My first official book review was quite a rewarding experience. I took an interest in this book immediately from reading the press release review. I knew the book would deal with the topics of legalism, grace, law, the Gospel, etc. I held out hope-before reading-that the author would have a full grasp on the topics and be able to articulate arguments against legalism and make an irrefutable case for the Gospel being entirely sufficient (salvation through Christ's work alone, without the need of adding to that work with our own works). I was not disappointed with the outcome. Tullian makes the argument irrefutable indeed.
I found this book to be absolutely correct, theologically. I could find no fault in the content. The writing was very much inspiring. Since I am a minister of the Word, I have studied and thought these topics over countless times, taught them to believers and unbelievers, and written about them. While I would not go so far as to say that I learned something new, I can say that Tullian's writing inspired and even challenged me in ways I didn't expect.
There are two important things I look for when reading books. First, I look for quotable content, quotes that I can use when teaching on related topics. Second, I am looking for books that are adequate enough for me to recommend to others who are in need of its particular content. Well, I find the book to be loaded with quotable content, and it is definitely a book that I will recommend to anyone who does not have a solid grasp on the above mentioned topics. In fact, while teaching, I have already quoted from this book and recommended it as a good-read.
As is the case with any product from Crossway that I have ever seen, the quality of this book seems top-notch. I would expect it to stand the test of time. The book has an interesting look, with its black cover and red lettering.
Tullian points out how often believers struggle to come to grips with the work of Christ being complete. We neglect to understand the past tenses of that work: that we were saved, we were freed, we were justified, we were sanctified, we were blessed, we were empowered, etc. He explains how truly knowing these things can free us to live for Christ from a heart of gratitude and not be bogged down by feelings of self-condemnation that come from trying to work for our salvation, acceptance, sanctification-what have you.
A Few Quotes From The Book
A gospel-saturated church is a church filled with people who give everything they have because they understand that in Christ they already have everything they need.
Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.
Enormous sin, extravagant gospel.
The gospel is so counterintuitive to our fallen pride that it cannot be believed apart from a miracle of divine grace.
Are we working hard to perform? Or are we working hard to rest in Christ's performance for us?
I would like to thank Crossway Publishing for providing this book to me free of charge, in exchange for an honest review of the product.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Its a simple equation really. Similar to the mathematical equation 1 +1 = 2. But as simple as it looks and sounds it is so hard to live out. This is what Tullian Tchividjian discovered in his first year as senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Tchividjian begins by explaining the inner struggle he had over his own identity during his first year at Coral Ridge:
"I'd never realized before how dependent I'd become on human approval and acceptance until so much of it was taken away in the rolling controversy at Coral Ridge. Before, in every church I'd been a part of, I was widely accepted and approved an appreciated. Now, for the first time, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of being deeply disliked and distrusted, and by more than a few people. Now I realized just how much I'd been relying on something other than - something more than - the approval and acceptance and love that were already mine in Jesus (p. 22)."
What Tchividjian recounts for the reader here is not something unique to him. No, desire for the approval, acceptance and appreciation of others is something that strikes at the heart of everyone. We have an addiction to being liked and we desire what he hope others think about us more than what we have in Christ. We have a gospel problem.
The solution to this problem is found in the gospel and for Tchividjian much of this gospel truth was found in the book of Colossians. It is here that Tchividjian discovered the gospel truth that Jesus + nothing else = everything because everything we have in Christ is all we need to shape and find our identity. The growing truth that is set forth in this book is that though we need to gospel to get saved we need it just as much after we are saved. The gospel not only "ignites the Christian life" but is also "the fuel that keeps it going (p. 37)." This is a book about helping us to find and remove the idols in our lives that our hearts seek to build our identity around.
The greatest threat to the believer finding satisfaction in their identity is Christ is legalism. "Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game (p. 46)." It is because these self-imposed structures seem so right that makes them so dangerous. "Our rules become our substitute savior, and keeping those rules becomes our self-salvation project (p. 48)." It "preserves our illusion that we can do this (p. 49)." This legalism is a double edged sword and so cuts both ways. First, there is "front-door legalism." This says that "I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules (p. 51)." Second, there is "back-door legalism." This says that "I can find freedom and fullness if I break all the rules (p. 51)." But both sides of the coin mean I am trying to save myself and neither is the gospel.
The freeing message of the gospel from legalism is that in Christ we are free from the law and its desire to enslave us to the double edged sword of legalism. We need to bask in the reality that Christ has freed us from the demands of the law for he has met them because we cannot. Our self-imposed legalism cannot help us fulfill the law. We were never intended to and God does not expect us to. Our attempts are displeasing to him and they diminish the law fulfilling work of Christ that has already been accomplished on the cross.
Page after page Tchividjian lays out for us the freeing truth of the gospel. It is this gospel truth that we need to run to everyday. It is this gospel truth that keeps us day by day. It is the gospel truth of what Christ has already done for us in Christ that enables us to stand before almighty God because he has freed us from sin and covered us in himself.
This is a book that every believer needs to read and digest. This is probably the most encouraging book I have read all year and one I will return to for years to come. Jesus + Nothing = Everything is a freeing gospel truth!
Jesus + Nothing = Everything is written by Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Jesus + Nothing = Everything explores what implications the sufficiency of Christ has on the everyday life of believers. In this book, Pastor Tullian shares how during a very difficult year; he discovered the power of the Gospel. During this year the Lord led him to read and study the book of Colossians; a book which he then preached to the congregation at Coral Ridge, and upon which this book is based.
