WHEREIN LIES THE OffenSe OF THE CROSS?
“1. Its Doctrine of Atonement offends man’s pride.
“2. Its simple teaching offends man’s wisdom, and artificial taste.
“3. It being a remedy for man’s ruin offends his fancied power to save himself.
“4. Its addressing all as sinners offends the dignity of Pharisees.
“5. Its coming as a revelation offends ‘modern thought.’
“6. Its lofty holiness offends man’s love of sin.
HOW IS THIS OFFENSE SHOWN?
1. Frequently by the actual persecution of Believers.
2. More often by slandering Believers, and sneering at them as old-fashioned, foolish, weak-minded, morose, self-conceited, etc.
3. Often by omitting to preach the Cross. Many nowadays preach a Christless, Bloodless Gospel.
4. Or by importing new meanings into orthodox terms.
5. Or by mixing the truth of Christ with errors.
6. Or by openly denying the Deity of Him Who died on the Cross, and the substitutionary character of His sufferings.
“Let us not follow those preachers who are not friends to the Cross.
“Let us have no fellowship with those who have no fellowship with Christ.
“Preachers who have caught the spirit of the age are of the world, and the world loves its own; but we must disown them.
“Let us not be distressed by the offense of the Cross, even when it comes upon us with bitterest scorn.
“Let us look for it and accept it as a token that we are in the right.”
Brother Sparks wrote:
“Much of the preaching and teaching in the Christian Church is either confined to the ‘Historic Jesus’ which presents a Crossless Christ, or gives a very modified meaning to His death.
“And yet it is surely necessary to get rid of the Bible before we can get rid of the fact that it unites in all its parts to declare the Cross is God’s way of salvation, God’s sufficient and God’s only way.”
He further stated that the following reasons are why the Cross is offensive to the world and much of the Church:
1. THE CROSS CONDEMNS THE WORLD
“In His Cross Christ created a great divide between the old world and the new, a divide which cannot be bridged. Two distinctly different systems, scales of value, standards of judgment, sets of laws, prevail on the two sides of the Cross, the system of each is not only entirely different but irreconcilable and forever antagonistic to the other.
“The Cross demands an absolute distinctiveness of interests, and objectives, relationships and resources. It draws the final distinction between the saved and the unsaved, between the living and the dead.
“The Apostle Paul said that by the Cross he had ‘been crucified to the world’ and the world crucified to him. The Word of God emphatically declares that the age is evil, and that ‘the whole world lieth in the wicked one,’ and that its ways, motives, purposes, ideas, imaginations are all the opposite of God’s and that it is utterly incapacitated from either receiving the revelation of the divine mind, growing of itself into the divine image, enjoying and appreciating real fellowship with God, or being entrusted with the privilege of co-operation with God.
“These are alone the consciousness, capacities, relationships of the newly-born or regenerated soul. It is this verdict, condemnation, and demand of the Cross which is unacceptable and irritating to a very great number of even professing Christians. Further, it is the presence of much that is called ‘worldliness’ both in the individual Christian life and in the Church which absolutely neutralizes their effectiveness in the realization of the essential purposes of the Cross.
2. THE CROSS CRUCIFIES THE FLESH
“By it the Word of God declares that ‘our old man has been crucified with Christ.’ ‘One died for all, therefore all died in Him, that they which live should henceforth live no longer unto themselves but unto Him.’ We have tried to bring some of the old creation life into the new creation and God won’t have it. The history of the fallen race was concluded so far as God was concerned at Calvary. From that time onward, God’s entire concern was the new creation, but alike our human capabilities as our infirmities, what we call our better human side, as our worse, our goodness and our badness have been included in that death. Henceforth we are called to live not on a human level but on a divine. Humanly we possess nothing which is acceptable to God.
“It is always the assertion of some human element, some like or dislike, some fad or fancy, some ambition, some personal interest, which paralyses the real spiritual work of God. To regard not only our sins but ourselves as having been taken to the Cross by Christ is the only way by which the purposes of God can be wrought out through our lives. It is strange that while we ourselves are the bane of our own existence, the trouble of our own lives, we are so slow to accept our crucification with Christ, to have the Cross wrought out to our death in order that the life of Christ might be made manifest in us. Herein lies the offense of the Cross, not only for the worldling but also for the Christian.
3. THE CROSS CASTS OUT THE DEVIL
“Here we touch, perhaps, the deepest cause of the offense, for the world and the flesh are only the instruments and weapons by which the great hierarchy of Satan maintains its hold and its existence as the controlling force. Christ said, as He approached the Cross, ‘Now is the prince of this world cast out,’ Paul reflecting upon that Cross said that by it ‘Christ stripped off principalities and powers, making a show of them openly, and triumphed over them.’
“It is perfectly natural, then, that the great hierarchy should by every means and resource seek to make the Cross of none effect. By the ‘pale cast of thought’ it will dilute the message of the Cross; by pushing in the world’s methods, its means, its spirit, it will tap the spiritual vitality of the Church; by stirring up the flesh, the self and the old Adam, it will cause schism, strain and disintegration; or by making much of the human element in its artistic, aesthetic, heroic, humanitarian side, it will be blind to the need of regeneration. Reputations, popularity, bigness, the world standard of success, are all contrary to the spirit of Christ, but they are the toys with which the enemy engrosses the minds of many, even Christian ministers.
“If, therefore, the Cross is preached in its full victory over and emancipation from the world, the flesh and the devil, it is to be expected that by hook or by crook the intelligent forces of evil will leave no stone unturned to stop it, and will stir up every cause of offense to lay to the account of the Cross.
“In conclusion let us not forget that the enjoyment of the full life of God, the experience of victory, and executive co-operation with Him that sitteth upon the Throne in the sure realization that His eternal purposes are ours just in so far as we are one with the full and essential meaning of the Cross as set forth in the word of God. ‘I have been crucified with Christ, henceforth . . . no longer I but Christ.’ ‘They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they counted not their lives dear unto the death.’”
THE PRESENT OFFENSE
Many today proclaim Water Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Speaking in Tongues, Church membership, and even a going back into the Law as we see in the Hebraic Movement, as having to be a part of one’s Salvation; however, there is no Salvation in works. Law and Grace and Faith cannot be mixed. Ephesians 2:8 declares, “For by Grace are you Saved through Faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the Gift of God.”
Yes, the Cross is an offense to the world and to much of the modern Church world, but the Cross is man’s Means of Salvation for the Sinner and Sanctification for the Saint.
Thank God for Calvary!