Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, once received a question from someone who thought Wildmon was not being diplomatic enough in his efforts to warn about the dangers of secularism and licentiousness. Wouldn’t Wildmon and his group do better if they were more like Jesus in how inoffensive He was in His ministry? To which Wildmon replied, “If Jesus was so inoffensive, how did He get Himself crucified on the cross?”
Some people have a popularized view of Jesus. They think of a meek, mild, non-judgmental man who would not ruffle anyone’s feathers and accepted all people’s actions as equal. The Bible, however, gives us the accurate revelation of Jesus. He is not who a lot of people think He is. He is much more.
When God spoke to the people in Old Testament times, He often used a prophet as His spokesman. These men did not speak their own minds. They spoke God’s words. God “at sundry times and in divers manners spake to the Fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). You can imagine the power behind the words of those inspired men as they thundered, “Thus saith the Lord!” You can find that phrase in the KJV 430 times.
Then Jesus came on the scene and things changed. When Jesus took Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice came from heaven. The Father said clearly, “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Lk. 9:35b). The message of God was to come through Christ. Hebrews tells us that in these last days God “hath spoken unto us by his Son” (Heb. 1:2).
Interestingly, the phrase “thus saith the Lord” does not appear even one time in the New Testament. Instead, what we find is Jesus saying, “I say unto you” (127 times in the KJV) and “I say unto thee” (over 20 times in the KJV). We are in the days when what Jesus said is of paramount importance. And His words speak to us very clearly.
It is not a secret that what Don Wildmon warned of mere decades ago has come to pass. The general American culture has become morally corrupt. In 1996 Robert Bork wrote the book Slouching Towards Gomorrah. He described the general slide of the culture. What Jesus said has been ignored in a great way. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Entertainment, popular music, movies, the pornography industry all would go out of current business if people took to heart what Jesus said. Yet even professing believers often compromise and engage in activities which cause them to commit heart adultery.
It is tragic when a marriage goes on the rocks. The heartache continues for years. Did Jesus have anything to say about it? Yes. “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32). Jesus’ words are especially important when so many people consider marriage as merely a societal construct. It is not. It is an institution established by God from the beginning as one man and one woman coming together for life.
Riots in Charlottesville and St. Louis have revealed ugly layers of hate, showcased by the KKK and Antifa. What did Jesus say about hate? “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43, 44). It is one level of application to decry the hate of these groups. But Jesus tells us that in His kingdom we are to love the people that hate us most. This is not the popular way of dealing with hate. The rhetoric just gets louder. But Jesus told us to turn what is popular and love those who hate us.
I don’t remember a time when the language of the general public has been so laced with curses, blasphemies, and downright evil words. What did Jesus say about how we speak? “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:35 – 37). There are pastors who need to apply this to themselves. I’ve been disappointed reading a pastor’s comment only to see him reach into the gutter for a word. People chuckled at the “cussing preacher” in the Northwest, but his example has done nothing but harm good conversation.
These are days of division and separation. Often the main issue has to do with forgiveness. What Jesus said about forgiveness shows us that our problems are not new. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21, 22). When we fail to forgive, we allow a root of bitterness to spring up, troubling us and defiling many others. Unforgiveness is the opposite of holiness. The two cannot possibly coexist. Jesus very practically encouraged Peter to holiness by His words on forgiveness.
With all the sin around what hope is there? Jesus came to earth to do more than show us how that in our natural state we are far from God. He came to do something about it. He went to the cross for our sins. He died and was buried. But on that third glorious day He arose in victory. What did he say about sinners coming to Him? “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Lk 15:7). Heaven is interested in sinners coming to Christ. When they do, there is great rejoicing.
Jesus told us what to do. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). He explained that in greater detail. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
Repent of your sins and believe the gospel. Jesus said if you do you will have everlasting life. In our world, that is good news!