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The Gospel-Centered Church: Why the Gospel is so Different (pt. 2 of 2)

January 13, 2009

I listened to Matt Chandler preach on the difference between the Gospel and religion yesterday and here were some of his thoughts:

The essence of the Gospel for the Christian is not that you are good but that you’re not and that Christ loves you, that’s where worship starts.

Religion dries up the soul because it tries to accomplish the impossible when it has already been freely given.

Here are some more of his thoughts (paraphrased):

Religion uses fear and guilt as the means of motivation. It salivates at the prospect of fear and insecurity. We obey to get things from God. Heaven is the place for those who are afraid of Hell, not those who love God. When circumstances go wrong we are either upset with ourselves (because we didn’t do enough) or mad at God (because He didn’t give me what I wanted because of my good works). Criticism undermines our entire self-worth because it is built on doing the right things. Prayer is about controlling our environment and getting something from God. We obey God to get something from God. Our self-view swings between the pole of feeling arrogance towards others when we do good works and the pole of feeling worthless when we fail. Because our self-worth is based on hard work and accomplishments, we can’t help but look at those who do less and feel disdain.

The motivation of the Gospel is grateful joy. We obey to be near Him and be transformed into His image. We approach God in order to know God, and He is not the means to getting something else. Prayer is filled with adoration, not just endless requests in times of crisis and need. When criticized we realize that one’s identity is not based on right behavior. My self-worth is not based on my actions but on Jesus’ action on the Cross – He loves me so much that He gladly died for what I did wrong. This produces a growing humility and a growing confidence rooted in His work and not my own.

The Gospel teaches us we were saved by grace through faith, not by our own works, so that no man may boast, making it difficult to judge anyone other than us because it negates the very grace given to us.

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