2 Tim 4:1-8; 2 Cor 11:2-4; 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 1 Cor 1:17; 2:1-5
We’re coming up to Easter and our huge gaze at the cross begins. Now…does anyone want a flowery cross? Anyone like a smooth, beautiful, decorated, nice cross? Yes, we all do. Well, yeah, that would be nice. Oh, we all want a lovely cross.
One of the benefits that I find of having a few days off, which I’ve had during the last week, is the benefit of thinking deep. Gazing in to the pure blue eyes of a child we brought into the world, a great burden blew up in my heart. I am a concerned father. I worry for my daughter. I worry for my son. I worry for my grandchildren growing up in the church today. I worry for the Army, I worry for the church, I worry for the gospel, I worry for the justification of the blood of the martyrs who’s blood has been spilled for the glorious gospel.
Why?. I am concerned because we are in a day of false gospel. I’ve heard it preached from Army platforms. Soft, easy to digest meal of the word served up on a plate of compromise. We don’t want our church to appear strange, that preaches difficult things, that calls to sacrifice, that calls to duty, that calls the rest of the church account for their apalling doctrine. We’d rather show people a nice film and give them platitudes than talk about the cutting edge of the gospel.
The devil wants to get as many people to church on Sunday morning as possible. Yes, its true. Don’t believe me? Oh yes, the devils main purpose is to pack as many people as he possible can into the pews to hear the mamby-pamby message on how to cope, to be stroked with nice words and platitudes of a nice fuzzy God will nice fuzzy love.
Look, its happened before. Look at Isaiah 30:10.
“They tell their seers. “See no more visions! And to the prophets “Give us no more visions of what is right! Leave this way, get off this path and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
In other words, don’t speak to us about taking up the cross, about being persecuted for the sake of the gospel, or about having to endure hardship like a good soldier of Jesus Christ or any of that stuff. Now, you just stand up there and tell us all how great we are, how lovely we are, how much you need us and need our money to keep the church going..that will do just fine thank you very much.
Can I set you a challenge? I challenge you to go to any Christian channel on TV, almost any church in the UK and you see if you can try and get yourself saved! You’ll have a job because they are all wanting you to be happy happy happy, not holy holy holy! “God doesn’t care what you do, he just loves you.” You know, that’s the response in this weeks Salvationist to one of our soldiers challenge about skimpy costumes and erotic dancing at a Salvation Army youth event…oh, God doesn’t look at the outer appearance, he only looks at the heart. What a twisting of scripture…God is HOLY, he wants us to be HOLY. Our business is not to use the means of the world to attract the world…we are not to hand them out their own medicine, we are not to entice them to the gospel, we are to throw them down at the mercy of the cross.
God loves us with a passion, he loves us with a suffering. And yes, we should preach about the love of God, of course. Yes, we should expound the blessings that are to be found in Christ, the riches of his grace. We should talk about biblical principles for living. But the riches and benefits of salvation are only for those who are saved!
What happens when you do not preach the penalty of sin? What happens when you tone down sin to the level of an unfortunate mistake? Society develops no fear of God. If you want to loose your kids take the fear of God out of the church. Then its eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes…why? Because there is no fear of God.
If there is no sin, repentance, judgment and holy living, the houses will come tumbling down. People will choose enticing words, sweet words instead of the real meat of the gospel. This teaching will not stand up to the heat of the battle. People will fall away because their sweet gospel has left them spiritually fat and unhealthy.
I hear Paul say that the gospel is an offense, a stumbling block to the Jews, absolute foolishness to the Greeks.
I haven’t been beaten up for the gospel since I was at school. You see, in the days when I read the scripture, learned the scripture, told my friends the scripture and the message of it I endured hardship for the gospel. But then because I didn’t like that much, I changed my message to ‘God loves you and wants to give you an abundant life, which was nice, but convinced no-one for their need of a saviour.’
I’ve repented for changing the gospel, several years ago, and resolved that I’d glory in Christ alone, him crucified. What I ask myself is, is the gospel I preach the gospel of Jesus, or is it the gospel of another Jesus. Does my word have the power to save, or do my words have a form of godliness without the power?
When people start wandering off to a different gospel which sounds attractive, we shouldn’t be surprised. There are so many place to which one can go to hear a nicer gospel. But as the prophet Jeremiah says: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
We are to be presented to Jesus, the husband, the groom, spotless and without blemish, no wrinkle or default. We are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb, who was slain, but was raised to life ad exhalted to the right hand of God.
What is it that Mary Poppins used to sing? “For a spoonful of sugar…” Friends, we cannot apply the gospel of Mary Poppins to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is offensive, the cross is ridiculous, shameful, utterly detestable to the world that doesn’t think that they need a saviour, but o the world needs a Saviour.
I need a saviour, but I need to taste the bitter medicine of the gospel, convincing me of my total depravity, total sinfulness before God so that I might know indeed that I need a saviour. I need to first be reviled at my sin before I can benefit from the curative properties of the gospel. Sweetness. Isn’t it true that its often the vilest cough mixture that does best for your cough? The Gospel is the cure for sin, suffering disease and friends we must continually preach, uphold and live out.