The gospel doxologically declares that because of Christ's finished work for you, you already have all of the justification, approval, security, love, worth, meaning, and rescue you long for and look for in a thousand different people and places smaller than Jesus.
The gospel announces that God doesn't relate to us based on our feats for Jesus but Jesus' feats for us.
Because Jesus came to secure for us what we could never secure for ourselves, life doesn't have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, validate ourselves.
He came to rescue us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. He came to relieve us of the burden we inherently feel "to get it done."
The gospel announces that it's not on me to ensure that the ultimate verdict on my life is pass and not fail.
This means you don't have to transform the world to matter, you don't have to get good grades to secure your own worth, you don't have to be a success to justify your existence.
Because Jesus was strong for you, you're free to be weak; Because Jesus was Someone, you're free to be no one; Because Jesus was extraordinary, you're free to be ordinary; Because Jesus succeeded for you, you're free to fail. Because Jesus won for you, you're free to lose.
But hold on…wait a minute…
Doesn't this unconditional declaration generate apathy – an "I don't care" posture toward life?
If it's true that Jesus paid it all, that it is finished, that my value, worth, security, freedom, justification, and so on is forever fixed, than why do anything? Doesn't grace undercut ambition? Doesn't the gospel weaken effort?
But the truth is, gospel grace actually empowers risk-taking effort and neighbor-embracing love.
You see, the thing that prevents us from taking great risks is the fear that if we don't succeed, we'll lose out on something we need in order to be happy and so we live life playing our cards close to the chest…relationally, vocationally, spiritually.
We measure our investments carefully because we need a return–we're afraid to give because it might not work out and we need it to work out.
But, because everything we need in Christ we already possess, we can take great risks, push harder, go farther, and leave it all on the field without fear. We can invest with reckless abandon because we don't need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval. We can invest freely and forcefully because we've been freely and forcefully invested in.
The fear of not knowing whether I'll get a return is replaced by the freedom of knowing we already have everything: because everything I need, in Christ I already possess, I'm now free to do everything for you without needing you to do anything for me.
I can now actively spend my life giving instead of taking, going to the back instead of getting to the front, sacrificing myself for others instead of sacrificing others for myself.
The gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.
When you don't have anything to lose, you discover something wonderful: you're free to take great risks without fear or reservation.
This is the difference between approaching all of life from salvation and approaching all of life for salvation; it's the difference between approaching life from our acceptance, and not for our acceptance; from love not for love.
So, what are you going to do now that you don't have to do anything…
A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian has authored a number of books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway). He travels extensively, speaking at conferences throughout the U.S., and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program LIBERATE. As a respected pastor, author, and speaker, Tullian is singularly and passionately devoted to seeing people set free by the radical, amazing power of God's grace.
When he is not reading, studying, preaching, or writing, Tullian enjoys being with people and relaxing with his wife, Kim, and their three children: Gabe, Nate, and Genna. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf.