THE HARD EDGE OF GRACE – Is the Jesus Preached in Your Church Leading People to Heaven or Hell?

THE HARD EDGE OF GRACE – Is the Jesus Preached in Your Church Leading People to Heaven or Hell?
December 17, 2015 Matthew L. Jacobson

Some people can’t be helped. Jesus Christ is one of them.

Many Christians today are committed to the idea that, if they just get Jesus “right”, representing Him well by loving everyone enough, then His message will be received and good feelings will abound.

It’s a nice idea. It’s a comforting idea. It’s just not a biblical idea.

Remember the cliché about History? The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history. When it comes to our efforts to love people into heaven, we just can’t seem to learn from history, especially the history of The Messiah.

Jesus was good at a lot of things but he was especially good at being Jesus. He knew how to be Jesus better than anyone . . . and still managed to get himself killed. Why do we think we can do better? Why do we tell ourselves that if we only present Jesus accurately, people will be drawn to Him and we’ll get a warm bear hug wherever we go? And yet we soldier on, trying to convince people that Jesus isn’t offensive which is a major-league challenge when one of the names of the guy whose popularity we’re trying to increase is, “The Rock of Offense.”

And what is the basic message of this Offensive Rock? “My Way or the Highway to Hell: You Choose.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the father, except through me.” John14:6. It’s a statement guaranteed to start an argument. No amount of soft lighting, soft preaching, and the latest world-class worship vibe can soften that message.

It’s His love that makes Him so offensive. Jesus knows where you and I are headed without the salvation He offers. He’s been there. Sometimes being offensive is the most loving thing you can do.

Jesus loves people so much, he’s willing to offend their sensibilities. He knew they would kill Him for His Truth and He warned His true followers that they should expect the same from this world.

All men will hate you because of me. Matthew 10:22

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.

If this message is obscured by our attempts to “love” people, to be liked, or to be culturally relevant so no one could ever be offended, we are not preaching the Jesus of the Bible, we are not telling the Truth, and we’re not loving people.

Sacrificing Truth on the Alter of “getting along” and not offending anyone may feel good in the moment but it isn’t a loving act. It’s self-deception . . . and worse. The other person is being deceived, too, being given comfort where none is.

“Feel Good Christianity” may be good at protecting feelings but it gets people hurt. “We’re just trying to love people” so the claim goes but Jesus never asks His followers to love people more than He does.

It’s a twisted effort at deflecting negativity, valuing what people think of us over the reproach that comes from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In some cases it may be a sincere effort to protect Jesus’ image, but real biblical love is willing to risk real offense. Real love says what needs to be heard.

If someone is headed for Hell, he doesn’t need to be made comfortable for the ride.

He needs to hear God’s Truth from you and from me – the True Gospel – the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes – Romans 1:6.

And, what is that True Gospel?

  1. You are a Law Breaker. Check out the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. If you’ve broken one, you’re guilty before God. Those who are guilty will experience the wrath of God and spend eternity in Hell, separated from Him.
  2. There is a way out. To escape this fate, God provided a way for Justice to be served: The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
  3. You must repent. What must you do to be saved? Repent before God of the sins you’ve committed and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. When we come face to face with the fact that we’ve sinned there is no mistake – we know we are guilty and in need of a Savior.

Yes, Jesus is the loving Bridegroom, drawing all people to himself – If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself, John 12:32 – and He also said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light. But, speaking the Truth in love never obscures from people the hard edge of Grace that challenges everyone to choose or lose.

People won’t come to Faith because we were deemed nice enough and avoided saying anything offensive. They will come the way they always have, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10:17. And, to most, The Word (the Bible) and The Living Word – Jesus Christ – are offensive.

Among the fruits of the Spirit (the manifestation of Him in our lives – Galatians 5:22-23) are peace, gentleness, and kindness but even Jesus, filled with these characteristics, did not avoid bringing deep offense. True disciples of Jesus can’t either.

Now, if the offense is coming from you and me, then shame on us. We’re walking in the flesh, not the Spirit, bringing reproach to the Name. Even so, as followers of The Rock of Offense in a culture that (falsely) holds tolerance as a supreme value but bans Jesus from every public gathering because He and His Word are offensive, we need to face the fact that no amount of Spirit filling will obscure the reproach of Christ. The god of this world wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jesus has expressly stated that His enemies are our enemies – that anyone who witnesses of Him will, at some point, be hated. But, he said more . . .

