The Gospel for the Religious

What will you say when you stand before the judgment seat of God?  

For all of my life, when I envisioned this scenario, I unwittingly stood before God as condemned as any human has ever been.   I hate Satan.  I'm terrified of Hell.  I love church.  I am great at ministry.  I can teach any material you hand me to anyone who will listen.  I've said all the prayers.  I've put in all the time.  I've cried all the shameful tears.  I've been on the mission trips, rocked the babies, paid the tithes, held hands of the hurting, wept with the addicts, followed the leaders, read the Bible, bought the books, done the work.  

But, my trust was not in the Lord Jesus.  

In my mind, for all my life, if given the opportunity to tell God why I deserved to be in Heaven with Him, I would have started every sentence with "I..."  

I am a Christian.  
I trusted Jesus with my salvation. 
I gave my heart to Jesus. 
I asked Jesus to come into my heart.  
I went to church. 
I was a pastor.
I served the church. 
I submitted to pastoral leadership. 
I was a good wife.
I prayed.
I felt terrible when I sinned.
I read the Bible.
I told people about You.
I managed people in Your direction. 



Now, having studied Scriptures apart from tradition, religion, popular theology and cultural trends, I clearly see that the theme of the New Testament is a Gospel that requires me to take every bit of faith out of my goodness, my behavior, my religion, my service, my devotion to rules and laws and place every fiber of my hope on the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Scripture shows me clearly that I can trust one or the other, but not both.  I can trust my ability to feel right with God based on the things I do, or I can trust that Jesus, on the cross, DID every work needed to make me right with God FOREVER.  

I can do to make me feel right with God. 


Jesus can do to make me be right with God. 

That's the Gospel for the religious.   The religious aren't likely to hang onto their sin and hold it more tightly than Jesus.  We are more likely to hang onto our good ways that make us feel like we are close to God and hold those ways more tightly that Jesus.  When I was religious, I hated missing church because it made me feel like a bad person. I hated missing a tithe because it made me fear for my future.  I hated breaking promises about Bible reading because it made me feel like God wasn't working in me.  I hated sinning because it made me feel like God wasn't close or wouldn't do what I told Him I needed in prayer.   

But now, with great hope, I look forward to being judged by God.  

If ever I stand before God and He asks me why He should let me in His Kingdom, I'll answer:  

Jesus. Always and only Jesus. 
A sacrifice was paid on my behalf on the Cross. 
Though my sins were scarlet, I'm now white as snow. 
It is finished.  

“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles;  nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified. But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Far from it!  For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a wrongdoer.  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Repent of your trust in yourself and trust the Lord Jesus and His finished work. 


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