One of my favorite (and I think best books on the Gospel!) is A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love. Please, please, please: don’t let the cover fool you! This book is Gospel gold. I cannot stress enough the importance of this book in helping me “rediscover” the Gospel in 2008. I was burdened under the weight of sin and constantly running on what Jerry Bridges calls the “performance treadmill”- trying to earn God’s love through my obedience. Of course, I failed repeatedly, therefore, I felt God was always mad at me. And then this book came along. I will be forever grateful for what Milton Vincent has done in this book. In this book he explains how absorbing the Gospel gives believers perspective and enables them to find contentment in any situation:
The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be.
Viewing life’s blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly, the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates within me a richer gratitude than this.
The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath. This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup that is full of “every spiritual blessing in Christ,” and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.
When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment. (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!)
Secondly, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. (Life’s blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind, and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin.
Give thanks to God today that Jesus absorbed all of God’s wrath against you that you might absorb the Gospel in Him. As Steve Brown likes to say, “God’s not mad at you, Christian!” Thank God, He isn’t!
Truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy,