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RELIGION vs. THE GOSPEL

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The following was given out at Arcade Church and a friend of mine that goes there gave me a copy and I thought it was really cool so I wanted to share it with you all.

Religion: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.

THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to delight and resemble Him.

Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.

THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while He may allow this for my training, He will exercise His Fatherly love within my trial.

Religion: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person.’

THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of my surroundings.

THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of long stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

Religion: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I am not confident, I feel like a failure.

THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on my view of myself as a moral achiever. In Christ I am simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad He had to die for me and I am so loved He was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

Religion: My identity and self worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’

THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the One who died for His enemies. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

Religion: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.


THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.1

I know I want to follow the Gospel but sometimes I fall into the religion trap. So I am posting this as much as for me than for anyone else. Hope you find it makes you think like it did for me. J

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1 Adapted from Timothy Keller, The Gospel in Life Study Guide, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 16.

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2 responses »

  1. So glad you shared this, Tim…there’s a distinction, and I’m glad to see it so well explained and clear…great post!! Peace in His Word…Ally b:)

    Reply

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