Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything? -- By: David P. Murray

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 05:1 (Jan 2013)
Article: Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything?
Author: David P. Murray


Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything?

David P. Murray

Tullian Tchividjian. Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Great title (wish I’d thought of it).

Great writer (wish I had Tullian’s talent).

Great quotables (wish I could remember them all).

But also great confusion (and I wish I didn’t have to say that).

I benefitted from reading Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Tullian Tchividjian writes beautifully about Christ’s sufficiency, and is especially skillful at exposing legalism and explaining justification. Each time I read the book, I was brought to a new love for Christ and a new appropriation of and appreciation for justification.

Tullian also models how to apply the gospel to very painful life situations—not just to the beginning of spiritual life, but to all of life. He’s amazingly honest about his own character flaws and personal failings, but that does allow him to demonstrate the way the gospel relates to his life and transforms it. I hope I can model that transparency a bit better in my own life and ministry. It probably comes easier to a surfer than a Scot!

I also benefitted from Tullian’s emphasis on the need to found sanctification on justification, the need to base daily growth on the daily preaching of the gospel to oneself. Too often we separate these, and I’ve been guilty of this at times as well. So, thank you, Tullian. These are not small achievements. You’ve done the church a great service.

And let me say that I also love Tullian’s enthusiasm for Christ. Although I will express some concerns about this book, I do believe that most people who read the book will catch Tullian’s infectious gospel enthusiasm and be the better for it. I know I did and am.

However, I’m concerned about three confusions at the heart of Tullian’s book.

  • The confusion between justification and sanctification
  • The confusion between personal experience and universal experience
  • The confusion between standing with God and enjoyment of God

The Confusion Between Justification And Sanctification

I do believe there is a fundamental confusion in this book between justification and sanctification. More specifically, the confusion is between justification and the outworking of sanctification (not the basis or beginnings of it). I doubt anyone could do a better job of explaining justification and its benefits than Tullian. Also, as I’ve said above, Tullian is very clear on the need to found or base sanctification on justification. Ins...

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