The Guest Speaker
Dr. Mike Murphy
As many walked into the church that morning, they saw the name of a guest speaker on the announcement board. Speaking to the congregation of the large, progressive church that Sunday morning was the name of a man no one had heard of before. One they did not recognize from their television screens, from Youtube channels, or from any area of social media. And as they saw that his sermon was titled, “The Wages Of Sin”, they soon became very concerned about what they would hear from this man named J.C. Logos.
As they began to hear him speak, their apprehension turned to smiles as he preached a message of forgiveness. A call for all to reach out with compassionate arms to everyone, to not let anything prohibit us from that reach. But as he continued to speak, the smiles on their faces, soon turned to open mouths as their jaws dropped. They heard this man standing at the pulpit telling them they also needed to reach out with the truth, as they reached to others with those arms of compassion. Telling all who listened that day, that it was not enough to tell them that God offered forgiveness of their sin, but they should also warn everyone of the dangers that come when we remain in our sin. A “radical” message they just did not feel comfortable hearing at their church that morning, or any other morning.
When the service ended, few found their way to the guest speaker. And as they gathered into their circles and cliques, most agreed they were far more offended by what he had said, than drawn to thank him for the sermon he had delivered. How could they possibly tell someone what they were doing was wrong? Who were they to judge? God is love, and to tell someone what they are doing is sinful, would leave them preaching words of hate. How could anyone be drawn to a loving God who thought and taught what someone did in their life was wrong, much less what they were doing was a sin? It became obvious to all in the church that morning, this man would never be asked to speak at their church again. His words and his message simply had no place in their church.
If Christ were to give the sermon at your church today, would you find yourself constantly saying “Amen!” to each word you heard? Or would you constantly be seen lowering your head in disgust by the words you heard Him speak? Also ask yourself. Would His words sound similar to the words you hear each Sunday from the pulpit? Or would His words sound like words that had never been heard from the pulpit of your church before?
So often we find our churches today preaching a message of forgiveness that Christ would have never been heard speaking. A message of forgiveness, that is absent of the impact of redemption. A message that would have left Christ without speaking the five most powerful and loving words He spoke to the adulterous woman who had been drug to His feet (John 8:1-11). Five redemptive words that lovingly called her to “go and sin no more”. (John 8:11).
Christ came to be our Redeemer (Galatians 3:13, Romans 3:24), not simply to be a forgiver. Speaking word after word that both extended mercy to all, but demanded holiness from all. Calling all who heard His voice to both grace and truth (John 1:14), not to a grace that comes with the absence of truth. Knowing that all who experience and seek His love, will naturally want to obey His commands (John 14:15).
The Cross shows us that all are in need of so much more than just an immediate forgiveness, but a life-changing difference that the redemption He offers can bring to our life. A redemption, that as we come to Christ, does not just offer us forgiveness of our sin(Ephesians 1:7), but makes us righteous in the Lord’s eyes as we turn from our sin (Romans 5:17). A redemption, that frees us from the curse the Law held over us (Galatians 3:13). A redemption, that brings a birthright to us, as into His family the Lord adopts us (Galatians 4:5). A redemption that brings closeness with the Lord to us, as the Holy Spirit comes to live in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And a redemption that offers us true peace as it delivers us from the bondage that sin has had on us (1 Peter 1:14-18). We must never forget, forgiveness came at the highest cost. And as we seek His forgiveness, we need to ask ourselves. How much do we cheapen the cost of the Cross, if we do not take each of His words to heart? Words that so lovingly tell us “go and sin no more”.
We can never extend to another the true love of Christ, unless those five words are heard from us. As we can never be found offering them the love of Christ if we are willing to leave them trapped within the midst of the chaos, destruction, and eternal hopelessness that sin will bring to their life. Sin, that will never allow them to ever do more than just “know” Christ, never allowing them to experience the personal relationship that comes when we accept Christ. Sin, that will continue to find them living a life only to please themselves, never coming to experience the peace and joy we gain when we come to live our lives for our Lord (Galatians 2:20).
If Christ was standing at the pulpit of any of our churches today, delivering a sermon on sin, do we really think He would be heard delivering that message without speaking those “five words”? Offering us forgiveness, without calling us to redemption? Reminding us today, as He did to the adulterous woman so many years ago, of the true and lasting love He offers each time we hear Him speaking those “five words”.
Praying those five words are found written in your heart!