Promises, promises, assuring no suffering, no persecution
Because the Church has not applied carrying our cross as a way of life, a new message of prosperity and abundance has been substituted. Instead of a message to deny self, it is a message of gain. Both Carnal and immature believers are attracted to this. Our true spiritual growth is quenched as we feed the fires of the flesh and its desires – and not the Spirit. Selfishness, worldliness quenches His Spirit and blocks you from hearing the Word that convicts your heart. Today we find the poor desiring to be rich and the rich justifying their opulence. Their wealth as proof of their spiritual condition. They are being trained to covet and call it their spiritual rights (thus proving they are Laodicea). They ignore Mark 4:19: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” We too can mistakenly focus our pursuit on only the blessings without realizing that we have abandoned a spiritual life and moved ourselves into a position of severe chastening, if we are legitimate children.
The Bible’s prosperity is not about what you have, but Who you have! (Luke 6:20) as God said to Abraham who would eventually become materially rich Gen. 15:1 “…"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."
Throughout history the Church did not have the physical blessings all the time but they did have spiritual blessings, the Holy Spirit with them. Ephesians 1:3 the Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit who is given as a seal, a promise to the believer
Epaggelia from 1861; an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good). It is liken to an engagement ring for one to be married. As Jesus said, he will never leave us nor forsake us. In Christ we have what money can never buy; “the riches of His grace” (see Ephesians 1:7, 11, 2:7, 3:8; Romans 9:23). Paul preached: “the unsearchable riches of Christ”. It is in Christ we have these spiritual blessings, it is not about material wealth.
Mark 8:34-36:“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’” Look at what Jesus stated and consider what is being said today. We must lose our life for His sake and the Gospels to have eternal life. And right afterward He warns about gaining the things of the world.
Yet we hear today that to become a Christian means we deserve all these things; it is our spiritual right of gaining them now because we are followers of Jesus. There is no need to mention any names since you can hear this rhetoric from the majority of TV preachers at any given time–the list is too long.
In Matthew 28 Jesus said for us to be witnesses of Him to the ends of the earth. The word is actually “martyr,” one who bears witness even by death. The success of the apostles was that they already considered themselves dead, so the life of Christ was ever present in them. To not love one’s life more than the calling of Christ was their mission and message. Philippians 1:29-30: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” No one can count his own life dear if he considers himself already dead.
Paul writes “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus declared to us, “unless you pick up the cross you cannot follow me, nor are you worthy of Me.” We are to live a lifestyle of selflessness and self-denial so that God’s will and purpose can be accomplished in our lives.
To get the quick decisions, many use creative ideas and even manipulate people to accept Christ. Some want to remove the reproach of the cross, to offer the people the blessing without the cross. The church is marketing Christianity to the masses of the world. We hear “the message doesn’t change, but the methods do.” But if we are not careful the message can be changed by the method; unfortunately the message HAS already when the cross is eliminated, as they are told they are to have no suffering in this life for the glory in the next. Without the cross, the Church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Not much different than the cults.
Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Paul did not come with eloquent speech or clever stories that convinced people to abandon their idols. What Paul preached was the revelation of Christ, in his crucifixion. The Spirits power was present to save because he concentrated on Christ’s crucifixion. “For the message of the cross -- is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Some people have been persuaded to be a Christian by men’s eloquent words without the message of the cross, they are later able to be talked out of being a Christian, because they have been convinced by the wisdom of man not by the power of God.
How do we attract people with an offensive message like the cross? We must be honest in what it means. The intention of the gospel is not to make you feel good about yourself but bad. People need to see their sinfulness in the way God does. To see themself as separated from God in need of repair. But to see how much God loved them to send his Son to die in their place at the time when they were still enemies of God.
Salvation can only take place when we acknowledge our own sin and need of Christ as savior, putting personal trust upon His work on the cross. It’s so simple that it eludes the intellectual
When the cross is not included in our presentation or preaching on salvation, then we are not explaining who we are as sinners and why Jesus died. They cannot know why they need a savior or how to be saved from their sin. How can one repent of sin when they are not taught what sin is or how they have been affected by it? How would a belief in Jesus help them if the subject of sin were neglected?
The gospel declares we are ALL sinners, but it also offers the cure, giving us the best news ever heard, salvation, from sins penalty by God’s grace, we will not be judged. It is only after one embraces the gospel and receives Christ that they can be at peace about the condition of their soul.