Religion vs. Gospel

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways.  The first is religion/spirituality, and the second is the gospel.  The two are antithetical in every way.

Religion is about me.
The gospel is about Jesus.

Religion is what I have to do to get to God.
Gospel is what Jesus did to get me. 

Religion is what I have to do to be accepted by God.
Gospel is what God did to make me acceptable to Him.

Religion is I obey, therefore I am accepted.
Gospel is I am accepted, therefore I obey. 

The goal of religion is to get good things from God such as health, wealth, insight, power, and control.
The goal of the gospel is that we get God; he gives Himself as the greatest gift.

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope” (Timothy Keller). 

*Adapted from various sources including other Acts 29 churches and Redeemer Church, NYC.