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Offensive Preaching

Scripture: Galatians 5:1-11; Text: Galatians 5:11

Are you easily offended? What does it take to offend you? Some will no doubt be offended by this sermon, but I do not preach it to offend them. We are all offended by something. I am offended to think my tax money may pay for abortions. I am offended when people take the name of my blessed Lord and Saviour in vain. I am offended by the sinful behaviour of some people. While I am offended by such things, many are not; they are offended by religion. We should not try to offend such individuals, but we cannot give up our faith and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must take seriously the words of James 3:2. He means that we are to exercise control over our tongues and what we say, but he does not mean we are never to speak of Christ just because someone will be offended by it.

In the scriptures here, Paul realized that some were offended as he preached Jesus. The particular thing that seemed so offensive to them was the preaching of the CROSS OF CHRIST. He appeals to the understanding and sympathy of the "brethren." No doubt they would understand because they too were part of the redeemed family of God, whose sin debt was cancelled by Christ on the cross. Some of his objectors were accusing him of preaching circumcision, which was a part of the Hebrew law. The verses that preceed our text reveal that in reality he was preaching Christ, not circumcision. Had he preached the Jewish law, he would not have had the opposition that he did. The fact that he preached Christ in preference to the law, brought great criticism against him. His greatest critics were his own countrymen. His own people resented that he had defected to the Christian side and they even sought his death because of it (Acts 9:22-24). Paul was saying "Why such persecution if I am preaching circumcision?' In other words, the fact that I am so sorely persecuted is indisputable evidence that I am not preaching circumcision, but Christ instead."

Why was there such hostility against Paul for preaching Christ? The reason is stated in his words, there is OFFENCE in the cross of Christ. You see, it did not corrolate with the idea the masses had about Christ or the Messiah. They looked for the Messiah or Christ, they even longed for His coming. They thought he would come establish an earthly kingdom, that He would break the bands of their enemies and they would prosper under his reign. When Paul preached to them that the Messiah had in fact come and was in fact crucified by them, they simply did not want to hear such ideas. He was suffering because he preached the offence of the cross. It offended them to consider the possibility of the Messiah coming and then dying. More than that, to think that he died on a cross was completely unacceptable. After all, the cross was reserved for the vilest and worst of humanity (Galatians 3:13). All they could see was that Paul preached that the Christ died as the vilest of humanity. What they did not understand was that He was dying for the vilest of humanity. He died that way because He took the sins of God's elect, not just among the Jews, but out of every nation; and represented us in that sacrificial death (Revelation 5:9). Had they known that fact, perhaps they could have seen why He died on the cross. Such a teaching just did not fit THEIR thoughts, opinions and ideas. Therefore it was offensive to them.

The sad fact is that the preaching of the cross is still offensive today. Even in this enlightened age, many continue to oppose the preaching of the cross. They do so because to preach the cross is to preach Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23 & 2:2). You see, not only is the CROSS offensive, but the CHRIST on the cross is also offensive. He was prophesied as a "rock of offence" some eight hundred years before He was born (Isaiah 8:14). Twice in the New Testament, it is repeated that we may know the prophecy was fulfilled in Him (Romans 9:33 & 1 Peter 2:8) and in the mouth of two or three witnesses it was established (Matthew 18:16). It was God's foreordained plan that Christ come to die (Acts 2:23). Christ knew this and forewarned His disciples (John 12:24 & 27). It was the fulfilling of that very simple and beautiful prophecy of the angel (Matthew 1:21). So Christ came to die and wicked men wanted to kill Him in the most painful way possible, in the most horrible death known to men, crucifixion on a cross. It was a horrible way to die, but Christ loved us enough to do so and thereby redeem us to God. As wonderful as the gospel message is to the saved, it has no beauty to the unsaved; to them the cross is offensive.

Shall I not preach it to keep from offending them? No, a thousand times no! When the world puts things on television that are offensive to Christians, the world tells us to turn the channel or turn it off if we do not like it. Even so, I will preach Christ on the cross though it offend many, they can just not listen. But why is it so offensive to so many? Let me share with you three reasons. (1). It antagonizes the DEVIL. Satan thought he was finished with Christ, the Son of God, when he moved in the hardened hearts of men, to release Barabbas a murderer, and crucify Christ. What satan did not know was that in the death of Christ on the cross millions would be saved and would serve Jesus with gladness. Satan has be offended by the effects of the cross and all who are influenced by his evil and temptation, are also offended. (2). The true nature of MAN is revealed. Mankind must face the fact they are all sinners, if Christ died on the cross for sinners. Man's pride is hurt, because we want to believe that we are pure and without sin, and that he can take care of his destiny himself. Man also holds the concept that if there is a God and a heaven and hell, he is still alright because he is moral and upright. To have the cross held up as the result of sin, suggests that he is not able to save himself and so he is offended. His very existence is offended by the idea of being saved by someone else and needing to be born again. (3). It lifts up JESUS CHRIST. When Christ is preached that He died on the cross, it elevates Him. He was not only lifted up physically on the cross, but because of what He did on the cross, He was lifted up or exhalted in the eyes of all who possess faith in Him. Jesus knew He would be lifted up according to John 12:32. The fact that He was lifted up on the cross was only part of that to which He referred. He knew that He would be lifted up in the sense of being glorified (John 17:4-5). He paid our sin debt when he suffered on the cross, where He bled and at last died. Because of what He accomplished on the cross, saints continue to praise and give Him glory.

