The other day I posted the following quote from Tullian Tchividjian on my Facebook page, "Jesus + Nothing = Everything"
As a result I had a lot of comments and feedback from friends. -"Do we even need the '+nothing' portion in this quote?" -"I'd like it better as simply Jesus= Everything" -"I like having both Jesus + anything = nothing and Jesus + nothing = everything. Much more clear and concise."
I think, as Christians, we can all agree that Jesus=Everything. However, why would we even think about having the descriptive phrase "+nothing" added for clarification?
The reality is that we need to have the phrase "+nothing"
because our sinful nature will always attempt to add to Jesus. Our flesh can't stand the idea of Jesus with a period. Rather we want to add a comma so that we can allow for mankind's will and abilities to have a subtle yet prominent role in our spirituality.
The idea of Jesus period is offensive because it undercuts our role and our narcissistic inclinations. On the other hand, a comma allows for us to be involved in our spirituality, even if it is 1% involvement.
Think about this for a minute how we subtly add to Jesus.
-Jesus + our sanctification
What are the implications of having a comma after Jesus, even if it is constitutes for only 1%? The harsh reality is that anytime that we add to Jesus we end up subtracting from his work on the cross. A spirituality of .001% works righteousness is still works righteousness.
It is pretty e
vident to most people that our good works don't get us into the kingdom but often times we fall into a post-gospel legalism where we believe that our good works, additions and contributions keep us in the kingdom... thus the reason for comma ideology.
Furthermore, when we use a comma after Jesus, Christ is only going to be as good as our addition is. In other words, how will we ever know if our sanctification, decision, religious endeavoring, obedience, repentance, prayers, devotion, good works and right doctrine are good enough? We will always be vulnerable to doubt and lacking assurance when we use a comma. Has one been obedient enough? Has one made a good enough decision and is it binding? Has one prayed enough and done enough good works? Has one repented and actually truly meant it?
The good news is that this Christian life is a 'period' kind of spirituality! The reformers of the 16th century knew this and fought for this against the synergistic and pelagius spiritual climate of the day. That is the reason why we received the blessed "Solas" from them. The Word Alone; Christ Alone; Faith Alone; Grace Alone: For the Glory of God Alone!
It is Jesus with a period. For...
-Our Faith is a Gift (Ephesians 2:8 & Romans 10:17) -Our Sanctification is a Wor
k of God (Philippians 2:13) -We did not choose Christ, He chose us (John 15:16) -Repentance is a gift and a working of God upon us (2 Timothy 2:25) -Prayer is a faith response to the one that was faithful to us. (Revelation 3:20) -Good works are not prescriptive for our salvation but descriptive of faith. (James 2:18)
What comfort in being able to say, "Jesus." Jesus... period. Jesus finished everything. Jesus, is our salvation. Jesus, is our hope. Jesus, is our justification, sanctification, righteousness and all-in-all.
Matt has been the Senior Pastor of Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church of Sidney, MT since 2008. He previously was an Associate Pastor in Williston, ND & Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, his graduate degree from Lutheran Brethren Seminary and is currently enrolled at Concordia Seminary St. Louis pursuing a D. Min. In 2005 he was ordained into the ministry by the CLBA.
Pastor Matt is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! http://www.pastormattrichard.com/