Mankind has an innate self-centered penchant for finding ways to make himself comfortable in his sin, and for excusing his many faults. The enemy of men’s souls, Satan, has been exploiting this for centuries, and most recently through his ministering minions in the semi-pelagian or centered on man Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD). However, as you will see from this piece here at Apprising Ministries the truth is that God has already dealt with this evil on a bloody Roman cross some two thousand years ago.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)

Is It Tolerance Or Is It Absurdity?

One of our Lord’s most gifted Bible teachers, Donald Grey Barnhouse, once wrote:

The human being, with all his inheritance from Adam—[a corrupt, selfish nature]—is incurably addicted to making excuses. This was forcibly brought to my attention by a news item… A man was sentenced to jail for one year for breaking into a café in the middle of the night. He was caught red-handed inside the café with the cash register open. Nevertheless, he protested his innocence in court, and even when he was sentenced, departed for jail claiming that he was the victim of circumstances.

His defense was that as he was walking along the street he had stumbled and fallen into a window, which was broken. When he saw the two panes of glass had been destroyed, he opened the window and entered in order to leave his name and address, so that he could make good the damage. Having no pencil, he went to the cash register to look for one, and was in the middle of the good deed when he was arrested. The story was a little too much for the jury and the man went to jail!” (Illustrating Great Themes Of Scripture, 119,120)

That got me to thinking about our nation today. Because of the way we have been so conditioned through a misguided “tolerance” and the absurd “bending over backward” to protect everyone else’s “rights,” today that same jury would probably believe him! Barnhouse then continues:

I immediately began to think of Adam, who [sinned, and] when he was caught running away, tried to cast the blame back on God, saying in effect, If You had given me another kind of wife, this wouldn’t have happened — “the woman Thou gavest me…” (Gen. 3:12, KJV). The woman excused herself by putting the blame upon the serpent.”
(ibid., 120).

And this making of excuses leads to the willingness to believe anything and everything—no matter how ridiculous it is—like the theory of evolution for example. Let me see here, a story goes: Once upon a time there was nothing. And then in some more time (time is the hero)—by random chance—“it” produced some non-living chemicals. Then these chemicals floated around and suddenly blew up creating this orderly universe out of the resulting chaos of an explosion. And still—through billions of years—things that had no life in them would, um, become alive, later evolving into the incredibly complex organisms that we see today.

Oh, and listen, it gets better. Not only that, but as time went along—time is the escape hatch for the evolutionist—these animals of course have no other reason to live besides the sheer will to stay alive, which they allegedly did through a survival of the fittest ones dominating and eating the other less powerful animals. Some of these animals become man and what do you know, one day they apparently all had a meeting and just decided to live in the highly structured societies that we now call civilization. Uh-huh, and the Christian is supposedly has the irrational faith.

As I said, in these perilous times, people today are ready and willing to believe anything and everything. Anything and everything it seems—except the Bible. And this is how we arrive at the absurdity we see in this world around us today. What could have possibly happened? The simple answer is—mankind has lost the fear of God. And sadly, this has also become all too true for the Lord’s own Church as well, or we wouldn’t be falling for the man-focused and centered on self-ishness within America’s postevangelical emerging church with its own worldly emphasis on some kind of purpose driven life.

It is written — Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18). Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere you must be able to see that we live in a culture that’s now viritual reveling in debauchery. Today we find ourselves among a people with a blatant disregard for the precepts of our Lord—and sadly—this is now including far too many who would dare to call themselves Christian in the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement. America has become a people of great arrogance—and she is hardly alone in this—who actually consider pride a virtue and who openly mock the God they claim to “one nation under.”

But The Lord Is Not Surprised

However, this really is nothing new. God has seen it all before. Let’s turn to Psalm 73 and you’ll see it for yourself, picking up in verse 1. This self-centered seeker sensitive nonsense—which is also within the Emergent Church—and the wickedness we see all around us has not caught God by surprise. For the Bible says:

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.

From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” (Psalm 73:1-11)

And the obvious answer is—yes—Almighty God is well aware of the decadence and arrogance championed in this dying country. And the Spirit would have us know that He is becoming quite angry. This is what the Lord says — Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness… Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight (Isaiah 5:20,21)… Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against [this] people…His anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised (Isaiah 5:25). The wise person is going to go shopping today for a new set of clothes made out of sack cloth and ashes.

