

Gospel Logic recalls God’s history of personal faithfulness (v. 3-5).

Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Gospel Logic revisits God’s history of redemptive faithfulness (v. 6-7).

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

Gospel Logic ruminates on the name and character of God (v. 8-12) 

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Gospel Logic does not try to make oneself larger, smarter, or more succesful in order to find security or comfort; rather, it embraces and admits weakness and delights in God’s unconditional electing love for them (v. 13-14).  

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Gospel Logic reasons that this trial is short-lived and will not pass into the new creation; meanwhile the promise of God’s eternal weight of glory keeps our hearts anchored to God’s goodness (v. 15-19).

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Gospel Logic does not try to reduce God’s sovereignty, it does not delight in man’s free will.  It delights in the One whose reign is absolute and meticulous (v. 19).

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Gospel Logic offers a sacrifice of praise based on God’s infinite worth, not based on the presence of joy in my heart.  Whether we feel it or not, God is radiantly beautiful, and he is always worthy of worship. (v. 20-22)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

May we read Psalm 103 today and be spurred on towards love and good deeds as we hear the gospel: Soul, bless the Lord!  And forget not all of his benefits… Such gospel logic will sustain us in this life, and it will find eternal expression in the age to come.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Gospel Logic: Learning to Take God at His Word

In his enriching and practical book, When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper points out an important lesson about the need to preach the gospel to yourself.  In a section entitled, “Become a Preacher and Preach the Gospel to Yourself” (pages 80-81), Piper speaks to all Christians, but especially to those  who do not get a regular diet of biblical preaching (read: expositional, Christ-exalting, gospel-driven preaching) at their local church.  He says, “We must not rely only on being preached to, but must become good preachers to our own soul. The gospel is the power of God to lead us joyfully to final salvation, if we preach it to ourselves” (When I Don’t Desire God80)

Piper’s insight is not new.  It is an idea that runs through the Scriptures.  Redeemed saints have always taken God at his word.  Their deliberations which lead to faith have resulted in justification (Gen 15:6) and the ability to endure incredible tests (Gen 22:1ff).  Wrestling with God in order to receive a blessing is not reserved for the patriarchs(Gen 32:29), it is for all those who claim the name of Christ.

Accordingly, it is imperative that we learn how to think according to the lines of the gospel revealed in Scripture.  You might call this Gospel Logic, the active mental process of taking God’s word, believing it, and letting it beat our sinful and sorrowful feelings into submission.  Too often we listen to the gossip of our heart, instead of the gospel of God.  And the results are disasterous.

In Piper’s chapter on preaching to yourself, he quotes extensively from a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Psalm 42.  Lloyd-Jones, who was a British preacher and spokesman for evangelicalism during the twentieth century, made these now-famous comments in his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures.  

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you” (Spiritual Depression, 11-12).

This word, if heard and applied has the power to free many souls who are in bondage to their own interpretations of life.  However, it is not only good advice for those who struggle with occasional malaise or cyclical bouts of depression, it is a word that all Christians need to hear.  Indwelling sin suffocates the spiritual life of a believer; but taking God’s word and preaching it to oneself, is like an oxygen mask that restores needed vitality.

Lloyd-Jones adds further force to the power of his argument,

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. . . . You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.” (Spiritual Depression, 21).

Lloyd-Jones words are not optional for the Christian.  They are essential.  Failure to preach the gospel to yourself, will result in spiritual apathy and distance from God. But regular gospel preaching to your soul will breathe fresh air into your lungs and protect you from captivating effects of your sin and self-centeredness.

Over the next few days, we will consider how Abraham, Moses, David, and the Sons of the Korah took hold of the promises of God to wrestle their hearts from the pit of despair.  Moreover, we will see how their reasoning depended on God’s word and pushed them to greater heights in their relationship with the Lord.

May God give us grace to defy ourselves and to hear the life-giving words of the gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

[If these quotations resonate with your experience, or if their suggestions challenge your thinking, I would encourage you to read them in full.  You can find Piper’s entire book When I Don’t Desire God online.  Moreover, you can pick up Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression cheaply at WTS Bookstore or used for even less: Spiritual Depression]