The Offense of the Cross
If you would please, take your Bibles and turn to Galatians chapter 5.
Galatians 5, and weíre going to begin reading in verse 1.
>There was a time in American culture especially here in the Bible belt, the south...
That in almost every little town whether it be a little bitty village or a fair sized town...
There were always at least two churches.
As a matter of fact, there were many little towns where those were the only two churches that were in existence...
A Baptist church and a Methodist church.
Presbyterians sort of came along a little later...
And then in the 1800s a man by the name of Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander...
They founded the Church of Christ and they began to spring up here in the south.
They are not too wide spread in other places.
But weíre blessed with them here.
But in almost every one of those little towns there was a Baptist church and a Methodist church.
And the Baptists and the Methodists, they usually got along real well.
As a matter of fact, many of those churches were half time churches.
That meant that they only met two Sundays a month.
And usually it worked out that the Baptists would meet either on the first and third Sundays...
And the Methodists would meet on the second and fourth, or vice versa.
So that while each church only had part time services, there were services for the whole community every Sunday.
Usually all the Baptists would go to the Methodist church when it was their Sunday to have preaching.
And then all the Methodists would come to the Baptist church when it was their Sunday to have preaching.
And they loved each other.
They helped each other.
When one was sick, the other took care of them.
They just sort of lived and loved together.
>But there was one thing they always disagreed about.
I mean they would sing the same hymns.
They would sing, "The Old Rugged Cross" in one...
Theyíd sing "The Old Rugged Cross" in the other.
They would sing "Amazing Grace" in one...
They would sing "Amazing Grace" in the other.
But there was one thing they could never come to agreement on.
Those old-time Baptists and those old-time Methodists.
As a matter of fact, they hadnít come to an agreement on it even today.
And it is over the issue of eternal salvation, that once a person is saved they are saved forever.
>Now there used to be some Baptist distinctives.
Today a man can believe anything in the world and call himself a Baptist.
At least thatís what they believe anyway.
But in the generation past, one of those Baptist distinctives was that we really did believe in eternal security...
That once a person was saved they were saved forever.
And those old-time Methodists, they didnít believe that.
They believe that a person when they were saved that it was possible for them to lose their salvation.
And this passage that Iíve read for you this morning is a passage that they love to use...
Because this passage seems to be the favorite passage of those who do not believe in eternal security...
And thatís about all of them now.
Baptists, Presbyterians, and a few grace churches, we believe in eternal security.
But the Methodists, the Church of Christ, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, and all the rest of them...
They donít believe in eternal salvation.
They donít believe in "once saved always saved".
And those who do not believe in "once saved always saved"...
This is one of their favorite passages of scripture to provide proof for their position.
They love to quote verse 2, which says, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
And the last part of verse 4 is the banner around which they circulate.
You have fallen away from grace.
Therefore, they love this passage of scripture because it solidifies, it proves, they say, their position.
>Well theyíre wrong.
That doesnít mean I donít love them.
It doesnít mean they are lost.
No...theyíre saved people.
But this is not a passage of scripture that even deals with eternal security.
Thatís not even Paulís intention.
Paul is not talking about the longevity of salvation.
Thatís not in view at all in this passage of scripture.
Now I have to be honest with you.
There are some passages of scripture that are very troublesome for those of us who believe in eternal security.
I mean there are some texts that are a little tough to deal with.
For example, Hebrews 6 or Ezekiel 18.
Those are not real easy texts to deal with for those of us who believe in eternal salvation.
But this one is not at all difficult because thatís not what Paul is writing about.
>What do these verses talk about?
What are these 12 verses about?
I have to tell you, I wrestled with that.
I wrestled with it for a long time.
The book of Galatians is I believe one of the more difficult books in the NT to come to grips with.
Many are afraid of the book of Revelation.
But I have to be honest with you.
The book of Revelation is not nearly as difficult or complex as is the book of Galatians.
This may be the most difficult book in the NT.
What do these 12 verses mean?
What are they talking about?
>You know what these verses are talking about?
And I donít believe youíll find this in any commentary.
But I tell you, these verses are talking about spiritual warfare.
You say, "Now wait a minute, Bro. Joe. I donít see anything about spiritual warfare here.
