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Posts Tagged ‘Calvary’

(revised 02/14/14)


Image source: http://s287.photobucket.com/user/zman22180/media/Art/jesus-crucifixion-wallpaper-105.jpg.html

I was “surfing” the radio today while commuting. One radio preacher was talking about having faith that God will answer your prayers. Another preacher was talking about praying for healing of loved ones. A radio talk show host was talking about how Jesus’ touch can break our addictions. And so on… ad nauseum.

Why do I say “ad nauseum”? Not because the above concepts are wrong or bibically unsound – they are biblical. No, I was upset because, for the most part, something was MISSING. Namely, I heard no mention of:

* sin
* God’s judgment of sinners on Judgment Day
* damnation
* eternal torment
* the need for repentance from sin
* Jesus as the only way to Heaven
* Jesus as our Saviour/Redeemer/Atonement
* the blood of Jesus
* the cross of Calvary

I first noticed this “missing message” in the later years of the Billy Graham crusades. George Beverly Shea and others would sing songs like “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. A nice song of comfort – but where was the convicting message of sin, God’s judgment, eternal torment, and the need to accept Christ as Saviour, the only One who can save us from eternal torment/eternal punishment?

This is the core of the gospel – no other “gospel” can save us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Paul said:

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:2)

And:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

One final note. Various postmoderns (Emerging/Emergents) have accused my ministry and other discernment ministries of being “heresy hunters”, “heretical” and even “cultic”. If people like myself who preach the above message of Christ and the cross of Calvary are attacked with these labels, I feel sorry for their attackers. I would not want to be in their attackers’ shoes on Judgment Day. (If you think I’m angry with postmoderns, you’re right!)

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As I’ve tried to stress in other blogs, it is critical to emphasize the “bloody” message of our Saviour on Calvary, the message of “the Blood and the Cross”, in every service. This is the core of the gospel – to ignore or downplay the doctrine of the Atonement is an abomination.

Two passages come to mind. Paul said:

“22) Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23) but we preach Christ crucified… (I Cor. 1:22-23a).

And: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

I Googled the search string [“Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”] and found many great articles and sermons on the topic. Also, for me many old gospel hymns convey this message in a powerful way. Churches need to sing these hymns again, regularly: “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, etc. I found this YouTube video about these old hymns that seemed appropriate:

I came across an excellent blog from Stand Up for the Truth!, which emphasizes this same theme. Click here for the original site of this blog. I’ve emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Gospel-less sermons regenerate no one

How important is it to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached each and every Sunday?  That we would even need to ask this question nearly 2,000 years after the Church was first established is heartbreaking to me.

I’ve been told by Christians and even pastors that it is not realistic to expect to hear the Gospel preached in every sermon message. “Sometimes we’re talking about a different subject,” they tell me, or “it doesn’t fit in with section five of our 10-part sermon series.” Or this one: “If you think you need to hear the blood sacrifice being preached in every message, you’re  not going to be happy in any church.”

Really? Am I that demanding that I’ve placed an unfair, unrealistic expectation on our poor pastors who are just trying to reach the lost?

Imagine Paul, or Peter, or John, or even Jesus Himself sitting in a typical seeker-driven service on any given Sunday morning and not hearing the message that martyrs still die for: That we are born sinners into sin-filled world at odds with God and that while we still hated Him, He came to earth as a sinless sacrifice, whose blood on the cross atoned for our sins and the punishment we deserve. He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of witnesses, who saw Him ascend to heaven, and those witnesses have been sharing that Good News ever since, that those who believe in Him can repent of their sins and be reconciled to God forever. It is through Christ alone that we are offered Mercy and Grace. Only In His perfect sacrifice, He exchanges His righteousness for our Sin.

In the time I took to read that, 30 seconds have passed. Surely 30 seconds of these life-giving words of the Gospel is the message that we all must hear over and over again. Not just so that we can be saved, but so that we can have real life to the full. A Sunday service without the Gospel regenerates no one.

