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Discussion Forum : General Topics : The Offensiveness of the Gospel: There is no escape

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roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 The Offensiveness of the Gospel: There is no escape



Somehow, I cannot escape the gnawing sense that the Bible is offensive. A part of me desperately wants to clip away its shaggy knots, wash away the dirt and bad smells, and emboss the cover with gold, so that it matches my Sunday best. Then I can safely take it to church and look good, and ensure that we all feel good about ourselves.

However, if I were to cut through my clever and pseudo-pious layers, I’d have to admit: I want to keep this Word of God from exposing my arrogance, my religious righteousness, my hypocrisy, and my insatiable addiction to people approval.

A part of me feels a need to control this Holy Book so that I can avoid the discomfort produced by its offensiveness. I know a few of the tricks: I could mentally obliterate great swaths of its message, simply by remaining ignorant, forgetting, or denying. I could observe its contents from so far back or from so close up that I miss any penetrating details. I could make loud declarations about it, perhaps about inerrancy or unreliability or something in between, and hope that the noise will shield my conscience from its disturbing voices.

If I decide to step back and observe it “objectively”, maybe I could spare myself from any subjective distress. But even then, it offends my intellect. It just isn’t the polished, “acceptable” document that I can boast about among my intellectual superiors. Why, scripture candidly offends human wisdom by calling it foolishness!

Really, the Word doesn’t allow me to dislodge myself from its drama unless I undergo some mental gymnastics - perhaps mythologize it or somehow domesticate it.

So then I center my attention on its protagonist, and again I am offended – that is, if I take an honest look at Jesus. Jesus is not a person I want to invite to my party. Why! He might step out of the domesticated portrait we have made of him, sitting there so meek and mild with children on his knee. No one wants to meet the “other” Jesus at the party. No one wants to risk hearing his offensive allegations. And I sure don’t want to risk being the embarrassment of the party.



Here is the dilemma: I am a Christian. And so, I must somehow deal with the offensiveness of the Word of God - somehow. That reminds me of the question Jesus asked the Pharisees: “Where did John's baptism come from? From heaven or from people?" A similar question faces me: “Where does the “Word of God” come from? From heaven or from people?” No matter how I answer, I set the very trap I want to avoid, even if respond like the Pharisees did, saying: “We don’t know”. They merely exposed their stubborn resistance by pleading ignorance and sitting on the fence.

Jesus was offensive to a lot of people. So were the prophets, and so were the apostles. Indisputably, words from the Lord brought discomfort. Only the utterly poor in spirit were not offended. So, if I am not offended by the Word of God, then I am either utterly poor in spirit or I am fooling myself and living a pretense. From what I can see in myself, I think I waver between the two. But that admission in itself indicts me, just as it did the Pharisees.

I am striving towards a master’s degree in theology. However, the one thing I will not master is the Word of God. It will master me, although that process goes against every fiber in my being. I know it will not let me have the best of both worlds: my masked self and my God. The Word of God will never absolve me of my secret pride - apart from its terms: the narrow Door. And, really, that’s the way I’d rather have it.

I have concluded that the offensiveness of the Word of God, in itself, drives me towards an awareness of my spiritual poverty; and that is the very means of escaping its offensiveness. If I surrender to it (ie God), I am convinced that the Word of God will transform me into one who finds such inexpressible joy in the salvation of the Lord that I will never be ashamed of the gospel – even during times when I am being shamed for my faith.

May the Lord grant me courage to admit:

I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God
for the salvation of everyone who believes.

Rom. 1:16


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Diane

 2009/2/6 13:05Profile
sojourner7
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Joined: 2007/6/27
Posts: 1573
Omaha, NE

 Re: The Offensiveness of the Gospel: There is no escape

The gospel comes to us as a beggar clothed with
humility; when it is a servant of the One Most
High. The gospel bids us to come and die for
the greatest of causes; the kingdom of God and
His eternal glory. The gospel calls us to
sacrifice, to surrender, to self-denial, to
service. There is no higher calling than to
forsake all, to lose your life in following
HIM!!


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Martin G. Smith

 2009/2/6 14:54Profile
ginnyrose
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Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7421
Mississippi

 Re: The Offensiveness of the Gospel: There is no escape

Diane, I am concluding the same.

Quote:
No matter how much I study, the very one thing that I will not master is this Word of God



And I wonder if we would not do well to ignore contemporary books about spirituality and focus on the WORD. Because it is true, it is difficult to master the WORD....it continues to inspire, teach, challenge. What other writings have this ability? I know not of any, do you? Sometimes I get the sense some will write so much about a subject that results in confusion and then people will throw up their hands and think they will never be able to understand and will leave off studying. The devil accomplished his job quite well with 'spiritual writers'. (A case in point: the book of Revelation.)