While much has been written and said about the current "Gospel-centered" movement, I believe that this book significantly advances that conversation by taking it deeper into the fullness of the Gospel. Tullian in this book bears all the marks of a man who has truly experienced the power of God in the Gospel, which is why throughout the book he demonstrates what it means to be a man on fire for the Gospel. Throughout church history the men and women that God has used the most to advance the Gospel have been believers who have understood their identity in Christ. Many believers often wonder what "secret" these great saints discovered in order to experience the level of effectiveness they enjoyed in there ministries. The fact that so many Christian books written on the Christian life today focus solely on what it means to be successful for God is an indictment on contemporary evangelical theology. This book unlike those books focuses not on what it means to be successful for God, but rather on what Christ has already accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection. Pastor Tullian skillfully guides his readers deeper into the fundamentals of the faith by explaining how the Gospel frees the people of God to be who they really are in Him by His grace for His glory.
This book contains a message that needs to be preached from every rooftop and in every pulpit; every single week of the year. The implications of Christ's sufficiency are many and they all take the believer to the end of themselves in order to grow deeper and wider in the finished work of Christ in everyday life. Many contemporary theologians have written that evangelical Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep. The message Tullian delivers here rightly diagnoses that problem as moralism, legalism and idolatry, but doesn't stop at just explaining what these are or how Christians fall into these traps, but rather skillfully as a surgeon gets to the root of the problem by exposing these isms for what they are; a lack of confidence in the finished work Jesus Christ.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything is confessed as truth by nearly every evangelical, and yet many evangelicals do not appropriate this truth into their everyday lives. By this I mean, and Tullian explains so well that many evangelicals focus on their problems rather than on Jesus Christ. The believer who focuses solely on their problems demonstrates a lack of confidence in the power of the Gospel. Tullian calls believers away from being introspective about their sin by reorienting them to the truth of what Christ has done for them in the work of the Cross and Resurrection.
This is a book that challenges many contemporary evangelical ideas about accountability, spiritual growth, and ministry. Reading this book will change many believers' lives by turning them upside-down and inside-out for the sake of His Gospel. Tullian rightly notes that the Gospel that saves and sanctifies provides the fuel to do good, which flows from the fount of what's already been done by Christ. The truth that this book contains is the power of God to wreck your life in order to free you from hypocrisy, legalism and addictions, so that you will be who you are in Him by the grace of God. I recommend you pick up this book to be reminded and wrecked afresh by the precious truth that the Gospel that saves and sanctifies is indeed the power of God.
Title: Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Publisher: Crossway (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Tchividjian addresses what many of us are experiencing who have been followers of Christ for a long time, we keep adding things to the Gospel. Why do we do that? Because as Tchividjian points out on page 37, "identify where your restlessness is rooted--because that's where a confrontation with the gospel is needed.". What he is talking about is that we add to the Gospel to attempt to resolve the restlessness that we feel with life.
The Gospel is Christ crucified and resurrected. It is not Jesus plus running an orphanage. Nor is it Jesus plus feeding the homeless. Nor is it Jesus plus abiding by a set of our own moralistic rules. No, everything we need is just Jesus and only Jesus. it isn't that good works are bad, it's just they don't bring us salvation. That is through Christ alone and His work on the cross)
When we add to the Gospel we are adding our own idols ofnthe heart. Tchividjian does a wonderful job giving us many quotes from Godly men to remind us that it is the idols of our hearts that are our ruin;
Augustine, "God, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
Martin Luther, "whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God."
John Calvin famously said that all our hearts are idol-making factories.
Tullian Tchividjian, "idolatry is simply trying to build our identity on something besides God."
As a conflict coach for Peacemaker ministry I find myself captivated by Tchividjians thoughts and premises. He is so correct that we humans strive to find fulfillment and pleasure and meaning through the Gospel, but if it doesn't quite fit in our box, we add to it to make it fit. We add to it so our own pleasures are satisfied.
I agreed with Tchividjian that my problem was seeking to please people more than seeking to please God. By trying to please people you tend to water down the Gospel. You remove the rough edges so they will like it. But some of Christianity is difficult and we can not avoid it. We must seek to serve Him and Him only.
I recommend this book to all Christians who are struggling with restlessness in their hearts. They will find answers to their questions if they approach this read with an open heart and soul and mind. Jesus is all we need and after reading this book you will better understand why Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
I do want to thank Crossway books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever felt as though every aspect of your life was under siege? That the work you were doing, the life you were living, and the way you were doing things were all somehow going wrong? I know I have; indeed, there have been days when I couldn't seem to get my bearings - when it felt as though there was absolutely nothing certain, including gravity! In this book, Pastor Tullian relates how God used a period like that in his own life to draw him into the gospel in a deeper way.
As the pastor of a successful church that merged with another, Pastor Tullian experienced some difficulties that would usually seem more common in a corporate tower than a church sanctuary. And while he felt assurance before the merger that the bond was God's will, after the fact, he couldn't help but feel some level of discouragement in the way things were transpiring.
God had some amazing things to show him, though! Through a study in Colossians, Pastor Tullian found a clear insight into the gospel of Jesus, and how complete that is for Christians. Jesus said "It is finished" and He meant it - the gospel completes the transaction of sin for righteousness that all of us need for a relationship with Him. When we forget that, we begin to waver, and start adding other things to the gospel to improve what is already perfect.
This encouraging tome stays true to its title as Pastor Tullian shows through scripture (especially Colossians) that the sufficiency of the gospel for our salvation is as faithfully true as gravity. We don't need to add legalism, accolades, service, or obedience to assure ourselves of that truth - we already have EVERYTHING through the life and sacrifice of Christ. This book is a great read, and one that reminds Christians, again and again, that resolving to soak ourselves in the grace and love of the gospel on a daily basis is the best way to grow our relationship with Him. Do that and you will spend fewer days despairing, and more days celebrating the freedom that Christ has already promised, secured, and given.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255