Ancient church father Tertullian once said, “Just as Jesus was crucified between two thieves, so the gospel is ever crucified between these two errors.” What two errors? Tertullian called these errors legalism and antinomianism. In our day we would label these errors as religion (moralism) and irreligion (relativism). Both of these errors constantly work to undercut the reality of the gospel, and rob it of its power. As Timothy Keller observes in his book Center Church why these errors undercut the actual gospel, “Legalism says that we have to live a holy, good life in order to be saved. Antinomianism says that because we are saved, we don’t have to live a holy, good life.” Both errors crucify the real gospel.
We now live in an a very antinomian North American culture. “All roads lead to God,” we say. “God loves us just the way we are” which is true, but we misapply it and assume “Since God loves me the way I am, He approves of all that I choose to do.” The gospel merely becomes this used-car sales pitch – “Hey buddy! God is ready to be wrapped up in your life, and all you have to do is say yes right here and right now!” But as we’ll explore in the next few posts, this undercuts the power of the gospel. The gospel isn’t about God being wrapped up in our lives, the gospel is the announcement that we have been given the profound opportunity to be wrapped up in God’s life because God, at excruciating cost to Himself, has made it possible for us to respond to His invitation to leave our so-called “lives” behind and enter into the fullness of His indestructible life. So here’s a question for you to consider today. How is your version of the gospel tainted by antinomianism?