The gospel is different than any other religion or worldview out there. How so?
“Religion” says, “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” That is, when I morally or spiritually perform well, God will bless me and reward me with a good life and even heaven.
The “gospel” says, “I’m accepted through the life and death of Christ, therefore I obey.” That is, my moral and spiritual performance come up short of God’s perfect standard. Therefore, my moral and spiritual performance will not earn God’s blessing. However, Jesus lived a perfect life and died in my place so by faith in him alone, I receive God’s blessing. By faith alone, I get credit for the life Jesus lived and the death he died.
So picture two people. One is deeply religious. The other is gospel-centered. On the surface they both look the same. They are pretty moral and spiritual people. But underneath the surface, they are worlds apart. The deeply religious person, if they’re being honest, is riddled with insecurity because they don’t know if they’ve been good enough. The gospel-centered person, on the other hand, is at peace.
Why the difference?
The religious person is working hard trying to earn God’s approval, but isn’t sure they’ve been successful at it. The gospel-centered person is at peace because they already have God’s approval!
Getting the difference right is vital for experiencing freedom from fear and instead experiencing peace and rest.