The Four Essentials to Finishing Well by Jerry Bridges

Excerpt from the sermon:

For most Christians after conversion, it is a works performance to the end. That is why we should have a daily appropriation of the Gospel because it is in our nature to drift off course towards a performance relationship and when you do, you will have a superficial view of sin in your life. If you think of sin as the gross sins we are committing outside of us, then you tend towards a religious pride because you are not doing those things.If you’re conscientious and you’re seeing some of these respectable sins such as gossip and pride and jealousy, and envy and critical spirit and these kinds of things; if you are seeing those in your life and you do not have the gospel, then those lead you to despair. And so often time the people in the second category just kind of slack off because they can’t handle the tension.

They can’t handle the difference of what they know they should be and what they honestly see themselves to be. And that which resolves that tension is the Gospel-to remind ourselves that we areclothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and that which keeps us from spiritual pride is the Gospel because, again, the Gospel is only for sinners. And so, we are a bunch of sinners, practicing sinners, we’ve been delivered from the guilt and the dominion of sin. Yes, that’s true, and we are now called saints, separated from sin, but we still sin in thought, word, deed and most of all in motives. We wanna please God, but, we want to look good in the process, So we come to the Lord admitting that we are practicing sinners, but we look to Jesus Christ and His shed blood, and His perfect obedience, His righteous life which has been credited to men, and we see ourselves standing before God clothed in His righteousness.

That will get you excited about the Christian life; when you see yourself daily clothed in His righteousness, and that will keep you from loving the world. You can’t love the Gospel and love the world at the same time. That will keep you from getting off course.

The following are notes taken during the message. (Desiring God website)

Four Essentials to Finishing Well

Paul endured to the end but Demas, as far as we know, did not

(2 Timothy4:7,10), even though he was once a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24). This is a sobering thought because so many of us are still very young.Finishing well is guaranteed to none of us, apart from the grace of God. How can we, like Paul, endure by God’s grace?

1) Daily time of focused personal communion with God.It must be daily, otherwise we will find ourselves drifting in the wrong direction. Demas was in love with this present world. Our time with God must build in us affections for God that trump the temptations to love this world. It’s helpful to have a plan, but the plan must direct us to God himself.

2) Daily appropriation of the gospel. The gospel is for sinners. Before we spend time in communion with God, we must come to him with the attitude of the tax collector who prayed,”Have mercy on me, a sinner,” and trust God alone to make us righteous.This alone will give us the confidence to approach God and have communion with him.

If we don’t daily appropriate the gospel then we will begin to base our spirituality on our performance, which will eventually lead us either towards pride or despair. But reminding ourselves daily that we are sinners and that, by God’s grace, we’ve been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, will equip us with true and pure motivation to continue following Jesus and renouncing the desire to love this world. We ought to work hard, not in order to earn God’s approval but because we already have it.

3) Daily commit yourself to God as a living sacrifice.Romans 12:1. The Old Testament sacrifice that Paul alludes to was daily performed by the priests. He carries that same significance over to new covenant saints. Our bodies are on loan from God, and we must daily re-consecrate ourselves to him. Just as Paul appealed to Philemon(Philemon 1:8-10), even though he had the right to command him, so also he appeals to us to give ourselves to God. The sheer wonder of the mercy of God should cause us to spontaneously give it, and this we will do if we daily bask in his love.

4) A firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God. Lamentations 3:37-38. Life is full of pains, through natural circumstances and the ill will of others. But God is sovereign over all such evils, and—by faith—we can give thanks for them. God is using them to conform us to the image of Christ and will never leave us or forsake us. The gospel and the promises of God will never fail, nor will he take them from us.

© Desiring God

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