I read in Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare that says we have an enemy.
Itís not flesh and blood...and we have an armor.
We have the helmet of salvation and the shield of faith and the girdle of truth...
I know there are passages that deal with spiritual warfare.
But Bro. Joe, surely this is not a text on spiritual warfare."
>There are two primary words that made me see this in the realm of spiritual warfare.
First of all, in verse 4 is that word "fallen".
You are fallen from grace.
Now that expression "fallen from" is very important.
There are some who translate that to mean "you are fallen out of grace...
You were in grace, you were saved...you were in grace...
But now you have fallen out of grace and you have lost your salvation."
>What does this word "fallen from", what do these words mean?
Literally it means this.
It means to be driven off course.
It is a military term.
It is a picture of a navy, maybe one ship, maybe a fleet of ships.
But it is a picture of naval ships on their way to a specific location...
For the purpose of either offensive attack or defensive attack.
But it is a fleet of ships or one ship or three ships...
That are on their way militarily for the purpose of fighting, and something has driven their ship off course.
Maybe it was a hostile wind that came and blew them off course.
Maybe there was a navigator in the lead ship who was a traitor.
He was really not a part of their navy.
He was a plant.
His purpose was to sabotage their mission and he led them to go in the wrong direction.
But whether they were blown off by wind or led astray by a false navigator or a traitor...
The result is the same.
They did not arrive at their strategic location where they were to do battle for their side.
And so this word means to be driven off course.
Paul says, "You have been driven off the course of grace. Youíve been driven off the course.
You believed grace...you preached grace...you held high the banner of grace...
But now youíre on the verge of being driven away...
From preaching grace and promoting grace and proclaiming grace."
That is what that word means.
Not that they were in something and fell out of it...
But that they were on a charted course and now theyíve been driven off their course into another sphere.
>But the second word is found in verse 7.
He says, you were running a good race, who cut in on you.
Now let me tell you, most Bible scholars see this as an athletic picture.
They know that the writer of Hebrews who probably was Paul, talked about the runner of a race.
And so many come to the conclusion that every time this word "run" is used in the Bible...
And itís used many times, that it has to do with an athletic event.
Now that could very well be true.
And if that word "run" is referring to a race here, then the word "cut in" or "hinder"....
Would be a picture of someone who is running alongside of you in the lane next to yours...
And all of a sudden he cuts over into your lane and cuts you off.
You were running well, but someone has cut into your lane and caused you to lose.
>But this word also is a military word.
The word "run" does not have to mean to run in a race.
There are times when I see people running, theyíre not in a race at all.
You can go to the mall and you can see people running...
Running to the blue light special.
Theyíre not running in a race.
Theyíre running to the store.
Weíve seen on the Discovery Channel those old war scenes of WWI and the Korean War...
And we see when those boats would hit the beaches and those men would come out of those U-boats...
And they would be running to find cover before becoming engaged in conflict.
They would run.
They didnít just come out, "Isnít it a nice day? What a beautiful beach."
No. They came running.
The word "run" literally means to make fast progress.
And so it can be a picture of an army on foot that have a goal in mind.
Thereís a place where there is a little battle going on and these troops are moving rapidly...
And theyíre making great progress toward the end.
Theyíre moving...theyíre marching...theyíre on the way.
But all of a sudden they come to a place where the enemy has dug a deep, deep long trench.
Itís too wide for them to jump.
Itís too deep for them to hop into and climb out.
And so what happens?
This army that has been moving rapidly, this army that has been progressing rapidly...
They come to a dead stop because their way has been cut off.
So when I look at these words "fallen from", one Greek word...
And I see this expression, "cut in Ė hindered", and both of them having a military understanding...
I believe what we find here in these verses is a picture of spiritual warfare.
>Now having said that, let me share with you very briefly five very important truths about spiritual warfare.
#1 Ė the cause for which we fight.
You and I that are Christians, weíre in the army of the Lord.
Maybe youíre a naval man and youíd prefer to be in the Navy of the Lord.
Maybe youíre a Marine and youíd prefer to be in the Marines of the Lord.
God has an Army...he has a Navy...he has a Marine force.
God has all of that.
