The preaching of the Gospel has always been an unpopular enterprise. The world hates the Gospel message; and therefore, the man who truly preaches the Gospel will be mocked, ridiculed, and despised by people. He will be thrown out of most churches and out of town in some cases. He will be locked away in a prison in some countries. He may even meet the end of his life, as did our Lord and His first disciples. What is it that makes the Gospel so offensive?
First, the Gospel is true (Gal 2:5, 14; Eph 1:13; Col 1:5). The apostle Paul identified God as true, but every man is a liar (Rom 3:4). Unregenerate man is an incessant liar, being a child of the devil (1 Jn 3:10), who is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). Lying is what Satan does all the time, and oh, so well. The truth exposes people for being consistent with their true nature, and the true nature of men is sin nature (Eph 2:3). Deceit is the way of sinful humanity, and the Gospel exposes the deceitfulness men use to suppress the truth (Rom 1:18).
Second, the Gospel stands in stark contrast with the philosophies and psychologies of men. Man loves himself. He is a narcissist. He believes he is smarter than his neighbor. His ideas are superior to those around him. His performance is always, “I could have done a better job than so and so.” Pride has no boundaries in man puffing himself up to the heavens, to be like a god (Gen 3:5).
The Gospel is preached, and man is confronted with God’s assessment of all of man’s learning, and all of man’s achievements (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12; Eph 2:1–3, 12). God laughs at man’s rebellion against his Maker (Ps 2). God judges man’s works to be filthy rags (Is 64:6). The Gospel claims that man is so totally depraved that he needs someone else to be his savior (Titus 2:13; 3:4, 6). Man is ridiculed by such assertions. Man is hardened by a clear presentation of the Gospel. He doubles down in his hubris. Man is a fool, and the Gospel tells him this fact (Ps 14:1; 53:1).
Third, the Gospel warns man of his end, in this life, and his eternity. The Gospel promises God’s judgment of man will be just (Gen 18:25; Jn 5:30; 1 Cor 4:4; Heb 12:23). The punishment for man’s crimes against God’s righteous Law will be paid for with eternal hell (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7). Man, of course, is offended that his place is in eternal fire (Rev 20:14–15). After all, man deceived himself into believing that he was a good person (Rom 3:12). He deceived himself into believing his good works have pleased God.
The Gospel assures man that he is without God in the world; and therefore, he is without hope (Eph 2:12). Man objects to the Gospel’s charge, not realizing that he has placed his trust in everything…but God. His hope is salvation by more education, more profitable business ventures, more career success, a new location, a new material possession, the Keto Diet, etc. The world is ready to sell each man salvation in different sized packages, and man is ready to buy, or even gamble his way, to the ever-elusive status of king of the mountain.
Fourth, the Gospel puts Christ Jesus as the one, and only, way of salvation (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12). God has made one narrow path of reconciliation between Himself and His enemy…man (man does not believe he is at enmity with God, but to reject his status is to call God, “a liar”). The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more than being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom 5:10).”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the God-man (Jn 10:30; Heb 4:15), making Him the perfect man. A perfect man makes other men look bad. Christ is the iconic offender against the pride of every man. He is man’s natural opponent (Eccl 4:4). He is every man’s archenemy. The only thing that arrests one’s hatred of Jesus Christ is His goodness toward His beloved people, chosen and redeemed (Jn 7:7; 15:18–19; Rom 11:5; 1 Pet 2:9).
When Jesus Christ graciously gives us the salvation we so desperately need (Eph 2:8–9), it is an invasion of love that conquers one’s belligerent heart (Rom 5:5; 8:15; 1 Jn 4:19). It was God’s design for Christ to intrude upon our selfish pursuits. Christ knows his chosen people (2 Tim 2:19). He interrupts our daily sin agenda and unending vanity. He graciously gives His Spirit to His elect people (Jn 14:17, 26; 15:26; Rom 8:9, 11), raising them from spiritual death (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), which totally offends reprobate sinners, when they hear of this good news.
There is nothing God does that does not stir unregenerate man’s passions against God; but when the unfathomable riches of His grace are granted, by God’s will, to a person, her hate is turned to love (1 Pet 1:8; 1 Jn 4:12, 19). Her new claim is, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” She is no longer offended by her lowly status, either. She agrees that she is worse than most would imagine. Her story is no longer about her, however, it is about Christ Jesus laying down His life to save a wretch like her (Jn 10:11, 15; Eph 5:25; Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24). She loves that story…the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the apostle Paul penned, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16a).” He wrote elsewhere, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal 6:14).” Friend, consider where you stand in these matters. Is this Gospel that so offends people, a joke to you? Even foolishness? Or do you love His story more than any other story, even your own? Here is the test; and I hope you, as you examine yourself, have passed this test.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 2, 2021