A friend of mine recently posted this quote on Facebook:
“The Gospel is good news not good advice. Advice = what we should do. News = report of what was done for us.” Tim Keller
The truth expressed in this recitation caught my attention and immediately brought a scripture to mind.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16, 17
Why these verses? Because the word “gospel” means GOOD NEWS! The good news of the gospel is all about what God has done for us in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our response to that good news isn’t about things we need to do. Our response needs to be one thing – BELIEVE.
One of the biggest problems with this is that we’ve been trained to DO! “Give me something to do, Lord!” We’re accustomed to thinking things like – only those who work hard get ahead; idle hands are the devils workshop; put your nose to the grindstone; God helps those who help themselves; etc., etc. And, there’s a ring of truth in these statements. When there’s a job to do and we roll up our sleeves to apply diligence to it, good things are accomplished. But when it comes to our redemption, there is no more work to be done!
When we start working – doing – laboring – to bring about our redemption, we’re saying in affect that what Jesus has already done wasn’t enough. We’re adding our labor to His death, burial and resurrection, assuming that His sacrifice + our labor = our salvation, healing and deliverance. But the true “formula” is this: salvation = Jesus sacrifice + NOTHING!
Now, I realize this brings up some interesting questions. I can’t possibly anticipate them all in this article, so allow me to address just one.
James 1:22 tells us to BE DOERS. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Of course, this is absolutely true. Be a doer of the word! This doesn’t contradict what we’ve been discussing. On the contrary, it points us to the heart of the matter. The focal point on doing the word, when it comes to our redemption, is faith. We must believe. Christians are believers. We believe God’s Word. We believe the Gospel. We believe that Jesus’ death, burial, time in hell and resurrection paid the price in full!
Most of the New Testament – especially the Epistles – were written to address this question of “doing”. What separates religion from true Christianity? Lists of do’s & don’t added to the gospel. The Apostle Paul had “teachers” following him from city to city, telling people that they must believe in Jesus, AND … get circumcised, keep the law, remember the Sabbath, etc., etc. I’m sure it was frustrating for him at times. In fact, he got quite angry with the Galatian church for leaving the freedom of the gospel and returning to the pains of religion.
So, enjoy the good news! Believe it with all your heart. As the psalmist said, don’t forget all the benefits. [Psalm 103]
I’ll close with the Tim Keller quote again: “The Gospel is good news not good advice. Advice = what we should do. News = report of what was done for us.”