Sometime last year I was reading Oswald Chambers and he used a term that I have thought a great deal about… Amiable Religiosity. He used that term in relation to all the reasons that people give for why Jesus Christ died.
In thinking about that I reflected on how many Christians so often approach the gospel with people from the perspective of sympathy for their spiritual condition with a little love and understanding. How wrong that approach can be. Yes, we need to present the gospel with love and understanding but they cannot be the overriding focus. We must always keep in view the fact that we are to pour out the gospel from the Holy Spirit’s point of view and not one that is impacted by their human condition. Looking at it from another perspective, it’s all about the most important message in the gospel… The Cross.
We have to ensure that as Paul put it…
1 Cor 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul did not attempt to deal with someone’s lost condition with flowering speech or powering testimony. His approach to sharing the gospel was Jesus and the Cross and nothing else. Nothing else mattered to Paul as the fact that without the Cross there is no salvation and there are only sympathetic words for one’s circumstances.
We need to deliver the good news of the gospel through the crystal clear lens of the Cross and not filtered by our natural affinities. It is the Cross that the Holy Spirit brings front and center, for without the Cross there can be no salvation. As Chambers puts it: The calling of the New Testament worker is to uncover sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Saviour, consequently he cannot be poetical, he must be sternly surgical.
Yes, our testimony is important as we are true witnesses to what Jesus has done in our life and what the Word promises He will do in their life. But far too often we get it backwards and make it all about our testimony. Look at the priority the Holy Spirit places on the gospel and what comes first and is preeminent:
Rev 12:11(a) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…
The operative word here is “and.” The Holy Spirit sends us out into an unbelieving world to lift up Jesus and Him crucified. We cannot allow that message to become diluted in any way by our sympathy for their condition or by focusing on our testimony. The only thing that matters in delivering the gospel is the Word of God and His Word that goes directly to the heart of salvation… the Cross. That is the heart of being “sternly surgical”... anything else is just Amiable Religiosity!