To trust in Jesus as the sole provision for my acceptance before God is the essence of the gospel. But by definition this gospel cannot be the same as a gospel which allows you to trust in Jesus plus something else. Many are glad when they find those who “love Jesus” and are quick to consider them participants in the gospel. But the gospel found in the Bible requires more than “accepting Jesus” – it requires that I relinquish my trust in any other means of approval before God.
To think that “adding Jesus” to my life is the secret ingredient for salvation is to miss the “substitution” that is at the heart of biblical faith. I cannot add Christ to my efforts, works or good deeds. Christ must replace these! Paul, in describing his personal efforts to do good testifies, “whatever was to my profit I now consider loss” (Phil.3:7). He goes on to say, “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil.3:8-9).
The gospel calls us to forsake any trust or confidence in ourselves and instead to trust exclusively in Jesus Christ as the sole provision for our acceptance before God. Adding Christ to a spiritual portfolio or loving Christ as an additional spiritual asset is “another gospel” – which God in the letter to the Galatians goes to great lengths to show is “no gospel at all” (Gal.1:6-7).