I am afraid that as believers we have put such an emphasis on the wrong things, we have missed the ability to stand with grace on the right things. This goes from the way we view marriage, to they way we present the Gospel. We will have more to say on this in a later blog, but I want to begin with a true story of the Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
We had some of our people send me links to a church service in which the Pastor got up and said that many of them had been told all their lives that Jesus died on the cross because of their sin..."but that is just wrong!" "It is not because of your sin that Jesus died on the cross. It is because of His love that Jesus died on the cross. It just happened to be that your sin separated you from the love of God. I want you to get that really clear in your head because there are alot of Christ followers who are basically beat up with guilt and condemnation. Their understanding of a relationship with God is that they're the ones, in their sin made Jesus go to the cross. Jesus had a choice." It is true Christ loves His children, but to make this statement and tell a group of people this was “wrong” is to totally miss the Gospel and ignore most of Is. 53; 1st Corinth. 15:3; Heb. 9:28; Rm. 4:25 and countless other verses! To speak of the crucifixion and not declare the love and grace of God is an incomplete Gospel, but to skip the bad news and just run right to the good news causes the cross to make no sense at all. Without declaring the holiness of God, the demand that God gives that we are to be Holy, without understanding God’s hatred for sin... the cross makes no sense. In fact, to run right to the love of God while skipping over the Holiness of God, ignores the entire message of cross. Christ died for sin - and not for His sin (He was perfect) - He died for His Bride’s sin!
Now He certainly died because of His amazing love, but in order to explain the Gospel you must include the “why” of the cross. The why must begin with our wickedness and God’s Holiness, and that the two cannot co-habitate! It seems as believers we long to be embraced by world, for the world to think we are cool, that we are people who really engage our culture... but we are missing the point. As believers we want to speak the truth in love, but by all means, speak the truth. I heard Voddie Baucham say before that most believers think the 11th Commandment is “Thou shalt be nice” and this command supersedes all other commandments. That is the attitude that is embraced by so many people. What the Pastor of the aforementioned church did sounded nice, but it was misleading. In an effort to "be nice" and to help people not feel bad, he misrepresented the primary purpose of the cross - our sin left us with a debt we cannot pay and it must be dealt with. He implied that guilt and condemnation are bad - but that is who we are before Christ in our own merit - He did love us enough to choose to take our sin upon Himself, but it IS because of our sin that death was necessary. I must confront someone with the bad news before the “Good News” makes sense. It is the analogy that I have used many times before...if a doctor simply tells you that he would like to give you chemotherapy, that would sound crazy! However, if he spends some time telling you about the cancer that is in your body then cure, it would make perfect sense to take the treatment. The cure for our sin is wonderful: it is more than good news, it is the most amazing, wonderful news one could ever hear. However, it is pointless to mention the cross without explaining why the cross is necessary.
We can’t rewrite the Gospel to make it more palatable in our day, we must proclaim it, the idea that there is an either/or mentality to discussing the love of God or the guilt of our sin when dealing with the cross is nothing short of a false gospel. To only mention God’s wrath and never mention His love would not accurately represent the cross, but to only mention God’s love and never mention His wrath is malpractice in the pulpit! We are waiters bringing in the Gospel! We don’t cook it, we don’t create the ingredients... we are called to simply deliver it the way it was prepared, and by all means we must get that right!
C. H. SpurgeonThere is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no making him alive till the law has slain him.