Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Offense of the Gospel

Last week a young man attended his religion class at a local college. Interestingly, his teacher is agnostic, if not an atheist. What would an agnostic have to say in a religion class? That sounds, to me, something like Osama bin Laden teaching on democracy.

The good unbelieving teacher assigned this student--the only Christian in his class, by the way--a paper, asking him to defend the uniqueness of Christianity over the predominant views of the class and the atheism of the professor. So the young man wrote a paper on the uniqueness of Christ and his salvation. As the young man presented the paper, his professor stopped him. The professor was irate and asked him when he was going to realize that his belief in the gospel was offensive and intolerant. The young man was wise and very bold. He asked the professor when she was going to realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive to those who do not believe and when was she going to take up her cross and follow Jesus. The irate, unbelieving, agnostic-if-not-atheistic professor asked him to leave the class.

Kudos to the young man! The truth is that the gospel offends when presented in its purest form. There are those out there now who would do all they can to make it palatable for today's unbelieving world. You can gather a crowd around most anything and call it successful. But if you want to be successful in the work of the kingdom of God, you will have to use the pure and, yes, offensive gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Anything else creates the church of Jesus-plus.

And just in case you think I am pointing only to America, there are some out there who would tell Muslims they can be followers of Jesus as well as Mohammed. There are "Christian" missionaries who actually begin their teachings with such statements as, "There is one god; Allah is his name and Mohammed is his prophet." If any man preach any other gospel than that preached in the Bible, let him perish in the fires of hell. Such belief is the church of Jesus-plus.

There are others who claim to be Christian, yet teach us to follow the mother of Jesus, upholding her as co-redemptrix. To be sure, Mary was a chosen vessel of God; but even Mary had to repent and believe in the saving power of her son, or she would have spent an eternity in hell. Mary is not the way to heaven; Jesus Christ is the way to heaven. Again, such belief is the church of Jesus-plus.

Whatever you add to Jesus is one more way of diluting the gospel. Whatever you take away also dilutes the gospel. Some would remove the sexual sins from those habits that God says will keep one out of the kingdom of God. The lifestyle of homosexuality, receiving "sexual favors" from homosexuals (that is called effiminism in the Bible), pre-marital sex, adultery, and the like are sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6. And God says those people will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet, there are those today who would soften the Bible's stance on purity and morality. The truth is this: no practicing sinner has eternal life. Those who have the true hope of seeing Jesus will purify themselves, even as he is pure (1 John 3).

Yes, the gospel offends. The gospel wounds and cuts. But the gospel of Jesus Christ also is the saving power of God to those who believe.

Let's proclaim a pure gospel, even if it is offensive.

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