1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
It is not unusual for many to view Christianity as just another world religion. There are several reasons someone might think this way but I can think of at least one reason that nominal and even true Christians themselves are guilty of conveying to the lost.
When the Apostle Paul walked into a city to evangelize he didn’t rent out the local coliseum, hire the best speakers and the best musicians and try to wow the lost into “considering” Christ. He also didn’t present Christ as the latest and best guru who can turn your life around if you will follow his teachings. It is this last point in particular and all of the above to some degree that causes more confusion than help in evangelism.
Many of the best known TV preachers today do not preach the cross of Christ as the focal point for sinners to find forgiveness. They present Christ as a great teacher and they might claim he is the divine Son of God as well, but they focus on living like he taught as the answer to life’s problems rather than telling sinners to bow the knee to him as Lord and Savior.
We have referred to this as using Christ to deny Christ. To present Jesus as someone who teaches us a better way is getting the cart before the horse. Sinners don’t need to hear how to do better, they don’t need to hear the Sermon on the Mount and be told that they need to straighten up their lives to get freed from the destructive ways of sin. They need to hear how to have their sins forgiven and be made right with God by the cross of Christ.
To preach the words of Christ without the cross of Christ will only produce self-righteous, moral hypocrites. This is why Paul preached the gospel alone when he came into Corinth because sinners don’t need to be told to do better they need to be told that they can’t do better and that is the problem. To be clear, our first duty is not to point them to Jesus’s teachings and example as if they need to shape up their lives but to point them to a Savior who alone is righteous.
Preaching Christ is not to be done in a way to get what we want; it is to display the glory of Christ Jesus and our need of him. I believe John Piper put it something like this, “Watch out for the preachers who never mention these things, for whom the cross is a mere token symbol, for whom the exceeding sinfulness of all our hearts is scarcely mentioned, who use power, wisdom, fame, and luxury to beckon the self-centered middle-class American to consider himself Christian at no cost to his pride and self-sufficiency.”
Others, like the slick TV preachers, think we have to sell Christ to the lost, make him and following him look so attractive and the answer to all their problems so that they will jump on board. They make him look attractive by suggesting that we are capable of living in such a way to invoke the blessings of God. This is just another form of legalism that thinks God’s blessings come from some other source than the cross. As I said to begin with, all this does is make Christianity look like every other religion that tells sinners there is something they can do to gain God’s favor.