Just $3 Worth of Gospel?

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I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much–just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.

I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races–especially if they smell.

I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel, please.

D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers, p. 13

So what do we do to get more than just $3 of gospel? First of all, I don’t think it means trying harder or doing more. Tullian Tchividjian writes that the “hub of Christianity is not ‘do something for Jesus.’ The hub of Christianity is ‘Jesus has done everything for you.'”

Second, I don’t believe getting more than $3 of gospel is just a one time fix. I think it is something we do daily by reflecting upon the truth of what God has done for us in Christ. Paul writes that he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Getting more than $3 worth of gospel therefore, is daily realizing the extravagance of the grace of God and allowing such grace to transform all of who we are.

Grace is far more powerful than law. The law only gives us a checklist of do’s and don’t’s. If we do them all, we are accepted. And many times, as our lists get longer and longer, our motivation to keep up gets weaker and weaker.

This is not so with grace. Grace is not about us living up to a set of expectations but about us trusting in one who met all the requirements for us. Grace is about being loved due to the goodness of the one who loves.

We must embrace the reality that we do not deserve salvation from God. Nor can we do anything to earn it. It is a gift. It is by grace.

Tchividjian writes that such grace “has the unique power to inspire generosity, kindness, loyalty, and more love, precisely because it removes any and all requirement to change or produce.” It is “the most dangerous, expectation-wrecking, smile-creating, counterintuitive reality there is.”

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  

Ephesians 2:1-5

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