Godís involved in warfare and weíre his troops.
Weíre his men and women that are a part of his military background.
Thatís what we are.
>But every army that fights must have a cause for which they fight.
Nations do not go against other nations just because they are bored.
Nations do not go against other nations just because they donít have anything better to do.
Nations go against other nations because there is a cause worthy of death.
>Now what is the cause for which we fight?
Some would say we fight for religion.
Oh no friend.
Religion is not now and never will be the friend of God.
Religion is a tool of Satan to deceive multitudes, thereby leading them to hell.
>Eight years ago a lady who was the founder of the American Atheists...what was her name?
Madolyn Murray OíHair.
She disappeared eight years ago.
No one knows where she is.
Along with her is one son and one granddaughter.
At the same time she disappeared, $600,000 out of the American Atheist account was also taken.
So I donít know where that old hag is today.
But wherever she is, sheís probably living in the lap of luxury, at least until her money runs out.
But you remember Madolyn OíHair.
Madolyn Murray who sought the Supreme Court to ban school prayer, and she did it successfully.
Madolyn Murray OíHair who went on TV and on the speaking tour and on the radio...
Proclaiming her atheistic philosophies thereby deceiving many.
She cried out against religion.
She said religion is terrible...religion is awful.
Well she was absolutely right.
But the religion she stood by, atheism, is the deadliest religion of all.
You see, religion has never been the friend of God.
>Now we think that people like Madolyn OíHair that she will probably go to hell...
Unless she gets saved and I hope she does get saved.
Her son, William Murray, is now a born-again Baptist preacher.
And it was him that she used to have the Supreme Court drive prayer out of our schools.
The very son that she carried to court and said,
"My son should not have to sit in a classroom where the Bible is read and prayer is offered"...
And the Supreme Court said, "youíre right"...
That son today is a born-again Baptist preacher.
Isnít God good?
I tell you...he has chosen the base things of this world to confound the wise.
>Well we would say people like her ought to go to hell...
But you see, friend, there are a lot of people today who are sitting in churches...
Hearing preachers preach, and yet who are very religious who have never even been saved.
You see, friend, our cause for which we fight is not religion.
The cause for which we fight is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over and over and over again he talks about the gospel.
All the way through the book of Galations that has been his theme.
There were people who were saying that you need to have Jesus plus this...
Jesus plus circumcision, Jesus plus law, Jesus plus good works...
Jesus plus membership in this order or that order.
"No", Paul says.
The purity of the gospel.
We cannot compromise at that point.
Thatís the thing for which we fight because you see...
The Bible says that it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation.
Man will never be saved by admiring the beauty of the architecture of church buildings.
Man will never be saved by standing in awe of the great majestic music of the finest of pipe organs.
Man will never be saved by hearing the melody of a beautiful church orchestra.
Man will never be saved by sitting on the most comfortable of padded pews.
Man will never be saved by looking at the most beautiful and ornate of stained glass windows.
The only way people can ever be saved is when the gospel is preached unto them...
Jesus died for our sins.
He was buried, but hallelujah Ė he was raised from the dead.
And if anyone will repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ...
They can and will be saved.
Thatís the cause for which we fight.
The purity of the gospel.
>But notice a second thing.
Not only the cause for which this army fights, but notice the banner under which this army marches.
In verse 2 and 3 and 6, Paul talks about circumcision.
There were those that came into the church at Galatia and were teaching this...
That in order for a Gentile to be saved he must become a Jew.
And that meant for a Gentile male, he must submit to the rite of circumcision.
Circumcision has always been a religious symbol.
Most medical doctors will confess that thereís really no medical reason for circumcision to take place, even today.
And yet it has always had a religious connotation.
And for the Jew, it was a sign, a symbol of a manís relationship to God.
And Paul says that you have been infiltrated by false teachers...
That are telling you that you must be circumcised...
That you must cut off a part of the skin from your body and thereby...
The cutting off of that skin makes you right with God.
By the mutilation of your body you become right with God.
Paul says, "I want to tell you, the banner under which we march is not the banner of circumcision."
He said, "If circumcision is that which makes a man right with God...
Then Jesus is for nothing and his blood is for nothing....