It is good to talk about making good choices, or treating each other in love. It’s good to sing worship songs and teach about putting God and money in proper perspective. But not at the expense of  The Gospel.  Because if I am still steeped in my sins, unrepentant without knowing who Jesus is, and I’ve just sat through your sermon series on how to have a good marriage or how to feed the hungry, I am still going to Hell when I die.

English: Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558. Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t know what the Gospel is. If you were to ask, they might say that the Gospel is about loving our neighbor, or loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And while important, these are not the Gospel, but are the essence of the Law. And yes, we need to walk the narrow path and live out what God commands.  But His truth also tells us that as hard as we strive, we can’t love God as perfectly as He commands. And by the way, how did you do at loving your neighbor last week? I fell extremely short.

That’s why we need the Gospel, even as we grow into mature Christians. We hear the Gospel so that we can be reminded of how good He is, and how wretched we are apart from Him. And when we do break the Law – any of them –we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.

As writer Mike Ratliff put it so powerfully, God will not tolerate a perversion of the Gospel because it is the only truth:

However, in our time the Gospel has been retold in all sorts of unbiblical ways. Some are outright lies while others are more subtle, for instance, there is the lie that is mostly true in which the Gospel is given, but that part about repentance and the lordship of Jesus Christ being necessary is left out. People want to make the narrow gate wide and easy, but that has never been God’s way. They want to remove the offense of the Cross, but it has to be there. Preaching against sin “puts people off, offends their sensibilities, puts them on the defensive, and makes them uncomfortable” is being cut from most churches in our time to make them more “seeker friendly.”

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked according to the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Paul, speaking to Christians, told them and us that they were once just the rest of the world, which was dead in their own trespasses and sin in which they once walked according to the world system. There are no exceptions t this. A “Gospel message” or “theology” that does not address this is not biblical. In fact, it is false teaching. Those who teach these false teachings are teaching a different Gospel, and God will judge them for it.

The only Gospel is, “Trust in Jesus’ blood as the only redemption from sin.”       (Source: Possessing The Treasure)

In those last four seconds is packed an eternity of truth.  No, I don’t think I’m being demanding by asking to hear the Gospel each and every time. How can we expect anything less for our families, our friends and for a world that does not know Him?  Churches, pastors, Christians: It’s time to step up. Let’s not just squeeze these in around our three main principles or five action points. No, let’s make the Gospel the center of every message, and the rest can flow from Christ’s amazing, perfect love.

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I have been increasingly concerned with this abomination: most evangelical pastors no longer regularly preach the “offensive” bloody salvation message of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross of Calvary. But we as church members are also to blame. Most church members have rarely if ever shared the gospel message of sin, judgment, Hell and salvation one on one with another individual.

I myself am guilty of seldom witnessing one on one “in the highways and byways.” At the very least, I could get into the habit of leaving tracts wherever I go – yet I  “just haven’t got around to it.” Lord, forgive me! I do praise the Lord that as a pastor and as a born again Christian, my father (God rest his soul) shared the gospel many times with individuals and prayed with them, as they repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

I was pleased to come across a pertinent blog by Chris Hohnholz, rebuking Christians for failing to be active witnesses. Click here for the original source of this blog. I have reposted the entire blog below; I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Burning Man Reminds Us to Preach the Gospel

This week marks the pagan festival held in northern Nevada known as “Burning Man.” For those who may not be familiar with this local event, literally thousands of people from all around the country will descend upon the Black Rock Desert a couple hours north of Reno. They will camp out in RV’s and tents, they will bring assorted foods, music and the like. But this is no ordinary camp out. It is a festival in which every individual’s personal belief system is put on full display. Literally, from the most basic camp out to full on pagan worship, a small society of ultra post-modernity sets itself up for a full week of personal celebration and worship of whatever you choose. The event culminates in the burning of a wooden statue where everybody congregates and celebrates this most sacred event.

