Jared’s latest book on the joys found in the gospel of Christ is a rich, beautiful addition to a long list of puritan literature. Gospel Wakefulness describes our Lord’s multifaceted gospel, revealing its shimmering light against many dark colors of brokenness and sin.
In short, we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. As Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” When Christ said on the cross, “It is finished,” he truly conquered death and overcame sin for all who believe. His resurrection from the grave proves it. Many Christians do not struggle with this concept as a doorway into heaven and the church, but we frequently misunderstand that this is the path to holiness as well as salvation. We believe that Jesus is Lord for the purpose of saving us from damning sin, but not for the purpose of making us righteous today. For righteousness, we believe we must “work out our salvation” on our own (Philippians 2:12). “The spiritual reality is that it is God who is in us doing the work,” Jared explains. “The gospel is not just power for regeneration; it is power for sanctification and for glorification [as if these ideas can be separated-pw]. It is eternal power; it is power enough for life that is eternal.”
In short, we believe in Christ Jesus for new life, now and forever. How do we overcome our pride? We surrender to our Lord and Savior. How we conquer our habitual lust, greed, or laziness? We believe in the one who conquered sin and death for good. That doesn’t mean believing better or more fully will be easy, especially for those of us plagued by depression or various addictions, but that is the path for following Jesus, not a 12 step program or that radio preacher’s seven steps to a successful spiritual life.
Jared includes some deep, personal stories about what this wakefulness means, how it transformed his own life and that of his friends. Is he talking about a feeling? No, he’s talking about our primary devotion. The same way some will argue for a grip on reality, a Christian must get a grip on the totality of the gospel in his life. Christ has come to save the world and lead it in new living. As we remember at Christmastime, he is the light which has come into the world. He doesn’t call us to ignore his light by piddling in the shadows; he calls us to stare into the light and even surrender to it so that shine with it and point others to it. Look! Look! The Sun has risen!
Gospel Wakefulness is a wonderfully practical book, because grace is practical—sometimes a bit difficult to apply, but practical to everyone. I love the chapter on depression. His pastor’s voice comes through in his understanding of the clinical reality of some cases of depression, and his call for resolution isn’t a simple command. It’s a call to apply the profound grace that has saved you, teaching through Psalm 42 our need to remind ourselves of who we are in Christ and our Lord’s awesome power.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) That’s the question, is it? A great deal of confidence is bound up in that answer. May the church of 2012 hear that answer and wake up.