Over the last couple of weeks, a concept has rocked my devotional world: because the entire Bible is ultimately about Jesus and God’s plan of redemption through him (Luke 24:27, 44), I need to let the Bible take me all the way to Jesus all the time. In failing to do this I can very easily slip into a lifeless and Spirit-less practice of reading God’s Word. This concept was delivered by R.W. Glenn in a message he preached at the Psalm 119 Conference on what it means to be filled with the Spirit. The whole message is great, but I benefited most from the formula he suggested for how to let the Bible take us all the way to Jesus. It follows the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic than many of you may have used in your prayer life. The way it is to be used here, however, is not by viewing each letter in the acrostic as separate from the others, but rather, having each letter flow seamlessly into the next. Here’s what it should look like.
Adoration – In this passage of Scripture, what is there to adore God for? That is, what attribute of God do I see here that calls me to adore him?
Confession – After I have adored and praised God for that attribute, I ask myself, “What sins crop up in my life when I forget that God is this way?” After confessing those sins to the Lord, I must be careful not to respond in three ways:
- Do not try to work it off – “Self-atonement”
- Do not blow it off – “It’s not that big of a deal… God will forgive me.”
- Do not turn to superficiality – That is, only dealing with behavioral sins, and not the sins of the heart. If I don’t get to the heart sins, I’ll never really see myself as bad as I am, and therefore, I will not see how great a Savior Jesus is.
Thanksgiving – I must let the confession drive me to thank God for how great a Savior Jesus is in at least these four ways:
- Thank you, God, that Jesus lived for me – Meaning, that he has succeeded in all the ways I have failed, and because he died for me, all his success is my success before God.
- Thank you, God, that Jesus died for me – Jesus felt God’s undiluted wrath for these sins that I have just confessed.
- Thank you, God, that you see me in Jesus – Because I am united with Christ through faith, God sees me as his beloved. He loves me as he loves Christ, even though I have sinned in these ways.
- Thank you, God, that Jesus lives in me – This means that I can actually change and I don’t have to live sinfully.
Supplication – At this point, because we have experienced the sweetness of God’s grace and the freshness of the Spirit through focusing on the gospel, we should pray that others will experience it as well, and that God will use us in their lives to that end.