Is the Christian life about doing more and trying harder, or is about resting in what Christ has already done? Is it about your performance for God, or His performance for you?
The answers to those questions reveal whether you are trusting in a false gospel of “Christianity And” or the gospel of biblical Christianity that Tullian Tchividjian describes as Jesus + Nothing = Everything, the title of his latest book from Crossway. Tchividjian, the pastor of Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church who also happens to be the grandson of Billy Graham, was “wrecked afresh” by the gospel while studying the book of Colossians during a particularly rough season in his pastoral ministry. His rediscovery of the essentials of the gospel and it’s radical, liberating implications for both believers and unbelievers has fueled this book, as well as his preaching ministry (both at Coral Ridge and elsewhere).
A central theme of the book is what Tchividjian describes as the “now-power” of the gospel – the idea “that the gospel doesn’t simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the future; it also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement, and insignificance.” (p. 23) As a biblical counselor, this is where many of my clients find themselves stuck. They know that they were saved from something, but they don’t fully understand what they were saved into – and so they fall into the foolish pattern that Paul wrote the Galatians to correct: “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”. (Galatians 3:3)
Tchividjian carefully teaches from his study of Colossians that the same gospel that saves the unbeliever also secures victory over sin and temptation for the believer. He writes,
“The operative power that makes you a Christian is the same operative power that keeps you a Christian: the unconditional, unqualified, undeserved, unrestrained grace of God in the completed work of Christ.” (p. 206)
That’s it for Tchividjian, and that’s it for you and me. We are saved by the gospel and sanctified by the gospel. The Christian life is not a divine 12-step program. The gospel reminds us that we are not the point. Although our sin is big, so is our Savior. We can add nothing to the finished work of Christ, in whom we already have everything we need. Jesus + Nothing = Everything!
[Disclosure of Material Connection: Crossway sent me a free review copy of this book. I was not asked to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]