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Hidden in the Gospel

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I have a simple rule with books by William Farley: If he writes it, I read it. The common element in all of his books it easy to spot: the gospel. Outrageous Mercy is a long look at the cross, Gospel-Powered Parenting is a personal favorite that describes the centrality of the gospel in parenting; Gospel-Powered Humility looks at the cardinal virtue of the Christian life and how we can have it through the power of the gospel. And now, in Hidden in the Gospel he teaches why you ought to preach the gospel to yourself every day. Even better, he models how to do it.

Over the past few years we have been indundated with books about the gospel. Don’t think I am complaining about the trend, though. It would be difficult to find anything wrong with a corporate obsession with the good news of what Christ has done. I have read many of these books, and find myself especially drawn to those that advance the discussion a notch or two. Hidden in the Gospel is just such a book.

Here is what he says in the opening chapter:

The book you are holding is a tutorial on how to preach the gospel to yourself. I am shamelessly and unapologetically building on the ideas of men like [Martyn] Lloyd-Jones, [Jack] Miller, and [Jerry] Bridges. But I am also speaking from personal experience. I have discovered the benefit of continually preaching the gospel to myself. It has melted the fog of depression, repulsed the demons of despair, and displaced feelings of unworthiness and failure with the love of God. When I have been discouraged, it has motivated me to keep plodding. It has humbled me before the wonder of God’s glorious grace. It has encouraged me to love God and others. It has prompted me to be patient with the failings of others. It has urged me to forgive seventy times seven times.

He goes on to offer seven benefits of cultivating the discipline of preaching the gospel to yourself:

  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves are regularly and repetitively exposed to the glory of God.
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves grow in humility.
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves are most likely to gain deliverance from that three-headed monster of guilt, inferiority, and low self-image.
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves accelerate their sanctification.
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves are increasingly “abounding in thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6).
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves are increasingly hopeful.
  • Those who preach the gospel to themselves are repeatedly led to worship.

Farley teaches the importance of understanding and celebrating a very broad view of the gospel, one that extends from God’s electing love all the way to the sure hope of eternity. And then he shows how those truths, when rightly understood, can be preached to yourself day by day, all throughout your life. The strength and uniqueness of the book is its practicality. Where other books may discuss the practice of preaching the gospel to yourself, and while they may give brief examples, this is a whole book on the subject. Each chapter culminates with pointers on the practice and even a sample prayer that celebrates the truth taught.

All through the book, Farley displays and proclaims an indebtedness to Jack Miller (who first taught the importance of preaching the gospel to yourself every day) and to Jerry Bridges (who popularized the practice). He also draws from other recent and popular books on the subject. But, as I said, he advances the discussion by providing a sweeping view of the gospel and by showing how each gospel truth perfectly lends itself to both teaching and encouragement.

If you have been wondering about what it means to preach the gospel to yourself, or if you have been struggling with the practice, you’ll find no better guide than Hidden in the Gospel. It is short, it is practical, and it is rich.

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