Why is it that so many don’t often believe the gospel? Because they often blame the gospel for the evils of religion and how blind and ignorant religion forces its followers to be. So their answers are often, “No! Thank you!”
Many folks had initially rejected the gospel because it was coming from people of Jewish background or a particular group they’ve struggled to appreciate. You could pick any nation, you would easily find a baggage of distrust toward that nation. Like the time Jesus was denied stay at a particular inn simply because the owner of the inn noticed that Jesus and the disciples were heading toward Jerusalem.
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)
Nathanael responded, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
It wasn’t until Jesus said to Nathanael, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Quite likely, Nathanael believed that nobody could be seeing him under that fig tree except God himself. His answer then was, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus being of Nazareth, being the son of Joseph, wasn’t enough for Nathanael to believe in him. Yet, once Jesus revealed to Nathanael something that only he and God would have known, that’s when he believed in Jesus.
It makes a big difference when you hear the gospel without religion (background, regional credentials, etc…) It’s the best thing ever. It makes a big difference when you hear the gospel without someone crediting themselves for being a believer in Christ.
Yet many seek to use the gospel as some form of initiation into their religion. It’s almost like saying, “Hey, I got some great news for you, there’s a full course of food in that prison cell I’m offering you. You’ll find cable and wi-fi as well. So, hurry up before it gets spoiled or before I change my mind and give it to somebody else.”
So with fear you “accepted the offer”. A few days into the prison cell of religion, you hear, “here’s the bill.” With works, money, and efforts you find yourself trying to pay off that bill. It never ends until you meet someone who shares the gospel with you leaving religion out for good. You then ask, “What about the things that I should be doing?”
Their response, “That’s the good news! There’s nothing that you should be doing in response to this good news other than rejoicing in it. Go and share it with joy and love. You have freely received, so freely give!”
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
We’re not saved by our works. We’re not saved to become slaves of our works. Since we are slaves of righteousness, we are slaves of a finished work, Christ’s work. Now, we can rest. Because of Jesus, we can now rest and not go on worrying about what to do to keep up our standing before God. Jesus is our standing before God. Hallelujah? Hallelujah! Jesus is our standing before God.