The Outrageous Gospel

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” –1 Corinthians 1:18

 

Speaking with a neighbor recently about Jesus as the Son of God, the Gospel and eternal life, it sounded awkward as the words came out of my mouth.

These are truths I firmly believe in and stake my life on, but answering spiritual questions from a curious non-Christian, bubbled over as foolish. I was a little baffled and stunned and very convicted. The truth I’ve cut my teeth on since infancy- from Bible stories on felt boards to youth group summer camps, to Bible studies and beyond- sounded outrageous. Why?

Because God did indeed design it that way. The Gospel is offense, foolish, and outrageous; yet it is also lovely, crafted in God’s divine wisdom to the believer.

Here are other reasons that speaking God’s message of salvation doesn’t come naturally for us:

  1. Christians don’t practice evangelism enough.

This one stung as that realization came to mind in the middle of the conversation with my neighbor. My words aren’t natural because I don’t use my mouth enough to proclaim God’s amazing mercy. Christians cannot be silent and use the cop out: They will know us by our actions.

Yes, we will be known by our fruits of the Spirit (Matthew 7:20), but also by verbalizing the hope we have which all people need. (Isaiah 63:7; Psalm 71:15-18)

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2. The Gospel message doesn’t fit our Western culture mindset.

Our idea of fairness, democracy, and justice isn’t necessarily what God outlines in Scripture. Yet it didn’t make sense in Biblical times either. Our biggest mistake is assuming God thinks and acts like us. The Bible is clear that He doesn’t (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 9:14-18).

He cannot be figured out like a code to be cracked. This is actually a good thing. God is so other than, so incomprehensible, that He transcends our limited understanding and us. It shouldn’t stifle our pursuit of Him, but enrich it. As Paul taught the Roman Christians about the nature of human depravity and God’s intervention through salvation he could only exclaim:

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)

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3. The Gospel doesn’t make sense to our finite minds.

Why would an infinite, Sovereign, perfect God who lacks nothing decide to condescend as a human (fully man and fully God) and live among us? Why would He permit His own humiliation, suffering, dishonor, and death to rescue a rebellious, hateful people? Questions like this confound the “wise” of the world because God ordained it that way.

When Jesus came during His first advent He spent a lot of time re-teaching the disciples what they thought they knew about the Messiah. They anticipated a political earthly kingdom to begin immediately for the nation of Israel. But the Lord had a deeper purpose in mind- He first had to transform their hearts.

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 Jesus works from the inside out through the Holy Spirit. You and I can’t achieve righteousness apart from Christ.  His atoning work bought us freedom from sin, eternal life, and fellowship with God. It takes courage and a love for our fellow man to speak this out loud, but it’s the message our lost co-workers, neighbors, friends and family need to hear. It’s the truth we all need to hear everyday.

4.  Return to your first love.

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The difference between a Christian and an unbeliever is whether this “foolishness” is something you reject or follow no matter the cost. The truth is, as we live here on earth we still work out these truths in practice that we profess.

If I say the Lord is my first love, my most treasured possession, wouldn’t I talk about Him more? Not out of a sense of duty, but delight?

Jesus died so that outrageous grace erases outrageous depravity. That is the best news there is and worth bearing the mark of a Christian even when it seems like foolishness to a dying world.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

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