Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

The Message of the Cross. . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 24 October 2008

I love KOHL’s Department Store. I'm especially fond of the sales at Kohl’s. It's good quality stuff and quite regularly up to 60% off!

(Still can't beat the GoodWill, but. . . )

And . . . if you take your [senior citizen] mother on selected days: more $$$ discount. YEA! (Only she has to pay with her credit card and then you have to take her out to lunch at Baker’s Square and write her a check for all your stuff. . . . Not a bad deal though.)

Point: Everyone loves a sale.

Yesterday Laurie at Women Taking a Stand offered the most poignant correlation between Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the Cross and our often neurotic affinity for the much-loved "sale." Here's a portion:

"As much as I love a bargain, I am so thankful that when Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross, and suffered, as He bled and died for me, that He did not try to make a bargain. He was willing to pay the full price.
Wouldn't it be great to shop at Kohl's and pull up to the check out stand with a full cart of merchandise and be told "It's been paid for" - "Your debt has been paid". (You know where I am going with this, don't you. . . )"

I was so moved by her thoughts . . . this is surely of the best parallels one could make to convey the Divine act of atonement. It's nothing less that an airtight line of reasoning for the Message of Salvation. The Way of the Master should be so incisive. . . . for where would any of us be right now without the unspeakable and unmatched sacrifice of the Cross.

Yet. . . ministries all over the world have abandoned the message of the Cross for a more agreeable, pleasing and less confronting message that seriously circumnavigates the message of the entire Bible. After all, the message of Salvation starts in Genesis!

In my husband's own ministry, he faces criticism for his emphasis on the Cross and message of Salvation.

Regardless of Mark's sermon subject/topic/theme, he always (always!) brings his message back to the Cross. This is our mandate as Christians! Evidently, the Enemy does not appreciate this. Here's a small sample of an e-mail my Mark received a while ago:

I won't comment too much on this. It's pitifully sad. Only God can judge a person's heart, but a surrendered Christian does not write this kind of hateful, illogical rant. I've never yet met a True Believer who did not welcome, appreciate and express great passion for the Message of the Cross! See I Corinthians 1:18.

Does an aversion to the message of the Cross hinder the life of the Church?

Of course! Salvation is the message of the Gospel. Ignore the message and you may as well use How to Win Friends & Influence People, Consumer Reports or Martha Stewart Living as your "bible."

Does an aversion to the message of the Cross hinder the fruit that Christians are called to bear?

Absolutely! In the life of the Christian there is a law at work which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:2 says, ". . . because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."

There's no getting around it. Scripture clearly states that it was Christ's death on the Cross that set us free.

It's only when we submit to and apply this law in our life (Prerequisite: the Cross!), the Holy Spirit can begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit within us. Romans 8:4 says, " . . .in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."

And here's a poser for ya': What happens to a Christian nation when a potential leader (Democratic Presidential Nominee) believes that the Cross of Jesus Christ is simply "one of many ways to reach salvation?"

(I'll leave that one for Sean Hannity.)

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
~ II Corinthians 1:18

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile
~ Romans 1:16

This week. . .
I witnessed fruit this week - at Laurie's blog. There is a presence of love and peace and kindness and goodness and gentleness there. I also saw a woman not ashamed of the gospel.

I recognize and appreciate just a bit more how Satan works in the life of the Church. He (Satan) has a surely won a prize when he is able dilute and weaken the message of the Cross. He does far more damage to God’s Church when the work of the Spirit and the resulting fruit is in short supply.

I grew in my relationship with God this week knowing that the fruit in my life is completely contingent upon my walking in the Spirit.

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2008 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

Inspiration for Fridays:


Debbie said...

It is all about the cross...without the Cross there would be no salvation. I applaud your husband for speaking the truth. Too many churches have watered down the Gospel message to be more seeker friendly. It's sad because many who attend church each Sunday may not really be saved.

Robin @ Heart of Wisdom said...

Amen! I'd love to go to Kohls checkout and no have to pay. Better yet the Judgement seat!

Sorry your dh faces criticism for his emphasis on the Cross. Amazing.

Great post. We like Sean Hannity too. The next few week certainly will be interesting!

Andrea said...

AMEN! The message of the cross is so diluted today in churches. It’s a wonder anyone under age 30 is even saved! Right now our youth leader wants to start a separate church service on Sundays because he’s afraid our senior pastor is scaring the non-church kids with his sermons.
WHHHHAAAAT! As a mom of one of the youth, I am furious! I pray our church works this out and corrects the situation. We do live in a time when our leaders especially the younger ones aren’t much better than the lost sheep. A good leader who preaches the Cross is very hard to come by.

I love Sean Hannity! :-)

Anonymous said...

You have a beautiful heart. I have bookmarked your site and will stop back.

I, too, am glad that Jesus didn't try to get a bargain on the cross. His sacrifice was more than any of us will ever know this side of eternity.

Kris said...

the seeker movement has been a tool used by the enemy. don't we want people to be a bit uncomfortable in church? realizing you are a sinner in need of a savior is not a comfortable thing. my grandmother used to say if the church looks so much like the world, how will we be different?


Betsy J. said...

You do have a beautiful heart and it is no secret who sent that terrible e-mail to your husbnd. Her logic troubles me. Clearly an unstable and lost soul. We pray she will come to the Cross and grow up into spiritual maturity. Repentance will come.

Obama’s “religion” is another matter entirely. Oh mY!
Your little sweetheart with the flag is adorable. Hands down victor over BO anyday.

Mommahen said...

