“The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” (Luke 4:9-11)
Over 80% of sermons today quote the Bible the same way the devil once quoted it, which is with an agenda of fear rather than freedom in Christ, an agenda to disregard rather than to rejoice in the love of God unveiled in Christ, any other agenda to subdue others into doing what they “think” is good rather than pointing to the work of Christ as their peace, their joy, their strength.
In times of slavery, churches gathered to read Scripture, to sing Hymns, and to preach to themselves what they believed was supportive of their personal agendas then. They prayed for more opportunities to acquire more slaves. They prayed for more money, more lands, more “of their kind” attendants. They prayed for more prestigious standing within the community. They prayed for physical healing. They prayed for success in their business. They prayed for wellness of their dogs and cats. They thanked God that they had slaves. They prayed and hoped for more ways to instill fear in the hearts of their slaves. They preached to each other justification of their sins. All of these took place while carrying Bibles, having an “appearance” of holiness.
The gospel is not the exercise of Bible quotation. The gospel is not pointing to what God said in the hope of attaining one’s personal agenda of seeing others subdued by fear.
The gospel sets free from fear. When the Bible is preached rather than the gospel, the hearers are back again seeking what pleases their personal agendas. Everyone starts seeking eternal life through their works and efforts simply because through the Bible they are presented with several ways to please God and themselves. Yet only one way pleases God, and such way is Christ Jesus, such way is the love of God, such way is the mercy of God, the peace of God revealed by the shed blood of Jesus.
There’s preaching the gospel and there’s preaching the Bible in the hope of supporting one’s personal agendas believing such agendas to be pleasing to God. Jesus pleases God. He pleased God and sat down to rest. He pleased God with his death on the cross. Nobody else. Jesus. The gospel declares how he pleased God His Father.
The church’s agenda is Christ, not seeking more or other ways to please God. Other than Christ, there’s no other way to please God. God pleased himself in Christ and that’s what we are to be busy celebrating, serving witness of. No other testimony saves, but the good news of Jesus Christ, the good news that we are loved by God, loved by Him not because of what we do but because of who He is.
Jesus saves, not the Bible.