“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:24)
From The Christian Church in the Last Days
In the days ahead, we are going to hear some people incorrectly say that Christianity is essentially about doing good to others. This limited definition again falls into the subtly deceptive area of flattening Christianity down into the humanistic program of comparative religious studies that promotes moral relativity, uncritically broad inclusiveness, and universal acceptance of “otherness.” But Christianity is not just merely about doing good to others. Anyone, Christians and non-Christians, can do good works for other people.
The cross and the resurrection are not just about doing good to others. If this were the case, Jesus could have comfortably remained unopposed in His ministry of service on earth, beneficially healing the sick and daily multiplying bread and fish to feed thousands of hungry people. The cross of Jesus Christ is to set us free from sin. The cross and the resurrection are designed to open up the way into a new life as Spirit-born new people. This is the part of Christianity that skeptical unbelief cannot grasp, and that the world pushes back so strongly against. The cross applied to our lives is precisely the part Christians must pursue with our best discipleship (Matthew 10:38-39).
The offense of the cross has little or nothing to do with helping others, and is totally outside of the worldly conventional program (1 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 5:11). Repenting and stepping down off the thrones of our lives to enthrone Jesus in His rightful place strikes at the heart of our stubborn self-autonomy. This is why Jesus eventually ends up on a cross in Jerusalem rather than happily continuing out in the countryside of Israel simply doing good to others.
Jesus is on the cross both because of our sins and for our sins. The cross is a result of what offends the world. If the teaching of Jesus did not strike at the root of our rebellious, self-autonomous nature, Jesus would never have been crucified. Morphing Christianity down into the narrowly limited definition of just helping others, without the redeeming yet offending element of the cross that effectively works to nullify our self-in-control natures (Isaiah 53:6), lowers Christianity into the flat, worldly conventional realm that can fit conveniently into the relativistic, comparative religious program of our modern skeptical culture.
Jesus Christ is exclusively the way, the truth, and the life because of the offense of the cross that will crucify our self-on-the-throne insistence on having our own short-sighted will and way in life. Because God’s plans for our lives are eternally better than our plans, God’s participation and intervention in our lives is a very personal demonstration of the divine love that longs to set us captives free. This is one distinctive feature of Christianity that both offends the world and elevates the God-composed biblical journey of faith above everything else. Doing good to others is a component of our faith-walk, comparable in many ways to the laudable efforts of everyone engaged in helping other people. But Christianity is much, much more than this.
In the days ahead, radical skeptical unbelief will attempt to define Christianity as just another man-invented religion comparable to all other religions in our humanistic effort towards social progress based upon doing good to others. What makes this so subtly deceptive as a counterfeit to biblical Christianity is that it looks and sounds good to the eyes and ears of the world.
The only way that Christians can discover the reality of the full truth of the biblical gospel message, with rock-solid, unshakable conviction that will weather any storm, is to begin to listen to God in the Spirit, study the Bible, surrender ourselves to His instruction and leading, and embark upon our own journey of faith that God has composed individually for us and for the larger doing of good to others.
The working motto for Christian service for centuries has been: “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Another key to success for the Christian church in the last days is to identify our enemies in the realm of spiritual darkness, and to have the answers in loving but firm rebuttal to the attacks that will come against our faith and trust in the God of the Bible.