However, it is not the debauched, pagan style celebratory worship that drives me to write this article, well, not entirely anyway. As I said, the Burning Man festival is literally the hallmark event of post modernism. Virtually every lifestyle choice and belief system is represented at this gathering. And were you to ask those attending how they felt about the competing beliefs being in all in the same place, they would tell you how wonderful it is to have such a non-judgmental environment where everyone could live as they chose without fear of being told they were wrong. In other words, Burning Man is the utopia of post-modernism. And post-modernism IS the religion of the United States. Those who promote this religion would be overjoyed to see the Burning Man mentality exist in every corner of our society.

My motivation here is not to bemoan the leftist, elitist mindset that drives post-modernism. Rather it is to challenge every single Christian with this thought: how did Burning Man become the Mecca of American “religion” while the Church is viewed as its “anti-christ?” The answer is, I believe, is this, we have faltered in Christ’s command to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. Remember when we first understood that we were vile wretches that were at war with God through our wicked works. How we realized that in His just punishment, God would rightly send us to Hell. Yet God, in His mercy, pulled us from the fire and punished His Son Jesus Christ at the cross in our place! His shed blood covered our sins and His resurrection paved the path to Heaven for us. Through repentance and faith alone, both merciful gifts from our gracious Father, we received the amazing salvation that promises us eternity with Him! And then Christ commanded us to take the story of that salvation and to preach it to everyone we came in contact with. And what a blessing it would be to share it! To lead the lost, blind and dying to the very salvation they didn’t even know they needed!

Somewhere along the way, we stopped obeying that command. Where we once would not have thought twice about sharing this glorious message with anyone, we reigned back, we slowed down and we gave in. We stopped preaching the hard truth that the law brings condemnation, that it reveals we are not good people and that we deserve Hell. We started saying “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or we decided we would just allow people to “see Jesus in us.” In doing so, we have exchanged the amazing gospel of Christ, a gospel that should cost us everything to follow, for cheap grace and easy believism! We have become content that evangelism is a spiritual gift for only some and not a command for all. As a result, the culture has plunged head long into the morass of sin and debauchery, into false “religiosity” and personal fulfillment. All the while, we have stood by with the very words of life that can rescue these perishing masses, yet failed to heed the call of our Captain into action.

It is altogether possible that, as you are reading this, you have dismissed my conclusion. If so, consider this, statistics tell us that merely 1% to 2% of professing Christians go out of their way to deliberately share the gospel with someone. That is a very telling number, even if one were to believe the polls which report the high percentages of “Christians” in the United States. In truth, it is likely many of those polled are more cultural Christians than truly bathed in the blood of Christ, born again of the Spirit believers. So that 1% to 2% gets even smaller, which means that a very scant number of truly born again Christian are out there carrying the weight of the command that the entire church is responsible to obey. With these small numbers acting as the evangelistic force for the church, is it that hard to imagine why the church holds so little influence in our culture today?

Yet, there are Christians who would insist that they are very evangelistic. They would point the numbers of people they have invited to church regularly to hear the preaching of the gospel by their pastor. While it is good to bring unsaved friends and loved ones to church, we must understand, this is not evangelism. It is the abdicating of one’s personal responsibility to seek out the lost and share the life giving elixir that is the gospel. Local churches are the place where the saved come together in corporate worship. They are led by the pastor in prayer and praise. They are edified and equipped under his teaching so that they may go out and do spiritual warfare in the world. To leave our responsibility to be proclaimers of the gospel solely to the pastor changes the very nature of the church gathering from corporate worship and edification to seeker friendlyism which sacrifices the content of the word for entertainment to keep the unsaved coming.

But one may point to something that is overtly evangelistic, such as their involvement in the large christian outreaches that gather untold thousands of lost and unregenerate people in one place to hear the gospel. While it is wonderful to see the efforts of so many people to brig the gospel to the world, in many cases, it is simply a repeat of bringing someone to church. Rather than going out into the world preaching the gospel, Christians invite the lost into one place where they will hear preaching by a few, or maybe even just one preacher. The energy and effort put into this gathering is all about getting the people there to hear someone else preach the message. I’m not discounting the genuine desire, and even countless hours of prayer, that Christians pour into this. But in the end, we abdicate the responsibility to someone else. And in truth, many of these events become big seeker friendly attractions where big bands, light shows and celebrity Christians attempt to woo the unsaved to making a “decision for Christ.” But when we look at the statistics, most of those people who make professions of faith never get plugged into a local church. They run around with a “Christian-buzz” for a while, but before long, they prove themselves to be rocky ground with no depth, or a plant choked out by the weeds. In other words, a false convert. One who left us, because he or she never really was of us.

