In the past month we have considered pastor/author Joe Thorn’s thoughts on making good use of the preaching we hear each week by carrying on practical preaching to ourselves throughout the week. We have looked briefly at his thoughts on preaching the law to ourselves and on preaching the gospel to ourselves (cf. my previous posts).
On this Sunday morning we consider his concluding thoughts on this general subject as he writes about how to put these two together on a regular basis. We find this on p.32 of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself:
…Therefore preaching to ourselves puts us into the cycle of law and gospel where we move from our guilt and need to God’s grace and provision and then back to the law as joyful and free obedience.
The impact of preaching to ourselves is not found in dramatic moments of crisis, or in our ability to use words creatively, but in the ongoing, regular, and virtually plain preaching of the law and the gospel. Preaching to ourselves is, in a practical sense, like reading notes you have written to yourself [This is a good way to make use of those sermon notes you take on Sunday!]. They will often amount to important reminders about who we really are in ourselves and in Christ.
Preaching to yourself demands asking a lot of questions, both of God’s Word and especially of yourself. You will have to ask and be honest about your motives, struggles, and needs. You will need to clarify to yourself what God’s law means in principle, but also what it requires specifically of you. You will need to ask how the gospel meets your needs and heals your brokenness. To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and point yourself to the truth. It is not so much uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of the truth you tend to forget.
Taken from Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011).