What is the Offense of the Cross?

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 9:30-33 (NASB) 

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ must always be offensive to the unregenerate. It is that offense that makes it clear to people that they have nothing with which to bargain with God….

They are sinners lost with nothing to offer the one condemning them. The Gospel, the real Gospel preached with the Law, makes it clear that there is none righteous, no not one, but the Gospel shows that there is one and only one way to be reconciled to God, to be justified before Him. This is the Good News and that one way is via the Lord Jesus Christ alone. No one can work to earn or deserve salvation. No, this salvation is by God’s grace alone according to His divine election, according to His way alone. This is offensive. Let us look at Galatians 5:7-12 in which Paul makes the argument very clear to believers at Galatia who were being victimized by Judiazers making the claim that true salvation was not by Grace alone, but through Grace plus keeping the Jewish law.

7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have been persuaded in the Lord that you will hold no other view than mine; but the one who is troubling you will bear the judgment, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? If so, the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I desire that those who are upsetting you would also emasculate themselves. Galatians 5:7-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In v7 Paul compares the Galatians’ life of faith with a race, which he does elsewhere in other examples such as Romans 9:16 and 1 Corinthians 9:24. They began well because they received the Gospel message by faith and had begun to live their Christian lives by faith. Notice that the genuine way Christians “run this race” is by “obeying the truth.” The Judiazers were hindering them from doing this. This “obeying the truth” is the true believers response to the true gospel in salvation and their consequent response to obey the Word of God in sanctification. The interference from the Judiazers was two-fold. It prevented the unsaved from responding in faith to the Gospel of grace and true believers from living by faith. Their teaching was all about legalism. View article →