Worth Reading Wednesday

I just recently finished reading Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney. I make it my goal to read this at the beginning of each year, and I believe this is the 3rd time that I have read this book through. C.J. recommends reading at least one book on the cross each year.

Personally, I find his book ever so helpful in focusing my heart and mind where it should be – on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Obviously, C.J.’s book is no replacement for The Bible itself; however, it is an invaluable tool for reminding me of the Gospel. Jerry Bridges notes that we should preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. I think C.J.’s book does a great job of helping us understand just how to do that, along with the reasons why it is so important.

“At the Core” is the title of the introduction to this book, and it begins by saying, “Life’s most important truth can be the easiest to forget.” How true is that? I am constantly getting wrapped up in all of my circumstances that I do not take the time to acknowledge Christ’s work on my behalf.

C.J. goes on to explain that each of our lives is centered on something. We must constantly be evaluating that which has come to occupy our minds. He asks a series of questions right off the bat that if you’re honest with yourself will leave you … well, speechless.  I was well aware of my inadequacies and unworthiness to be called a child of God. On the other hand, C.J. graciously does not leave us there. I think that is the beauty of his teaching. He gets us into a humble state quickly and effectively just so he can reiterate the beauty of the Gospel of grace.

I think as a Christian culture we think the Gospel is only for those who are not saved. We believe the Gospel, and then, leave it at our conversion. Never again to reflect on its relevance to us in our day-to-day lives. C.J. says that “too many of us have fumbled the most important truth of the Bible, and therefore we’ve suffered the consequences.” The consequences he is referring to is joy-robbing, legalistic thinking and living, guilt and condemnation, basing our faith on our feelings, emotions, and circumstances, and lack of contentment and gratitude. These consequences are a result of our ceasing to stand in awe and wonder of what Christ accomplished on our behalf.

For me, I often get caught up in the people who seemingly need the Gospel more than I do. I think, I’m saved, but they aren’t – they need the Gospel. Oh, but how wrong I am. I need the Gospel and the reminder of it every single day of my life. For it is in the Gospel that I am set free from my sins and given the power to turn from my sins. It is by the grace of the God that I am set free, and I must remind myself of that every day lest I grow proud and arrogant. Lest I fumble the Gospel.

C.J.’s book Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing helps put to death much of our misconceptions regarding the Cross. It helps bring to light things that you might not would have otherwise thought of, and defines much of the Christian jargon in ways that helps in your understanding of terms such as justification, sanctification, legalism, objectivism, subjectivism, and condemenation. The book teaches us that we must stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves.

I believe my favorite thing about the book is it’s written in a story-telling fashion. Let me see if I can help you understand what I mean. C.J. begins his explanation of how important the Gospel is for us by asking us to imagine being at Timothy’s side who is receiving a letter from Paul. He continues to paint a picture of what it must have been like for Timothy to receive this letter. It could be the last one he ever receives from his dear friend and brother in Christ. Can you imagine reading something or seeing someone and knowing that it is your very last time to ever hug them or hear from them? That is how we must read these letters to Timothy. The sense of urgency he must have felt in reading this letter. The sense of urgency that Paul must have felt in writing this letter knowing it could be his last.

That sort of writing style is so effective for this kind of book. A book that will bring you to tears because C.J. so effectively helps to place you just in the state of mind that you need to be in to be able to understand the wonderful truths within the pages as he unfolds scripture after scripture to us.

Do you want to grow in your understanding of the Gospel? Do you want a reminder of what Christ accomplished for you on the Cross? Do you want to feel and experience what it must have been like to live in the days of Jesus? Then friend, please read Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing because this is exactly what you will experience.

The best part is that it is a short book. Only about 150 pages long. You can read this in a matter of a few days at most. However, I believe it will transform your way of thinking on the Gospel of Christ, which is the most important truth for us to ever understand.

Friends, saving faith will bring you into the eternal presence of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to merely know of the Gospel. We must be intimate with the Gospel. We must see our need for a Savior. We must understand our sin and that it deserves punishment. It deserves God’s wrath. I implore you, my friends – if you do not have an understanding of the Gospel, and you need help understanding it, then read Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing.

Before diving into the content of this book C.J. says, “Our God is good, He is gracious, He is kind, and He’s eager to glorify His Son and edify His people. So I proceed, full of faith in Him…and confident that by the Holy Spirit’s prompting, you’ll join me in tears and in unspeakably joyful gratitude as we climb up Calvary together and gain a deeper understanding of what really happened there, and the staggering reasons behind it.” He delivers on this prayer, and has the three times that I have been so privileged to read this book.

The Gospel is for each of us for the rest of our lives. Let us grow in our awe and amazement at who the Lord is and what He has accomplished on our behalves. Let us grow in our understanding of grace by looking intently on the cross of Christ.

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Do you have any cross centered books that you enjoy reading? How do you help yourself in remembering to preach the Gospel to yourself every day?

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment so we can all benefit.

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Also, I’m Bookin’ It with Life As Mom. You can see what other people are reading over at her site.

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