The Gospel vs. Religion

I can’t think of a better way to start off this blog than by answering the all-important question: “What is the Gospel?” After all, if you look at our vision statement, the Gospel is foundational to our church’s existence. It is what defines us, transforms us, and empowers us. Or to put it negatively, without the Gospel, we have no identity, no power, and no purpose. No Gospel, no New Life Irvine. The Gospel is everything.

Given the Gospel’s importance and place, we should first understand it. The Gospel simply translated means, “Good news.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 tells us that the Gospel is the news that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones once noted that good news is not the same as good advice. Advice is a call to action. It tells you something to do. News, however, tells you what’s already been done. You receive news. You hear news. You believe news. You don’t do news.

Understanding this distinction is pivotal to understanding the Gospel. This distinction is what separates Christianity from all other religions. When you boil every religion down to its core, what you find is the application of moral instruction and advice. What you find are rules, laws, steps, and guidelines on how you can find God, experience enlightenment, reach Nirvana, find self-fulfillment, or go to heaven. In the end, it’s about your living, your efforts, and your ability to adhere to their advice. The Gospel, however, is not religion.

Religion says you must prove your love for God. The Gospel describes how God has proven His love for you.

Religion measures how much you are willing to suffer for God. The Gospel proclaims how much Christ willingly suffered for you.

Religion tells you how to save yourself. The Gospel tells you what Christ has done to save you.

Religion says, “If you obey, God will love you.” The Gospel says, “Since God loves you, go obey.”

Religion focuses on what you can do for God. The Gospel focuses on what God has already done for you.

Religion sees two kinds of people in the world: the religious and the irreligious, the moral and the immoral. The Gospel also sees two kinds of people: those who rely on themselves for their salvation and those who rely on Christ.

Religion approaches God out of greed or fear. You follow to get something from God or to avoid something from Him. The Gospel approaches God out of great joy and gratitude. We follow because He Himself is our reward already given to us through Christ.

The more you understand the Gospel, the more you will appreciate our church. The more you love the Gospel, the more you will enjoy our church. The Gospel is everything to us.

–Jeff Suhr

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