How The Wicked Respond To Christ
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:3-5
True gospel preaching is far more than an intellectual communication. Mere words may affect men’s minds, but preaching is intended to expose the heart. Some men speak to appeal solely to human reason, others seek to stir deep emotion, but the gospel preacher’s aim is to awaken the human conscience.
2 Cor. 4:2 But (we) have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
The gospel’s influence is confirmed not by the sinner’s feelings, nor by his preferences, orapproval, but by his tormented conscience.
“All forms of sin and wickedness grow up and luxuriate under the eye and voice of preaching that never disturbs consciences nor awakens opposition. The preaching that has no repellent power will not have attractive force. The preaching that is not direct in its aim is a blank cartridge fired in the air.” – E.M. Bounds
Let the Church truly preach Christ and wicked men everywhere will confess…
Rev. 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Gospel preaching is divine utterance projected to strike at the moral center of man, supercharged with heart-piercing, Holy Ghost unction. After hearing sound preaching men will often complain, “You make me feel guilty when you talk of Jesus on these terms. “ Many falsely suppose that if it provokes guilt it must not be God. Today’s sin-blinded church pleads, “…above all else, don’t make men feel guilty! “ However, the testimony of Scripture reveals that true gospel preaching always enlightens the human conscience of wrong-doing. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus seeking eternal life, Jesus exposed his heart when He said:
Luke 18:22-23 …yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
In John 8, Jesus applied the Word to those who brought the woman caught in adultery and the Scriptures say:
John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience…
On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter preached and the Bible says…
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Again, Stephen preached from Genesis to Malachi to the Jewish high council in…
Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart…
Make no mistake, the Word of the Lord is a judge, a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart, but in this hour, no one wants to face the reality of their guilt. We’re a generation, even in the Church, charmed with the Satanic lie: “you can escape your guilt by simply ignoring it”. Yet, such lies fly into the face of the gospel.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…
The term sprinkled used here is no accident; in the ceremonial law you’ll find this term everywhere. The blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on everything: the altar, the holy garments and instruments, on all the people, and from head to toe of the priest.
Exodus 29:20 Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
God, through the ceremonial law, was seeking to emphasize the reality of guilt and the utter necessity of sacrifice and atonement. Your sin will cost that innocent Lamb its life. Justice demands blood must be shed.
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (pardon, forgiveness, liberty).
Imagine the priest complaining, “Why all the blood?” Ironically, the first step through the gateway of divine restoration is to admit, “I am wrong and in need of salvation.”
“The man who does not know the nature of the Law cannot know the nature of sin, and he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.” -John Bunyan
“They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy law.” -Charles Spurgeon
If we rightly preach the gospel we will always make sinners feel their guilt before a holy God. Church, let us not be deluded. Our message will never be popular, nevertheless, it is ever needful. Men will never be found until they’re first utterly convinced that they’re lost. So, what should we expect when we confront a guilty world with our holy message?
APART FROM GOD, MEN WILL NOT CHANGE AND GOD CANNOT CHANGE
John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Therefore, we are presented with two fixed variables in this equation: sinful man and a holy God. Fallen man, by virtue of his rebellion against God, has corrupted his nature and transformed himself into a slave to sin and vice . He is commanded to believe, yet, he refuses, clinging to the bondage of his sin.
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
God Almighty, whose eternal nature is holy, just, and pure cannot change.
Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not…
Now, the gospel is a message of reconciliation, meaning the truth, if received, will render the effect of peace between two opposing parties. When the gospel is truly preached it must therefore confront sinful man (there is no escaping this fact).
“Oh! people say, you must be very careful, very judicious. You must not thrust religion down people’s throats. Then, I say, you will never get it down. What! Am I to wait till an unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try and save him? He will never want to be saved till the death-rattle is in his throat. What! Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances drift down quietly to damnation, and never tell them about their souls, until they say, ‘If you please, I want you to preach to me?’ Is this anything like the spirit of early Christianity?” -Catherine Booth
Now, for there to be a valid gospel presentation certain elements are necessary. There must be God’s ordained human vessel – without a human vessel God has no conduit to speak through.
Romans 10:14 …how shall they hear without a preacher?
The vessel must proclaim God’s mind: faithful to declare God’s opinion, not his own.
2 Tim. 4:2 Preach the word…
The end result is a pure manifestation of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.