Let those who will join in this rebellion before Almighty God be forewarned — The evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. Fear the LORD [God] and the King—[Jesus of Nazareth]…and do not join with the rebellious, for those Two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities They can bring? (Proverbs 24:20-22). Men and women, we need to be like Moses and to really begin to intercede for the Body of Christ — “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and the are [an arrogant] people. Now leave Me alone so that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them… But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God (Exodus 32:9,10)…Then the Lord relented and did not bring…the disaster He had threatened (Exodus 32:9,10,14).

The Cross Has Always Been The Answer

If we really want to see our young have any kind of future in this country, and if we really want to see revival in the American Christian Church—or wherever you may be reading this— then we’ll need to return to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and not for some purpose driven dream, but to truly die to self. And so we turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 17. Let us revisit a couple of aspects concerning the Cross. For some of you it will be the first time you’ve really been there. And for those of us who have been to the Cross before—may the Lord open our eyes to more fully understand the wisdom and majesty of the LORD God Almighty as we Survey The Wondrous Cross:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power. 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. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

In the booklet Why Did Christ Have To Die? we read:

Can you imagine what public reaction would be if a fundamental religious group adopted an electric chair as its symbol? Think of what it would be like to see an image of an electric chair on top of their meeting places or as jewelry hanging around their necks. Yet that’s what the cross amounts to. The cross was a means of capital punishment. Crucifixion was the way the Romans put their worst criminals to death. It was horrible–far worse than a gas chamber, firing squad, or even a hangman’s noose…

Even Christians fail to realize the implications of the cross. It has become so widely used as religious jewelry, as a symbol of love and hope, and even as a sign of good luck that it has lost much of its original meaning and horror. It has become so generally accepted, in fact, that everyone from devoted followers of Christ to atheists wear its image around their necks (2).

The first thing I want to draw your attention to from the text of 1 Corinthians 1 is in verse 17 — to preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom. In the NIV Study Bible Dr. W. Harold Mare rightly pointed out “words of human wisdom is literally ‘wisdom of speech’ in the Greek. Paul’s mission was not to couch the Gospel in the language of the trained orator, who had studied the techniques of influencing people by persuasive arguments.” No doubt there is a ton of confusion in our Lord’s Church today over the principles taught in this verse. And, since we know — God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33), then the source of this confusion must then be—you guessed it—Satan himself.

First let’s look at the second part of that verse 17 — not with words of human wisdom. Dr. Paul Marsh points out:

Worldly wisdom, that expression of carnality” — [living according to human nature—self-ishness] — “among Corinthian believers, is the very antithesis of the wisdom of God revealed in the cross of Christ… Paul demonstrates the total alienation of thought between the worldly vision so prized by the Corinthians and the wisdom of God. The gospel, the word of the cross, is folly to the wise man of this age, but God will reveal their falsity, showing His foolishness as superior to their wisdom! (New International Bible Commentary, 1351)

And this church in the Greek city of Corinth is in many ways similar to the self-seeking Emergent Church and its Guru Brian McLaren today—in love with the wisdom of man. But their is also another parallel with the pragmatic philosophy of Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren—quite worldly in its seeker sensitive practices—yet both drowning in spiritual excesses on the other hand. O yes, there are those will protest that the Emerging Church and the Purpose Driven Church are separate movements. For now maybe, but in time they will simply emerge into one purpose in serving their father—the Devil—in preaching his didaskalia daimonion — “teachings of demons.”

The True Cross Of Christ

In stark contrast to this postmodern mystic mumbo jumbo we have the godly wisdom of A.W. Tozer from The Old Cross and the New. As in the true Cross—and the new false understanding of what the Cross really means that we currently see perverted by the whole façade of the church growth movement still attempting to pass for Christianity today. Tozer wrote — “From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life; and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique–a new type of meeting and a new type of preaching.”

And we need to remember that Tozer saw this coming and is speaking here around the mid-50’s. Unquestionably this type of man-centered thinking is now deeply imbedded in the Church today—some 50 years later. However, it turns out that this watchman, whom many called a “twentieth century prophet,” did indeed sound the alarm of the Spirit:

This new evangelism employs the same language as of the old, but its content is not the same—[just as Dr. Walter Martin would also warn in his own ministry some 20 years after Tozer wrote this]—and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation the old life before a new life can be received. He preached not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level (Online source).

