Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything
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The statement is simple, yet profound: Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
Stop and think about that. Chew on it. Say it to yourself with unction: “Jesus plus nothing equals everything.” The statement comes from Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. It was the title of a sermon series he delivered on Paul’s letter to the Colossians, reminding us that Jesus Christ is supreme over all things. Consider Paul’s words in Colossians 1 (NKJV):
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.—Colossians 1:15–23
Don’t you love that? Paul helps us see the all-sufficiency and superiority of Jesus Christ, the fullness of His preeminence and beauty, so that we would be zealous to turn from our idols and human ideals and turn to Him alone for our freedom and grace that we so desperately long for.
It’s not “Jesus + gifts” or “Jesus + blessings” or “Jesus + job” or “Jesus + family” or “Jesus + religion.” It’s “Jesus + nothing = everything.” Yes, for the believer, He really is everything; He really is enough. And I pray that for you today, reader. That Jesus would be more than enough, His grace would be more than sufficient, and that no matter what circumstances life brings us—good or bad—we would be able to confess, along with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”1— Chris Poblete2
I think most of us begin our Christian journey with this simple truth.
I’m broken. I need Jesus. The end.
However, as we launch out on this new journey, it doesn’t take long before we begin to hear this growing and incessant whisper that says, “Try harder, do more.” Sing more. Memorize more. Journal more. Preach more. Pray more. Evangelize more. Serve more.
This approach can look quite spiritual to those around us; however, it’s often rooted in an inner conviction that our worth as a Christian is dependent upon our ability to outperform those around us. Behind this spiritual façade is a fragile and insecure heart desperately attempting to get God to love us more.
The cross isn’t something we start with and then move on from. The cross isn’t just the starting line of our faith; it’s the centerpiece. Grace isn’t something we need just for salvation; it’s like air for the believer.
So today when you hear that whisper in your head that says, “Try harder, do more,” go back to this: I’m broken. I need Jesus. The end.—Pete Wilson3
Through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, God forgives our sins. They have been imputed to Christ, meaning they became His and are no longer ours. At the same time, Jesus’ righteousness has been imputed to those who receive Him and accept His gift of salvation, so God no longer sees us as sinners worthy of punishment, but rather as righteous in His sight. Our “legal” guilt and condemnation are removed, and the separation between God and us is no longer there.
The word justify used in the New Testament is the Greek word dikaioo. One of its definitions is to declare or pronounce someone to be righteous. Our justification means that God declares us righteous, or declares us no longer guilty and condemned. This doesn’t mean that we who have received His gift of salvation are now sinless, as we are all still sinners, but it means that “legally” we are seen by God as righteous. As our sins were imputed to Jesus, and thus are seen as His, so is His righteousness imputed to us, and His righteousness is seen by God as ours.
All of this is God’s work, not our own. There is nothing we could do or achieve to deserve this forgiveness and righteousness. It’s a gift from God. In His love He made the way for us to be righteous in His sight—not by our works or good deeds, but by His grace, mercy, and love. It’s a gift of love, costly on God’s side, free on ours.4
Scripture makes it clear that people are not saved by being good or doing good works or keeping the laws of Moses—or anything we do ourselves. Salvation, which results in justification, depends solely on God and His plan. All we have to do is believe that God has made it available through Jesus, and accept it by faith.5
A beautiful feature of justification is that, as Christians, we no longer need to feel anxiety regarding our standing with God. Though we still sin, our status of having the righteousness of Christ does not change. We no longer need to question whether we’ve done enough or are close enough to God to merit salvation. God has done it all, and through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are and will always be seen as righteous by God.
The love and sacrifice of God, through Jesus’ death on the cross, has resulted in our justification before God. It has removed our separation and has reconciled us with Him. What a precious and valuable gift has been offered by the God of love to humanity! “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”6—Peter Amsterdam
When it comes to drawing near to God and pleasing him, legalism insists that obedience precedes acceptance—that it’s all up to us. But the fresh breeze of gospel freedom announces that acceptance precedes obedience—that once we’re already approved and already accepted by God in Christ, we can freely follow God’s lead and grow in doing his will out of genuine gratitude for his amazing grace and without any fear of judgment or condemnation when we fail.—Tullian Tchividjian7
Published on Anchor March 2016. Read by Jason Lawrence.
1 Job 1:21.
4 See Ephesians 2:8–9.
5 See Romans 10:9–10 and Galatians 2:16.
6 Romans 5:1 ESV.
7 Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2011).