Is there a difference between spirituality and religion? How about religion and the gospel?
In the book Getting to Know Jesus, the author shares this quote from Pastor Mark Driscoll that explains what he sees as the difference between religion and the gospel:
The Difference Between Religion and the Gospel
Religion – man-made spirituality
Gospel – God-revealed spirituality
- Religion says, if I obey God, God will love me.
Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.
- Religion has good people and bad people.
Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.
- Religion depends on what I do.
Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.
- Religion has the goal to get things from God.
Gospel has the goal to get to God.
- Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin.
Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction. (God is working to grow my faith).
- Religion is about me.
Gospel is about Jesus.
- Religion believes appearing as a good person is key.
Gospel believes that being honest is key.
- Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God.
Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.
- Religion sees Jesus as the means.
Gospel sees Jesus as the end.
- Religion ends in pride or despair.
Gospel ends in humble joy.
Do You Need Religion?
Religion gets a bad rap these days. Between TV evangelists who swindle people out of money to priests who sexually abuse young boys, we hear plenty of stories that make us want to turn away from religion.
When you consider that while the majority of people in the United States today say they believe in God, yet church attendance is down significantly, it seems that indeed people are choosing to turn their backs on organized religion.
What is your take on this shift away from religion?
To be honest, the above quote gave me pause because my beliefs do not run in line with the “spiritual but not religious” movement so often seen today. While I understand that there deep hurts, frustrations, and struggles within the church, it comes down to this:
Christian people need to be in church.
If you believe the Bible is true (which you need to do in order to be a Christian), then you need to be going to church on a regular basis. Is this a salvation issue? No. In other words, you can get to heaven without every once stepping foot inside a church building.
But, and this is a big but – as a Christian you need to attend church. Just like every living thing needs food, water, and oxygen to sustain life, you need God’s Word and the encouragement of fellow believers in order to sustain your spiritual life.
It sounds nice to say, “I get all the religion I need out praying in the woods,” but that doesn’t match with what the Bible teaches. The Bible says this,
…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Religion and the Church
The quote by Pastor Driscoll says that religion is man-made. Is there a difference between religion and the church? Perhaps.
Religion is a man-made set of rules and includes all religions both Christian and non-Christian.
What we know for sure is that God established and protects His church on earth, which includes all believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We could argue those points for days, but perhaps the most important question is this – What is the gospel?
The gospel is the good news that God in His mercy, sent Jesus to be your Savior. Jesus restores your broken relationship with God the Father, and His gift of salvation gives you new life both here and into eternity in heaven. There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve this gift. It is extended to you fully because of God’s grace.
Religion (in this case, an arbitrary set of man-made rules) is life-taking, while the gospel (the good news of Jesus) is life-giving.
The Prayer of the Gospel
This prayer from Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church, taken from Getting to Know Jesus Chapter 1, says it beautifully,
Dear Lord, I am weaker and more sinful than I ever dared to admit. But through you, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared to hope. Thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment, and offering me forgiveness. Amen.
The Gospel and You
When you accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, everything about your life changes.
We cling to John 3:16, this well-know and so very important verse that says it so clearly,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
What do you think about the difference between religion and the gospel?
Getting to Know Jesus Online Bible Study
For those participating in the Getting to Know Jesus Online Bible study, read the Introduction and Chapter 1 in your book. Everyone is welcom e to participate in this study. We would love to have you join us!
Be sure to join in the discussion at our Getting to Know Jesus Facebook group.
Learn more about the online Bible study here: Getting to Know Jesus Online Bible Study
Purchase the book from Amazon here: Getting to Know Jesus
Getting to Know Jesus Bible Journaling
Bible journaling is creative expression of meaningful time in God’s Word. A group of people will be using their time studying the book Getting to Know Jesus also Bible journaling through their experience. Here are some pages from week one study. If you are new to Bible Journaling, get more information here: Bible Journaling: How to Get Started
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