Are you with me here? What Tozer is telling you above is exactly what you see men like Erwin McManus and Rob Bell and Joel Osteen doing with their sinner friendly purpose driven emerging church right now before your very eyes. These false prophets of the self-ish sinner-satiating Church Growth Movement are faithfully preaching their versions of Cross-less watered down Christianity Lite, and as Tozer further observes:

Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring for is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better. [Can you say—compromise?]

The new cross does not slay the sinner; it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living, and saves his self respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship. The [true] Christian message — [God’s only means of saving men from an eternity in the unspeakable horrors of Hell] — is [then] slanted in the direction of — [whatever the world thinks is right at the given moment—whatever is considered cool and most popular to sinners]—to [try and] make [the Gospel] acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but [just as being a so-called “good” person cannot save you—neither can a so-called “good” intention]…save it from being false. [This “new” approach to what Jesus means when He says — “Take up your cross and follow Me” — this despicable jumping through hoops to try and win a “decision” for Christ]—is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross (ibid).

Mankind Is Not Like God

So let’s stop right here and look at the difference between the way God decided to save mankind, and the way we—the guilty—in our human nature would choose to approach the issue of our salvation. We in our corrupt ways of the flesh—our nature as fallen creatures—are concerned with but one thing: Self-preservation. And so we say — “If I were God, and I am loving and merciful, I would simply make a decree that man is absolved of his sins.” Now why do you suppose—thinking now in my self-ish human nature—that I would simply want to forgive sins with no consequences?

Because, men and women, it wouldn’t cost me anything. Can you begin to see that we are really not like God at all? “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). And again God Almighty says — “Would you—[O so-called ‘postmodern’ man]—discredit My justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself? (Job 40:8)

If I were you I’d think long and hard before I answered that question from the Lord. Here now is the true and merciful wisdom of our Creator — You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, [Jesus of Nazareth the] Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).

In our vernacular God “put His money where His mouth is”; He demonstrated His love. So you see sin has an awful cost—death. And death—twice over, once as we die physically—but even worse—a man can die a second time as the Bible says — Then death and Hades were thrown into [Hell] the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found in the Book Of Life, he was thrown into [Hell] (Revelation 20:14-15). And if you’ve been feeling as if you should surrender to Christ as your Lord and Savior—and remember that Jesus is Lord and Savior regardless of what men think—then I suggest you do so right now.

The Words May Be The Same—But Not The Result

Dr. Hebert Lockyer’s comment from his classic book All The Teachings Of Jesus should be of serious cause for concern to those in the Purpose Driven Church, the Emergent Church or the Word Faith Church of the ECoD:

All who received and believed Christ’s teachings were signally blessed, spiritually and physically. The same sun, however, that melts the wax, hardens the clay, and the utterances of our Lord only hardened the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees, who rejected them because they exposed their hypocrisy (241).

Men and women, you need to remember that God will have His way, and further, that those who will not believe are lost forever. And the Lord would also have you know that the spiritual battle for souls in this sin-sick society, as well as in these centered on man churches is at a virtual standstill. No doubt God can do whatever he wishes about Satan and rebellious mankind all by Himself, but the Lord has chosen to use us—His Christians; His soldiers—to join Him in this battle. But the question then becomes: Will we follow His advice to — “Watch and pray…[for the] spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

What all this is about is the cost of sin—that awful price for our rebellion before our Holy Creator. That’s what God was attempting to show us through the sacrificial system with its bloody slaughtering of innocent animals. God fully knew that to create mankind would mean that He’d then to come into His own creation and shed His own blood for the remission of their sins against Him. Jesus the Christ of Nazareth—God’s one unique Son—would have to die for these sins of Church, His Body of people. However, God’s love compelled Him to create us anyway. And that would cost Him everything!

That’s real sacrifice. A word that is all but lost in our hedonistic and narcissistic cultures. And those big words just simply describe very small people; they actually mean gross self-ishness. The evidence of this can be seen to a great degree in the often arrogant behavior of our young. Unfortunately so many of them have become conditioned by Satan—largely through the media and their music—to think of little but themselves.

