The Offensive Message Of The Cross
- Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. (Galatians 5:11)
Preach an outward form of Christianity and people will love you. Teach that we should read the Bible, pray, love in the name of Jesus and people will
accept you. But expect persecution if you preach the of- fensive message of the cross that Jesus told us to declare. What is the offensive message of the cross? Simply listen- ing to, accepting, and obeying a message that results in death to self. Most preachers today try to abolish such a message. They teach you to just ask Jesus into your heart, and you will be saved. But Jesus wants to strike at your heart until self dies.
- I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Any Christian knows that Jesus died for their sins, but such knowledge alone cannot save anyone. In order for a person to receive salvation, he must reach beyond a mere religious acknowledgement. The gospel message should leave you with only two options: the cross, or compromise. Anything less is whitewash. We see this in people who change dramatically at their conversion, yet refuse to die to self. Like the ten lepers, only one returned in true saving faith. They only want redemption from the judgment and misery of sinning, not from sin itself.
We must allow God to crucify us if we hope for sal- vation. When we allow God to change all of us, sin is for- gotten. No matter how long you have been a Christian, if you persist in not allowing grace to have its way, God will judge the real you as a determined sinner. Only the offensive message of the cross completely saves a man. For this reason, Paul “resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” For anyone with true faith in Jesus must believe in everything Jesus taught concerning salvation. What you are about to read is “foolishness” to the perishing.
- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
- I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
Let’s make something clear right from the start, this message will hurt, and most people refuse to hear it. Consequently, it’s rarely preached from pulpits today. It is, however, the only message that can save, because Jesus said you have to die daily.
- Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus words, “It is finished,” referred to His work of providing a way for our salvation.⁶ No one receiving the salvation that comes from Jesus is exempt from the crucified life. There can be no resurrection without cruci- fixion. God cannot work the joyful resurrected life if you remain unwilling to die first. If you want God to save you and deliver you from sin, then you must allow the painful work of the cross to do its work. If this doesn’t sound like grace, then adjust your attitude. Jesus wasn’t crucified on a comfortable armchair. When they whipped Him and nailed His hands and feet to a rough wooden cross, He endured extreme pain. Your attitude towards God’s salvation must become like Christ’s.
- Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, be- cause he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2)
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)
In order for a person to be “born again” their old life must die. You cannot have the sinful man and the righteous man living in you at the same time. God chose crucifixion as His method of execution. As we slowly die to who we are, God replaces us with a new person made in the image of Jesus.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross to bless you with posses- sions, family, or happiness. He died on the cross to bless you by turning you from your wicked ways. This means that God will seek to offend your flesh by turning you from more sin every day. When God looks at your life, your heart, your actions, your loves—all that you are and do—His heart is “filled with pain.” He sees a rebellious, selfish, miserable creature. Simply put, God regrets He made you!
- The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (Genesis 6:6)
You might argue, “But I am made in the image of God!” That’s true enough, but you have become wortless. There is no one righteous, “not even one.”
- As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10–18)
All your kind deeds are really acts of cruelty, doing more harm than good. Until the cross does its work, not one good thing lives in you. Even then, you are not good, but only Jesus in you is good. You personally will never be good, for only God alone is good.
The offensive message of the cross provides the power to be born again. Anyone who does not preach or live this message is not born again. We must be born again into the image of Jesus and carry a cross like He did.
- Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)
You might wonder where the joy lies in this message. Only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will consider the pain of the cross as good news. Jesus looked past the suffering of the cross and saw the joy of heaven waiting for Him. True faith in Jesus means that a person keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what demands or offense of the cross comes in his life.
- Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, and carrying the cross allows God to mature our faith. If you want the joy Jesus had, then you must also gladly accept the sufferings of Jesus. If you want the overflow of comfort from God you must allow the sufferings of Christ to overflow into your life. You have a choice. You can go to a comfortable church that offers you a “feel good” message that packs the pews, or attend a church where the message of the cross crucifies you. A true Christian’s joy is “inexpressible and glorious.” In other words, flesh cannot express it. No smile or human emotion can express this glorious joy and no tear can put out this joy’s fire. For Jesus does not give peace as the world gives peace, or as most churches give so-called peace. The joy that comes from the message of the cross reaches beyond the feelings of the flesh and arises from deep within the soul. This joy springs forth because, even though crucifixion hurts, we know it is right and good.
