Pastor Troy Dobbs explains some of the distinctions that differentiate religion from the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this sermon, using Matthew 9:14-17 as his text.
According to Dr. Dobbs, Jesus confronted man-made religion, essentially telling His listeners, “Your system says you’re righteous. Mine says you’re vile and sinful. No way to match those two together…If you hang on to yours…you get death; if you trust Me, you’ll find life” (20:30).
The following list of ten “radical differences” between religion/ritual and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is from the sermon outline provided by Dr. Dobbs. He discusses these points in greater detail beginning at 22:30 in the video above.
The great reformer Martin Luther said that as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways: The first is Religion. The second is The Gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.
- Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The Gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.
- Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The Gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
- Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person to be right with God. The Gospel says that you should trust in the sinless life of Jesus and His atoning death on the cross to be right with God.
- The goal of Religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of The Gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
- Religion is about what I have to do. The Gospel is about what I get to do.
- Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The Gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us suffering is used by God to make us more like Jesus.
- Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
- Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The Gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
- Religion is about me. The Gospel is about Jesus.
- Religion leads to death. The Gospel leads to life.
Dr. Dobbs says, “Religion doesn’t cut it with God” (21:00). “God doesn’t save religious people…He saves people who place faith and trust in His Son” (37:00). “Lose your religion; it’s gonna kill ya…Give yourself to Jesus…and you will find yourself right with God” (37:45).
In which system are you trusting?