As I mentioned previously, the truth is that on our own we are nothing like God. Nor—apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus—can we ever be! And this, no matter how “positive” our confessions might be, or even how far we go emerging into ourselves to try and find our “true self” and/or the purpose to drive us. In our human nature we are hopelessly exactly the opposite of our Lord. This is what the great Apostle Paul meant to tell us when he writes:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25)

The Mark of the Savior

Lord willing, another time we’ll study this in more depth, but what God the Holy Spirit wants you to know here is this: No matter how hard you try not to sin—in your own nature you simply cannot stop no matter how purpose driven you may be in your emerging churches. And that’s why, no matter how “good” another human being may appear to be to us, they will never measure up to the perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The simplest definition for what God means by sin is found in the word most often used in the New Testament for it—hamartia. It’s an old archery term and it means, “to miss the mark” — the target. And in this life our Target—our Mark—is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Anytime we do anything less than He would do—we sin—period! Now can you see why we must go to His Cross and crucify our old nature with Him?

Let me give you an even more vivid proof that we are evil, sinful—self-ish creatures. Think about this. God didn’t destroy us, nor did He just leave us in this helpless state—totally incapable to stop living in sin—a lifestyle which ends in eternal separation from God. It ends in the conscious torment of a Lake of Fire—in an actual place that Jesus Himself called Hell. For a moment; Let us fix our eyes—and our thoughts fully—on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him—that joy being God’s delight in having an intimate personal relationship with you; and that, right now and for all eternity in Heaven as well, so the Lord died for His Church.

For this joy Jesus made the incredible sacrifice of pure love and endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2). Christ the Lord—Jesus of Nazareth—volunteered to leave the bliss of Heaven to be born in an dank and smelly animal stable, then grow to maturity as a Man—just the same as you and I do—and to live a life of sinless perfection in total obedience to God the Father. Now imagine this: You being born into this life knowing every moment that one day you will take the sins of your people of the world upon yourself. Not only that—but those closest to you will desert you as you undergo the most cruel and torturous death ever devised by mankind—creatures whom you had created to love you.

And now men and women, let me ask you this question: When is the last time you have even so much as talked about this with someone who doesn’t know this Good News? Ah, this then, is the simple picture of the vast difference between God and man. Don’t you see? We shouldn’t ask God why He didn’t save us some other way. We should be on our faces before the Lord thanking Him that in His grace He even saved us at all! Kind of brings the word “sacrifice” into perspective doesn’t it? Maybe self-aggrandizing postevangelical church planters and leaders ought to discuss this someday soon while they knock back a couple of brews at the pub or as they sip their fine merlot over a pasta dinner.

Hearing The Voice of God

Can you hear God’s voice now through Abraham’s willingness to offer his precious son Isaac upon the altar and the Lord providing the ram for the sacrifice instead? It was not to be the last time God provided a sacrifice for man you know. Do you think that all of this just happened by accident? And can you hear our loving Creator speaking through the sacrificing of innocent animals as their life’s blood was poured forth? The Lord says: “Turn to Me; I love you. Don’t you see? It’s your sins that caused this bloodshed. And one day your sins will cause Me to sacrifice My one and only Son—for you.”

This principle is illustrated by a story from American history; in Why Did Christ Have To Die we read:

In a tribe of Indians, someone was stealing chickens. The chief declared that, if caught, the offender would receive 10 lashes. When the stealing continued, he raised it to 20 lashes. Still the chickens methodically disappeared. In anger the chief raised the sentence to 100 lashes—a sure sentence of death. The thief was finally caught. But the chief faced a terrible dilemma. The thief was his own mother!

When the day of penalty came, the whole tribe gathered. Would the chief’s love override his justice?” [Honestly, ask yourself, “What would I do?”] The crowd gasped when he ordered his mother to be tied to the whipping post. The chief [then] removed his shirt, revealing his powerful stature, and took [up] the whip in [his powerful hands]. But instead of raising it to strike the first blow, he handed it to a strong, young brave at his side.

Slowly the chief walked over to his mother and wrapped his massive arms around her in an engulfing embrace. Then he ordered the brave to give him the 100 lashes. That’s what Jesus did for us. In love He became our substitute and died in our place… The death of Christ, therefore, was of [infinite] value, for it bridged the gulf between God and man (14,15).

