I will never forget the first time I read the maxim, “Preach the gospel to yourself” in a Jerry Bridges book. What originally appeared counter-intuitive turned out to be an important exercise in humility and a constant reminder of the grace that saved me and enables me to live the Christian life each day – all to the glory of God.
Pastor Joe Thorn writes forty-eight short notes to himself, all designed as a reminder of the ongoing influence and efficacy of the gospel in his life in his new book, Note to Self. What may appear self-serving at first glance, is in the final analysis a gracious gift the church. For Thorn’s “notes” are meant to serve all Christ-followers and point them to supremacy and sufficiency of the Savior which culminate in the cross-work of Jesus.
The author draws the boundaries at the outset: “Preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance, and greater godliness” (p. 23). Well stated and superbly executed throughout the book.
This short work is divided into three parts:
Part One: The Gospel and God
Part Two: The Gospel and Others
Part Three: The Gospel and You
Thorn has left no stone unturned. He relentlessly reminds sinners of their desperate need for grace, forgiveness, and mercy. This work is practical, devotional, thought-provoking, and soul-searching. But most important, this work is cross-centered, Christ-centered, and gospel-centered. While readers are privileged to get an inside look at the author’s heart in this biographical devotional, they are at the same time confronted with their need for the gospel in every arena of life. And students of Reformed theology will appreciate the “backdoor emphasis” on the doctrines of grace throughout. New comers to Reformed thought will receive a breathtaking introduction to the doctrinal framework that is finally getting the attention it deserves in our day!
Three cheers for Joe Thorn’s, Note to Self. He has delivered the goods in a fresh, creative, and biblically authentic way. This good idea that likely found its genesis on the back of a napkin may well become a best seller in a matter of weeks!