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Posts Tagged ‘The Blood and The Cross’

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 12/19/12)

Attending Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches back in the 1960s (before they left their first love), I remember salvation messages about “the Blood and the Cross”, as well as hymns of Calvary such as “Power in the Blood“, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood“, etc.

Today “The Blood and The Cross” message – the blunt, straightforward, bloody gospel message of repentance-of-sin and salvation that offends and convicts sinners – is seldom heard in the EFCI (particularly the ultra-liberal Northwest Yearly Meeting aka NWYM) and other evangelical denominations.  Sermons, hymns and tracts about Calvary used to be common, but no longer.

Today most evangelical pastors have become deeply entrenched in the Emerging/Emergent church movements. These pastors seldom use these terms in their sermons: sin, judgment, perish, eternal damnation, Hell, Lake of Fire, repentance of sin, the Blood, the Cross, etc. It seems these pastors are hesitant to offend or turn off unsaved seekers in their congregations/audiences, for fear they’ll scurry off to churches which are “less offensive.”

I know of a large Evangelical Friends church which – praise the Lord – was offering a series of classes in “evangelism training.” Yet when this church obtained a new pastor, the pastor discontinued the evangelism training classes. Now the church has many “fun” activities (Life Groups for devotees of amateur radio, classic cars,  scrapbooking, etc.) Apparently the pastor wants unsaved seekers to become involved in “fun” secular activities alongside born again church members, become comfortable attending seeker sensitive church services, then eventually be presented with the “full” salvation message. But when is this “full” salvation message presented by the church? I have never heard “hellfire and brimstone” preaching from the pastor, nor the “bloody” message of Christ on Calvary (picture the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”)

Frankly, Pastor, you (like so many other Emerging/Emergents today) are way off track. For sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour, to truly become born again, you must preach an “offensive” gospel of  “the Blood and the Cross” that will be hated by  unsaved church attenders who insist on remaining in their sin. And unsaved seekers don’t need to be “eased in” to a church setting – they need confronted head on, as soon as possible, with the so-called “negative” message of the Blood and the Cross.

This pertinent excerpt is from a post by my Facebook Friend John Henderson, posted  here   09/24/12:

“That old Baptist preacher didn’t pull any punches when he dangled my feet over the flames of Hell. I am glad that he did. It was what I needed. I had already been hearing soothing and nice things from other “preachers” and remained lost. I needed to know and feel that I was lost and, when I did, it was a simple matter to run to the Cross.

Believe me, if the church has failed to reach the world it is right here. We do not need to come up with something more appealing to the world; we need to revive and sharpen the only things that will pierce their hearts with holy conviction so they know the choices are clear.”

Following are some more excerpts along this line, from A.W. Tozer. (Tozer had his flaws. He was not perfect, but I don’t know of any godly preacher or writer who ever has been.) These excerpts are from “The Old Cross and the New”, by A. W. Tozer. Click here (Berit Kjos’ website) for the original source of these excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Excerpts from …

The Old Cross and The New

                     By A. W. Tozer

This wise saint went to be with the Lord in 1963. His messages were written more than forty years ago, yet they are as relevant now as they were then!


Unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique — a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him. What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ….

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we… alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.  


“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Info on the above article, found here:

NOTE: This article first appeared in The Alliance Witness in 1946.  It has been printed in virtually every English-speaking country in the world and has been put into tract form by various publishers, including Christian Publications, Inc.  It still appears now and then in the religious press.

FOR FURTHER READING

Some comments on “The Old Cross and the New”

A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ  – This book contains, under one cover, many essays by Tozer about the Atonement and related doctrines.

These are just a few of the many essays included:

“The Cross Does Interfere”
“The Cross is a Radical Thing”
“Each His Own Cross”

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