As we begin to conclude, let’s look at the b part of verse 17 of our text in 1 Corinthians. Have you begun to see how much God the Holy Spirit will show you from just a portion of a verse of Scripture, if you’ll but let Him? Here again is 1 Corinthians 1:17 — For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. Let’s focus in on the last part of that verse. Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. We’ve just been talking about one aspect of the power” of the cross of Christ in that God made a way for us to repent from—turn away from—our lives of sin and to be saved through the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Fuel of the Apostasy

This now brings us around into an area which is so critical for you to understand if you really wish to see how this apostasy today is being fueled. The growing spiritual darkness is being spread through the pitifully easy way that things taught by demons kind of slither their way right into the evangelical community over time and then become accepted as if they are actually in the Bible. In his book Hard To Believe Dr. John MacArthur gives us “The Hard Truth” when he says:

Perhaps the dominant myth in the evangelical church today is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is… The illusion is that…we can lead more people to Christ by taking out the sting of the gospel and nurturing a user-friendly message… This is the pop philosophy: “If they like us, they’ll like Jesus.” The whole scheme works superficially, but only if we compromise the truth…

Now, I don’t want you to misunderstand me,… I long to see people brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ… The only question for me is, How do I do my part? What is my responsibility? It certainly can’t be to compromise the message. That message is not mine, it’s from God, and it is by that message that He saves (19,20,21,22).

MacArthur is right; for too long now, the Church in America has long been compromising the Gospel—little by little—until we’ve created a “presentation” that emphasizes mere belief (i.e. mental acknowledgment) over the commitment and obedience that is demanded by the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible. MacArthur continues:

And I know this: the preaching of the truth truly influences the world, and genuinely changes one soul at a time. The Kingdom does not advance by human cleverness. It doesn’t advance thanks to media popularity or opinion polls… The Kingdom of God advances by the power of God alone, in spite of public hostility. When we truly proclaim it in its fullness, the saving message of Jesus Christ is, frankly, outrageously offensive… In fact, it is so shameful, so antagonizing, and so offensive that even faithful Christians struggle to proclaim it, because they know it will bring resentment and ridicule (22,23).

Can You Really Be More Christian Than Christ?

But today in a hugely misguided effort to win “decisions” for Christ we have neglected to tell prospective converts that to follow Jesus is to take up your own cross and to die to everything you once were. And those who have saving faith will do just that as Jesus did. This is what the Lord said — “A student is not above his Teacher, nor a servant above his Master” (Matthew 10:24). Further — “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). And — “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Have we forgotten that Jesus of Nazareth is God Himself—pure love—in human flesh?

Well, Jesus didn’t make His message seeker sensitive in order to win cheap converts and then add these coerced decisions to pad already inflated church roles. No, the Master told people who said they wanted to follow Him that they should first count the cost. The Lord said — “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). And again — “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’ ”
(Luke 14:28-29).

The lack of obedience by the American Christian Church in proclaiming the whole Gospel is what has led to the nauseating statement, which is true of all too many professing Christians today: “Yeah, that person used to say he was a Christian—but just look at him now.” He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Luke 14:35). The truth is Jesus is not seeking half-hearted pew-warmers—self-ishly looking for their so-called purpose or an Emergent spiritual buzz—and who do little more than eat up valuable church resources. A thousand times—NO! The Lord is looking for disciples; people He can teach, a people who hate what they are without Him—their sinfulness—who want to die and live again in Him.

Jesus wants a people who want to follow Him into His Vineyard—to go out into this putrid, perverse world, which hates Him—and labor to free lost sheep for God. And this has nothing to do with twisted Dominion theology, it has everything to do with obeying our Master. Have you not read — “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12). Dr. Ralph Earle’s comment here is true: “They enter the Kingdom and become Christ’s disciples. To do this takes spiritual courage, vigor, power and determination because of ever-present persecution.” To put it another way: The true Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is no place for spiritual sissies.

The time has come for us to kneel and fight—and to wrestle in prayer. It is written: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have Divine power — [the King James Version reads] — they are mighty through Godto demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The Shame of the Gospel

Now consider this from Hard To Believe:

Paul made a remarkable statement in Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith.’ ”

Now why would Paul say, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel”? Who would ever be ashamed of such good news?… Why is the cross so hard to mention?…

Being crucified was a degrading insult, and the idea of worshipping someone who was crucified was absolutely unimaginable. Of course, we don’t see people being crucified now as Paul’s listeners did in the first century, so the impact is somewhat lost on us. But Paul knew what he was up against: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18); “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness (vv. 22-23).