- In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6–9)
If the “goal” of your faith is the salvation of your soul, then you will find this very good news indeed!
- …through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedence to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2)
The blood of Jesus provides forgiveness and power to live a righteous life. Blood must continually flow to cleanse the body and bring health. A human body will die if blood stops flowing through it. Likewise, the Old Testament law required the constant sacrifice or flow of blood. In the New Testament, however, the blood of Jesus continually moves through a disciple’s life. If you want the blood of Jesus to forgive, you must allow it to flow through your life, cleansing you all the time. If it stops cleansing, you will die spiritually.
God only gives forgiveness and the Holy Spirit to those willing to obey Him. It is “for obedience to Jesus Christ” that God sprinkles us with the saving blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus heals and forgives us for all of our sins. This is one of the grand promises of the message of the cross. By overcoming sin God does not mean reading the Bible and seeking to obey it—that is salvation by works. On the contrary, this means that you allow Him to work obedience to Scripture. You must give up your own sinful religious will and, like Jesus, listen for God’s voice and obey His will. This is the free gift of salvation—God working and willing to keep you from sinning, as you surrender.
- No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
A false prophet preaches forgiveness but never teaches we must “die to self.” Most people will joyfully follow a Jesus who never requires them to carry a cross or deal with sins. They like a form of Christianity that talks against sin but doesn’t actually strike at self to kill that sin. But faith in Jesus is not just a matter of believing He died for our sins—we must also eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. Unless we suffer as Jesus did (eat His flesh), and die enough to ourselves to have His life (drink His blood), we will not have eternal life.
- Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
If we want Jesus to die for us, but we do not die with Him daily, then we really don’t love Him. We just selfishly want Jesus to save us from judgment. When the hard truth of the gospel dawns on many Christians they simply choose to stop following Jesus. They find easier, softer churches where they can continue to keep their desires, goals, prayers, and their compromise.
- On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60)
Often, individuals will try to justify themselves by saying, “Our church preaches the same thing, but just in a different way.” By this they actually mean that their church empties the “cross” of all its offense and power, and therefore never honestly deals with their sin and lack of obedience.
If you want healing and power, then allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you daily.
Peace with God
- Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
As we have seen, being “justified through faith” means a dynamic living faith that trusts God to save us through His work in us by way of the cross.
How do you begin the process of being crucified and resurrected with Jesus? For a more detailed teaching on this subject, please obtain a copy of the short book entitled Even the Demons Believe. This book will show you how to be born again, forgiven of all your sins, escape hell and become a true disciple of Christ.
- Luke 17:17
- Acts 26:29
- Hebrews 10:26
- 1 Corinthians 2:2
- Mark 8:38
- Acts 2:47, 2 Corinthians 2:15
- 1 Peter 2:2
- 1 John 2:15
- Acts 3:26
- Ecclesiastes 7:29
- When Jesus speaks of being of value in Luke 12:24, He is speaking from our viewpoint. If this were not the case the rest of Scripture would be in error. God saves us not because we are of value, but because He is love. This is unmerited favor. God saves us because of who He is, not because of who we think we are. See Psalms 115:1.
- Proverbs 12:10
- Romans 7:18
- Mark 10:18
- Matthew 5:6
- Philippians 3:10–11
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- 2 Corinthians 1:5
- John 14:27
- Colossians 1:16
- Hebrews 6:5–6
- Acts 5:32
- Philippians 2:12–13, 1 John 3:9
- The individuals who were listening to Jesus came to understand that Jesus was not talking about cannibalism, eating real flesh and drinking real blood. That is why they left. They understood that Jesus was talking about the life of discipleship in order for salvation to work redemption.
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