The Offense of the Cross


"And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased." (Galatians 5:11)

The cross is profoundly offensive to the natural man, for it brands him as a hell-deserving sinner. It makes his only hope of salvation a humbling acknowledgment of Christ, the rejected Creator, as his personal Savior who died for his sins.

It is especially sad when Christians seek to escape this offense of the cross by accommodating their preaching of the cross to the opinions of those who reject it. In the case of the Galatians, legalistic Christians were insisting that Christian converts from paganism be circumcised in order to avoid offending the Jews. When Paul, instead, preached salvation by grace alone, he was persecuted for it.

This particular compromise has long been forgotten, but a multitude of others have arisen during the ensuing centuries to take its place. Whenever some new philosophy or practice becomes popular in the world, a Christian party will soon be found advocating its adoption in the church, ostensibly to promote easier acceptance of the gospel, but in reality seeking to mitigate the offense of the cross.

Whenever the pagan world follows after a new dress trend or a new music form, a new philosophy or a new lifestyle, many Christians are sure to follow. Witness the widespread compromise with pantheistic evolution and its so-called geologic "ages" by Christian accommodationists, for example. Or, consider the current acceptance of Eastern or Freudian thinking by biblical counselors, or the common sanction of divorce for trivial reasons.

Instead of fleeing from the offense of the cross, we need to say with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). HMM