Main image
3rd June
2010
written by Alden

I promised you a small excerpt from the book, and here it is. This is from the middle of Chapter 2, so it’s not complete, but it gives you a taste of the book. This section, I believe, will also be appearing on the publisher’s site when the book is available.

Enjoy!

Live Free—or Die

The Gospel is all or nothingyou either trust God to love you because of Jesus’ performance and put absolutely no confidence in your own works, or you are dead; the Gospel is null and void for you. But, if you’re struggling, if you’re sinning, but you are still depending on God, then you are on the right (the narrow) road.

This is how it works: You know that you are a wretched sinner and you know that you have fallen short. You say, “God, help me. If you don’t correct me, I’m always going to be this way, but I am depending on you.” That is the way you stay connected to the vine (John 15:5). But when you turn from Him, and say “Okay, God, thanks for forgiving me; now I think I can really do this,” you have just turned away from God, and rejected the Gospel. You’ve cut yourself off from the vine.

Since most of us are more acquainted with electricity than with vines, let me update the analogy: What happens when you take an appliance plug out of a socket? The current breaks. Life stops. The appliance has been cut off from the source. This is what adding anything to Jesus does to you. You can’t “plug in” to more than one socket—if you want to plug into good works as your source of life, you have to unplug from Jesus. Take a look at any electrical appliance, and you will notice that it is designed for only one specific kind of outlet. If it is not plugged in, it’s not going to function. If you could manage to plug it in to anything else it will either fail to work or do something a bit more spectacular—perhaps giving you the shock of your life! We are all designed the same way; we either plug into Jesus, or we’re dead, one way or another.

What I and many others have experienced is this: Once we were plugged in to Jesus; we were infatuated with Him. All we could think about was Jesus and what He had done for us, and the Holy Spirit’s life and power were flooding in to us. Then, somebody tells us, “Okay, now to be a good Christian, you’ve got to stop sinning, read your Bible daily, and so on.” So, wanting to be a great Christian, we begin to work hard to stop sinning and read our Bibles and do whatever else—and life stops happening. To make matters even worse, we start to think “Oh, this is just the way it’s supposed to be.”

What is insidious about this is that we actually begin to think that if we work harder at these things, we’ll regain life. But in reality, working harder only brings death; when you work harder, you unplug from Jesus. Life is given to you. It’s free. Turn back to the Gospel—plug yourself back into Jesus by simply believing that you don’t have to add anything to what he’s already done for you—and life (and good works) will start flowing into you once again.

A Different Gospel

Paul’s assessment of the situation with the Galatians was that they had lost the Gospel—a very serious pronouncement. They weren’t just “fuzzy” on a few points that had to be cleared up—no, they had turned to a different gospel, a gospel that has nothing to do with the Gospel. When Paul talks about a “different” gospel he uses the Greek word heteros, which means “different” in the same way we would say that apples are different from rocks. There should be no confusion here—there is something edible and life-giving on one hand and something entirely different and dead on the other. Paul tells the Galatians that they have chosen a different gospel—which does not have any power to save or bring life.

Paul is not talking “different” in the sense that you have a Dodge instead of a Chevy; they are both cars, and will both get you to your destination. What Paul is talking about is something that is in a different category completely, like the difference between a Dodge and a coffin. The coffin won’t get you anywhere, except dead in the ground. Adding anything to Jesus—to the Gospel of grace—is not actually adding; it is subtracting. It destroys the effect of Jesus in your life altogether. Paul says, and I’ll state this over and over again: Life in Christ is Jesus plus nothing.

To say “Jesus plus anything”—even to say Jesus plus something good—is to pervert and counteract the Gospel. To say that to be saved you need Jesus plus cod liver oil or something equally as revolting is just stupid; people will resist that, and hopefully find it suspicious. However, to tell people that they must pray, must read the Bible, or must overcome some particular sin (all good things in themselves) to be a “real” Christian is insidious; it confuses the natural work of the Spirit with human effort. It is pulling a spiritual sleight-of-hand, where the real Gospel disappears and a false one put in its place—and no one notices. In this way, the legalism that exists in many churches today is even worse than the example in Galatians.

Let’s look again at verses six and seven:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all.

Not only did the Galatians desert Jesus—they didn’t just mess up some teachings, they deserted Jesus himself—but they didn’t wait around. This was not a long-term cooling-off process, but it seems that they couldn’t wait to trade the Good News in for some religious methodology. There are various psychological, emotional, and spiritual reasons explaining why people are so quick to turn away from the truth, and we’ll look at this in the next couple of chapters. However, having an explanation doesn’t give the Galatians or anyone else an excuse. They had been given the clear Gospel, as have we.

For some of you, this Good News is going to come across as really bad news; like the Pharisees, you are pretty thrilled with being able to keep the rules better than the rest, and you have already been decorating your wing of the Heavenly Mansion and building display shelves for your crowns. If you want to hang on to this fantasy that you can somehow work yourself into Heaven, then there’s not much anyone can do but pray for you.

However, you might be realizing that you have just wasted a good portion of your life on some religious pseudo-gospel that has not gotten you anywhere. Your Christian life may have started out well, but you’ve unplugged from the true Gospel that could bring you life.

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  1. […] I’ve posted a small excerpt of The Gospel Uncensored here. […]

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