I will not receive any brownie points for this blog post, but it’s something that needs exposure.
Consider for a moment that the New Testament does not begin with chapter 1 of the book of Matthew. Instead, it begins in chapter 27, at the crucifixion. So perhaps we might say the New Testament begins just before the book Acts.
As such, it is safe to assert that no one Jesus was preaching to was saved in what we today would consider a Biblical or Classical sense of the word.
A Good, Bible Teaching Church
What Evangelicals call a good message, preaching the word, or the gospel, is more akin to a historical message from the 1700s, known as Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I have friends – professing born-again Christians – who believe that if they’re not being condemned from the pulpit and don’t feel shame and discomfort, then the sermon is of little value.
This is the value we, as Evangelicals, have placed upon the non-churched: they are people of no value, worms not worthy of the light of God. These sinners deserve the justice of hell, an eternal condemnation of pain and misery.
So we scare and condemn them into heaven, just like Jonathan Edwards did. The very thing God our Father has comforted us against – fear – we recast as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el “(Matt. 15:24). With that in mind, who was the audience of His first sermon, the one we commonly call the Beatitudes? Were these people who were saved in the classical sense? Or were these people the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el?
I would suggest that they were lost sheep of the house of Isra’el.
A Better Way
If you have not read Matthew chapter 5 in a while, you need to re-read it. Here are a few links to help you do that:
Did you notice verses 13 and 14?
You are the salt of the earthMatthew 5:13
You are the light of the worldMatthew 5:14
Jesus wasn’t speaking to born-again Christians. He was speaking to the lost sheep of Isra’el.
How can that be? How can sinners, in the hands of an angry God, be the salt of the earth and light of the world? It’s simple:
Jesus wasn’t speaking to their sin; he was speaking to their design.
In other words, the God of the Universe thinks the best way to help people see their need for Him is not to condemn them of their sins but to tell them who they are.
And that’s a problem with Evangelicalism. We’d rather use a weapon of evil than a blessing of righteousness to reach those who need Him the most.
Adonai Elohim has given me the ability to speak as a man well taught, so that I, with my words, know how to sustain the weary.
Each morning he awakens my ear to hear like those who are taught.Isaiah 50:4