[Attention: Please read to the end for information on how you can win a copy of this book]
Just over a year ago, I read Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian, which quickly became my favorite book in 2010. This past week, his next book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything was released and I think it just might make my favorite list of 2011. I absolutely love his commitment to the gospel for unbelievers as well as for the believer. No matter who you are or where you stand before God, your answer to any struggle is the gospel. It is all about Jesus and nothing else.
I am sure you can tell from the title that the premise of this book is that Jesus alone is enough for everything in your life. Adding anything to Jesus creates nothing. Jesus alone brings everything. The book is arranged cleverly, starting with the everything we pursue, then the nothingness it produces. The central part of the book is where he deals with the person and work of Jesus through the book of Colossians. Jesus is the heart of the gospel and he is the heart of this book. After he deals with the equation from back to front, he shifts to forward and goes back over the equation one last time. He digs deeper into the nothing that can be added and the everything that we can receive if nothing is added to Jesus.
One of his commitments when dealing with the "nothing" that can be added to Jesus is dealing with issues of legalism, which he calls performancism.
"Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game. Our performancism leads to pride when we succeed and to despair when we fail. But ultimately it leads to slavery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to establish our own identity instead of resting in Jesus and what he accomplished to establish it for us. In all it's forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and therefore enslaving. It is typically displayed in someone who's trying to keep his or her preferred list of religious rules. At root, what this person tries to accomplish is really no different from what the secular person attempts by deliberately breaking those same rules. Both see what they do as the means to obtain what they're so desperately hungering for deep within. Both look to self to satisfy what only God can satisfy." (46)
"Accepting the reality of this basic tendency in us all can be very difficult, especially for those of us who've been in church a long time. We know it's wrong to worship immorality, like everybody out in the world seems to be doing; we find it harder to see that it's just as wrong to worship morality, like everybody in the church seems to be doing. In our bones, we know that God hates unrighteous 'bad' works; we're not nearly so convinced that he hates self-righteous 'good' works just as much, if not more. In fact, the most dangerous thing that can happen to you is that you become proud of your obedience." (46-47)
The book is filled with shots at religion like that, over and over. When he says that nothing should be added to Jesus, he means nothing. That is because there is nothing that can make us better. At least from the outside.
"The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. Therefore rules, regulations, good behavior, personal success, and performance are never the solution. Behavior modification cannot change the human heart. Outside cleanup never leads to inside cleanup. Only inside cleanup leads to outside cleanup--and there's only One who can do that." (55)
If you have ever wondered how the gospel should make an impact upon your life, this is the book for you. It drips with implications on how Jesus alone can satisfy. It is saturated with thoughts on how the good news of the life and death of Jesus, His love for us, and His acceptance for us should move us to action. The Christian should never act so that we might be accepted, we act because we are already accepted. This is a book that shows us how God changes us from the inside out. And if we ever try to change without reliance upon gospel truths, we are in danger of moralism. One last quote:
"One of the reasons we experience so much failure in the Christian life is that we think more about obligations then we do gospel declarations. We focus on the imperatives, but we pass over the indicatives. We fail in our doing because we fail to grasp first what Christ has already done. This leaves us powerless--running on our own steam. Only when you realize that the gospel has nothing to do with your obedience but with Christ's obedience for you, will you start to obey. The only Christians who end up getting better are those who realize that if they dont' get better, God will love them anyway." (156)Want To Win A Free Copy Of This Book?
Through the generosity of Crossway Publishers, I am able to give away a free copy of this book. There are many ways you can be entered into the drawing, but you must click on the PunchTab link below.
- You will be asked to like this post on your Facebook (don't worry, it is a very non-evasive form and is not a FB app)
- Leave a comment on this post, answering the question: "Why do you want to win this book?" (just so you know, your answer will have no bearing into who wins, I am just curious).
- Like "changedbythegospel" Facebook page
- Tweet this post (you will be given a link and every person who comes to the drawing from your specific link will give you additional entries)
- Sign up using your email. Don't worry, your information will be safe with Punchtab & me.
There you go. Sign up and maybe you will win the free copy of the book. The contest will run until Friday at noon, eastern time. Even if you do not win, I would strongly encourage you to read this book. It will be worth the time.