Religion versus the Gospel

I was looking back through my moleskine notebook and came across some notes from chapel at seminary. The notes were from my first year of seminary on a sermon by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I was mostly unaware of it at the time, but it was a ground-breaking for a mainline Southern Baptist Seminary to have such a polarizing figure (and non-SBC) to speak in chapel.

Even though it was only 5 years ago, it’s amazing how much has changed. Matt Chandler (a Southern Baptist) has taken over as president of Acts 29. Plus, the Southern Baptist Convention has now reorganized to strive to plant churches rapidly across North America, much in the same vein of Acts 29. I never thought that this entry would be significant for my life today as I am on the verge of planting a church with Act 29 in the next few years.

Below are my notes from Driscoll’s sermon dating from February 5, 2009. I find it very compelling and telling of the times

“Nine Differences between Religion and Christianity” by Mark Driscoll

  1. Religion tells if you obey then God will love you. The gospel says that because God loves you, you will obey.
  2. Religion is prone to see good people and bad people. The gospel sees bad people and Jesus.
  3. Religion is about getting from God/using God. The gospel is about getting God.
  4. Religion sees hardship as punishment. The gospel sees hardship as loving correction from a Father.
  5. Religion is very aware of other people’s sins. The gospel is aware of our sins.
  6. Religion is focused on the external and visible. The gospel is concerned with the heart.
  7. Religion is not certain about your salvation. The gospel is about certainty.
  8. Religion is about self-righteousness. The gospel is about gift righteousness.
  9. Religion results in pride or despair. The gospel leads to a holy happiness.

Personally, I would add a couple extra points to the list that have affected me.

  1. Religion is rooted in legalism. The gospel is rooted in grace.
  2. Religion hurts people. The gospel heals people.

I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of when people embrace religion over the gospel. Sadly, well-meaning people try to navigate their lives based on religion, but when this happens it always ends badly. When the gospel is placed central, lives are transformed. The problem is that most people confuse religion with the gospel. Religion is why so many churches are in decline today. Religion is what “turns people off” to the freedom found in the gospel. We need to be careful to not worship religion in place of Jesus.

Any differences between religion and the gospel that you would add?

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