And his name is for nothing and thereís no reason to love him and honor him and serve him.
If a man can be right with God on the basis of removal of skin...
Then why would God let his son be crucified on a cross?"
The banner under which we march is not circumcision, not law, not works.
>But look down in verse 11.
Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?
These false teachers, they were saying, "Why even Paul preaches that you need to be circumcised."
Paul said, "Thatís a lie".
He said, "If I did preach that, I wouldnít suffer the persecution Iím suffering from those birds.
I did not preach that...therefore I am suffering persecution."
And look at what he says.
In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
The offense of the cross.
You see friends, the banner under which we march is not circumcision.
The banner under which we march is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.
You see, friend, it is the cross.
>He says the cross is an offense.
It is to some.
The word "offense" means a stumbling block.
I want to tell you Iím not stumbling around the cross.
Iím standing on the cross.
It is the cross upon which I stand.
It is the cross whereby my sin has been washed away.
It is the cross on which we stand.
It is the cross underneath which we march.
But you see, the cross is a stumbling block to those who reject Jesus.
May I say this to you?
It is the cross that gets saved people to heaven, but it is the cross that condemns lost people to hell.
If a person will receive that Jesus who died upon the cross...
They can have everlasting life.
But if men and women and boys and girls reject that Christ of Calvary...
Then they are forever lost in hell.
The cause for which we fight is the purity of the gospel...
And the banner under which we march is the cross of Jesus Christ.
>#3 Ė the commander to whom we listen.
Look there in verse 8.
Paul says, That kind of persuasion.
That means that enticement to come away from grace, to depart from the position of grace...
To be driven off course.
That "persuasion" he says, "does not come from the one who calls you."
Who is the one that called you?
It is God himself.
Paul says, "There are two voices that we have to be aware of in the Christian army."
There is the voice of a false commander.
He is the arch enemy of God.
He hates the Bible.
He hates the blood of Jesus.
He hates the Holy Ghost.
He hates the bride of Christ, the church.
He hates the purity of the gospel.
The false commander who is always trying to give dictates and order to the people of God...
Beware of the false commander.
>But I want to tell you there is a commander to whom we listen, and his name is Jesus.
He is the captain of our salvation.
He has conquered sin and hell and death and the grave.
He is the king of kings and Lord of lords.
He alone is the one who has the right to command us and we obey him.
As Christians, we have a cause to fight Ė the purity of the gospel.
As Christians, we have a banner under which we march Ė that is the banner of the cross.
And as Christians, we have a commander to whom we listen and his name is Jesus.
>#4 Ė The power by which we fight.
Look there with me in verse 5: But by faith we eagerly await through the spirit.
Paul says that our hope of eternal salvation is by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
>"Bro. Joe, how do you know that youíre saved?
Is it because one day as a 13-year-old boy you walked down an aisle?"
"Is it because you were baptized?"
"Is it because you preach sermons and call yourself a Baptist?"
"Bro. Joe, how do you know youíre saved?"
Because the Holy Spirit of God resides in my life.
The grandest assurance I have is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God.
"Bro. Joe, do you always feel saved?"
But I always am saved.
Because he abides in me.
The comforter has come and he abides in me.
The very moment I repented of my sin and placed my faith in Jesus Christ...
The Holy Spirit of God came and took up residence in my life.
You see, it is the power of the Holy Spirit in your life that gives you assurance of salvation.
>But Iíll tell you more than that.
The HS is the one who produces you power and strength for the battle.
You see we do not battle in the arms of the flesh or the strength of the flesh.
We dare not trust our own.
But rather those of us who are saved, we fight in the strength of the HS of God.
The Bible tells us the battle is not ours.
But God says, ĎIt is by my Spirit says the Lord."
We fight in his strength.
In his energy...
Under his direction...
He is the power by which we fight.
What grand truth for those of us who are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We fight for the purity of the gospel.
We march underneath the banner of the cross.
W are commanded only by the Lord Jesus Christ...
And the power by which we fight is the HS of God.
>And one last thing.
The danger of which we must be aware.
Paul chose to them, he reminds them, that they have been infiltrated by traitors.
Their ranks have been infiltrated.
Enemy troops have come into the camp.