And we can still see this today within the ECoD of postevangelicalism while the “postmodern” culture around us bows before the sacred cow of the secular humanist philosophy of relativism. MacArthur then goes on to say:

Verses 22 and 23 tell us the Jews were looking for a sign. “You’re the Messiah,” they said to Jesus, “So give us a sign”… Even though Jesus had gaven them miracle after miracle during His ministry, they wanted some sort of supermiracle they could all look at and say, “That’s the sign! That’s the proof that this is the Messiah at last!”

The Greeks on the other hand, weren’t so much interested in the miraculous…they were looking for wisdom. They wanted to validate a true religion through some transcendental insight, some elevated idea, some esoteric knowledge, some sort of spiritual experience, maybe even an out-of-body experience or another imaginary emotional event.

The Greeks wanted wisdom, and the Jews wanted a sign. God gave them exactly the opposite. The Jews received a skandalon, a crucified Messiah–scandalous, blasphemous, bizarre, offensive, unbelievable. And for the Greeks, who were looking for esoteric knowledge, something high and noble and lofty, all this nonsense about the eternal Creator God universe being crucified was idiotic (23,24,25,26).

And right now in this foreign mission field of pagan America today so many people are also doing the same searching for a sign and/or seeking for some kind of secret human wisdom. They say: “We don’t need some old outdated book like the Bible; we need some kind of new revelation—some sort of deeply spiritual experience.” In the postevangelical Church Planting movement the new breed pastors have developed a neo-pietism as they search for the sign of some supposed “changed life.” Meanwhile the whole ECoD blends further together in their repainted Gnostic Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism aka Spiritual Formation as taught by The Cult of Guru Richard Foster, which encourages these supposed “seekers” to go deep within themselves to experience God.

The Church Growth Movement Is Ashamed of the Cross

As you can see mankind hasn’t changed at all since the first century. When you begin to share your faith in Christ Jesus of Nazareth as the crucified and resurrected Messiah you will run in to this exact type of thinking that the Apostle Paul himself ran into. For the Bible tells us — What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was before our time (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).

This is what the Lord says, “So, you are now new and improved postmodern man? Why then do you simply repeat the same foolish mistakes of the past?” So I ask you: Who is actually more primitive; he who experiences these things for the first time, or he who does not learn from those who have gone before?” And as MacArthur further points out:

From both the Greek and Roman points of view, the stigma of crucifixion made the whole notion of the gospel claiming Jesus as the Messiah an absolute absurdity… Crucifixion was a repugnant, demeaning form of execution for the rabble of society. The idea that anybody who died on a cross was in any sense an exceptional, elevated, noble, important person was absurd… The Romans used it for only the scum, the most humiliated, the lowest of the low… And in the face of all this Paul came, and all he ever talked about was . . . the cross!…

You think you’ve got problems getting the gospel across today? Imagine the early Christians… Paul was not an easy-believism preacher. God Himself, in the form of the crucified Christ, was the biggest obstacle to believing in God… No wonder the Gentiles and the Jews alike hated Paul’s message! It was a message that was beyond human belief. No seeker-friendly message, it was either an absurdity or an obscenity (26,27,28,29).

And finally, MacArthur brings out a crucial fact when he points out that the Apostle Paul, “didn’t shy away from the hard truth of the cross but embraced it instead, saying in effect, ‘I’m not looking for a popular position from which to proclaim this message or advance it on the back of public favor’ ” (36). Yet many in today’s evangelical churches—led astray by false prophets like Rick Warren and Rob Bell—attempt to do this all time out of fear that no one will “accept” Jesus unless we make Him more appealing. Have they really not read — They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. (1 John 4:5).

Well I say let’s just return to letting Jesus speak for Himself. He didn’t need our “help” to establish His Church then, and God certainly doesn’t need our help now. What the Lord desires is for us to just trust Him and to simply follow Him. We must obey our faithful Master and tell people the Truth from inerrant and infallible His Word—the Bible—no matter what our current corrupt society may think. And we must agree to stand for Christ Jesus no matter what it may cost us personally in the days of very rough spiritual waters which lay dead ahead as 1 Peter 4:17 judgments begin to fall.

