LOVE DOES, PART 5: JESUS PLUS NOTHING

Posted by Tori on Jun 23, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Can you believe how we are flying through this book?! Over the past several days, we have read over Chapters 21-26. And, as usual, there is some good stuff tucked in these pages. I want to focus in on something that Bob said in Friends, Welcome Home. This is the story he tells about he and some buddies participating in the Transpac Race (from L.A. to Hawaii). He talks a lot about discerning where he is and the direction God is leading. He talks about navigating from fixed points, much like he did to navigate the course from L.A. to Hawaii.

He says a couple of things that I like in this chapter. One is this: “I think that navigating a relationship with a living God can be just that easy, and the math is easy too. It’s Jesus plus nothing.” Jesus plus nothing is a concept Paul stressed over and over throughout his ministry. Look with me at Galatians 1:6-10.

6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Paul is writing here to the church in Galatia. This church has been tainted with false teaching. The “different gospel” Paul refers to is a distortion of the true gospel of Christ which crept into the church, not from an outside religion or group, but from within — it was a close counterfeit to the truth. The people he speaks about in verse 7 were professing Christ followers. Even if an angel from Heaven is preaching a different version of the gospel, he is to be accursed. (Strong words Paul uses here.) Mixing a little Jesus in with a little of this and a little of that is disastrous, and not something to be taken lightly. Religion is not the good news. The good news is the person and work of Jesus, alone and all by Himself — plus nothing.

In a sermon on the book of Galatians, John Piper makes this warning:

“If a ‘different gospel,’ which is no gospel but only a perversion, can spring up inside the church, then surely we must make it our aim to become rigorous and discriminating in our doctrinal knowledge. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:20, ‘Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature.’ Galatians is one of the best books in the Bible for helping us refine and clarify what the heart of the gospel is, which can’t be replaced or altered. There is a tragic pattern in churches and in history, I think. Renewal breaks forth on a church or on an age through a fresh encounter with the gospel and the Spirit. Hearts are filled with the love of Christ, and mouths are filled with praise. The concern for evangelism and justice rises. But in all the glorious stirrings of heart there begins to be an impatience with doctrinal refinements. Clear doctrine requires thought, and thought is seen to be the enemy of feeling, so it is resisted. There is the widespread sense that the Holy Spirit will guard the church from all error, and so rigorous study and thought about the gospel are felt to be not only a threat to joy but a failure of faith. The result over a generation is the emergence of a people whose understanding of biblical teaching is so hazy and imprecise that they are sitting ducks for the Galatian heresy.”

I think I agree with his assessment. And may it never be said of my generation. As believers, we need to know the truth of the Gospel and be rooted in it so deeply, that we are not easily seduced by something that creeps in looking eerily similar, yet distorting the truth. Remember, it’s Jesus plus nothing.

Bob continues to tell his story of navigating across the Pacific. He talks of a man who was waiting to receive the boats as they sailed into the marina in Oahu. He stood, reading their names and welcoming them. Bob draws some parallels about what he thinks being received into Heaven may look like. He begins to talk about the book of life, but then he says the other thing in this chapter that I really liked: “And their names weren’t in the book because of what they did or didn’t do. They were in there because of who God is and what He has done…[to redeem them].” Amen & amen. I may or may not have gotten chills when I read that line.

Galatians 4:3-5 says:

3So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Romans 5:6-10 tells us:

6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

We are redeemed solely through His gift of faith and grace, and His finished work on our behalf. It is to the glory of His name only that we come and are received. We’re not here because of anything we have or have not done. This is all about who He is and what He’s done to reconcile us to himself.

His love for us blows my mind. Every time. One of the lines from the song below says this: We’ve only glimpsed His vast affection / Heard whispers of His heart and passion. Bask in the love He’s pouring over you today. It is deep, wide, fierce, strong, furious, sweet, wild, and life giving. And it’s yours. In this moment. Now and always. Not only that, but it is this love that flows through us to lavishly, unselfishly, and whimsically love this world around us — pointing them straight back to the author of it all. This is what screams at me the loudest from Bob’s book. Why would I not surrender to His love in and through me to love my neighbor as wildly and lavishly as He loves me?

Forgive me, Lord. Thank you for this life and your love. It’s you alone, plus nothing at all. And it’s you we adore and live for.

This Friday, 6/28, will be our last post in this series. I hope you have loved it as much as I have, and have learned, grown, and been inspired to love more like Jesus. Between now & Friday, try to finish up the book, reading chapters 27-31.

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2 Comments

Sterling K. Curtis
Jul 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm

What those verses liberatingly taught me was that because of Jesus’ finished work for me, I already had the justification, approval, acceptance, security, freedom, affection, cleansing, new beginning, righteousness, and rescue I was longing for. I started to see the many-faceted dimensions of the gospel in a more dazzling way. It’s almost as if, for me, the gospel changed from something hazy and monochromatic to something richly multicolored, vivid, and vibrant.


 
Guadalupe Ryan
Nov 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Titus 2:4 admonish the young women. Their own examples of godliness (v. 3) give older women the right and the credibility to instruct younger women in the church. The obvious implication is that older women must exemplify the virtues (vv. 4, 5) that they “admonish.” love their husbands. Like the other virtues mentioned here, this one is unconditional. It is based on God’s will, not on a husband’s worthiness. The Greek word phileo emphasizes affection.


 

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