Sermon #1283 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “The Offense Of The Cross”
Text: Galatians 5:1-12
Reading: Galatians 2:11-21
Subject: The Offense of the Gospel to the Unregenerate
Date: Sunday Morning - June 1, 1997
Tape # T-77
Paul says, “Stand fast!” That is what I want to encourage this morning. I want you to stand fast in the gospel. And I want, by the grace of God, to lead you in this steadfastness. We must stand fast in, hold to, defend, and maintain “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” The liberty we have in Christ is too precious to lose or take for granted. It is the liberty of grace, salvation, and life in him. Every believer, every saved sinner, every heaven born soul is free in Christ. Christ has freed us from…
· SIN - not from the being of it, nor from the indwelling of it, nor from the temptation to it, but from the dominion and damning power of it.
· THE CEREMONIAL LAW - from circumcision, sabbath days, feast days, sacrifices, and all the burdensome, carnal rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation.
· THE MORAL LAW - I use the term moral law only to make myself perfectly clear. Though legalists try to divide the moral law from the ceremonial law, such a division does not exist in the Word of God. Those who would teach us to live by the moral law, were they consistent, must also demand that we observe and keep all the carnal ordinances of the ceremonial law. The fact is, you cannot keep a sabbath day without a sacrifice! I do not, for a moment, suggest or imply that believers are free to violate God’s law. The Word of God does not teach that. However, the Word of God does teach and I do assert that all who are born of God are free from the yoke, bondage, curse, and rule of the law.
Moreover, the Lord Jesus has given us free access to the throne of grace, free use of the gospel ordinances, freedom to use all things for his glory, and freedom from the fear of death and of judgment. This is Paul’s admonition - Do not allow anyone to entangle you with any system of works religion! We are free in Christ because we are complete in Christ!
Christ must be trusted as our only, all-sufficient Savior. True faith looks to Christ alone! If we add anything, even the most solemn religious duties, to the obedience and blood of Christ to obtain God’s favor, to improve our standing in God’s favor, or to keep God’s favor, whether it be circumcision, baptism, Bible reading, praying, church attendance, or doing good for others, we do not fully trust Christ alone as our Redeemer and Savior. Such proud self-righteousness is an utter contempt of Christ. He profits us nothing because we are, rather than submitting to the righteousness of God in Christ, going about to establish our own righteousness.
That person who seeks righteousness to any degree by his own works and religious exercises does not trust Christ alone and is, therefore, is a debtor to keep the whole law perfectly. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (Gal. 4:21). The law demands perfect, complete obedience! “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).
Keep this verse in its context. Remember to whom it is written and for what reason. Paul is addressing himself to those people, whoever and wherever you may be, who try to merit God’s favor by something they do, who have one eye on Christ and one eye on their own works. Such people, while professing to believe in salvation by grace have departed from it altogether. You have fallen from the gospel of the grace of God and embraced another gospel. Christ is become of no effect to you.
Paul is not suggesting that such people once were saved, but now are lost again. Those who are saved by grace, those to whom Christ gives eternal life “shall never perish!” These people never truly had he grace of God. They only claimed to have it. They never truly walked in grace. They merely professed to walk in grace. Those who depart from the faith never had faith!
True believers, being taught by God the Holy Spirit, anticipate and wait for the fulfillment of that blessed hope of eternal glory which is promised us, and of which we are made worthy, through the blood atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ. Our hope is Christ, not our works, feelings, or experiences! Our hope before God is…
· His Grace - Not Our Graces!
· Christ’s Obedience - Not Our Obedience!
· Christ’s Blood - Not Our Benevolence!
· Christ’s Righteousness - Not Our Righteousness!
There is absolutely no advantage, spiritually, to being a Jew or a Gentile, bond or free, male or female, black or white. Circumcision is nothing; and uncircumcision is nothing. The only thing that matters is this…
· Am I in Christ?
· Am I a new creature, made new by grace (Gal. 6:15)?
· Do I have that faith in Christ, that true, God given, heart faith in Christ, which is expressed and evidenced by love for Christ and his people?
Paul was very fearful for these men and women at Galatia. They began well. They came, at least in profession, as poor, helpless, bankrupt, justly condemned sinners to Christ. They claimed to find in him all their souls’ needs. They were zealous for the gospel. But something happened. Something, or someone turned them away from the simplicity of Christ. Someone hindered their faith. Someone turned them from the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ to another gospel! Therefore, Paul says, Who hindered you? Who turned you back to the law? Who turned you from looking to Christ to looking to yourself for righteousness? He answers his own question in verse eight.
This persuasion did not come from God the Father who called you by his grace. It did not come from Christ who fulfilled all things for you. It did not come from the Holy Spirit who revealed the gospel. And it did not come from me (The Apostle Paul), the one who preached the gospel to you. This persuasion of self-salvation, came from Satan and his preachers of human righteousness.
Some of you may think to yourselves - “Their is no need to get worked up into a lather about this. As long as people believe in Jesus, as long as they keep to the Bible, as long as they do not deny salvation by grace and openly repudiate Christ, a little error about righteousness, redemption, and salvation will not do any great harm.” Read verse nine!
Rat poison is 99% good food. Otherwise the rats would not eat it. But that 1% arsenic is deadly!
A little leaven, a little error regarding the person and work of Christ is deadly! A little leaven will pervert and mislead the whole church. It must be dealt with speedily and firmly. It must be stamped out immediately!
Though Paul had spoken roughly and plainly to them, he was confident of God’s elect, confident of God’s grace in and toward those who truly were saved, confident that they would obey the truth and put the false teachers out of the church, no matter who they might be. Heretics must be counted by us and treated by us as heretics! They are not to be tolerated!