Your post certainly is a reminder that Christ called us to take up our cross DAILY. The cross was not beautiful, it signified death and pain for Christ, but He still commanded us to take it up daily. Surely that means he does not want us to forget it? Thank you for being bold in your post. We all need to remember that without the cross there is no salvation, and without salvation there is no hope. Glad you linked up through Home Sanctuary. I pray you are blessed!

Rachel Anne said...

I've really enjoyed "getting to know you" via Home Sanctuary and also through Company Girl Coffee. Great post...you are so right about the cross. Everything boils down to Jesus, period.

I'm looking forward to seeing you around more! Thanks for jumping in with both feet and participating!

Pastor George said...

We live in a day where the message of the church is changing for the detriment of the Gospel. Entire denominations have moved away from the old message of salvation through the blood of Jesus and are moving toward a message of salvation through social activism and good works. The bloody message of the cross and our disgusting appearance as sinners is now replaced by a message that lacks hope. Instead of hearing the devastating, but life changing news that we are ugly sinners, people hear a message that tells them, “We’ll meet your needs. You’re in Fellowship. We’ll overlook your ugly sin.” They mix it up with music that would make Martin Luther and Charles Wesley spit and call it Christianity. The Church has dismissed it for several decades now. We’ve watched it creep into our youth groups and it has saturated the entire church and look at where the church is today. We need some real wisdom in reaching the youth of our culture. That wisdom is not readily being dispensed in our Christian colleges and seminaries.

“The old rugged cross, so despised by the world” is apparently also despised by even church members today. Your husband is not the first nor will he be the last man of God reprimand for preaching salvation. I applaud him! I pray for the person who criticizes. The church’s tradition of teaching Christ’s crucifixion is repulsive, insane, and offensive to sinners. If a church would rather hear about “love and truth” and not “wrath and punishment” then it is proof that God has turned them over. They are sinners and they need the message more than anyone.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
-George Bennard

Fishy Girl said...

I agree with you...church should be about preaching the Gospel. It is all about Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is amazing. Thank you for posting this. It's wonderful.

Our church is somewhat small (about 100 members) compared to the 2, 3, and 5,000 member churches around us. However these giant churches preach the prosperity gospel and never talk about sin and its effects and their removal at the cross. My uncle preaches about Jesus and the cross every Sunday. It just goes to show people will flock to where "itching ears" messages are preached.

mholgate said...

Hi there! First of all, thanks for stopping my my blog. I'm glad I'm not the only one that accidently freezes things! : )

Yours is a very inspiring blog. I am also a Pastor's wife. My husband is a Worship/Sr. High Pastor. We just got hired on at a new church and I love our Sr. Pastor because he preaches straight from Jesus' Words every week. It is so refreshing to hear the message of salvation every time I go.

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

First, I enjoy your blog very much, especially your thoughts on the election. BO really frightens me too. He is definitely a wolf in grandma’s clothes.
Second, I think I know who your salvation-hating e-mailer is. In fact I found your blog after overhearing talk. I am not the most outspoken Christian, but I’ve learned over the years that the most showy “christians” are most often the religious hypocrites and poor examples of a real Christian. Wide is the road… My husband and I pray for her and all religious people who haven’t yet found the Cross. I appluad your stand for the truth

Anonymous in TX said...

AMEN! Without the message of the cross - what's the point? The Enemy is alive and well in churhes everywhere. We need more messages about the Cross. AMEN.
Found your link at Randy Alcorn's site.

Laurie Ann said...

I went to Kohl's once. Loved it. Must go more often. With mother, LOL!

You are a much more self-controlled woman than I to reserve comment on that comment your husband got. The guy is just wrong on so many levels.

Thank you so much for responding to my post on the election. I also don't believe that America will have a role in end-times prophecy...It's all "over there" and while God will deal with us as He will on our own, I don't think the decision of a future president of the US would cause a major end-times prophecy to be fulfilled, unless he signed some kind of 7 year peace plan with Israel, which is not going to happen. Anyway, thanks for your comment. I truly value your opinion and respect it.

"If beleivers truly PRAY over the next week and a half and seriously vote thier conscience, I do believe Obama and his evil ideas can be defeated."

I would definitely agree with this - it would be awesome if Obama lost by a significant margin, leaving the Dems shaking their heads going, "What?" and then finding out! We are a Christian country and the prayers worked! Wouldn't that be awesome? I am by no means saying all Dems are not Christians - I mean the liberal ones not being able to figure out how a Socialist didn't get elected to the WH. I'll hush now, hah hah. And perhaps go pray right now.

kalopoieo said...

I found the link to your blog on Ben & Merrie’s blog. You have a well written and discerning blog. Well done. I would add to your post that older mature Christians must begin to take a stand against the younger generation of “Christians” who have been raised with a watered down version of true Christianity. They are blind to the truth. Mature Christians have grown weary of the fight and choose to live their faith quietly. It is the 20 – 30 year olds taking on leadership in churches today that are diluting the message of the Cross and ignoring sin. Different parts of the country too have heavier influences of this. For example in Wisconsin and other northern states where the Lutheran church is so concentrated, you’ll find the influence of the Lutheran “religion” in ALL churches and the message of the cross is missing everywhere. Same on the east coast with all the Catholic churches and its “religion.” Good religion will take you straight to the Enemy. Salvation through the cross will take you straight to Jesus Christ. I’ll echo your other commenters, I applaud your stand for truth and I like what Pastor George says.

Carrie said...

Your writing is very inspiring and presents well-considered and well expressed ideas.

Denise said...

Amen dear.

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