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I couldn’t get out of my mind that a couple of weeks ago there was a survey of evangelicals, and it was called The State of Theology. You can find it on the Ligonier website. And people were basically defined as evangelicals if they believed the Bible, if they believe Jesus, and if they believed the gospel, and if they felt they were responsible to communicate the gospel to other people—those four things. So if you are a Bible-believer and a gospel-believer—and Christ—and you felt responsible to proclaim that, you were considered an evangelical. Interestingly enough, the survey indicated that evangelicals have absolutely no idea what they believe, many of them—in stark contrast to Puritans and other responsible believers.

For example, some of the questions were as follows: Everyone is born innocent; agree or disagree? Sixty-five percent of evangelicals agreed everyone is born innocent. A second question: The Bible is not literally true; agree or disagree? Fifty-five percent of evangelicals agreed the Bible is not literally true. Another one: “God accepts worship from all religions”; fifty-six percent of evangelicals agreed. And maybe the most telling: Jesus was a good teacher but not God; forty-three percent of evangelicals agreed. This is so dystopian. This is so far from Puritan understanding or anybody who has a sound sense of doctrine that it’s shocking.

How did we get “evangelicals” who don’t believe what is necessary to be saved, let alone be a true evangelical? How did we get here? Well this is the legacy of leadership. “Like people, like priest,” Hosea said. People don’t rise above their teachers, Jesus said. The evangelical church has been so busy over the last 30 years trying to find ways not to offend non-Christians, trying to find ways to take the offenses out of the Christian message, designing approaches to nonbelievers that don’t create hostility or rejection, that it has created an evangelical movement that is void of the truth.

Why do they do this? Because the gospel, in truth, is so offensive. It is offensive. In fact, strange as it may seem, the good news is hated by nonbelievers. And so I thought just to take advantage of the distinction between the Puritan understanding of sound doctrine, and our understanding of sound doctrine, and what is pervasive around the evangelical movement, I’d go back to the beginning and talk about the most hated Christian doctrine. As I was walking through the halls of the office this morning, people were guessing what that might be. You’re about to find out.

Let’s begin in John 15. John 15, and there’s a lot to be said about this, and I am going to do the best I can to be selective and helpful to you in communicating. And I think the right place to start is with what our Lord said about hate. If we’re talking about the hated Christian doctrine, the most hated doctrine, then we need to learn from Him. So John 15:18, Jesus is speaking in the upper room with His disciples, and He says, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

One thing the disciples knew for sure was that the world hated Jesus Christ. That’s right. They hated Him. This is not the pagan world; this is the world of Jewish religion. This is the people who were “following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” the God of the Old Testament, the creator God. And in fact, Jesus is God incarnate, but they never recognized Him. In fact, they fully rejected Him, and He says here, “They hated me.” And He says, “They hated Me before they hated you.”

There was a time when the Jewish world didn’t hate the apostles. At the beginning of the ministry, in John 7:7, Jesus says, “The world cannot hate you.” “They see you as just part of their world; they cannot hate you.” However, by the time you get to John 17, that changed. And Jesus said this: “I have given you, disciples, My word, and the world has hated you.” What changed? They didn’t hate them until they had learned the message of Jesus and begun to preach it. As long as Jesus was the one preaching the message, they hated Him. As soon as the disciples began to do the same, they hated them.

But why all the hate? Why the hate of the most marvelous, compassionate, gentle, merciful, gracious, kind, loving human who ever walked on the earth and, more than that, the God-Man who expressed divine love, offered forgiveness of sin, entrance into the kingdom of heaven, eternal life? Why all the hate? And Jesus answered that in John 7:7. “The world . . . hates Me because I bear witness to it, that its deeds are evil.” There is the most hated Christian doctrine. It is the doctrine that theologians have called the doctrine of depravity—the doctrine of total depravity, if you will—the doctrine that declares that the whole human race is sinful.

That’s what generates the hate, because fallen man has to find a way to tolerate himself, and the dominant sin in fallen man is pride, and he will create an image of himself which escapes ultimate condemnation. He will spin a web of delusions about himself that he is good, noble—anything but that his deeds are evil. And this was especially compounded because Jesus was saying that to the Jewish religious people: “You are evil not only in your general life. You are evil in your religion. Your religion is just another form of your wickedness.” And John begins his gospel with, He came into the world. The world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. They rejected Him. And from the get-go, there was hate.

