Summary: The gospel is offensive
The Offensive Gospel
October 30, 2011
Open your Bibles to Luke 6:22 and let’s look at one of the most comforting verses in the Bible: “Blessed are ye, when men shall love you, and when they shall include you in their company, and shall praise you, and cast out your name as righteous, for the Son of man’s sake.”
Skip down to verse 26 to see another encouraging verse: “Blessed are you when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the true prophets.”
Do you see the blessing here? Oh what joy! We get to love Jesus and be loved by the world.
But that’s not what the text actually says, is it?
There’s this weird fascination we seem to have with fitting into the culture and being generally accepted by the world, and it’s just so unbiblical. We wish these verses really did read this way, but they don’t. And you know what? Any thought that lines up with God’s word is a good thought, and any thought that contradicts God’s word is an evil thought.
Go back to verse 22:
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Christians ought to expect to be hated and maligned because that is the promise.
Over in Matthew chapter ten we find some verses that go right along with Luke six. Jesus sends out His twelve disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons and raise the dead. They’re going out to preach the gospel of peace, but He warns them that there’ll be many who don’t like what they have to say. Starting in verse sixteen:
16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Here’s the first basic truth: the gospel is violently hated by the world. Isn’t it interesting that He sends sheep into the wolves? Why not as sheep among goats? Why not as seeing men among blind men? Well, “wolf” is an accurate description. They’re heartless and vicious. They attack and devour and destroy. They will kill and eat anything they can overcome, and they don’t fight fairly:
17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
This is the promised reaction to the gospel. They’re going to take a club or a whip and beat you with it. They hate the gospel, and even though you’re like a meek and innocent little sheep, they’ll hate you and tear you to pieces over it.
But why would Jesus do that to us? I mean what kind of shepherd sends sheep into a pack of wolves? Imagine you own a large flock. You’re working in the barn and one of your helpers comes through the door. He’s supposed to be with the sheep, so you naturally get a little worried: “What’s going on? Who’s with the sheep?”
“Aw, I sent them into a pack of wolves.”
But there’s a purpose with our Shepherd: “Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”
The disciples went out to preach the full righteousness of God. Some would hear and turn, but others would hear and hate. This gospel is the testimony against these men on Judgment Day. They have no excuse!
So, why is there such an emphasis in today’s church to fit in and to be attractive? It seems that we’ve strayed from the simple gospel and added all these trinkets and incentives and such cute little outlines. Whatever happened to plain and simple “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom. 1:16)?
Sure, that offends some people, but isn’t that the promise? It’s not our goal to offend people, but we’re not going to dumb it down or dress it up or change it to make it more appealing—we can’t because it’s not our gospel to change:
19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Now this might be the most important verse in understanding this passage: the gospel is God’s words spoken through us. A good tree bears good fruit; the branches bear the fruit of the vine. Or think of it this way: a true witness tells what he’s actually seen because only a liar would see one thing and say something else. Imagine you’re standing on a street corner and you see a man walk up to a newspaper stand, he pops in a quarter, opens the door, and then he takes the whole stack of papers for a quarter. Well, you’re just kind of standing there staring, so he says, “What? It’s not a crime, is it?”