Look to Christ (Gospel Preaching and Sanctification, part 5)



This series is about the believer's ongoing need to be transformed by the gospel and, therefore, the ongoing need to sit under gospel preaching. I have tried to make this concept as simple and practical as possible. It is, after all, vital that we know what it means to walk in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). And yet perhaps the simplest argument is yet to be made. 

Question #9. Where can I go if I'm having a hard time grasping the idea that seeing Jesus in the gospel sanctifies me? 

You can go to places in God's Word that portray looking to Christ as the sum and substance of Christian living.

First, you can go to Hebrews 12:1-2, where believers are told to run their race by looking to Jesus. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Second, you can go to Hebrews 2:9-11, where believers are said to see Jesus at the right hand of God as the One who sanctifies. 

"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. [10] For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. [11] For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers," (Hebrews 2:9-11; cf. 1 Peter 1:8)

Third, you can go to 1 Peter 2:4-5, where believers are said to continually come to Jesus to be sanctified.

"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, [5] you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4–5)

Fourth, you can go to see John 15:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:6-7; Ephesians 1:17-23; Colossians 3:1-3.

Question #10. If Jesus is in heaven, how can we possibly look to Him, see Him, or come to Him while living on earth? 

In and through the gospel of God.

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified." (Galatians 3:1)

What a helpful verse! Gospel preaching is what publicly portrays Christ to sinners on earth. As God publicly portrays Christ to us, we see Him, look to Him, and come to Him in, through, and on the basis of the gospel. 


Do not overthink it. Remember that the gospel is nothing less than God's revelation of who Jesus is, what Jesus has accomplished, and what Jesus freely gives to all who turn to Him in faith. The gospel is God's full revelation of Himself and of His saving grace in Christ. 

When we were lost, we saw Jesus by faith in the gospel and were saved. Now saved, we see Jesus by faith in the gospel and are progressively sanctified. 

The gospel is Jesus' way, or, Jesus' practical tool for saving and sanctifying the lost for the glory and praise of God.

Discuss or Contemplate

Why might we, because of indwelling sin that remains, want to look for things other than Jesus as a source of spiritual growth and sanctification? Why might we naturally look for excuses why, "The gospel sanctifies me," does not work or is too abstract to understand?

Gospel Preaching and Sanctification

A Series of Devotions on How the Sight of Christ Transforms us into the Likeness of Christ