What is the Offense of the Gospel?

by Mike Ratliff

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. (Matthew 10:34 NA27)

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (a personal translation of Matthew 10:34 from the NA27 Greek text)

It is good to be home. However, I do feel as if I have much “catching up” to do since I intentionally detached from the Internet, E-Mail, television, et cetera while I was traveling. In any case, I was struck by a post by our sister Christine Pack about an interview done by Martin Bashir of Tim Keller. The post and interview are here. Mr. Keller either does not understand the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or is ashamed of the gospel or a combination of both I suppose. We have looked at this topic many times before my brethren. The genuine gospel does not bring all people together. It divides. Mr. Keller is all about being as inoffensive as possible even to the point of compromising the gospel. This sort of “minister” and his “ministry” is not of God, but is of this world and is of the flesh. Below are the eleven tenets of the offense of the gospel. Enjoy and be blessed as you examine yourself. 

τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; (Matthew 16:26 NA27)

For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (a personal translation of Matthew 16:26 from the NA27 Greek text)

The first offense tells people that their life is a lie and as our Lord asked in Matthew 16:26 above, “For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Many people, both religious and non-religious, are trying live good moral lives in the hope that God will welcome them into heaven. However, this would require a perfect keeping of the Law and no one except the Lord Jesus Christ has ever done that. No one does good, no not one (Romans 3:12). This offense of the cross is that a person cannot do anything to add to its effects. Either a believer is saved through the cross or they are unsaved with their own works. There is no other way to God except through Christ and that means through the Cross. That means that all those in other religions, no matter how good or moral, they are lost if they are outside of Christ. When the genuine Gospel of salvation by Grace through Faith alone is preached, it is very offensive to all who see their works as their means of salvation.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent. (Proverbs 21:27 ESV)

The second offense tells people that financial gifts are an abomination unto the Lord unless they come from the saved. That means the big gifts from the unregenerate are not welcome and no matter how much they give, they are still headed for hell as Proverbs 21:27 says. I grew up in the SBC and I have known so many leaders who gauged everyone’s spirituality on how much they gave and they usually used their own giving as the measuring stick. Trying to attain salvation through giving money is like trying to attain it by works.

λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή· οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ δι᾽ ἐμοῦ. (John 14:6 NA27)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The third offense states that every other religion is wrong and you cannot go to heaven by worshiping Mary or serving Allah as our Lord Jesus said in John 14:6 (above). Our Lord was emphatic in this statement about himself. There is a definite article ἡ, which is translated as “the,” before each of these statements about himself. He makes it clear. There is no other way to the Father except through him. The Muslims claim to know Jesus as a prophet and the Jews claim to know God, but neither have the Son, the Christ. All who deny that Jesus is the Christ is a liar (1 John 2:22-23). John goes on to say that all those who deny the Father and Son are the antichrist. This is non-negotiable. Tim Keller can try to dance around it all he wants and attempt to be inoffensive, but the Word of God is clear as was our Lord Jesus Christ. All religions that reject Christ as the only way to eternal life and all those Christian leaders who prostitute themselves before false religions will not be in heaven in eternity for they do not possess eternal life. Either you belong to Christ or you do not. There is no gray area here. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, the only way to Heaven.

ἡμεῖς δὲ κηρύσσομεν Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον, Ἰουδαίοις μὲν σκάνδαλον, ἔθνεσιν δὲ μωρίαν (1 Corinthians 1:23 NA27)

But we proclaim Christ having been crucified, to Jews an offense, to gentiles foolishness. (a personal translation of 1 Corinthians 1:23 from the NA27 Greek text)

The genuine gospel message is Christ crucified. Any other is counterfeit. There is a lot of other preaching nowadays that is called gospel preaching that is all about morals or pragmatism or having ones life changed, et cetera, but has little to nothing to do with the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. The true gospel message does not add anything to it nor does it take anything away from it. Doing either creates new theologies, but that never establishes truth nor does it change the narrow way of Sacred Scripture.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ προφήτου. (Matthew 12:39 NA27)

But having answered, He said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign, and a sign will not be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (a personal translation of Matthew 12:39 from the NA27 Greek text)

The fifth offense is that the Word of God is the complete and inerrant and authoritative. No one can claim to have visions and a “word from God” or a “word from a spirit” that would have authority over the God’s Word. Those who seek after these signs and words and add-ons are the evil and adulterous generation who “want more.” Those who claim that there is more available for those willing to step out and seek it have deceived them. This stubborn holding to the Word of God high as His Truth for His Church of offensive to those who are not truly in Christ.

The sixth offense is that those who are truly in Christ are to follow Christ’s men as they deny themselves, take up their own crosses, and follow him (Christ) (Matthew 16:24). Some are offended and say we are to follow Christ alone and not men. However, the epistles of Paul are replete with his appointing of elders and other leaders in local churches. We are to follow Christ and listen to the leaders who also follow Christ, but use the discernment and wisdom God has given us to turn from and warn the Body of Christ about those who are in error and teach heresies. Just as I am doing in this article about Tim Keller and those like him.