Or maybe those in the church really do desire to get out on the streets to interact with people. So they set up food drives, or head out to feed and clothe the homeless. They hope to show those who are in desperate situations that they are loved by the Church. A noble effort to be sure, but more often than not, it is devoid of the preaching of the gospel. Those they help may be aware of a physical, temporal love in the here and now, but they are rarely, if ever, told that they more desperately need peace with God through Jesus Christ, because their sinful deeds are causing them to be at war with Him.

That’s how post modernism and events like Burning Man are the hallmark of excellence in our society, because Christians have faltered in preaching that amazing grace that saved us from the depths of Hell. I say this because if we remembered that beautiful gospel daily, how could we not go running into the streets to preach it to everyone? How could we ever claim evangelism is not our “gift” when it is a command from our Savior? How could abdicate our responsibility to preach the entirety of the gospel and give a wishy-washy “God has a wonderful plan for your life” message? I can say we have faltered because the fruit of it is as apparent as the false worshippers running to the desert grounds of northern Nevada to worship as they please with no fear of ever being told they are wrong!

I am not saying that the efforts I described above should never, ever happen. If even one soul is saved because they were invited to church or an evangelistic out reach, praise God. If one person comes to Christ because he or she understood that the love of Christ compelled a Christian to reach out and help them, His name is glorified! What I am saying is that by and large, most Christians are either not engaging in the command to evangelize, or are trusting in efforts solely like these to abdicate their responsibility to do so. And because of this, more and more souls are being lost to the culture’s tolerant, post-modern ideas.

Christians, we need to wake up and realize our Captain is commanding us to action! We need to repent of our sin of failing to preach the gospel and seek His forgiveness. We must equip ourselves with the word of God and bend our knees in prayer. We must go out into the highways and byways preaching the truth that salvation is in Christ alone, through repentance and faith alone! We must do so at all costs, even if it means losing relationships, positions at work, or even one day, our freedom. For lives are lost everyday to the pits of Hell! Let us be about our Father’s business, let us preach the truth and let us point people not to a “Burning Man” made of wood, but to the God Man who was and is and is to come! Let us call them to Christ alone!

Click here to view many excellent comments following the above blog which I have reposted.

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(revised 04/06/17)

I remember growing up in the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) denomination. As late as the 1960s, we would often sing the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. One of the verses contains the phrase “though none go with me, still I will follow.” That is how I feel nowadays about the EFCI – that I am walking alone. (Actually I no longer belong to the denomination, but am trying to reach the denomination since so many of my relatives and friends still belong.)

I’m sure there are born again, biblically sound, spiritually mature Christians in the EFCI.  But for the most part, churches in the EFCI have not stayed close to their first love (especially in Northwest Yearly Meeting, where contemplative heretic Richard Foster first became popular). Specifically, I have heard of very few EFCI churches that preach and sing every Sunday about our blood-bought salvation, the bloody atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary to save (rescue from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire) those who sincerely repent of their sins. I hear very few passionate invitations to unsaved attenders/seekers/sinners to turn from their sinful ways and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. And it has been decades since I’ve seen an EFCI tract rack with “hellfire and brimstone” tracts, or heard Evangelical Friends singing old-time gospel hymns such as “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.”

