by John Armstrong
I do not set out to offend people, it just happens sometimes. Sometimes it is because I’m
offensive and that is on me (it is my sin). Other times I’m offensive because of the gospel. So, if
people are offended by my speaking the gospel, then it is not me that is offensive, but the gospel.
If we are rightly proclaiming the gospel in whatever venue, it is offensive. Why is that? The
Scriptures tell us the gospel is offensive because it is received by faith and not by works. That is
the basic message of Romans 9:30-33, What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not
pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel
who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have
stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
When you let that soak in a little bit, you have to ask yourself, “Am I offended by the gospel?”
All of us struggle some with the gospel and accepting our salvation by grace alone through faith
alone. Our natural bent is to try and earn it. We want to be good enough and there is no way we
can be. Therefore, the offense. If you are going to get over that offense in yourself, you need to
grow in grace as a disciple, trusting the Lord more and more, resting in the truth of His Word.
That is the work of the Holy Spirit maturing you in Christ. As that happens, you will find that
you are more offensive to others because of the gospel. This is not to say that you will be
offending everyone all the time. On the contrary as you become more and more like Jesus you
will, in many ways, be more attractive. Remember many found Jesus worth dropping all and
following and yet when He taught them the gospel many of those same people went away
offended. If you are going to be offensive this is the way to do it. When we are offensive
because of the gospel, ours is an offense of love and truth that is shared in word and deed for the
sake of the kingdom of God. We don’t set out to offend people, we set out to speak the truth in
love to them so that by God’s grace they may be saved and grow in grace too. So, why am I
mentioning this? Really, I want you to focus on this whole growth in grace thing and how the
Holy Spirit works that in us. The Spirit will do this through the means of grace. One of the
means of grace is studying God’s Word and seeking to apply it to your life along with other
brothers and sisters in Christ, something often referred to as discipleship. You need it and I need
it. I need to be discipled. I need others to hold me accountable and to encourage me in the Lord.
I need people who know me well enough to speak to specific things in my life. That takes an
investment of time and intimacy. If you want that kind of thing in your life, come talk to me and
let’s see if we can’t make that happen.