As you go through John’s gospel, you see this hate play out in the whole record of our Lord’s life. In John 5:16, it says, “The Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.” He was violating their religion. In Verse 18, he says, “The Jews were seeking all the more to kill him.” It’s only in John 5 that they want him dead. They wanted to kill Him.” Why? “Because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” In John 7 it says the Jews were seeking to kill Him again, and in verse 32, the officers of the Pharisees were trying to “seize Him,” arrest Him. In John 8 and John 10, they pick up stones to stone Him to death. In John 11, they plot to kill Him, eventually arrest Him, beat Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. It was just hostile from the beginning to the end of His ministry.

No wonder the writer of Hebrews calls on his readers, speaking of Christ, to “consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,” Hebrews 12:3. Isaiah says He was offensive. He was nobody. He was nothing. He was less than nothing. He was insignificant. In Isaiah 53, there was nothing about him that was attractive.

Well in truth, there was everything about Him that was attractive. He banished illness from the land of Israel for three years. He cared for children and widows and people who suffered. He brought a message of forgiveness and salvation and eternal life. But in spite of all of that, they hated Him. He offered salvation, heaven, freedom from sin and bondage, joy and peace, and they hated Him. They hated Him because He said they were sinners.

He was clear, by the way, on the nature of their sinfulness. Turn back to John 8. It wasn’t a superficial sinfulness. In John 8:41 the Jews to whom Jesus is speaking said, “We have one Father: God.” Verse 42, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me.’” It’s that simple. “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God. I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” And elsewhere He says, “I only do what the Father tells Me to do. I only do what the Father shows Me to do, and I only do what I do the way the Father desires Me to do it. And you don’t love Me. You hate Me.”

Verse 43, He begins to diagnose this: “Why do you not understand what I’m saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” Mark that. Now you’re starting to get in touch with how deep this sinfulness is, how profound it is, how all-encompassing it is. “You cannot hear My word.” “You cannot”—there’s no wiggle room there. “You religious people are in a condition, where it is not possible for you to understand what I’m saying.” Why? Let’s go a little deeper.

“You are of your father the devil.” Talk about offensive. He just told the Jewish leaders of Israel that they operate under the power of Satan. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning”—and that’s very specific because they were seeking to murder Him. “You wanting to murder Me is consistent with who you are. Not only that; “he was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn’t stand in the truth because there’s no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” This is a profound diagnosis of the human condition: “You cannot understand what I say. You do not love Me or My Father. You follow your father, the devil, and you do what he desires to do; and he desires to kill, and even to kill Me; and he’s a liar, and you believe his lies.”

In verse 45, amazing statement: “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” Now just think about that in an evangelistic context. Understand this, when you go to give someone the gospel: Because it’s the truth, they can’t believe it. Did you get that? Because it’s the truth, they can’t receive it. Because they are preprogrammed to believe lies. Verse 47, “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” “If you don’t belong to God, and you don’t—and if you belong to Satan and follow his desires and live under his control, you have no capacity to believe the truth. And because I speak that truth, you don’t believe it.”

Well this was so offensive to them, because they prided themselves on being those who knew God, represented God, and so they concluded in verse 48, “You . . . have a demon.” “You’re from hell.” It doesn’t get any more blasphemous than that. When you say to Jesus Christ, “You have a demon,” your world is inverted. You’re the ones that are under demon control, to the degree that you have no faculty or capacity to recognize God. And you will call the Son of God a demon-possessed person.

Verse 49, Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.” In Verse 51, He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death”—“I’m offering you eternal life.” And the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon.” Now, I don’t know what evangelistic strategy you think you can use to overcome natural human sinful resistance, but if you think you can develop any strategy to do that, you’re a fool. Jesus had no strategy that bypassed the reality.

This is the human condition: sinful, blind, dead, ignorant, darkened under satanic power, control. Speaking the truth doesn’t change anything. Because you speak the truth, they don’t believe, because it’s so alien to their nature; and you can’t be more hostile than to say to someone, “You’re from hell.” But that’s what the religious Jews said to Jesus, and He was offering them eternal life. But it was predicated on the recognition that they were the children of Satan, and they were profoundly captive to sin. That’s why they killed Him. That’s why they martyred the apostles. They hate the truth.

So when you talk to somebody about the gospel, there may be a natural tendency to avoid talking about the true condition of a nonbeliever. You have to have some courage to do that. You have to be willing to take the hostility. And when they reject with hostility, you say, “That’s exactly what I would expect. That’s the evidence of the depth of your sin: that you will not believe because you cannot believe.” Back in John 5:39, Jesus says to these same Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures”—“you actually have the Old Testament”—“because you think that in [the Scriptures] you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” “I am the subject of the Scriptures.” Jesus points that out in Luke 24 when He tells the disciples that He went back into the Old Testament—the law, the prophets, and the writings—and spoke to them of everything concerning Himself. “They’re about Me.” Verse 40, “And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

The offer of life, the true offer, the true gospel, will offend. It will generate hostility and hatred. And because it’s the truth they can’t accept it, because they are under such pervasive deception. And verse 40 sums it up as saying, “You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” “I can offer you that life; I do offer you that life. You have no capacity to come and receive it.”