Diane, mine if I share this post with others?

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2009/2/7 12:15Profile
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: The offensiveness of the Gospel

Quote:
I wonder if we would not do well to ignore contemporary books about spirituality and focus on the WORD.



Ginnyrose, I would agree with you in that many books out there tempt us to master our own lives.

Still, I believe that there is a lot of literary treasure out there that can help us see our spiritual depravity more clearly, and thus our need for the Lord. But even among the best of them, like the Bible, it’s not the book that is to blame for our avoidance strategies.


Quote:
Diane, mind if I share this post with others?



Go ahead, Ginnyrose, By the way, I have revised my article and prefer that you pass on the present edition. For example, I changed the word "soul" to "conscience". The ending, I think articulates my commitment more clearly.

Diane


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Diane

 2009/2/7 13:28Profile
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7421
Mississippi

 Re:

Thanks, Diane.

My reference to books is sparked by another false teaching that is impacting our people. It has to do with mysticism: feeling, experience supercedes Biblical truth. There are some writers, speakers out there promoting it and even their lit is used in our Bible Institutes, hence my concern about this issue. It just seems like one cannot be too careful.

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2009/2/7 19:05Profile
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: Offense of the gospel


Ginnyrose said:

Quote:
hence my concern about this issue. It just seems like one cannot be too careful.



That’s for sure! Yet applying this to this thread theme, I think that even our meticulous cautions can at times “shield” us from experiencing the convicting power of the gospel.

Diane


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Diane

 2009/2/16 15:46Profile
ikartiko
Member



Joined: 2008/9/20
Posts: 1


 Re: The Offensiveness of the Gospel: There is no escape

Praise the Lord if the holy ghost has shown you the offensiveness of the gospel and the desire of your heart to press on.

The most holiest man (God in flesh!) who lived on earth, my Lord and Saviour, who declares the most glorious gospel. He was despised and rejected. We did not greet Him with open arms. We greeted Him with "Away with Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

You are right. No God's servant who preach the Word of God is popular. Let's consider a few. Jeremiah was jailed, but God delivered. Moses had a nation against him. Ahab wanted to bound God's prophet Elijah. Peter was jailed. Paul was beaten, jailed. Stephen was stoned to death. The son of God, crucified. Those who left roman caholicism, burned to death. Are we then not worthy of the same suffering?

The word of God is like a fire, like a hammer and like a double edged sword. People will be hurt when the sword of the spirit strikes. Our flesh will be hurt too. It burns the chaff in hearts (our flesh loves the chaffs). Yet it gives life after the old man died.

Keep on preaching the Word of God. Keep on reading the Word of God. His word will burn every chaff in our heart. His Word is like a light on our path. Be ready to give answer to all people, be ready in all season. May the Lord God strengthens you. Let Him be your vision, best thought, strength, delight, inheritance, treasure and sword for the fight.

Amen, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
I don't have degree in theology, the only degree that God gave me is B.A. (born again) and I cherished it in my heart. A blood-bought gift indeed.

~ikartiko

 2009/2/16 23:11Profile
menderofnets
Member



Joined: 2008/9/26
Posts: 73
South Yorkshire, UK

 Re:

The Gospel is offensive. Jesus was offensive, yet in the most amazing way. Not belligerent. In C.S.Lewis's words, 'he's not safe, but he is good'.

People try to reconcile things with the Gospel that cannot be reconciled. There are many things that can co-exist with the Gospel, including aspects of ways of life, but they can never remain the same - ie. unaffected - since the Gospel affects everything. Also, there is only one Gospel, not many. So no 'prosperity gospel', no 'liberation gospel'. There are elements within God's Word which speaks of these things within the wider purposes of God, but these are not the Gospel in themselves.

May God keep and guard our hearts and minds so that our faith is kept right and true and free of corruption!

I have been offended by the Gospel many times. It will continue to offend me. That is, the old me, anything which continues to hold out. But to the me who is born again, the Gospel is the best Good News ever!

Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Note this is not friendship with people in the world. Allegiance to God must be whole. We are not and won't be perfect in this life, but this shouldn't affect our allegiance. God will keep us to the end, if we continue with Him, but let us be careful where our 'friendship' lies.

Grace is offensive. Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, the 'undesirables' of society. Grace is offensive. So is forgiveness, and something we Christians are still coming to terms with (it's far easier to criticize others, particularly other Christians, than to operate in Godly forgiveness).

Lord, keep us firm in the faith you have set before us.


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Jamie Adam

 2009/2/17 3:57Profile





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