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God's Not Mad at You
Making the Gospel Stick

Making the Gospel Stick

SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

/ Articles / Making the Gospel Stick

I spent an entire decade afraid to come to the Father because of my hidden sin. I was desperately trying to fix myself and to get better on my own because that is what I thought God expected of me in the Christian life.

Due to a work trip to Philadelphia, our recent vacation, and a quick trip to see Melody’s parents, this past Sunday was the first time I had worshipped at Oak Mountain in over a month. It wasn’t until we began singing the worship set that I began to realize how much I was feeling the effects of this absence.

My pastor, Bob Flayhart, often says that our hearts are like Teflon and the Gospel has a hard time sticking. We quickly default to trying to work for or otherwise earn our own redemption. Due to this, it is imperative that we preach the Gospel to ourselves daily…to constantly remind ourselves about the wonderfully scandalous nature of the Gospel…that we are deeply loved just as we are.

As we sang the worship set and I watched the lyrics on the screens, God began to show me how subtly the unbelief of my orphan-thinking had come back and pride, performance, and self-reliance had slipped back in. We sang Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy followed by In Christ Alone and each of these songs brought to my thirsty soul a tsunami of grace that had me weeping in awe.

Read slowly the lyrics of these hymns and let the truth presented here be a fresh reminder of our standing in Him. I have emphasized the portion of each song that God used to expose my unbelief.

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand.

Let this portion of Come Ye Sinners sink in:

“Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.”

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?”

I spent an entire decade afraid to come to the Father because of my hidden sin. I was desperately trying to fix myself and to get better on my own because that is what I thought God expected of me in the Christian life. I had bought into the “justified by faith, sanctified by sweat” idea and I was wearing it out on that treadmill. But these powerful lyrics cut right through the lies and allow us to see the true Gospel. “On the bloody tree behold Him; Sinner, will this not suffice?” Basically, look at what He did for you on the cross. Is this not enough? Do we really think our behavior can add something to His completed work?

The last stanza is also powerful…

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.”

What? No hoops to jump through? No behavior to get in line in order for Him to be pleased? No…He wants to bring us to the point where we simply feel our desperate need for Him. In His love for us, our Father brings us to the end of ourselves and to the end of our resources. This is often a very painful process as He rips off the many masks and the many layers of denial that we hide behind. He loves us as we are, but most of the time our view of ourself is skewed due to our woundedness and coping mechanisms.

Recovery is the process of God lovingly introducing us to ourselves.

In the second stanza of In Christ Alone, the phrase that jumped off the screen at me was in the second line… “When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.” For so many years I tried to impress God with my effort and striving and He finally brought me to the end of myself. I was like a cat tangled up in a ball of yarn…the more effort and striving and energy I exerted, the more entagled I became in my own shame cycle. No matter how hard I tried, I still felt like God was angry with me. The pain of my circumstances finally caused me to surrender and to quit striving.

“Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live”

How quickly I stop believing that God’s wrath was satisfied completely at the cross. Most of my life my practical theology has been that God’s view of me is based on my most recent behavior. If I have performed well, God is pleased. If I have blown it, God is displeased and withdraws until I clean up my act.

This is behavioralism and moralism and not the Gospel.

When we fully embrace the scandalous nature of the Gospel, we are free to boldly unpack our “stuff”…our sin, our wounds, our secrets, and our weaknesses. The more clearly we see the reality of our sin, the more amazing grace becomes. God is not shocked or surprised by our sinfulness or our brokenness, He simply wants me to recognize it and my desperate need for Him.

 

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Traylor Lovvorn

Traylor Lovvorn

Traylor Lovvorn is a dynamic ministry leader passionate about grace, recovery, and living life without any masks.

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