Now over to John 6:44, “No one can come to Me”—no one—“unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” “You don’t have a capacity to come. You are so profoundly captive to sin. You are under the deceptive leadership of Satan. You have a natural aversion to the truth, particularly the truth about your own wretchedness. You are unwilling to come, and you are unable to come.” So if I were to define total depravity in a simple way, it is simply this: that people on their own are unwilling and unable to come to Christ. And I would go a step further and say that is true, but what is also true is that they are hostile to His message. That’s why it’s so hard to enter the kingdom, because it requires a reassessment of yourself that a self-protective sinner has no capacity to accomplish.

So the most hated doctrine is that everyone is a sinner, and seriously so, and profoundly so, so that it incapacitates, so that it’s impossible to believe the truth, so that the truth sounds like a lie, so that Jesus sounds like a demon-possessed person. This most-hated doctrine then has to be followed with the fact that sin brings judgment. So this is your condition: You’re a sinner, and you are headed for eternal judgment in hell. That is so offensive, so unacceptable, so unbelievable. It’s the most hated doctrine.

So evangelicalism in its current form decides to bypass that and say, “Jesus wants you happy. He wants you successful. He wants you to work up a list that you’d like Him to give you, and you can speak it into existence. And whatever your carnal desires are, Jesus is here to satisfy your carnal desires. You don’t have to recognize that you’re a sinner. In fact, you’re born innocent. You don’t have to believe that He’s the Son of God. You don’t even have to follow the Christian religion because God accepts all religions.”

If I say to people, “Jesus will give you eternal life, but God accepts any religion,” that’s not offensive. If I say, “Well, the Bible’s a wonderful book, and it has a lot of truth, but of course it’s not all true; some of it’s myth,” that’s not offensive because you can pick the parts that you want to be myth and eliminate them. But when you say, “This is the truth. This is all the truth, and the truth is that you are a sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, as we will see, and your default position is to believe lies to such a degree that the truth seems demonic. That’s how profoundly evil you are, and you are headed for eternal judgment.” You have just destroyed the sinner’s house of cards that he has built for self-protection.

So this is the most hated doctrine, but at the same time, it is the most distinctively Christian doctrine. It is the most distinctively Christian doctrine. What do I mean by that? I mean this: No other religion has this doctrine. Did you hear that? No other religion has this doctrine because all other religions are some form of works salvation, some good in me that can achieve salvation, can gain favor with the deity or can cooperate with God.

All religion, even all false forms of Christianity, affirm that people are good or have enough good in them, a prevenient kind of grace that allows them to contribute to their salvation. They can choose to believe. They can choose to be saved. They can choose to accept Christ. They can bring some of their religiosity, some of their morality, some of their human goodness as part of the payment for salvation. Every religion is that way.

Only Christianity says you bring nothing. Salvation is “not by works, lest any man should boast”; it is by grace. Only Christianity teaches that. And in order to be a Christian, you have to understand that the salvation that you receive is all of grace, because if you add works, then grace is no more grace.

So the doctrine of human depravity is the most hated doctrine. It is the most distinctively Christian doctrine. Only Christian truth teaches that. It is also the most contrary Christian doctrine.

It is rejected—and this goes back to what I read earlier. It is the most rejected doctrine because human fallenness is a condition of deception, of darkness, of deadness. And reason can never escape the Fall. The universal condition of all men is they are all deceived. “The god of this world,” 2 Corinthians 4:4, “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving,” lest the glorious gospel of Christ should come to them.

So everybody is naturally evil, essentially evil in nature, incurably evil to the degree that they are unwilling and unable to hear the truth, believe the truth or come to Christ. In fact, they are hostile. And this goes for religious people. This goes for Old Testament Jews. And that’s shocking. That is shocking. They had a sentimental notion of who God was. They had a partially informed notion of who God was, but it was not the true God of the Old Testament. They had created God in the way that they wanted Him to be. He would be a God who would approve of their righteousness.

And by the way, I need to say religion is not a step toward God. Religion is the final blasphemy. It is the final blasphemy. It is the final stage of the sinner’s depravity. Why? Because when you create a god of your own making, sort of hybrid god, you have violated the first commandment, which is to have no other gods; and you have violated the great commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. There’s no room for any other god.

