Whenever faith seems an entitlement, or a measuring rod, we cast our lots with the Pharisees and grace softly slips away. 

-Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor      


Pastor Mark Driscoll has laid out what I believe to be the best list I have run across in some time on the distinct differences between the Gospel and religion.  Jesus delivered the very Gospel we preach today within the context of his earthly ministry and his fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures.  It was the religion of the Pharisees (and any other man-devised system of connecting with the Almighty) that he came to abolish with his very life. 

When you get down to brass tacks—Jesus is the Gospel and Jesus is about setting us free.   And since I have been outlining what freedom is and what it isn’t (the Gospel shouts Freedom! after all)—I figured it would be fitting to share Driscoll’s list while we are taking the time to expose the fallacies of religion that are constantly at work to undermine the message of freedom.

Religion says, ‘If I obey God, God will love me.’  Gospel says, ‘Because God love me, I can obey.’ 

Religion has good people and bad people.  Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.  

Religion values a birth family.  Gospel values a new birth. 

Religion depends on what I do.   Gospel depends on what Jesus has done. 

Religion claims that sanctification justifies me.  Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification. 

Religion has the goal to get from God.  Gospel has the goal to get to God. 

Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin.  Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction. 

Religion is about me.  Gospel is about Jesus. 

Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key.  Gospel believes that being honest is the key. 

Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God.  Gospel has certainty based on Jesus’ work. 

Religion sees Jesus a the means.  Gospel sees Jesus as the end. 

Religion ends in pride or despair.  Gospel ends in humble joy.      

As Driscoll so explicitly points out, the Gospel of freedom Jesus embodies and the religion he came to expose are at polar ends of the spectrum—they are at diabolical odds with each other.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.    (Galatians 5:23b-24, The Message Bible)