Regarding the loss of emphasis on “the Blood and the Cross” – not just in the EFCI but in many evangelical denominations – I have reposted an excellent sermon on this below. Click here for the original source of the sermon. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Offense of the Cross
by Josef Urban

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased” (Galatians 5:11). Paul’s Gospel had teeth. It bit hard into the kingdom of darkness and ripped chunks from it wherever it came. He didn’t make his message smooth and soft in order to suit the fancies of the religious majority. His Gospel was a sharp word that exalted Christ, lifted the cross up high, proclaimed total commitment to Christ the King, and utterly stripped man of all self-reliance, shattering self-righteousness, tearing down false religion, and leaving men stripped bare before God in utter dependence on His free grace alone to save them.

And of course, with a Gospel like this, Paul suffered persecution wherever he went. Yet he didn’t dare water-down the potency of the truth of God. He didn’t compromise his message in order to make it more acceptable to the people. He didn’t pervert it to make it look pretty. He proclaimed, “This is the way, the only way! Walk ye in it!” and pronounced a thundering “Anathema!” on anybody that dared to tamper with the message and preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Yet this is exactly what was happening in the church at Galatia. False teachers had come in and deceived the brethren by perverting the Gospel. They were preaching that in addition to believing in Christ, it’s necessary to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. They were adding to the Gospel, changing the message to make it more acceptable. Paul said of them: “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12). False teachers and false brethren today are rarely found preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation. However, they are still doing the same thing to the Gospel, adding to it and taking away from it in order to make it less offensive and more acceptable to the religious folk who fill the churches, in order that they don’t have to suffer persecution for the sake of the message. They take away the “offense of the cross” and in doing so, take away the heart and substance of the Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul preached salvation solely through the finished work of the cross, and preached abroad that those who are to be saved by grace must identify themselves with this bloody cross. He preached that men need to believe in Christ, and that the result of believing is an identification with the cross. He gloried in the fact that he was “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). He preached that the sinful flesh needs to be crucified; that the carnal man has to be put to death. Any who refuse to thus nail themselves to the cross are unworthy of the great, glorious Gospel of Christ. Any who water down the Gospel and dilute the message to make it more acceptable to carnal men or to tailor to the religious status quo, refusing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel are enemies of the cross, serving their own bellies, minding earthly things, and will face destruction (Phi. 3:18-19). There is no compromise here. Those that don’t like the message are the enemies of the cross.

Paul’s Gospel was offensive, highly offensive. He boasted that his message contained “the offense of the cross” and would not dare to cause such offense to cease. To him, the fact that there was such an offense was proof that he was preaching the true Gospel. He knew that the true Gospel would stir up devils and provoke the wrath of wicked men, and thus at times cause offense. And he continued to preach this true Gospel to the very end, even though it was “foolishness to those who are perishing”, because he knew that it was the power of God to those who believed and embraced it, resulting in salvation (1 Cor. 1:21). In addition to demolishing Satanic strongholds and turning multitudes from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, the result of preaching this was angry mobs, getting stoned, being whipped and scourged, getting thrown into prison, being hated everywhere he went, and ultimately being beheaded in Rome.

Why doesn’t our “gospel” today get us persecuted? Why does it sit so well with the religious masses? Why doesn’t it bite and cut and wound and hack and kill false religiosity? Because it’s not God’s Gospel! It’s not the sharp, two-edged sword that pierces hearts and slashes through false religious ideologies. It doesn’t wound the consciences of hardened sinners and cause them to cry out in godly sorrow, “What must I do to be saved?” It doesn’t tear away the false foundations and strip away their false hopes, and so it leaves us building on a faulty foundation that’s not going to stand when the floods of God’s just judgment come against it. There’s no digging deep in plowing up the hardened ground by preaching the offense of the cross and calling for deep repentance, so there’s not a solid foundation laid that will endure to life everlasting. The result is that multitudes are trusting in a false “gospel” that pampers the flesh and are blindly walking down the wide road that leads to destruction.

In taking away the offensiveness of preaching heart-repentance from sin and biblical justification by faith and the necessity of bowing to the Lordship of Christ, and in taking away the offensiveness of the message of the cross, we have destroyed the foundation of the Gospel. We need to get back to the offensive message of self-denial, crucifixion to the world and the flesh, of dying to sin, and of preaching salvation as the sovereign work of God’s free grace, given freely to men on the basis of faith in Christ alone apart from any merit or work of their own. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the unadulterated truth of the real Gospel, men and devils will come against us in opposition too. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the truth, we will find that there’s nothing new under the sun, and that the same Gospel has always had the same results, in the 1st century and in the 21st century.

