Preaching The "Offensive" Gospel Of Christ!

Acts 17:2-7

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

Introduction

In the context of the above passages, Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica (vs. 1) preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Gospel always brings either a positive or negative response. Some believed and accompanied Paul and Silas (vs. 4), but others did not believe and sought to bring harm upon Paul and Silas to the extent that the brethren sent away Paul and Silas under the cover of night (vs. 10). The charge was, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (vs. 6).

When preaching the word of God the way it ought to be preached, people will be offended especially with those who reject what the word of God demands they do. With this clear fact that is shown throughout the New Testament, we wonder why some preachers are so afraid that they might "offend" someone when preaching the Gospel unto them?

We Might Run Somebody Off!

Over the years I have met several brethren who were more concerned with “running someone off” than with converting someone to Christ. Their thinking was that it was better to have someone continually attend services than to teach something that made that person make a choice of whether or not they were going to obey the Lord. They would often comment “I sure hope that sermon doesn't run ‘em off!”

One wonders what brethren with this kind of thinking feel when they read accounts such as Paul and Silas in Thessalonica? I wonder how some that have the “offend nobody mentality” feel when they read accounts such as the reaction of the people in Ephesus at the preaching of Paul against idolatry (Acts 19:25-29)? This type of preaching caused confusion and strife among the town folk, thus God must have been upset with this, right? Wrong! The record states, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:18-20). From this text, we can clearly see that the preaching of the word of God caused some to be "offended" to the point that they "believed, confessed, and showed their deeds" (vs. 18).

What The Preaching Of The Gospel Is About

Stephen wasn’t stoned because he tried to keep from running someone off (Acts 7:51-60). Preaching the Gospel is about telling people what they need to do to be saved (Acts 2:37-41). When you tell someone they need to be saved you are telling them that they are lost! Some, maybe even many, will not take kindly to being told they are in need of a Savior (Jn. 8:32-37). Nevertheless, while some may be offended, it is our work to take the word of God to them wherever they are (Acts 5:42; 20:20). As we look at the examples in the New Testament and see the many reactions to the preaching of the word of God, our question should not revolve around whether or not we will "run someone off". Our question should be, "why we are not pricking the hearts of individuals with the Gospel enough to get a reaction out of them?"

Conclusion

Yes, preaching God's truth can, will, and most times offend people. When you offend someone you cause that person discomfort. What more can you ask for? Should we not want to preach that which causes someone to be uncomfortable with their lifestyle of sin? Are we not in the wrong when we allow someone to think that they are okay living the sinful life that they are living (Acts 20:26-27; Rom. 6:1; 15)?

The Gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16 - ESV). Those who reject the words of our Lord do so out of offense not from the teacher, but out of being offended by the Lord. God commands us to teach and preach nothing more than His word (2 Tim. 4:2).

Brethren, if we become the enemy of someone because we adhered to the word of God, so be it!

 


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Mike Riley
Montana Street Church of Christ
El Paso, Texas

January 5, 2004