However, with all the offence there is in the cross of Christ, there are also blessings. I may have offended some, but I truly hope I am about to bless others. In this present evil world, there are people who are enemies of the cross (Philippians 3:18). Thank God there are also those who love the preaching of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18). If you love the Lord who died on the cross, you will likely love the hope we have through the cross. Let me share with you three concepts of the cross that God designed to bless us.

1. There is peace through the cross of Christ. This is the direct result of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. There are many kinds of peace. There is peace between us and other people (Romans 12:18). There is also peace within our heart and souls. We experience this inner peace as we hold God's word dear in our hearts and live close to our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:27). However, by far the most important aspect of peace is to have peace with God. The only way this peace comes is through Christ. Listen to these words Paul wrote in Colossians 1:20. Here peace means "unity." It means that we are brought into a relationship with God, where we have peace or oneness with Him. There is not more enmity or animosity. Because of sin there was enmity between God and us. As sinners, we were enemies towards Him, for we were doing what satan wanted. That which brought death (separation) was sin and Jesus died for the sin taking it out of the way nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). When Jesus put our sins out of the way, the enmity between God and sinner, was slain (separated). Now we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:14).

2. There is reconciliation in the cross of Christ. In Ephesians 2:16 we are told that we are reconciled to God through the cross and enmity is slain by the cross. Both of these are important declarations. First, we are reconciled, which means here "to change thoroughly." We must be changed from what we were, to what we are now. It was a drastic change, from sinner to saint. You see, our sins alienated people from God. When Adam sinned, he was driven from the garden and from the presence of God (Genesis 3:23). Adam's sin not only affected him but was transferred to us all as his posterity (Romans 5:12). Since we have Adam's fallen nature, we are sinners and sin separated us from God too (Isaiah 59:2). For us to regain fellowship and communion with God we must be reconciled or thoroughly changed. We were unable to do that for ourselves, so God gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins. This Jesus did on the cross of Calvary. It was a work of GRACE because God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

But what did Paul mean by "both?" He meant that both Jews and Gentiles were embraced in the plan. God's ELECT are made up of Jews and Gentiles alike, whom He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). In salvation Jews and Gentiles were able to join together and serve Jesus Christ and His redeemed bride. We are reconciled to God because the enmity between us and God was slain. That is to say, the enmity was put to death. The hidden effects of this is revealed in Romans 5:10, as we are not only "reconciled by His death" but also "saved by His life." What a blessing!

3. There is glory by the cross of Christ. This is indeed an interesting thought. You see, the idea of glory here is to BOAST. There is no glory or boasting in our sins and failures, so how can there be glory in the cross of Christ? Yet Paul said we can glory in His cross. Listen to Galatians 6:14. Some people seek glory for themselves and are anxious to catalogue all the noteworthy deeds they have done. Others will get involved in the lives of others, not so much to help them as to be praised and glorified by those they help. Still others recognize that we have done nothing worthy of glory and seek no personal glory. Paul admonished such people to glory in the cross of Christ. Rightfully the glory belongs to the Christ who died on the cross. Since we are joint-heirs with Him and partakers of His sufferings, we are partakers of His glory (Romans 8:16-17).


There are many things we do that offend others. We also do many things that offend God. In fact every sin we commit, is offensive to God. If our primary concern is whether or not we offend men, then like Peter we may find ourselves offending God (Matthew 16:23). However, the focus of this message is not even that, it is the offence of the cross. So what are we going to do about it?

First, let us examine our hearts and see how we feel about the cross. Does it offend you, is the preaching of it offensive to you? If the answer is NO, then you have the evidence that grace has saved you and brought you to hope in the cross of Christ. Second, we need to ask "What will I do about it?" Will I do nothing, live no differently or will I seek grace to live a life that pleases and honors Jesus Christ. After all, if He died on the cross for us, we should live for Him in the shadow of the cross. Third, we need to explore where we may best live for Him. May I suggest that you come into His church and live among the saints of God. Here you will find encouragement and together with others of like desire, you will be able to glorify the Lord who died on the cross. It is your decision today, no one can make it for you. As the Holy Spirit leads, make the decision to use the remainder of your life in the service of Jesus Christ.

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014