These Judaizers at Galatia, like the legalists, work-mongers, an free-willers of our day, claimed - “This is Paul’s doctrine. We preach the same thing he preaches.” To that Paul says, in verse eleven, “Not so!”
Paul says, If I am preaching the same gospel they are preaching, why do they hate and persecute me?
Then, still writing by Divine inspiration, the Apostle tells us that any and every attempt by men to mix grace and works, any and every attempt to make salvation depend in some way, be it ever so small, upon man is to take away the offense of the cross. You see, men do not object to Christ being a partial Savior. The offense of the cross is that the gospel declares that Christ alone is Savior. Men do not object to Christ being a Savior. The offense the cross is that the gospel insists that Christ s the only Savior!
The fact is - The gospel of God, the gospel we believe and preach runs in direct opposition to the religious world in which we live. The gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ is contrary to all the natural religious sentiments of all men. To all men by nature, to all lost, unregenerate men, religious or irreligious, the cross of Christ is an offense. It is not possible to make the gospel palatable to lost men. Every attempt to do so, of necessity, involves compromise.
It is not possible to faithfully preach the message of salvation by God’s free and sovereign grace through the merits of Christ’s sin-atoning death and imputed righteousness without offending those who reject and deny it.
Be that as it may, I have made up my mind as to what I must and shall do. I have crossed my bridges and deliberately burned them behind me. There is no turning back. I am committed to this message. I am committed to the gospel of the grace of God. I intend to preach it, God helping me, as often as I have opportunity, as plainly, clearly, decisively, and dogmatically as I possibly can.
It is my intention, every time I preach, to preach the gospel. And it is my intention, every time I preach, to preach the gospel so distinctly that I draw a line in the sand, and say with Moses, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Let him come unto me.” As Zerubbabel and Jeshua said to those idolatrous pretenders who wanted to join them in building the house of God, so I say to all Arminian, free-will, work-mongers. “Ye have nothing to do with us to build the house of God.”
Some of you are yet without Christ, without life, without faith, and under the wrath of God. I preach to you as I do because I care for our soul. I am not interested in getting you to join our church. I want you to know the Son of God. You are rebels. The only terms of life given by the King of Glory to rebels is absolute surrender. You must bow to Christ. That means many things; but it certainly means you must bow to his Word. As long as you are a rebel to truth you are a rebel to God.
I preach to you, my brothers and sisters, as I do because I know that our flesh is ever attracted, like a fire-fly to the fire, to the damning doctrines of free-will, works religion. Therefore, I am compelled to incessantly preach up free grace, blood atonement, and salvation by Christ alone.
Here are eight, stubborn, irrefutable statements. These eight statements go right to the heart of true Christianity. They are, I know, statements that lost religionists will find offensive. When men hear me make them, they say, “Fortner is a bigot.” “He is too divisive, too sectarian, too dogmatic.” “Nobody agrees with him.” “He thinks he is the only one who knows anything.” Let men say what they will, I intend to be clear from the blood of all men when I stand before God. You will, everyone of you, either accept or reject these eight statements. There is not middle ground. There is no room for compromise on any of these eight points.
I. Either this Book, the Bible, is in its entirety the holy, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, or it is in its entirety a lie by which the souls of men are eternally deceived and damned.
There is no middle ground between those two positions. If this is not the Word of God, throw it away. But if it is, as it claims to be, God’s Holy Word, we better pay attention to it. It claims, as such, a total sway over our lives. It must be our only rule of faith and practice.
II. Either God almighty is absolutely sovereign, in total control of all things, at all times, or there is not God.
Again, there is no middle ground between these two poles. There is no middle ground between God’s absolute, total sovereignty and absolute, total atheism. To speak of a god who is not totally sovereign is utter nonsense. Atheism is far more sensible than Arminianism. If God is, he is sovereign!
III. Either man is totally depraved, utterly dead in trespasses and in sins, or there is nothing wrong with him and he needs no Savior.
There is no such thing as partial depravity or partial goodness before God. Either we are totally sinful and depraved or we are totally righteous and good. There is no middle ground.
IV. Either God chose to save some of Adam’s fallen race to salvation and eternal life in Christ before the world began, as the Bible says he did, or no salvation is possible for any man.
Salvation is God’s prerogative, not man’s. Grace is God’s gift, not man’s choice. If God does not choose to save and choose whom he will save, no sinner can ever be saved.
V. Either the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is altogether and alone the effectual Redeemer and Savior of his people, or he is a fraud and a failure.
Again, there is no middle ground, no room for compromise. Either Christ did what he came to do, or he is a failure. If he is a failure, he is not God, and we have no Savior.
A. Christ is our Redemption!
B. Christ is our Righteousness!
C. Christ is our Sanctification!
VI. Either we are regenerated and called to life and faith in Christ by the irresistible power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, or there is no such thing as salvation.
The only hope for a dead sinner is free and sovereign grace, grace that asks for nothing and gives everything, grace that waits for nothing and does everything.
VII. Either every saved sinner shall persevere to the end, being preserved and kept by God’s infallible, immutable grace, or none shall.
The perseverance of the saints is demanded by…
· The Purpose of God.
· The Purchase of Christ.
· The Power of the Spirit.
VIII. Either God’s people are entirely free from the law, as the Scriptures declare us to be, or we are yet under the bondage of the law and entirely obligated to keep it perfectly.
There is no such thing as being partially under the law and partially free from it, not in biblical terms. The only way sinner can satisfy, fulfill, and establish the law is by faith in Christ (Rom. 3:31).
Perhaps you are thinking, “What about all those religious teachers and preachers who constantly trouble and harass people with free-will, works religion - Those who keep telling us, ‘Grace alone is not enough in and of itself. God requires something from us.’ - What about those men?” You will find my answer in Galatians 5:12.