Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Is The Offense Of The Cross?

The Bible speaks of the Gospel as an aroma. It's a good aroma to those who are being saved, and a bad aroma to those who are being lost. (2 Cor. 2:16)

Why would "Good News" smell bad to some? Why would "Good News" be offensive? Or to put it another way...

What is the offense of the Cross?

The answer is Grace.

Fallen man wants to *deserve* God's favor, but the gospel says "No. There is none good, no not one. It must be a free gift of grace."

The "offense of the cross" isn't "showing people they are sinners". If you think that offends them, you aren't spending enough time around sinners. People revel in their sin all the time (though they may think their "good" outweighs their "bad").

And "the offense of the cross" isn't the "Lordship of Christ". People bow to gods and gurus and messiahs all the time.

The "offense of the cross" is Grace. The only place in Scripture where it's specifically mentioned is Gal. 5:11. Paul says:

"...if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased."

See, if Paul preached Legalism, he wouldn't have been persecuted. But he preached The Cross, the substitutionary death and gift of righteousness that Grace requires.

And the hearer must repent (change his mind) about his self-righteousness.

And he must believe in the Risen Christ who said, "It is finished". He must "believe God" that his own righteousness is as filthy rags, and he must accept the free gift of God's righteousness. His sins can't be overlooked, they must be paid for by another, as a gift.

This Grace is a "stumbling stone, and a rock of offense" (Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8), because fallen man is religious to the core with self-righteousness.

Grace blasts that self-righteousness with a laser beam of Good News from the Light of the World, and self-righteous man screams in smug hatred, and calls the Good News bad.

Until he is born again.

Then the "offense" becomes sweet music to his ears, and he sees the Good News as the most precious news he has ever heard.


ann_in_grace said...

"Then the "offense" becomes sweet music to his ears, and he sees the Good News as the most precious news he has ever heard."

That is the most amazing thing, isn't it?

Bhedr said...

Amen big boo!!

Kris said...

Amen also.

God tried to tell the first person born from a man & woman and he would not listen. Cain would not do what was right and accept the grace of God.

Prem said...

Thanks a lot for your blog. I came upon it quite by accident. Was feeling depressed and tired of continuously struggling against my sinful nature. So I searched for "Lord, am I righteous?" on google.. and one of the links that it returned was your blog. :)

I read through your blog entries made in the last week of January 2005 and was blessed. Thanks again.

Prem Kurian Philip

Terry Rayburn said...

Thanks to you all for stopping by.


Glad you were lifted up by the reminder of the good news of grace for the believer.

For the record, and not to get overly technical, I don't believe the Scipture teaches that a believer has a sinful nature.

We have one nature, which is entirely bad (sinful and anti-God) before we are born again. This nature equates with our spirit.

After we are born again, this nature is made new. We still have one nature, but now in our new nature we love Christ and hate sin.

We still have some old habits, old "programs", old thinking patterns, physical desires and cravings, etc., and sin itself, which resides in our members. But this is not our nature, it wars against our new nature. It's what the Bible calls the "flesh" (Greek sarx).

Paul makes it clear in Romans 7 that sin still dwells in us, in our flesh, but that it is not us.

This is important, because if we think that our new nature is a sinful nature, we will think it's "natural" for us to sin. Actually, the Bible teaches the opposite, that it is "UN-natural" for us to sin now (that is, it goes against our nature).

We died to sin on the cross in Christ, and we are (in our nature) now dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11).

Unfortunately, some Bible translations such as the NIV and early versions of the ESV translate "flesh" in Rom. 6,7 as "sin nature". This is a bad translation which stems from a bad interpretation. Thankfully, the ESV has been revised to reflect the true biblical meaning of flesh.

Hope that's helpful.


Bhedr said...

Amen Terry. The mistake in asserting that we still have a sinful nature that is a part of us and exploring all of its faculties is not scriptural at all. That nature it put to death and it is the flesh that sins if it is fed but as Paul said, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells with me. So we walk in the spirit and grow stronger in our new creation which is greater than the wicked one that rules the world. This is a promise that helps us grow. A blessed promise to be believed. We have the power in the new birth to walk and not fear brother. Keep preachin the truth.