LISTEN: Bishop Greenleaf, What “Cross” Are You Preaching About? (BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Episode #21)

Welcome to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Episode #21. This episode is titled, Bishop Greenleaf, What “Cross” Are You Preaching About?

Many have noted the unwillingness of today’s preachers, particularly those who lead prominent megachurches, to be offensive. Most try to keep quiet on issues that are controversial so as not to draw the ire of one side or the other, case in point, the subject of the abomination of homosexuality. This tendency came to the forefront early on in the 11th episode of Greenleaf Season 2, titled “Changing Seasons.”

At a meeting of the Metro Memphis Council of Churches, one pastor shares the story of a sixteen year old boy who tried to commit suicide, suffering brain damage in the process, because he thought God couldn’t love him because he was a homosexual. Basie Skanks tells the other pastors that they need to address the issue openly in the church. Following the meeting, Bishop Greenleaf tells James, ‘You can’t sound off too loudly about anything other than the Cross,’ reflecting his desire not to rock the boat by saying anything publicly about a controversial issue. When the same issue comes up later at a family dinner, Lady Mae expresses the same sentiment, saying, ‘Why does anyone need to have a conversation about these things?’

Bishop Greenleaf appears to believe that “the Cross” — the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ — is the only thing he can preach about without being controversial or offensive to some segment of the congregation. And many pastors feel the same way. They only preach about the love, and mercy, and grace of God and how He sent Jesus to die on the Cross for us. When God tells all Cross preaching preachers to preach the Word in season and out of season and preach the whole counsel of God including against sin that caused the Cross in the first place such as homosexuality, adultery, stealing and other sins.

Preaching to crowds of cross-necklace-wearing saints, these pastors lose sight of the fact that the cross is a bloody instrument of torture devised by the Romans to drag out the death of criminals sentenced to capital punishment. It is not just a symbol of God’s Love. Romans were repulsed by the sight of crosses bearing the naked bodies of criminals rising above the skyline. They walked by, shaking their heads in disgust. It was considered the ultimate shame to die by crucifixion, and it was normally a punishment reserved for insurrectionists, political traitors, and the lowest of violent criminals.

More importantly, the Cross represents the violent clash of man’s sinful rage with the righteous judgment of God. On the Cross, the world’s sin was rolled on Jesus and God poured out His wrath on Him. It was an outrage — the world’s only innocent Man ever taking the punishment deserved by all the world’s guilty creatures.

The message of the Cross is an offense because it tells man that he is a sinner. The Cross tells man that there are some things that God does not approve of. The Cross tells man that sin, including homosexuality, is wrong, and that it must be paid for.

David Mathis wrote: “What we preach is that you are a glorious creature gone tragically bad, that you have rebelled against the God Who made you, but that He did the most difficult thing imaginable to win you back and lavish you with His eternal goodness.

“It is wondrously good news. But unavoidable is the offense, that insulting supposition, that bad news that sets up the good. Did you catch it? You’ve gone tragically bad. You’re a foolhardy rebel against the most powerful Being in the universe. There’s nothing you can do to save yourself, earn God’s favor, or get yourself out of the cosmic pit you’re in — the pit you dug and can’t climb out of.

“The offense is that the magnitude of God’s solution — the slaughter of His own Son — shows the magnitude of our wickedness and frailty and utter inability. Yes, the Gospel says you’re more loved than you ever could have dreamed, but as Jack Miller and Tim Keller have noted, at the same time it says you’re more sinful than you ever imagined. And that’s repugnant to the natural palate.”

We must cease believing and preaching as though the Cross is inoffensive. Paul said in Galatians 5:11 that the “offense of the cross” could not be removed from his message. If the unbelieving world is, from time to time, not offended by the way preachers talk about the Cross, if they’ve never felt the Cross as offensive, the preacher is not communicating the whole message of the Gospel. He is skipping the part about man being a sinner and being deserving of eternal punishment in hell for their sin such as homosexuality, adultery, and lying. Yes, we must have a conversation about these things. Yes, we must ‘sound off loudly’ about the Cross, but when we do so, we must make sure we are talking about the Cross of Jesus Christ Who came to die for sinful men and save them from eternal hell.

Let’s Pray

In closing, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can be forgiven of your wicked sins of the past no matter how dark, God is available to hear your prayer of confession and to hear you ask to be saved from sin and from the punishment of sin which is eternal hell and separation from God. And you can begin a light-filled relationship with God Almighty today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s laws. You have done some bad things. You have broken the commandments of God. So have I. And so has the Pope. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…” We die physically because of sin and we go to hell to burn forever, to be tormented forever because of our sin. God does not put us into hell; we put ourselves into hell because of our sin.

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ, the loving Lord of glory, preached more on hell than anybody in the Bible. He preached more on hell than he did about Heaven. He said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Now that is bad news, and I know most people do not want to hear any bad news. But you have to hear the bad news because the good news is good news because there is bad news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, your sins and mine. And all we have to do is trust Him and believe that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you and me so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

And please believe these words found in Romans 10:9 & 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Saved from what? Saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell.

If you believe in your heart on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer and mean it from your heart: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life — even some of the sins being brought out in this show called Greenleaf. I am sorry for my sins, and today, please have mercy upon me a sinner. I believe with all of my heart that You died for me, was buried, and rose again. Now, Lord I pray that You would fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to repent of my sins and to follow You for the rest of my life for Your glory, praise, and honor, and, from this point on, to be the shining light that You want me to be. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray, and for His sake, Amen.

Beloved friend, if you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read my pamphlet titled, “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Until next time, my beloved, may God bless you and keep you. We look forward to seeing you for the next Gospel According to Greenleaf podcast.