The problem today is that the modern church has a severe lack of holy troublemakers. What I mean is that the great Spirit that brought about reformations in church history is largely void in today’s church, though it is sorely needed. The Spirit of Elijah is gone from our midst. Elijah was a holy man of God. He preached an offensive message, a message of repentance and God’s judgment against sin. He had power with God, and as the judgment of God against the sin of Israel, there was no rain at Elijah’s word for three and a half years. After that time, Elijah appeared to the wicked king, Ahab, and Ahab shouted out, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Ki. 18:17). Elijah was a holy troublemaker to the sin, false religion and Baal worship of that day. But it wasn’t Elijah that caused the main trouble; it was the sin of Israel. Elijah responded to the wicked king: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Ki. 18:18).

This often happens today. When a man of God rises up and starts preaching an offensive message of the cross, of dying to self, of God’s judgment against sin, of the true Gospel, he is often accused of being contentious, or factious, or as a troublemaker. Yet it is not the Gospel that is the trouble, even though many times people don’t like it. The real trouble is the sin in the church and false religiosity. The true problem is the worship of the Baal’s, of “another Jesus” that is so often preached today that resembles a nice, soft, fluffy teddy bear that is the sinner’s accessory for life-enhancement more than He resembles the ferocious, triumphant Lion of Judah that demands absolute worship and obedience who demands that all be reconciled to Him or else be ripped to shreds when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psa. 2:12). –Now, the wrath of the Lamb isn’t the only attribute of our blessed Lord, nor should that be all we preach. Jesus is a friend of repentant sinners, and full of mercy and love such as no finite mind can fathom, freely wiping away the sins of the most wretched on earth and bestowing on former rebels of the Kingdom the greatest riches of the Kingdom. However, the truth is that there is a great lack in the majority of the professing church nowadays of preaching the full counsel of God, and reasoning of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, and thundering forth the terrors of the Living God that shall one day soon fall grievously on the head of the wicked.

This is what we need today, when there has been such a soft “gospel” preached for so long, when the multitudes of religious masses fill the churches, comfortable in their sin, living at ease in Zion in lukewarm pleasure-seeking religion, serving a “Jesus” that is not the Jesus of the Bible, but is rather the bi-product of their own worldly culture and carnal thinking. We need zealous men who burn with Holy Ghost fire that have not been tamed-down by the religious status-quo, who will turn over the tables of the money-changers in the house of God, who will by the might of the Spirit smash the idols of materialism and greed, who will tear down the altars of the golden calves they call, “Jehovah”, who will prophesy against the false prophets of “another Jesus” the true word of the Lord. We need those who love Jesus enough to take a stand against the Devil and be persecuted for preaching a sharp, convicting message, that even though it offends, it also gloriously contains real power to deliver from sin and save souls.

The Apostle Paul was a holy troublemaker too. When he came to a certain city, the people cried out, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Act. 17:6).When he stood on trial before the Governor, he was accused of being one who stirred up trouble everywhere he went. They said of him, “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Act. 24:5). Paul was accused of being a ringleader in a troublemaking sect, because he tore down the religious status quo wherever he went by preaching a pure message of Christ and Him crucified, and utterly despised every false way that seeks to counterfeit or pervert the Gospel of God. The religious masses of his day didn’t like, and the ones of our day don’t like it, either.

Yet this is what we need today. We need preachers with a reformation Spirit to demolish the false foundations of Christian thinking we have in our modern day, and to exalt the old fashioned Gospel of the cross. It is only the real Gospel, the one that often offends both men and devils, that is the truth which can save those who believe. Perverting it, diluting it, changing it, and adulterating it will only lead to deception and destruction. We need to see the restoration of the true Gospel in the church, the one that has teeth that bites chunks into the cotton-candy “gospel” of our time, the one that is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces hearts, the one that is mighty through God to demolish the strongholds of Satan, the one that God uses as the chief instrument to ignite a fire in the hearts of men and to bestow the grace of saving faith in His precious elect.