τῷ Μωϋσεῖ γὰρ λέγει· ἐλεήσω ὃν ἂν ἐλεῶ καὶ οἰκτιρήσω ὃν ἂν οἰκτίρω. (Romans 9:15 NA27)

For to Moses he says, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I have compassion.” (a personal translation of Romans 9:15 from the NA27 Greek text)

The seventh offense is about pride. It becomes rife when the sovereignty of God in salvation is clearly taught from Sacred Scripture. God chooses who will be saved and many has no part in it except in receiving it. The free will of man in the area of salvation does not exist as Romans 9:15 clearly states. As I stated, this Bible truth is reprehensible to the pride of man. On the other hand, what is popular to hear in sermons concerning the non-gospel is that God did his part and now its up to us to do ours. Sorry, that is found nowhere in Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that man is spiritually dead and it is God who has mercy and brings life (regeneration) that enables man to have faith so that he or she can believe (and does believe) the Good News and come to Christ. This is offensive to those who are man-centered in their theology. It is a pride thing.

The eighth offense states that the day of Judgment is coming and all who are unsaved will stand for judgment of their sins (Acts 17:31). You won’t hear about this in the man-centered non-gospel of today. It is fast approaching and every day that passes, we are that much closer. Preachers do no one any favors by softening this.

The ninth offense is that there is a burning hell which every unsaved person will be assigned to forever (Revelation 20:14). How often is hell preached in our churches? Jonathan Edwards preached it, but that is certainly not politically correct now is it?

The tenth offense is that God has only one chosen people. This is the Body of Christ, the true Church. There is no one else (Ephesians 1:4).

The eleventh offense, and the most hated and rejected Biblical teaching is that God not only hates the sin, but also the sinner (Psalm 5:5). How often have you heard that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Where is the passage for that in the Bible? Only those who have peace with God through Christ, that is, they become saved, are loved by God. God’s anger is always kindled against the unbeliever and they must be told that they do not stand in good with the Lord. God’s love is a qualified love.

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 ESV) 

On the other hand:

Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ἡ ὥρα ἵνα μεταβῇ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ἀγαπήσας τοὺς ἰδίους τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς. (John 13:1 NA27)

Now before the Feast of Passover, Jesus, having known that His hour had come that He should pass form this world to the Father, having loved His own in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Never forget my brethren, if you are in Christ then these offenses do not apply to you, that is, unless you become preoccupied and overtaken with this world and the flesh. Be not ashamed of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

17 thoughts on “What is the Offense of the Gospel?

  1. Amen and amen! God’s Word is either God’s Word, or it isn’t! There is no grey/lukewarm – keep preaching it brother!

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  2. Daily offensive to one in my own home…for all the above reasons…to other loved ones.. for some of these reasons…even when they have claimed to be Christians…
    His love for me and my love for Him and His Word sustain me.
    No question of retreating from the battle ..when our Captain leads…
    Our bible study this week was on the 7th offence…
    Glad you are back…always keeping you in prayer.

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  3. I just read the interview and watched it. I was reminded of Joel Osteen. It should not surprise anyone that Keller would slide – he’s been playing games with the Truth for several years, hosting mystical Roman Catholics to teach at this church and other wretched things.

    Thank you, Mike, for standing on and for the Word of God! Good to have you back.

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  4. …And now you know WHY He calls them Blind Guides…Blind Leaders of the Blind…Hirelings….Brood of Vipers…
    Hippo-crates and of course Wolves.

    Those offenses of the Gospel, are Lamps and Lights to me.

    Ever wonder why Jesus, knowing the number of folks soon to be drawn to His Gospel, didn’t call together 12 building contractors to oversee the building of His (physical) church (building)? Particularly since they would all soon be run OUT of the buildings? Jewish religion had buildings…and were rejected just as the Pagan’s and their houses of worship…
    No, Jesus chose to build with “Living Stones!”

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  5. Curious to know your thoughts. Do the previous actions by Keller and the recent interview with Bashir change The Gospel Coalition mix and those like Alistair Begg who have had a strong friendship and association with Keller?

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  7. Michael, I know that Tim Keller is close friends with many in the Gospel Coalition, such as D.A. Carson. I have no idea how close he is with Alistair Begg. The purpose of bringing these things to light is not to embarrass anyone or draw attention to ourselves, but to shine the light of God’s truth into that darkness. Those with God’s discernment should then use the wisdom He has given them to do what is right. That includes those in the Gospel Coalition. They need to held accountable in their partnership with a someone like Keller who so obviously disparages the Gospel and has some form of universalism bent to his theology, which cannot stand in light of the black and white, light and darkness of what our Lord called us to. Let us pray that those in the Gospel Coalition will take notice and action according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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  8. Mike, Great response. The intent, as you stated, is not to embarass, but to glorify God, exalt Jesus Christ and speak His truth from Holy Scripture. Shining the light is redemptive in nature. How that light changes men is absolutely up to God. May God open up their eyes. Keep posting Mike.

    In Christ Jesus Our Precious Lord and Savior!

    Michael

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  10. Awesome post Mike! I saw that interview and I was so sad that he had to qualify his statements with , “IF Jesus is who He says He is…if..he is the Son of God…” IF? I must say I know very well what John MacArthur would have said in that interview. It is just so amazing to see this landslide of compromise, the watering down of Biblical truth on so many fronts. I pray the Lord they will repent.

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