“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, September 13, 2007


In our reading, my wife and I have been going through 2nd Corinthians, a book that I really enjoy. We came to this passage, which I have read many times, but it seemed to have jumped out at me this time.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2nd Corinthians 2:14-17

How often we, (man), are worried about 'offending seekers' with the message of the Gospel, what with its emphasis on substitutionary death, blood and a Savior who took upon Himself our sins. According to some, who call themselves Christians, this is akin to 'cosmic child abuse'. The discussion of the barbarism of crucifixion and the sacrifice of our Savior is deemed 'too offensive' for the modern and advanced palate.

Yet, here, Paul says that the message of the Gospel is death to those who are perishing, and life to those who in Christ. Yes, the ENTIRE message, of a sinless, blemish-free Lamb of God being nailed to a tree and suffering, to die for my sins, IS offensive -- it makes us realize, as did the Israelites as they stood before a slain animal, that sin has consequences, and an innocent died for me.

We somehow think we are more 'civilized' than any generation before us. Yet, as I read through the New Testament, what I find is that the 'civilized' society of Paul's day was as offended by the death of a Savior as we are. Maybe the concept of 'blood' didn't make them as queasy as the modern genteel society we find ourselves in, but the concept of sacrifice was plain offensive.

The reason that the modern 'seeker' finds the message offensive is not because they are somehow more civilized than any before them, but because they are unwilling to take an honest look at themselves. If they accept that Christ died this gruesome death on the cross for them, this will imply that they are truly THAT bad. No one, especially in our modern, Oprah, Dr. Phil, therapeutic gospel society wants to look at the cross and realize the sin that placed our Savior upon it was OURS!

So, like Paul, pastors must steel themselves to the fact that our message will ALWAYS be death to the death for some, and life to life for others -- we are not called to be successful, or popular, rather we are called to be faithful jars of clay carrying about in our lives the inestimable message of the gospel!


Even So... said...

Right On!

Sarah said...

Hi, I just found your blog through Theological Musings. Great post.

I think part of the problem is our western cultural heritage of Greek thinking. Greek culture and philosophy only wants to look at beauty, success, victory and glory. It does not want to perceive the ugly side of life, the gruesome, the painful, the defeat. And so the cross just doesn't fit into that grid. Greek thinking hates the cross.

Unfortunately, sometimes the church in the west has absorbed so much of the world culture around it that it is more conformed to THAT image than to heaven's culture and God's image. This is tragic I think.

Nice blog!

Ray said...

Sarah -- Welcome, thanks for stopping by...

I agree -- 1st Corinthians 1:23 "... we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles..."

Times have not changed -- the thought of a crucified Savior is repugnant and foolish to the Greek mind, and repulsive to the Jew (I am Jewish, I know how repulsive this sounds to my brothers).

Thanks for the visit...