As I consider the state of the evangelical church at the beginning of the twenty-first century, I observe a people who have swapped their faith for a bumper sticker and a church that has been caught up with the wrappings of religion. Many in the church have grown tired of that old-time religion, and they have become enamored with the affluence of get-holy-quick, pop-Christian programs. They have joined arms with the razzlers and the dazzlers of the world’s marketplace, and they have set out on a journey down a yellow-brick road that will lead only to the great and powerful Judge whom they do not recognize, for without even realizing it they have abandoned their first love. For all practical purposes, the person and work of Jesus Christ have become commonplace, and the finished work of Christ’s atonement is largely taken for granted.
Nevertheless, the atoning death of the Lord of glory is never to be regarded merely as a pleasant fact of history. Redemption has been accomplished. God promised that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, and He promised that the Christ would be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order to redeem those under the Law for the express purpose that we, His people, might be adopted as sons of God. God’s Word is filled with the story of God’s enduring love for His people. From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals the progress of the salvation of His people culminating in the death of death in the death of the Savior who cried out “It is finished.”
Although no one would ever admit it, many have attempted to displace the redemptive work of Jesus Christ — wrapping the entire doctrine of redemption in ornate packaging with colorful bows and ribbons in order to make Jesus look as attractive as possible so that He would not be an offense to anyone contemplating the option of religion. However, it does not matter if we dress up Jesus in the most colorful robes of our culture, and it does not matter how we decorate the cross of Christ; it will always be an offense to the unbelieving world. We cannot disguise the cross of Christ, nor can we hide its radiance. For it was upon the cross the Prince of glory died so that we might live, move, and have our being coram Deo, before His face and for His glory alone.