The Gospel offends.
I just started reading Christless Christianity by Michael Horton, in large part based on the many references to it in Jesus + Nothing = Everything (a fantastic book you should read). One of the opening points in Horton’s book is that the Gospel always offends; if the Gospel is nice, if it is popular, it is because it is no longer the Gospel.
The Gospel thunders that you do nothing. You don’t help. That salvation comes from outside of you, because it’s your fault that you’re going to hell. You’re the one who chose to sin against God; you’re the one who decided to find delight in evil. It was God who chose you, and there was nothing in you good to choose. He didn’t choose you because you were pretty or because you tried hard; in fact, the Bible claims that we are spiritually dead by nature. All our best works? They’re nothing more than dirty, dirty rags. And if that’s true for our best, what’s true of our worst?
Despite that, God chose us – God chose us! He decided to save us, not through anything we do, but through Jesus. Jesus was our substitute. Christ took our punishment and we got his record of perfection.
And the thing is… that message is offensive! Many, even in churches that faithfully proclaim Christ, seem anesthetized to the offense of that message. Many grew up with it or have simply allowed themselves to get used to it. In part, at least at times, it is the fault of the pastor himself for growing “used” to the message or trumpeting it in the exact same way every time (guilty!).
Well, apparently I offended some of my members today. I hope – I pray – that it was the offense of the Gospel that did it and not my fumbling words. What did I say? (more…)