So religion is not a step toward God. It is the final blasphemy. This is very hard for people to understand because so many people find their way into religion as part of the necessary assembly of components by which they can think of themselves as good and relieve some guilt. Man is never more sinful than when he is in a false religion or has invented a false god or a false Christ or a false gospel. That’s not an improvement. That’s the worst blasphemy of all blasphemies. The most heinous sin of all sins is to have another god than the true God, another Christ than the true Christ, another religion. Isaiah 64 says that: Your righteousnesses are nothing but filthy rags.

So do you understand? This is the challenge in evangelism. You’re talking to people who hate where evangelism has to start. And that is with their recognition of their utter sinfulness, unwillingness, inability to hear the truth, understand the truth, embrace the truth, love the truth and come to God and come to Christ. They will a thousand times rather find their way into a false religion. So where you have to begin with the gospel is the sinner has to know the true condition of sinfulness and the reality of the demonic nature of all false religions.

That leads me to say this is also the most minimized doctrine, because what I’ve just said to you is so offensive to a mind controlled by Satan, the deceiving liar and fallen reason. That leaves us in a very difficult position. What do we say next? If we can get the conversation past that without being thrown out, what do we say? We say, “Well, this is what the Bible says.”

So just to reiterate that, turn for a few moments to Ephesians 2, and here from the pages of Scripture, the Word of God, we read about the human condition: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins,” verse 1. Dead is dead, folks. If you’re going to pick an analogy, then dead is the chosen analogy. Dead means no life, no capacity, no response, no impulse, no understanding. “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked”—before you were a believer—“according to the course of this world.” You were dead, and so you were the walking dead. So you were. You were the walking dead. And who was controlling you? “The prince of the power of the air.” Who is that? Satan, “the spirit . . . working in the sons of disobedience.”

This is your condition. You are the walking dead. You live in the deadness of a fallen world and an evil system under the full power of Satan, who is not only working around you but is working in you. And how does that affect you? Verse 3, you live “in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [who are] by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” You are naturally headed for divine wrath. This is true of every person.

Over in Ephesians 4:17 says that, “You walk . . . in the futility of [your] mind.” Your mind is empty when it comes to truth because, verse 18 says, you are “darkened in [your] understanding.” You are “excluded from the life of God.” That means you’re dead. You’re marked by ignorance, hardness of heart, verse 19, “callousness,” which means your whole fallen mind is scarred over so that it cannot sense the truth, and therefore you’re “given . . . over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” So there you are.

This is the human condition, and again, this is the most hated doctrine. But it’s what the Bible says, and I’ve shown you a couple of illustrations. You can go back to Genesis. God looked at humanity and said, “All I see is evil continually.” Jeremiah says the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. In Romans 8, a couple of verses. Romans 8:6 –8, diagnosis from Paul: “The mind set on the flesh is death,” verse 7, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; it does not subject itself to the law of God, it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” That is that unwilling and unable again. You’re in the flesh. You’re of the flesh. You do the deeds of the flesh, driven by the lusts of the flesh, and the flesh is hostile toward God. It can’t subject itself to the law of God. It’s not even possible.

So this is the sinner’s condition. You’re so sinful, you’re unwilling and unable to believe the truth. And because you have no capacity for that, you hate it.

And this is deep. The conduct of such a person is described in Mark 7. Listen to this, verse 20, our Lord speaking, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” Common psychology today would say, “I’m a good person, but people hurt me; people do harm to me. What may be wrong with me is because of somebody’s action against me.” Jesus would say no, that’s not the issue. “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” What is wrong with you is inside. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

And we’re not talking about some mass murderer here. We’re not talking about Adolf Hitler. We’re not talking about Jeffrey Dahmer. This is everybody. In Romans 3, Paul sums it up, using Scripture from the Old Testament, verse 10: “‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving.’ ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness’; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known,’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

That is a diagnosis of every person. The sum is that we are evil and selfish, unwilling, unable, dead, dark, ignorant, with no capacity to do anything to change that. That’s what you have to say to the sinner: “Yeah, this is who you are, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t do anything about it.” “Well how do I get straightened out?” There is One who can do something about it.

Let’s go back to John 1 for a minute as we kind of wrap up. And listen to this, John 1:12. This is right at the outset of the gospel of John, which was “written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ . . . and believing . . . have life in His name,” as it says at the end. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” “As many as received Him . . . He gave the right to become [the] children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” and then this, “who were born”—oh, you have to be reborn. Oh, yeah, right. You can’t fix what you are. You have to be reborn. And that happens “not of blood”—you don’t inherit it—“nor of the will of the flesh”—you don’t will it—“nor of the will of man”—nor does somebody else will it for you. “But [it’s] of God.” If you are born again, it is the work of God, totally the work of God.

