The Gospel vs. Religion

“The Gospel Is Not ‘Old Time’ Religion” from Grace Church.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad 
The Gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Religion is about what I have to do. The Gospel is about what I get to do.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Religion is about me.
 The Gospel is about Jesus.
  10. 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?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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51 Responses to The Gospel vs. Religion

  1. shematwater says:


    Actually, I don’t have to reject any of these verse, or what they say. I only have to understand them in proper perspective and context.

    For instance, Psalms are poems, works of literature. While they teach great doctrines, they still must be seen for what they are. As such I can look at what David wrote and see him saying, in a very eloquent manner, that we are born in an imperfect state which eventually will lead to us committing sin.
    Much as it is put in Moses 6: 55 “And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts…” In this case “born in sin” refers to our imperfect mortal nature, as I have been saying.

    As to the other things you mention, if you are referring back to Romans again, I have already addressed these verses.
    Death did not come to all men by one man. Sin entered the world through one man. That sin causes death to all who partake of it. Because we are all born in the imperfect state of mortality (referred to in scripture as being born in sin) we all partake of sin and thus we all die.

    As to the question of those not born yet, Paul is not talking to the unborn, but to those currently living, and more especially to the adults among the Jews.
    Also, notice that he says all sin, a present tense usage. This would indicate that he is saying that in mortal life all sin, and thus this would cover those not born, saying that once they enter into mortality they will sin.

    Nothing here says we are born sinful.

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