Saturday, June 28, 2008

Christianity On Own Terms?

Excellent essay over at Possessing The Treasure called, The Offense of the Cross. It cuts to the heart of the matter between those who would be inclined to "preach another gospel" and those who hold to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The author, Mike Ratliff, shares the fact that "the offense of the cross never has ceased and never can cease." Those who refuse to recognize that they are sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ, will most likely view the cross of Christ as utterly offensive.

What a paradox! The act of repentance through Christ's cross is the only hope for their salvation and reconciliation with God. Yet, they are offended by such an act of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness?

The fact remains that confession of sin and the repentance thereof, releases those held in bondage to sin.

Think about this.

A former slave to sin who has been released from the suffering and punishment through Jesus' death and resurrection to life at the cross never forgets such love!

Being released from the wrath that we all deserve, and the suffering, death and separation from God for all eternity (which is the transcendent good discussed in a former post) is the ultimate purpose and reason that Jesus came to the earth!

Yet, the result of both sin and the unrepentant heart that refuses to confess at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ keeps one in bondage. Why would anyone reject Christ's offer of salvation and want to stay in such bondage?

Proof that the cross of Christ is offensive is the fact that Christianity - the genuine kind that is Bible-based and requires being born-again in Jesus - is virulently attacked from all sides of the political, social, religious, and spiritual spectrum. Why is that?

Ratliff shares the answer regarding the cross of Christ:

"It is clearly offensive to the unregenerate mind."

Those who do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God to illuminate their minds to the truth in the Bible cannot discern what is written there correctly. Paul tells us that as new creations in Christ, we move towards having "the mind of Christ."

I have had non-Christian visitors comment that what I share here is similar to "speaking another language." They don't comprehend what is being shared from the Bible. Thus, the unregenerate are clearly offended by those of us involved in genuine evangelism - following the command of Christ to go forth with The Great Commission.

Ratliff writes:

Even though men such as Rob Bell or Brian McLaren scoff at the concept of absolute, knowable truth, and sell their message to an eager post-modern generation, the fact is that the genuine Gospel has not been changed any more than the world has changed. They may claim to have some new ‘perspective,” but all they are doing is proclaiming a very old repackaged message of doubt.

If you go to Ratliff's link, you will find examples of "preachers" who are attempting to downplay (or, in some cases eliminate) the need for the cross of Christ. He mentions how Rob Bell actually teaches that repentance is not necessary; just do good works, love Jesus and love others. Bell goes so far as to even "discourage Christians from sharing that part of the Gospel about sin and separation from God without the atoning work of Christ on the Cross."

Sound familiar? It does to me! Can you think of other examples of reprobate and false teachers who do the exact same thing to promote a sinful lifestyle in their churches? I can! Recall the post and video of Oprah Winfrey who was "offended" because she misinterpreted Scripture (i.e. "God is a jealous God") as meaning that God is jealous of her? In the process of such a ill-perceived offense, she then went on to find a New Age guru that fit her own thoughts and wisdom of philosophy and theology. Now, she is spreading heresy via the Internet. What's truly sad is that just because she is a well-known celebrity, her minions of fans are following her blindly - right into the pit of spiritual oblivion.

One of the best sentences in Ratliff's essay is this one:

"God is not angry about anyone’s sin."

What a lie from the pit of hell!

Yet, this is what pseudo-Christian churches and their pastors embrace in order to preach another gospel of Jesus with the emphasis on "love alone."

How arrogant can one get? That one sentence negates the entire purpose of Christ's suffering on the cross for our sins, his atoning death, and subsequent resurrection to life. How can they explain the purpose of the cross in their beliefs? They can't! So, what do they do? They simply eliminate it from the conversation!


This sort of teaching or preaching or whatever it is no different than that of those who were troubling the Galatians. It is a works based salvation that decries the need to repent of sin. Instead, just do good works and love Jesus. I pray that you noticed the pride evident in the Bell’s comments. They both insist that their “religion” is on their own terms. They refuse to submit to the narrowness of the Word of God. They attempt to defeat what it tells them by insisting that no one can understand it.

What makes up the offense of the Cross? Its doctrine of atonement offends man’s pride. Its simple teaching offends man’s wisdom, and artificial taste. Its being a remedy for man’s ruin offends his fancied power to save himself. Its addressing all as sinners offends the dignity of Pharisees. Its coming as a revelation offends “post-modern thought.” Its lofty holiness offends man’s love of sin.

The Cross of Christ offends man's love of sin. Eliminate the necessity of the atonement and you've got an unoffensive form of pseudo-Christian beliefs.

I will end with J.C. Ryle's awesome quote:

The cross is the strength of a minister. I, for one, would not be without it for the world. I should feel like a soldier without weapons, like an artist without his pencil, like a pilot without his compass, like a laborer without his tools.

Let others, if they will, preach the Law and morality.

Let others hold forth the terrors of hell and the joys of heaven.

Let others drench their congregations with teachings about the sacraments and the church.

Give me the cross of Christ. This is the only lever which has ever turned the world upside down hitherto, and made men forsake their sins.

And if this will not do it, nothing will. A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew; but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he knows something of the cross. Never was there a minister who did much for the conversion of souls who did not dwell much on Christ crucified. Luther, Rutherford, Whitefield, M’Cheyne, were all most eminent preachers of the cross. This is the preaching that the Holy Ghost delights to bless. He loves to honor those who honor the cross.–J.C. Ryle

HT: Possessing the Treasure


Anonymous said...

That's the danger of these false teachers. They talk a lot about Jesus and use the Bible where convenient, but it is all on their own terms.

Anonymous said...

Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

When they say,"Lord, what will you have me do?" then it may be legitimate evidence they are a Christian.

Christinewjc said...

That's very true, Neil. It is all on their own terms!

We could call it the "did God really say?"...brand of errant theology.

Christinewjc said...


The faith and trust being projected out of the Acts 9:6 verse is highly important. Often, the Lord will send us out without our own knowledge of what we will do or say. While we may not always know what to do, staying close to Him, praying and asking Him for guidance and studying His Word helps guide us towards what He would have us do.

Jesus promised us the "Helper and Comforter" - the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. We know that the Holy Spirit of God would NEVER compromise God's Holy Word! We then can discern what is from Him (via the Holy Spirit's leading) vs. what is "of men."