The Offense of the Cross
by Buddy Maynard
(Panama City, Florida)
Galatians 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
The Offense of the Cross
Paul expresses here in Galatians that he could avoid persecution by avoiding the offense of the cross in his preaching. All he would have to do is to preach to please the Judaizers who were claiming that circumcision was necessary for salvation.
But he would rather suffer persecution and preach the offense of the cross. Somehow I believe that today some preachers avoid persecution by avoiding the offense that is in the cross. We must bear his cross, and deny ourselves daily, and follow Christ.
I. The Cross is Vital to Salvation
The cross is profoundly offensive to the natural man, for it brands him as a hell-deserving sinner. It makes his only hope of salvation a humbling acknowledgment of Christ, the rejected Creator, as his personal Savior who died for his sins.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
II. The Cross is Vital to Surrender/Self-Denial
Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
It is especially sad when Christians seek to escape this offense of the cross by accommodating their preaching of the cross to the opinions of those who reject it. In the case of the Galatians, legalistic Christians were insisting that Christian converts from paganism be circumcised in order to avoid offending the Jews. When Paul, instead, preached salvation by grace alone, he was persecuted for it.
This particular compromise has long been forgotten, but a multitude of others have arisen during the ensuing centuries to take its place. Whenever some new philosophy or practice becomes popular in the world, a Christian party will soon be found advocating its adoption in the church, ostensibly to promote easier acceptance of the gospel, but in reality seeking to mitigate the offense of the cross.
III. The Cross Is Vital to Sanctification
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Whenever the pagan world follows after a new dress trend or a new music form, a new philosophy or a new lifestyle, many Christians are sure to follow. Witness the widespread compromise with pantheistic evolution and its so-called geologic "ages" by Christian accommodationists, for example.
Or, consider the current acceptance of Eastern or Freudian thinking by biblical counselors, or the common sanction of divorce for trivial reasons.
IV. The Cross is Vital to Service
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
1. Preaching will offend somebody
2. Pure living will offend somebody
3. Power of God will offend somebody
4. Presence of God will offend somebody
Instead of fleeing from the offense of the cross, we need to say with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).