Look over to John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he can’t enter the kingdom.’” And remember, Nicodemus was wondering, “How do I get in the kingdom?” And then verse 3 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”—just exactly the same analogy as in John 1. And so Nicodemus says, “Well, I can’t be born.” He knew. He understood the analogy. Jesus was saying, “You need to be born again,” and Nicodemus immediately knew by the analogy that Jesus was telling him something that he couldn’t do. Simply, folks, what contribution did you make to your birth? It’s absurd. Of course you made none. That is exactly the same contribution you make to your new birth. You make none. You bring nothing. You must be born. “That which is born of the flesh,” in verse 6, “is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” So if you’re going to be born again spiritually, that’s not something you can do. That is something the Spirit must do.

In fact, in verse 7 He says, “[So] don’t be amazed I said you must be born again,” or anothēn, “you must be born from above.” The Spirit has to give you birth. Well how does that happen? Verse 8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, and don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going; so is everyone who’s born of the Spirit.” Again, you have no role in that. You play no part in that. You contribute nothing. How could you, when you are unwilling, unable and totally deceived, and because somebody speaks the truth, you hate it? This is some heavenly work that has to be done by the Holy Spirit.

Turn over to John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” You’re not going to come unless the Father draws you and the Spirit gives you life. Over in verse 64, “‘There are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him”—Judas. “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from [My] Father.’” It takes the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the will of the Father. Go over to John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Now we have the whole Trinity involved. How does somebody get out of this condition? It’s the regenerating work of the Spirit. It’s the drawing of the Father. It’s the freeing of the Son.

So what does the sinner do? Well he only has one option. He brings nothing. He offers nothing. All he can do is cry out to God in mercy to save him. But the sinner, in order to do that, must’ve come to the true recognition of who he is by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who has convicted him of sin and righteousness and judgment, as John 16 says. He must have come to the end of himself and all self-confidence so that he denies himself, and he must cry out for salvation that is a gift of grace. Unless and until God moves, nothing changes.

One final text, in 1 Corinthians 1:26, “Consider your calling, brethren.” This is your heavenly calling, the effectual calling to salvation. “There were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” When the Lord started calling people, obviously He didn’t choose the wise and the mighty and the noble. Verse 27 says, “God has chosen the foolish . . . of the world to shame the wise, God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen.” Do you notice three times, “God has chosen,” “God has chosen,” “God has chosen”? Why? Verse 29, “So that no one may boast before God.” So if you’re a believer, you brought nothing to it. You can’t boast in your wisdom, your virtue, your spirituality. You can only boast before God.

And then he concludes that chapter with these marvelous words: “By His doing”—by God’s doing—“you are in Christ Jesus.” You didn’t get here by your own will. Depravity forbade that. “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written”—back in Jeremiah—“‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

So what does this do? What is this culmination? God draws whom He chooses. The Spirit gives life. The Son sets free. And we’ve contributed nothing to it so that we forever and ever and ever and ever give Him all the glory. The only thing the sinner can do is cry out like the man in Luke, “God, be merciful to me”—what?—“a sinner.” As long as people try to hide the doctrine of depravity, as long as people try to take the offenses out of the gospel, they will disillusion people in the most severe way, who think they’re evangelicals when they couldn’t possibly be Christians at all. We have to be honest enough to give the hated bad news in order to deliver to the sinner the good news that, “Oh, by the way, though you can do nothing about it, Christ will accept you by grace.” That’s the message of the gospel.

Let’s pray. Again we’re reminded, our Father, of the consistency of Your Word, its power, its clarity. And I just pray today that, in the clarity of this, all of us who are true believers might have a fresh and new commitment to be honest with the truth of the gospel, honest with the bad news, honest with the good news.

And the good news is so good. As impossible as salvation is, as profoundly sinful as we are, as unwilling and unable as we are, as resistant as we are to the truth, as blasphemous as we can become, even fabricating a god who doesn’t exist and thereby breaking the commandments, You are willing to forgive. And You will forgive the sinner who cries out to You. Jesus said in John 6 as well, “Whoever comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out.”

So Lord, may sinners who see, perhaps, their own condition clearly this day do the only thing a sinner can do: plead, “Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner. Save me.” Give us the boldness to proclaim the truth that must be claimed, owned, believed, so that the sinner, broken, penitent, and helpless, falls before the Holy Judge and pleads for grace and mercy through Jesus Christ. Use us in that way, we pray, for Your glory. Amen.

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