Jesus Plus Nothing: Gospel Freedom
By Shawn Kennedy
One of the greatest temptations we face as followers of Jesus is to add things to Jesus for our identity, source of salvation or primary sense of satisfaction. The truth of the gospel is that it really is Jesus plus nothing that equals everything to us.
It is not Jesus plus something that gains our salvation, acceptance and approval before a holy God, it is Jesus plus nothing. In other words, we do not need to add anything to Jesus, we just need to go deeper and richer in what we already have in Jesus.
It is not Jesus plus good church attendance, It is not Jesus plus good moral behavior, It is not Jesus plus reading our Bible for thirty minutes a day, it is not Jesus plus not watching the right movie or reading the latest Christian book.
THE SCANDALOUS GRACE
The scandalous grace and love of God, the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus and the fulfillment and freedom of the gospel all point us to this truth: It is Jesus plus nothing that equals everything!
THE FREEING MESSAGE: IN NOT AND
It is Christ in us that makes all the difference our identity, source of salvation, and primary sense of satisfaction. It is not Christ and what I can do, what I can achieve, what I can attain. It is Christ in us.
The Apostle Paul is captivated and compelled with this truth!
In Paul’s letters the phrase “in Christ” is used or referenced more than 160 times in various forms. For Paul this is at the core of the good news of the gospel! He comes back to over and over again!
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:30
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption”
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
THE SUPREME JESUS
Jesus Christ is not our big brother or little brother, who helps us along. Jesus Christ is not an insightful counselor for difficult times. Jesus Christ is not a listening ear for our rainy difficult days. Jesus Christ is not an impressive sage or a wonder working prophet.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who lived a perfect life, died on rugged cross, rose three days later, victorious proving once and for all that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be supreme.”
It is not Jesus plus something, it is Jesus plus nothing. Why? Because nothing less than Jesus will do and nothing greater than Jesus exists. Our identity is not located in something, it is located in someone: JESUS!
CHANGING THE WAY WE LIVE
When we understand that it truly is Jesus plus nothing that equals everything, it changes the way we live for God.
As a follower of Jesus we do not live for God to gain His approval, but rather we live for God because in Christ we are unconditionally approved!
As a follower of Jesus we do not live for God to gain His acceptance, we live for God because in Christ we are completely accepted!
As a follower of Jesus we do not live for God to gain His forgiveness, we live for God because in Christ we are fully and forever forgiven!
As a follower of Jesus we do not live for God to gain His love, we live for God because in Christ we are dearly and deeply loved!
As a follower of Jesus we do not live for God to gain freedom, we live for God because in Christ we are set free!
This is the good news of the gospel, AMEN!
If I had to recommend one book on this subject it would be Tullian Tchividjian work, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”
Shawn Kennedy is a part of the Lead Pastoral Team at Existence Church and is the Founder of Kingdom Come Discipleship. He is the co-author of Kingdom Come: A Gospel-Centered Guide to Discipleship. Shawn has a passion for helping others become gospel-centered, Kingdom-driven, disciple-making followers of Jesus.