I had just finished preaching a sermon on the amazing love of God as demonstrated through Christ at Calvary A fellowship meal had been planned and small groups of people were visiting while a few of the ladies made the last minute preparations.
As I chatted with a man and his wife I could sense that he was a bit troubled. Something seemed to be on his mind. So I wasn't surprised when, all of a sudden, a surge of boldness came over him.
"What's all this talk about the love of God and the cross? What we need to hear is the truth!"
While I halfway expected him to say something negative, I was definitely set back for a few seconds by the nature of his concern.
"The truth?" I questioned. "What is the truth you're referring to?"
"You know, the truth--" he responded rather matter-of factly, "the three angels' messages, the mark of the beast, an update on what the pope's up to, the commandments of God, the shaking of the church, the close of probation--the truth."
On another occasion while preaching the same message at one of our universities, an intense man engaged me with a similar line of reasoning.
"You've missed the point," he challenged me "you're going to lead our people to look lightly on sin with all this emphasis on God's love and the cross. Our church has a real problem and it needs to be fixed."
"Tell me," I probed for his meaning, "in your opinion what is our problem and what is the solution?"
"I'll tell you: The problem is sin, and the solution is we need to stop it. Our people need to hear the truth. They need to hear sermons that rebuke their sins, and messages on the commandments of God and standards of the church. That's how we'll check this tide of liberalism coming into the church."
According to these fellows it is the truth we need to be preaching and not the gospel of God's great love manifested in Christ. Quite frankly, I've decided this concept is too deep for me to comprehend. It seems these men are afraid that proclaiming the love of God will not make people feel obligated enough to overcome sin and keep His law. And I'm afraid that too many people share their misconception.
The fact is, every doctrinal, prophetic, and lifestyle truth of the Bible finds its real value and crucial meaning only in the light of divine love that shines from the cross. Only "the truth as it is in Jesus" has power to truly save and sanctify. This is why Paul said, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" 1 Corinthians 2:2. The apostle did not men that he would never address any other topic, but that he would present every other topic in the illuminating context of the cross. He would maintain God's great sacrificial love as the central theme of his ministry. Every other truth of Scripture is invested with power only when kept in vital relation to the knowledge of God's true character as revealed at Calvary.
When doctrinal truths, prophetic truths, or lifestyle truths are presented outside the context of the gospel, the effect is not salvation but rather self-righteousness for some and despair for others.
Doctrine is irrelevant apart from Christ's love.
Prophecy is scary apart from His love.
Lifestyle standards are oppressive apart from His love.
(You will find a great burden will be gone if you continue reading this book. I love it, it means so very much to me and has helped me in my Christian walk. The same will happen to you if you let it. Grandma Joan) Please pray for me and another family member. Things are tough right now for us both. We need help right now from heaven. So thankful for this book, it is keeping our heads above the water.