The Gospel 16: The Unpopular Message

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 5, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When we preach the Gospel, we need to understand that while it is great good news for the salvation of man, it is also a grave scandal. Many people trip over the Gospel, and they DO understand the scandal. They know they are sinners, but for Jesus to die for them is unfathomable. And it’s not merely Jesus dying out of love for us that trips them, it is more specifically Jesus taking on the wrath of the Father for sin upon Himself that trips them. If it was merely Satan carrying out the execution, some may not object, but the actual executioner of holy judgment is by God the Father.

This gives rise the argument of “Cosmic Child Abuse.” Dad got mad at his kid and took it out on the dog. That’s what some have said. How can God be called good and kind and loving if He takes out His anger on His own Son? The Gospel is a scandal. In order to save mankind, there had to be a substitute who had no sin Himself, because the righteous justice of God has to be met. God is not going to let any evil go by without dealing with it. And that is what many objectors to Christianity do not like; they know their deeds are evil, and the mere mention of a righteous and holy God offends them because it means that their judgment day is approaching.

This message is very unpopular. Emile Ramos, James White, and Paul Washer did a 30-minute joint video titled “Unpopular” emphasizing that the Gospel message is not going to please many audiences, because the core of the Gospel message is that man is sick, depraved, and completely helpless. And after salvation, man is still useless, weak, frail, and completely and wholly dependent upon Christ. People mock Christianity because we “use Jesus like a crutch.” I correct them: “No, it’s not like a crutch. It’s more like life-support.” The Gospel is because we are dead without Jesus. That’s not going to win over many crowds.

Paul was given an opportunity to speak to the intellectual of intellectuals at Mars Hill in Athens. If he were interested in winning a crowd over and getting people on his side, there was no better opportunity. He had just been driven out of two consecutive towns in Thessalonica and Berea for preaching the Gospel and was sent ahead to Athens to try to cool down and let the people cool down. And Paul, alone, waiting for his team to come join him, got provoked. He saw the idolatry in the streets, and he could not wait for backup. He began preaching. When he gave his famous defense at Mars Hill, Paul did the last thing he could have done to win the crowd over. While he did reference the religious idolatry of Athens, he basically went in and said, “You are doing everything wrong and don’t even know who you are worshiping or why. Here is the true God and how His worship should be done.” Paul had to sweep the rug from under them and plant a new foundation so he could go to his destination: Jesus and the cross. And the audience lost it the moment Paul spoke of the resurrection. Most mocked, some wanted to hear more, and only a few individuals believed.

The Gospel is not going to be well-liked. If you want approval, praise, and the rapport with men, that may be all you will ever get, and you will have renounced Christ in doing so. Most won’t like the Gospel message delivered correctly. Our job is to preach the Word, even if no one receives it. As Christians, our job is to share the faith, even if no one will hear it. And the church took a major turn off the main road when they decided that their numbers were not good enough and so they decided to pursue “seekers” instead of pursuing God. Instead of giving the unpopular message that God gave us to give, they chose to go for popularity and the approval of sinful, wicked men. There is a severe problem with this: sinful men do not want God, not as He truly is. So to keep sinful men around, they church had to change God. Instead of being the sovereign, righteous king who is coming back to judge the wicked and rescue the righteous, “God” became just a nice, fuzzy blanket to keep you warm in front of a fire. It’s truly blasphemous what most have done in their depiction of God.

And when Christendom as a whole goes that direction, when the few people who still stand for the true God and the true message, we are the ones who get ostracized for rocking the boat. I see it happening very often. I’ll say the hard thing and the backlash is quite sharp. It does not matter how much “love” or “tact” I give it. It is rejected, and the problem is “me” because what I say is not letting “them” play this game they call “Christianity,” a game that God does not play.

There is one detail about the Gospel message that drives it to such an unpopular level: the denial of self. When we receive the Gospel, we are admitting that we have nothing in and of ourselves that is good that we can bring to the table. Getting us to that point requires us to acknowledge that we never had anything or ever will have anything good in us. Before Christ, we had nothing to start with. After, any goodness we have comes from Christ, not us, even in our regenerate spirit. And even harder to receive is that to be a Christian, it is going to cost us everything – not merely our sinful lifestyles of doing bad things, but everything. Jobs, finances, family, friends, hobbies, entertainment, sports, your education, your reputation, everything is secondary or less compared to Jesus.

Paul was the intellect of intellects, the Benjamite of the Benjamites, the most zealous upholder of the law, and when he met Christ, he saw everything he was pursuing as total dung, worthless, rubbish. He scrapped everything and started over with Jesus as the #1 and as the center. He still learned and knew many other things, but they had a new focus and a new place in their value. His faith in Christ cost him a LOT, and throughout his missionary journeys, his greatest enemies were the Jews – those who knew who he was and deemed him a total traitor. There is a cost to being a Christian. There is also a cost to proclaiming the faith. And one thing you cannot have with the truth is friendships with those who oppose it. Something has to go; it is your choice which.

The Gospel is an unpopular message. Next week, we’ll look at different ways the Gospel has been watered down and diluted so it will be more “acceptable” to sinful man.

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