Jesus + ? = Success

January 17, 2012

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 Yesterday, we examined Galatians 5:1-15 in our 7 Minutes a Day series. Paul actually advocated that the false teachers in Galatia not only circumcise themselves, but to go the whole way to castration. He was exposing the error of their thinking. For a refresher, have a look at yesterday’s post.

I left off mentioning that I have spent years asking audiences what is inserted into a “Jesus +” formula in the modern church

Here are the most popular answers:

prayer                church attendance     missions                        Sunday school
worship              tithing                      spiritual gifts                   volunteering
Bible reading      obedience                relationship not religion    not being lukewarm

The list could go on and on. Notice the things listed above are all good things. The enemy would never think of convincing us that we need Jesus + fornication or drugs. We are too smart for that. But, if he can get us to do good things for the wrong reason, he will win.

Let’s take one of the above examples. Bible reading. If your formula is “Jesus + Bible reading = being a good Christian’, how can you know when you have made it?

Would it be a short 5-minute devotional in the morning or three chapters a day? When you are doing that, the question persists. Could you be doing more? How about 30 minutes a day devoted to reading the Word? Maybe you increase to 30, but couldn’t you carve just a bit more time out of your busy schedule by listening to the Bible on CD or iPod?

At some point, you will throw up your hands and say, “I can never be good enough.”

Or you will just quit.

When a work is included in the equation for pleasing God, we must ask “when do we reach the desired status?”

When do we have the peace that is supposed to come with the gospel if all we see is pain, effort, and striving?

When is enough, enough?

Never.

Paul knows this, and it is why he is so frustrated.

Grace breaks all the rules. Grace is not bound by human logic. Grace says the secret to the Christian life and being a good Christian is simple.

It is not a “Jesus +” formula.

It is Jesus.

Period.

100% Jesus. Nothing Added

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle says it well, “Jesus plus anything is nothing. Jesus plus nothing is everything.”

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian, has just put out a book called, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!

Nothing we can do, pray, or give can ever improve the work of Christ on the cross. It is arrogant to think my little efforts could somehow enhance the work of Christ. Perhaps this is why Paul called it a different gospel. Salvation is by faith, not works. It is Jesus, not Jesus + ___.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God