In Matthew 10, Jesus tells His disciples that He is sending them out as sheep among wolves. Think about that for a minute – not a pretty picture. But, then in verse 33, he gives them (us!) a grave warning,

“ . . . but, whosoever denies me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 And, he’s not talking about being willing to vote for him in the local popularity contest. He’s talking about being willing to bear His reproach before a mocking world.

No-offense Christianity comes at a terrible price.

Will you stand with The Rock of Offense, truly loving people by witnessing of the Truth before hearts made hard by sin, or will you focus on making people on the road to Hell comfortable during their journey?

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  1. Robyn Johnson 4 months ago

    Thanks, Matthew, for this courageous stand. You’re right; it’s not popular in today’s culture or even in the Christian communities that lean so heavily on the ‘God is love’ message without remembering that Love is not God. There are many of us who have already felt the sting of the liberal leanings of so many of the mainline churches that still profess to be evangelical, Bible believing congregations, but soft pedal the strong truth of the Word that balances the ‘greasy grace’ message with Jesus’s true teachings about repentance, obedience, sacrifice, consequences of sin, and sure persecution. I commend you for your devotion to the truth, even when it’s unpopular, which is always – and thank you for the Godly living examples that you and Lisa are to us all.

  2. Tomcarlui 2 years ago

    They are posting free angel readings in between your very biblical articles. This is super demonic and really gives a bad impression. It’s probably pop ups you don’t even know about but it’s all over ever article you writ and looks super dodgy.
    Maybe see what you can do

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      I apologize for that. One day I won’t have to rely on ads to help fund this site. Thank you for taking the time to write. I’ve contacted the ad company who manages these things. Gratefully, Matthew.

  3. Tomcarlui 2 years ago

    Oh my goodness do I have a question for you. I read so many of your articles tonight and love your way of thinking and your love for doing what’s right. SO I WOULD TREMENDOUSLY APPRECIATE YOUR REPLY.
    I can forgive through Jesus Christ the first few times of the same offense, no problem but after 13 years of marriage and my husband keep texting other woman (only comfort texting as they live on other continents)…. I forgave the first 20 times and after begging him not to do it. He simply can’t see my fuss and now my thing is… You keep forgiving and he keeps doing it. After awhile you just can’t forgive anymore as you KNOW the offense will happen again and again. It’s no legal ground to leave him, he is just totally disrespectful. But to keep forgiving. I found myself just becoming like a vulnerable sitting duck… Stupid enough waiting for the next bullet. I begin to believe I am stupid to forgive that many times. If someone kicks you in the mouth every time, well you only have that many teeth. if it’s gone it’s gone…. Non left. And then you forgive some more and forgive some more and then at some stage you should just realize you are just stupid and then turning bitter. And at some stage can you believe it’s ok, forgive from the heart…. At what stage is it enough? Because you know, it will happen again.
    Oh boy am I waiting for your answer…. PLEASE, I would really respect it

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      It doesn’t sound as if your spouse has repented or is asking for forgiveness. My best suggestion is to get involved in a local Church fellowship where you walk in transparency with other believers and under the authority of godly leaders who will hold you and your husband accountable.

    • Dave Way 1 year ago

      So what you’re saying is that you’re starting to have an idea of how God must feel. You’re experiencing the gospel metaphor in action. Just like Hosea. Now realize God’s whole purpose of marriage, and learn to live a love that is not dependent on his actions. But one that is for and because of God, and in light of the fact that in God’s eyes, if neither of you have a previous, first, never again two but one, covenant spouse of your youth, still living, then he is your husband till death, with no “exceptions”. So focus on living out the gospel metaphor through your marriage as a testimony to others. *BE* the gospel.

  4. Karen Roth 2 years ago

    Thank you for this message today. I have been hated most of my life due to telling the Truth in Love even at the cost of my Family. I used to be sad because of this, but now I realize that when they stand before Christ Himself and say but we never knew, it will be said you were told the Truth and you chose to ignore it. I told the Good News and their response no longer has anything to do with me it is now between them and God.

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