I’m not saying that we should purposely try to be offensive. We should never purposely offend anyone simply for the sake of being offensive or trying to conjure up a rude awakening by the methods of the flesh. We should be filled and dripping with the love of Christ when we share the Gospel, evidencing the blessed fruit of the Spirit, led by the Spirit of Truth and speaking not as mere men, but as the oracles of God. We should actually go out of our way to ensure that the way we act and what we do doesn’t unnecessarily offend anyone so as not to put stumbling blocks in their way from accepting the Gospel. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). No matter the amount of self-denial involved, Paul would go out of his way to make sure that the way he acted and what he did helped people to understand the Gospel, not push them further away from it. We must give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to all by all means as long as it doesn’t compromise the Gospel in any way. And while all this is certainly true, we have to check ourselves, because if the Gospel that we’re preaching isn’t offending anybody, it’s some heavy evidence that what we’re preaching isn’t the true, biblical Gospel of the cross. We must never, never, water down and adulterate the pure truths of the Word of God in order to make it more acceptable to the unregenerate!

Yet, today, there is a huge movement sweeping through the professing church that does this very thing. They take away expounding on the threats of God’s holy Law and warning of the judgment to come. They don’t mention the fury and wrath of God. They don’t preach the Biblical message of God’s holy hatred of sin. They don’t preach the blood of Christ and its utter necessity for making propitiation and appeasing offended Deity. They take away the preaching of repentance. They don’t preach the power of His resurrection and His grace that gives us victory over sin. They don’t expound on the necessity of the New Birth and of a definite conversion experience. Instead, they preach philosophy, psychology, and ear-tickling sermons that make rebels feel really good about themselves in their current state before God. They preach positive self-improvement, self-esteem, and self-help. And the masses just eat it up and want more!

Their strategy is to remove the “hard sayings” from the Word of God and to only preach what unregenerate sinners like to hear in order to grow their churches and increase their attendance and membership. They think, “Let’s not preach about the wrath of God against sin because it’ll offend somebody; instead let’s just preach how God loves everybody no matter who they are or how they live”. And by preaching a sugarcoated “gospel” their goal is to grow their meetings –and it works. It’s not a rare thing to find a huge mega church in every city in the US that uses these very methods of ear-tickling half-truth “gospels”. They call it, “seeker-sensitive”. But, as one preacher put it, “There’s only one seeker and that’s God!” There are none that seek after God, apart from a work of grace in their hearts after God has first sought them. We should labor to make our churches God-friendly. And we can only do this when we preach the whole truth!

What example did Jesus lay down for us to follow? Did He take out important truths from the Gospel, truths that people didn’t like to hear, in order to please men and make more disciples for Himself? –Certainly not! To the contrary, His preaching cut through all the false pretenses and impure motives of those who seemed to be seeking God, and He would expose the hearts of the people and proclaim the very truths that they didn’t like to hear!

In John 6, after multiplying bread and feeding a multitude, a great mass of people followed Him. But their motive wasn’t the love of the truth and the glory of God and to honor Jesus for His mighty miraculous power. Their motive was selfishness, because they were following Him because He fed them with bread. Jesus didn’t mince words –He cut straight through their impure motives and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (Jo. 6:26). Jesus continued to preach and expound on the truth, revealing their false motives and proclaiming that He is the true bread which came down from Heaven. This offended them, and they began to murmer against Him (vv. 41-42).

Many were offended at His word. Did He know they would be offended? –Of course! The words He spoke were not even His own, they were the words of the Father Himself, the very words of God. Not one word was spoken outside of the direct order of God. It was God’s plan to preach to these people in such as a way as to turn them back from following Jesus because, again, they motive was not pure and acceptable before God. He would rather have a few wholehearted followers than a multitude of lukewarm self-centered hypocrites who appear to follow Jesus outwardly while inwardly their motive is to gratify their own selfish desires.