Why? The Scriptures say: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God. You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your [life] (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And further, if this kind of preaching upsets you, then it is because God the Holy Spirit has pricked you—in your own self-ish pride. O Christian where is your faith? The righteous man says — Though [the LORD] slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job 13:15, KJV).

My friend Dr. Bill Jackson, Director of Christians Evangelizing Catholics, writes — “Many of us have sung the hymn ‘He’s Everything To Me.’ [But] What we really meant was that He is [a lot–maybe, even] a great deal to us… [However] Do we really want Him to be everything? Do I want to lose all claims to friendships, all claims to material things, all claim to popularity, all claim to everything? Do I really want to know Him?” (C.E.C. Journal, April/May/June 2004, 19). In the Spirit I tell you the truth Christ said: only he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). No matter what your eschatological bent you’d best not try and avoid these words from the Master.

The Cost of the Cross

And a further word to the wise—as the fire begins to come upon this increasingly wicked generation in America—really knowing Jesus is your only hope. For the Bible says — But mark this: There will be terrible times in [these] last days (2 Timothy 3:1). Look, many who’ve been “playing” church are already beginning to flee but — “The Lord knows those who are His” (Numbers 16:5; 2 Timothy 2:19). And remember – They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2:19).

If you listen closely maybe you can hear Jesus ask — “You do not want to leave too, do you” (John 6:67)? Men and women, I remind you that — A man ought to examine himself (1 Corinthians 11:28) — to make sure he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). And I exhort you dear brother and dear sister, please don’t be a “Demas.” For some of the saddest words in the Bible are Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me (2 Timothy 4:10).

Know that those that love the world will also hate the Cross of Christ because it pierces the very self-centered heart of mankind just as the nails pierced the hands and feet of our Savior Jesus of Nazareth. The Power Of The Cross cuts right straight through our self-ishness and our pride. And it is for this very reason that the message of the Cross will never be popular. MacArthur reminds of this when he puts us in the shoes of the Apostle Paul as he first began to preach Christ crucified:

If the Gentile attitude [toward the Cross] was bad, the Jewish attitude was worse and even more hostile. They detested the Roman practice [of crucifixion] and scorned it even more than the Romans did. In their view, anybody who ever ended up on a cross fulfilled Deuteronomy 21:23, “His body shall not remain overnight on the tree…for he who is hanged is accused of God.” Does that mean the eternal God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Lord Himself was cursed? How could God curse God? It’s absolutely unthinkable. The Messiah cursed by God? To the Jews it was impossible to imagine…

The Jews gagged on the idea of a crucified Christ. It made the Gospel unbelievable… If it wasn’t enough that crucifixion bore such a shameful stigma, there was also the shameful simplicity of the cross. A repudiation of worldly wisdom (28,29,30).

And if we hope to have any real impact for Christ upon this capricious culture it will never come through the seeker sensitive message of a purpose driven life, nor will it ever come through the self-absorbed mystic musings of the submerging Emerging Church. A.W. Tozer is right that we must get people today to understand that the:

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum (Online source).

From The Shadow of His Cross

And so we thank God for The Power Of The Cross and we need not be ashamed — For [even though] the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,…to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). To paraphrase a common theme in the teaching of Dr. Walter Martin, author of the Kingdom of the Cults: If you don’t believe that everyone who won’t come to that Cross is lost; and if you don’t believe everyone who will not believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior is perishing to eternal damnation in the indescribable horrors of Hell, then what in the world are you bothering to call yourself a Christian for?

There is a song that goes:

He taught us that none of us are clean,
The Scripture says, not even one;
You see dear ones God so loved the world;
That He sacrificed His only Son.
Jesus died, He shed His blood,
He’s not willing to lose anyone;
He rose from the dead, He calls to you,
He offers you life, so why do you run?

And I saw Him reach out His hand,
From the shadow of His cross;
He says, “Come unto Me,
All you who are lost.”
Now all that I am,
I count it all as loss;
Because I saw Him reach out His hand…
From the shadow of His cross.

This is exactly what we who truly are Christians do believe. We believe this because we who bear the marks of Jesus have truly surrendered our lives to Him—every part of it—no matter what; to the end. And further, those of us who are slaves of Christ beseech you for listen to Him as He calls to you now from The Shadow Of His Cross.

Come to Him, before it is too late…for the sands of the Hourglass are fast running out…

See also: