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Gospel (good news) or religion?

All religions say:

* Do good and be good
* Then you will be accepted-approved by God

Much of the church says:

* "Trust Christ" --see footnote.
* Do good and be good i.e. live a righteous life

* Then you will be fully accepted by God.

Many within the church do not believe the gospel but only a variation or "Christianized" version of religion. It is easy to do. It was an issue from the beginning of the church and also the central message of Galatians. We are wired to win the approval of others; to save ourselves if you will.

The Gospel says:

* Receive the offer of Christ's perfect righteousness and forgiveness because you can and will never be good enough or do enough good to be approved of by God -- this is exactly why Christ lived and died.
* Then you are perfectly accepted by God. FULL STOP!
* Now, in, by, and through His perfect love, live to honor God out of love for Him.

Note that obedience is just as vital a part of a gospel-based lifestyle as a works-based one (religion) but not as the cause of God's acceptance but in response to it. Obedience matters but for a very different reason.

The former is acting out of the belief I must earn God's love and the latter out of the belief I already fully have it in Christ.

The former is about me -- acting for my benefit -- the latter is about God -- acting for His honor-glory.

Christianity is not I obey and then I'm accepted but I am accepted therefore I obey.

The gospel says nothing you do or don't do can add to or take away from God's perfect acceptance of you in Christ i.e. His love and acceptance is unconditional, not based on deeds. The only condition is to recognize you need Him and accept his offer i.e. being and living justly is by faith.

The views that I obey God to be accepted vs I am perfectly accepted therefore I obey God --involve how we live... BUT these two approaches have a different order of priority for very different reasons.

If we have not been transformed by God's love and do not have a desire to live for-obey Him we do not yet understand the good news-gospel and may not be His child.

For a discussion on the difference between "Cultural Christians" and grace-driven followers of Christ, click here. 

For a discussion on whether our focus should be on morality or Jesus click here.


*I put "trust Christ" in quotes because if we truly trust what Christ has done for us then we do not feel compelled to do good deeds to win his acceptance.

This post first appeared on Thoughts About God, please read the originial post: here

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Gospel (good news) or religion?


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