The Bite of the Gospel
The pressure is not imaginary. It has been squeezing on us for so long that you may no longer feel its discomfort. It is likely that you have gotten used to it, perhaps yielded to it or, God forbid, maybe even started to employ it yourself. To what do I refer?
There is a presumption that Christians are to remove the sting out of our message. The sharp point of the Gospel is expected to become rounded and the passion of our confrontation is to be served with mild flavor. We are allowed to bark but there is no allowance anymore of the idea that our message is to retain a bite. Our culture calls us to engage in muted evangelism and murky theology, but this is unreasonable for us as servants of the living God.
When Peter was preaching on the Day of Pentecost, the Bible tells us that the people who listened to his message were “pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s message was not merely informational but highly confrontational. It produced discomfort, conviction, and pain — but notice the end result: they did not debate with, argue against, or compliment the preacher; instead they distinctly knew that his preaching required a response: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
My observations today address how it is that we have moved to the opposite end of the spectrum when sharing the Gospel. The pressure on Christians and churches is to proceed with caution, leave all feathers unruffled, still the ripples, blunt the edges and to offer a low-sodium version of the Gospel message. Our culture wants relief from their spiritual “blood pressure” so they are asking us to remove the salt from our Gospel.
I am not surprised nor offended by that demand from our culture. I am, however, disturbed that many Christians are complying with polite smiles of nauseating, all-embracing tolerance in an effort to be accepted or make people feel good. I want people to feel good — I want people to feel gloriously good! That is not the issue. The real problem is that there is the belief that somehow if people become aware of their guilt it will turn them away from experiencing the forgiveness and freedom in Christ. Not true! Galatians 3:24 affirms that the law is “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Nobody stole our fangs. We willingly had them removed so we could fit in some well-rounded dentures in their place.
So, what should we do? We have only one message, one Book of truth, one mission and one aim. Our biblical calling is fastened to truth and the option of substituting truth for anything else is not offered to us by God. If we alter the message then we miss the mark. People have always been offended by the less pleasant aspects of the Gospel message. Flesh never walks hand-in-hand with the Spirit and so the war rages on in each generation. God calls His servants to proceed onward and never to dilute His words. The Gospel doesn’t change with the times or culture shifts.
Christian friend, let us remain steadfast in loving people so wholeheartedly that we respect them enough to share what God has said…with no opaque curtain drawn around it. Allow them to reject His message if they so choose — most have, and most will until the end of days (Matthew 7:13-14). We cannot be a friend of God or a friend to those who do not believe if we misrepresent Him as we patronize them. As a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have no desire to inject angry venom into the hearts of those who hear me, but I don’t want to lose my bite either. Take out the poison ducts but leave the fangs!
Peter’s audience was cut to the heart and the end result that day was that thousands of people turned to Jesus Christ. Had Peter proceeded with caution, the result might have resembled what occurred about a month before around a warming fire. Peter was so intimidated and worried what a young lady may have thought, that he ended up denying Jesus and lying to her. May Christians abandon that sort of unloving caution and trust the Holy Spirit to open prepared hearts as the truth of the Gospel is preached. I would rather risk my reputation as being abrasive with the truth than to risk becoming untruthful.
Away with religious poison! Away with defanged Christianity! May God graciously continue to provide us a platform to share His truth and may we humbly step up to that appointed place and say with the Christians of past generations, “be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: Jesus of Nazareth…”