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Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution – Jesus is.

June 9, 2011

By Derek Hess http://www.derekhess.com (used with permission)

Last night I was listening to a sermon by Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  These are notes I took, some of them may be verbatim quotes and some of them may not be verbatim and slightly remixed.  I wrote them down in a hurry and yes, at times I did use the pause button.  These notes, quotes, comments and remixes I wrote came from my listening to  part 12 of a series called Jesus + Nothing = Everything, a series on Colossians, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians.  I’m just going to bullet point my notes and thoughts.  This is mainly for my own documentation and hopefully by re-documenting these notes will stick and have a more profound impact on my understanding of the gospel in my life, that and I figured maybe others can benefit from the notes/quotes as well.

A comment on the art piece:  Not sure what the original artist interpretation is of his picture other than what I gather from the caption Burned Out.  To me it resembles a man who was crucified, not by accident, but because of His great love for us He went to the cross to pay the debt we could not pay.  John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”.    John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Here’s a compilation of some of the notes I took from the sermon with my own additions:  “Dear world, dear fellow human beings and dear Christian please hear me!  Christianity isn’t all about observing certain codes of behavior and abstaining from others, Christianity isn’t all about rules and standards, good behavior and cleaning up your act.  I know that this is what the church has been communicating to you…external conformity and behavioral modification…  Christianity is about the gospel and the gospel is about Jesus’ performance for us, on our behalf, NOT our performance for Him.  The gospel is about receiving a new life!  It’s not you must do it’s Jesus already did!  We can’t contribute to our salvation, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.  Let no one insist that you must qualify yourself by doing certain things and observing certain religious rituals.  If the focus is on what you must do instead of what Jesus has already done it’s ANTI-gospel.  My friends listen-up!  While our sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches infinitely farther.  It doesn’t matter how bad you are or the bad things you’ve done.  God’s capacity to clean things up is infinitely larger than our capacity to mess things up!  Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution, Jesus is.  Behavior modification can not change the human heart, outside clean-up never leads to inside clean-up, inside clean-up leads to outside clean-up, but there’s only One who can do that and that is Jesus.  You may say:  “But God has demands”, and I’ll say:  “He sure does”.  But God’s grace isn’t seen in the lessening of His demands toward us.  God has always and will always demand perfect obedience!  His grace is experienced when we come to realize that His perfect demands for each of us have already been met by Jesus.  He lived the perfect life, keeping all of God’s laws, thus living the life we could not live, and He died the death, the death we all deserve for being breakers of God’s demands, the death we should have died.  Listen up!  Christianity is the ONLY faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them!  This is the gospel and truly one would be a fool to turn this down.  Now, this is a hard thing to grasp, because we would rather work it out in our own way, but by doing that we really are spitting in His face, saying that His ways aren’t good and that our ways are better…herein lies the issue, it’s pride, the very essence of sin.”

Notes by bullets:

  • The greatest threat to the gospel as it works out in our lives is legalism –> which ironically develops inside the church.  –> Our relationship with God does not depend on our performance.  My thought:  It’s so easy to be legalistic and so hard to accept and understand grace!  Look at the contrast in the scriptures.  The prostitute understands grace, the pharisee does not.  The younger brother in the story of the prodigal son understands grace, the older brother does not.  The broken, needy and hurting understand grace, the proud, and self-righteous do not.
  • Arch Bishop William Temple:  “The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”  My thought: Isn’t that the truth?  We were sinning when we first responded to the gospel and since then, we still sin, always contributing and thus God is always saving and therefore the gospel is always necessary and never gets old.  This is why I can only properly live in light of the gospel, because apart from the gospel I resort to my own ways of dealing with my daily sin.  I quickly resort to works, forgetting that God in Christ has already forgiven me, that He already paid the price on the cross and that He already declared me righteous.  Not because of me, but because of what Jesus has done for me.
  • Legalism is the idea that you become acceptable through your own doing.
  • Legalism = I obey, therefore I am accepted.  Gospel = I am accepted therefore I obey.
  • Legalism = obedience precedes acceptance.  Gospel = Acceptance precedes obedience.
  • Ed Stetzer:  “Christianity isn’t turning over a new leaf.  It’s receiving a new life.  It’s not you must DO, it’s Jesus already DID.”  My thought:  So often at work and just in life I meet people who turn over new leafs and yet, none I have met are ever satisfied, they keep on searching, and in vain it is when you don’t encounter Christ.
  • The Gospel Focuses on Jesus’ performance for us, not our performance for Him. I’m so thankful, how could I not be, lest I forget who I am without Him.
  • “The determining factor in my relationship to God is not my past or my present, but Christ’s past and His present.” – Pastor from Philly via Tullian Tchividjian
  • While our sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches infinitely farther.  It does not matter how bad you are or the bad things you have done, God’s capacity to clean things up is infinitely larger than our capacity to mess things up.  –> This is the good news of the gospel…Jesus has done on behalf of sinners, what sinners could not do for themselves.
  • C.S Lewis says:  “Legalism – God will love us because we are good”, “Gospel – God will make us good because He loves us” —> in other words, He loves us in order to make us lovely, not because we are lovely.
  • God accepts us on Christ’s performance, we are so often guilty of accepting others on their performance.
  • When rules are divorced from relationship we fall into legalism.
  • Let no one insist that you must qualify yourself by doing certain things and by observing certain religious rituals.
  • If the focus is on what you must do instead of what Jesus has already done it’s anti-gospel.
  • Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution – Jesus is.
  • External conformity can not bring about  internal transformation.
  • Behavior modification can not change the human heart –> outside clean-up never leads to inside clean-up –> inside clean-up leads to outside clean-up…but there’s only One who can do that.  Jesus.
  • God’s grace isn’t seen in the lessening of His demands toward us.  God has always and will always demand perfect obedience.  His grace is experienced when we come to realize that His perfect demands for each of us have already been met by Jesus.  He lived the life and He died the death we should have died.  Christianity is the only faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them.  Again, this is the gospel (good news).
Hope this is as encouraging to you as it is to me!  God bless!
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One Comment leave one →
  1. norma permalink
    June 9, 2011 11:44 pm

    Christianity is the only faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them.
    I’m chowing on this sentence…It’s a daily reminder….God said …IT IS DONE …..I tent to forget it at times…
    and legalism kicks in.:-)
    thank you son !!
    Great post !!

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