Titus 1:3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching…
Therefore, the Church is the messenger, the Word is the message, the Holy Ghost bestows the authority, and an exaltation of Jesus is the end result. This is what sets gospel preaching apart from all other verbal communication. It is not merely an utterance, but a divine expression.
Nahum 1:5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence…
The very idea of friendship evangelism taints the high and holy magnitude of gospel preaching. My point is this: We are literally presenting an unchanging God to a world that must change or perish. In preaching the gospel, we are bringing men face to face with their most feared and hated enemy, God Himself . This constitutes a conflict of eternal and weighty proportions.
Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
When Christ’s gospel penetrates the veil known as the sinful human heart, a violent reaction is in order.
John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
THE WORLD HATES CHRIST
John 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
This is a Biblical absolute that is wholly rejected in this hour.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity (hostility) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The very nature of unregenerate man is set in violent opposition to God’s person, kingdom, order, and law. If we fail to recognize this Biblical truth then our expectations will be perverted. If we falsely suppose that the anointing will always cause men to respond positively we’ll be tempted to alter our methods when our experience is otherwise. No one was more anointed than Christ and His message gained Him many enemies.
“Christ’s sermons hit – always hit somebody. Sometimes they hit with convicting and convincing force that broke up the heart into sorrow and repentance. Sometimes they enraged and only induced bitterness, opposition, and hate. Always intended to save, they frequently repulsed rather than attracted.” -E.M. Bounds
Men have free will, meaning they have the ability to resist and reject God. Moreover, the anointing is nothing more than a manifestation of Christ by the Holy Ghost through the vessel of the Church. Hence, if we present Christ to sinful mankind, what possible responses will we face? The Bible is clear, let us look at Jesus’ experience as recorded in Scripture. The Psalmist, speaking for Christ centuries before He would be born, said:
Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Isaiah the prophet, in one of His many prophecies concerning Jesus wrote:
Isaiah 49:7 Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth…
In the gospels these prophecies are fulfilled. In John’s gospel they accused him of being demon possessed. In Matthew 26:
Matthew 26:67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands…
In Matthew 27 they called Him a deceiver. On the cross the whole of humanity was opposed to him:
Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
He was numbered among the transgressors, laughed to scorn, derided, betrayed, and finally
Luke 23:33 …when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him…
In the Book of Acts, the proclamation of the gospel often garnered the same response, after Paul’s testimony in…
Acts 22:22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
If you and I will follow Christ and the Apostles we may likewise prepare to be misunderstood and hated.
John 15:19-21 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
1 John 3:1 …therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
REGENERATION A SUPERNATURAL AND NECESSARY DIVINE WORK
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Man’s nature must be utterly changed so as to render him suitable for a relationship with God. The natural man is so grossly corrupted by the deceitfulness of sin that he forfeits the capacity to love God apart from the new birth. No human advancement can change the core dilemma of the human experience: sin, guilt, and eternal death. Neither the industrialization of western culture, nor the increase of knowledge can alter man’s corrupted heart. Hence, the divine ultimatum: ye must be born again. To the converted man, Jesus is beautiful, but to the sinner Christ is revolting.
Song 5:16 …he is altogether lovely.
Psalm 69:10-12 …(object of ridicule and scorn) and I was the song of the drunkards.
Unless there is a change via the preaching of the gospel and repentance of the sinner, these are fixed, unchanging facts. This is why a true manifestation of Christ will work to attract the holy but repel the unholy. This is also why the true preaching of the cross requires faith – because in the natural it appears completely counterproductive.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
AS THE CHURCH, WE MUST BE MINDFUL AND PREPARED FOR THIS SAME RESPONSE
Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
We must boldly embrace the shame of identifying with Jesus and His Word.
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
In all things we must be conformed to the Word of God. In every situation we must be prepared to declare, “Thus saith the Word.” The Word of God, as well as the way of the cross, are always in direct opposition to the philosophies and practices of this world. There are many opportunities to be misunderstood and falsely accused. Yet, we must be found faithful and not only faithful, but bold and liberated in our faithfulness. A man asked me on Bourbon Street, “Do you believe you’re suffering here tonight works toward your redemption?” My response? I said, “No, only the finished work of Christ redeems, but there is an identification which I gladly embrace.” If we order our lives in such a way as to be worthy vessels to preach this gospel and accurately portray Christ, we will know confrontation.
“The man whose little sermon is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will for the time being be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man…’off with his head!’ You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven.” -Joseph Parker
Let us be prepared to bear His reproach.
Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.