In this discourse Jesus continued to say what some of the most offensive things one could possibly say to a Jew: He made Himself out to be greater than Moses, their greatest prophet, and on top of this, made the shocking statement that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. What an outrage this must have caused! These are people who won’t even touch shrimp or ham, let alone eat flesh and drink blood! They were certainly offended. And not only were the Jews in general offended, but many of those who were at that time His disciples, who were following Him, were offended as well:

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jo. 6:60-65).

And the result of this whole discourse brings us to the only “666” in the Bible outside of Revelation, that is, John 6:66, which says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” That is, many of those who were following Him were offended at His word and left their outward form of following Him. But the truth is that they never were truly following Him with all their hearts. Though they had an outward profession of faith, they didn’t have the inward work of grace to make their profession a spiritual reality in their lives. Jesus spoke the sharp, two-edged cutting word of God that sliced through their false outward profession and cut down the religious pretense, leaving nothing but the motive of the hearts exposed. Though He knew this would cause them to turn away from their outward profession, He knew that it was the best thing to do for the sake of maintaining the purity of the church at that time.

Why did He do this? –Because He knew that all those who were given to Him by His Father would come to Him, hear from Him, accept His words, have their spiritual understanding opened, and believe in Him and be saved. Those who were His own precious, elect sheep, having light from above, would understand that He didn’t speak of physically eating His flesh and blood, but of spiritually partaking of the real substance of His Being in the most intimate way –of deriving their very life from His life, and living every day in the reality of His broken body and shed blood for their salvation.

So while the hypocrites and false followers are chased away by the preaching of hard truth, the genuine and true followers are edified by it and drawn closer to Him through it. Preaching the offense of the cross, the hard truth of the word of God has a way of leaving the true children of God in awe and edified in the inner man, since most of the “meat” of the Gospel that gives us the most strength is initially hard to digest for the natural man. In light of this, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, we must never take away any truth from it for the sake of making it acceptable to the carnal masses. If the true Gospel scares people off and offends hypocrites, let them go! It’s better to have God with us through the preaching of the true Gospel and the people against us then it is to have the people for us and God against us!

Let’s follow the example of the Lord Jesus who spoke truth without regard to its consequences. Our job is to proclaim the Gospel, and God’s job is to ensure results. We do our part, and then God will do His. But we dare not try to take God’s job by seeking to conjure up results by tampering with the message! What a damnable thing! The cross is a scandal, an offense to the world! Let’s leave it at that!

Apparently, the true Gospel that Jesus came to herald was one that was so offensive that He pronounced a special blessing on all those who were able to receive it: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23). It takes a special blessing not to be offended in Christ. This must mean that most people, if they hear and understand the true Gospel, and see and hear the true Jesus, will in some measure be offended or will be unable to believe and be saved. This is quite the contrast to the lukewarm “gospel” we hear so often today, that offends nobody, that is easily embraced by the sinful multitudes who love to hear these humanistic ideas about God preached and are never shaken from their complacency, never get alarmed over their sinful condition, never depart from their iniquity, and never embrace the cross of Christ in identification with His sufferings or bow the knee of submissive obedience to His Lordship –things which are essential characteristics of true faith and necessary evidence of the reality of the Gospel in one’s life.

This true, offensive Gospel, far from being accepted by the world, was a scandal to the world, and the world hated it!  It ended up getting our Lord nailed to a tree. This true Gospel, according to early historical records, ended up getting the Apostle Peter crucified as well (that is, crucified upside down). It ended up getting all the Apostles martyred, except for John, who was banished as a condemned criminal to the Isle of Patmos. This true Gospel will never be accepted by the world and its ungodly system or the prince of darkness who oversees it. It will always be a scandal, an offense, a sword between those who follow it and those who refuse to (see Mat. 10:34-36). Where is this Gospel today? Surely, wherever it is, persecution tends to follow it in some form or another, but thank God; genuine salvation does too! And so does revival!

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