Monday, February 28, 2011

The Gospel As Good News, Not Good Advice

Excerpt from Tim Keller’s new book:  King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus

The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news.

Other religions say, “This is what you have to do in order to connect with God forever; this how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.”

But the gospel says, “This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.” Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.

How do you feel when you’re given good advice on how to live? Someone says, “Here’s the love you ought to have, or the integrity your ought to have,” and maybe they illustrate high moral standards by telling a story of some great hero. But when you hear it, how does it make you feel? Inspired, sure. But do you feel the way the listeners who heard those heralds felt when the victory was announced? Do you feel your burdens have fallen off? Do you feel as if something great has been done for you and you’re not a slave anymore? Of course you don’t. It weighs you down: This is how I have to live. It’s not a gospel.

The gospel is that God connects to you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you. And that makes it different from every other religion or philosophy.

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