Now I know that may sound a little radical, but radical is what the Gospel is all about. My good friend and pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, puts it this way in his book, Surprised by Grace:
The Gospel doesn’t make bad people good; it makes dead people alive. That’s the difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ and every other world religion. All the others exhort their followers to save themselves by being good, by conforming their lives to whatever their worshiped deity is. But the gospel is God’s acceptance of us based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do.
In other words, Jesus didn’t die to make you good; He died to make you His, by raising you from death to life. And that, my friend, should change everything for you! Life in Christ is not about what you can do for Him, but rather what He has already done for you. Life in Christ is not about what you can give to Him, but what He has already given to you. Because you are His, you are loved—not because of what you do, but because of who you are: His! And as a child of the Most High God, you are forever loved unconditionally, no matter what you do.
If Jesus died to make you good, the Bible would be nothing more than a book of rules and regulations for the religious. It would instruct you on what to do in order to be loved, accepted, and blessed by God. In essence, the Bible would be all about you. However, if Jesus died to make you His—before you did anything good and in spite of your sin—then it has to be all about Him and what He has already done for you.
You see, your goodness (obedience) does not precede acceptance. It flows out from it. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The moralists, who think the Christian life is about being good, believe that can they expect God’s favor only when they are good. They are trusting in their own goodness to broker God’s approval, not in their Savior. They believe God is keeping score, and at the end of the day, they hope to have more points on the “good” side of the ledger rather than the “bad” side, so that God will bless them instead of curse them.
But those who know they are already accepted in Christ find their desire for obedience flowing like a river out of a heart that is overwhelmed with thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for them. I have learned over the years that only those who know they are loved, in spite of their sin and shortcomings, find the continual strength to get back up and go further into their so-great salvation.
Think about it for a moment: How good would the “good news” really be if the only way you could share in it was because you earned it and deserved it? I don’t know about you, but no way that would be “good news” for me! If I thought for a second my relationship to Jesus and the blessings He gives to me was dependent upon me, I would be driven into the ashes of utter despair. The “good news” would cease to be good; instead it would be “impossible news.” I know just how bad I really am!
So the next time you are feeling down because you have fallen short of the biblical mark for your life in some area, remember Jesus died to make you His. When He said, “It is finished!” He was speaking about more than His atonement for our sin; He was also speaking about His love for us. Jesus can’t love you anymore because of the good things you do, and He can’t love you any less because of the bad things you do. Make no mistake, the finished love of Jesus is a love that is never finished!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!