>Now let me tell you something.
It doesnít take many of them.
Thatís why he said in verse 9: a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.
>"Bro. Joe, what would you do if our SS teacher said to us that weíre not saved by grace ,weíre saved by works?"
I would fire that SS teacher immediately.
"Bro. Joe, what would you do if our SS teacher said...
You know he believed most of the Bible, but there was just one little part of the Bible he did not believe.
What would you do?"
I would fire that SS teacher immediately.
We would not vote on it...we would not rune a poll on it...
I wouldnít ask the class about his character...
We would fire him.
Because a little leaven spoils the whole lump.
>What would you do if I were to begin preaching something that was just a little bit heretical?
Youíd fire me. Why?
Because a little leaven spoils the whole lump.
Listen, most people I know whoíve gone astray...
Most preachers I know who end up in false doctrine...
It began with some very little thing.
And they didnít take care of that little thing...
And as a result their whole spiritual life has been shipwrecked.
You donít have to have 25 false teachers come into a church.
You have one.
And if you tolerate it and you allow him to get by with his devilish philosophy...
Then heíll begin to permeate.
And before long the whole congregation has been destroyed.
Paul says, "You have been infiltrated by ranks from the enemy.
Their purpose is to entangle you."
Their purpose is to get you back into entanglement so youíll become a slave to bondage.
Jesus came to set us free...a soldier has to be free.
David could not fight in the armor of Saul because the armor of Saul bound him.
David had to be free and the child of God must be free in the Lord JC to wage spiritual warfare.
>But not only is their purpose to entangle, their method in verse 8 is persuasion.
Oh they speak great swelling words.
Sometimes they speak words of flattery.
Sometimes they speak words of insinuation.
>"Do you really think Bro. Joe is right all the time?"
"Well, no, I suppose heís not right all the time."
"Well, if heís not right all the time, what about what heís teaching and preaching?
Maybe thatís just not right."
"Well you know, maybe itís not right. I hadnít thought much about that."
>You see what theyíve done?
Theyíve begun to plant seeds of doubt against the purity of this book.
Now does that mean that everything Bro. Joe says is right?
No sir, but I tell you this, if I stand here and preach to you anything that you canít find in this book...
You come point it out to me and Iíll change.
Iíll come back and apologize for it.
I donít stand up here and preach to you sermons that are mailed to me from Nashville every week.
I stand up here and preach to you stuff Iíve been in this book...
Iíve gotten on my face before God and Iíve prayed and Iíve studied and Iíve sought...
And I come and preach what this book says.
Does that mean every interpretation is right?
I think it is, but it may not be.
I mean there are some hills that weíre not gonna die on.
But I want to tell you, friend, beware of these who use that subtle art of persuasion to draw you from the truth.
Their intention is to trouble.
>Look in verse 12: As for those agitators..."
That word "agitators" means to stir up or unsettle.
It means to make an uproar.
It means to turn something upside down.
Listen, if you have an army that is unsettled, that kind of an army is worthless to the kingdom of God.
An army that is going to make a difference is an army that must have its eyes focused on a goal...
Its ears focused on one commander...
And its purpose to proclaim the gospel of JC.
>What about those false teachers?
Iím not as harsh as Paul.
Verse 12: I wish they would go all the way and emasculate themselves.
Now what were they saying?
They were saying in order to be right with God a man has to cut off a little skin.
Paul said, "If I had my way, I would practice circumcision on these birds but it would be at the neck."
You donít get over that in a week.
Paul said, "I wish they were cut off...I wish they were dead."
Paul said, "I wish every false teacher, every man or woman who perverts the gospel...
I wish they were dead."
But Paul said, "I donít always get my wish."
But he said, "You can mark it down. Their judgment day is going to come."
Look in verse 10: I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty.
Judgment day is coming for the false teacher and preacher of the word of God.
>But folks, I want to remind you, the Christian life is not a playground.
Itís a battleground.
Weíre at war.
May God help us to be good soldiers.
Weíve got a cause thatís worthy.
Weíve got a banner that should be held high.
We have a commander who we ought to listen to.
He gives to us by his spirit a power that is sufficient.
But we need to beware of the dangers of the enemy.
May God help us.