Would They Have Killed Jesus if HE Preached the Same Message the Church Preaches Today?

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” Leonard Ravenhill

I actually think Ravenhill’s  very pointed  observation is accurate.  What do you think?  If Jesus had taught how to be wealthy, how to be succesful, how to have your best life NOW or any number of things that we are taught today, instead of what he did teach, would they have crucified Him?

As we think about this question it is important to remember that The Cross was God’s idea.  It was His plan.  The truth is that no one took Jesus life, he laid it down.  Still, would they have wanted to crucify him had he preached the same message we hear today?

If, like I, you answer the question negatively, what does this say about the  state of much of the American Church?   What is it we are preaching?  Why have we deviated from His message?  More importantly, how do we fix this problem?

To my fellow brothers who are already leading local congregations and to those in Bible College and seminary preparing to lead I ask this:  Would they crucify YOU for the message that you are or will be preaching?  I am ashamed that there have been times in my life where the answer was “No!”  I have been guilty of this just like many of you.  However, the answer must be “yes” or we are not faithful ambassadors of the Savior.

All the apostles, except John, were executed for the message they proclaimed, the message of the Cross.  The Father does not call us to build big buildings nor to have large budgets, to have large succesful ministries nor to have mega-congregations.   He does call us to “preach the word”, the word being the message of The Cross!  Period.  He commissions us to take His message of ransom and redemption to the lost.  He sends us out to make disciples for himself and to make His name great.   He invites us, then commands us to lay our lives down for His sake and then to follow Him wherever and however He beckons.  Very few of us who are faithful to this call will ever gain fame or notoriety.  Most of us will serve in obscurity.  I think that is part of the deal and you and I both need to be OK with that.  If not, we should get a secular job or start our own business to support our families.  Then we should find a good cross-centered congregation and volunteer just like everyone else.

Father, may we who lead your people come back to proclaiming the message of a crucified and risen Savior.  Amen

You may also be interested in this article:  Whatever Happened to the Message of The Cross?

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on January 15, 2011, in Christianity, The Cross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. It’s hard to answer because of the ambiguity of your post. What I mean is, are you asking would Jesus have been killed if he preached an Osteen-esque message in addition to claiming to be God? then yes, Jesus was not killed for beattitude, forgive your brother, lusting=adultry messages. He was killed for claiming to be God.

    But however if you mean He preached the Osteen-esque message but did not make the claim to be God, then no, He wouldn’t be killed for that. I imagine there were no shortage of people in the culture who taught soft inspirational speech sermons.


    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. You make a good point! The Title of the post is really an attention getter. My main pointin the article is that the American church seems to be preaching an entierly different message than our Savior preached.


    • MenAfterGod.com

      I like what you say. So many Christians today have no idea what Jesus was about. We, (Christians), are supposedly the new chosen ones and yet we truly follow like sheep. Most other religions, (no matter how false or evil), seem to be better at indoctrinating their followers then we do.
      The only thing that truly saves us is that grace is free and given to those of simple faith. Praise God.


  2. I thought the article made a very good point, until I read John Barron’s post. Still, the fact remains that Jesus cuts a very different figure from the highest profile American pastors. ;P

    Re John’s lusting=adultery message, I didn’t read that literally (presuming he’s referring to the plucking out your eye bit). I thought Jesus was pointing out the lack of wisdom/compassion of punishing people for sins they have committed, when we often commit those sins in our hearts. Any ideas? That Jesus would take such a hard line on ‘sinful thoughts’ which are a natural part of being human always seemed a bit out of character. But then he was an enigmatic kind of guy. Kind of the point of him.


  3. Wow. Thank you for this post. Just this morning I was thinking about this very subject matter. I don’t think that the “popular” message causes any upheaval or controversy. It requires NO repentence and NO suffering. It’s a Happy Message.
    If Jesus preached what is being propagated nowadays in this postmodern society, I think he would have his own reality show and record deal! He would be a modern day Oprah Winfrey type. Just my opinion.

    Recently, I have been repentive about the fact that I have acquiesed to some of these types of ideologies of prosperity, wealth and so on. Do I believe that Jesus came to bring abundant life? Absolutely! But, I do not think any of it was meant to be a subsitute for a broken and surrendered life to God.

    We must get back to the message of the Cross. Suffering is inevitable. We cannot escape it. The difference we have as believers is promise of God’s faithful nature, and His unending love. Although, we may not escape some of the hardships that life brings, but we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and the great provision of our heavenly Father. As a good Father, He ensures the best for us – HIS BEST! Not our own.

    I am saddened by the dismissive attitude regarding the reality of life. The message of grace is cheapend and diluted into some grace elixer drink that will make ALL problems disappear. There seems to be this new Christian world-view. It suggests that Jesus will put smiles on our faces as we skip through multi-colored tulips and monetal blessings will fall from heaven because we are entitled. Really?? It truly sickens me.
    Christians who adhere to such nonsense are often left with deep feelings of disappointment and disillusionment. When life happens, they cannot deal with it. They are bound by seducing doctrines that twist God’s Word to favor such idealogies aforementioned.
    I have lost many Christian brothers and sisters (friends)of mine to death . They were praying people, godly people. We were told to believe for miracles because God ALWAYS wants to heal and if that person wasn’t healed – it was due to lack of faith. Well, guess what? They went to be with Jesus anyway.
    Moreover, I have witnessed many divorces especially among believers., I have experienced my own. I have experiencd great moments of pain and grief. My heart grieved so deeply, there were times I could barely utter a word. I felt I could not go on. Life presented grave disppointment and pain. I often wondered how God could allow such suffering. Despite it all, I chose to surrender. I learned so much during those times, and I would not trade them for anything. Not for a cheap sermon on prosperity and happy happy joy-joy!!
    I am thankful I am more intimate with God through the process of brokeness and suffering.


  4. I thought this was an excellent post. The overall opinion of Jesus during that period would certainly have been vastly different, but praise God that the contrary was His plan, that Jesus would come and the people would esteem Him not. As to your reference to the “American church,” I believe that you hit the nail on the head in two words. The common view of the church in relation to the world is a grotesque case of mistaken identity, which is signified further by the twisted gospel being preached in many budding churches. We are Christians first and last. For many of us, our current residence just happens to be in America, but, like Jesus, we have no place to lay our head because our pilgrimage of sorts is not yet over.

    Gloria in excelsis Deo.


  5. timothybrianturner

    I agree Jesus was crucified because he claimed to be God; however, I think that many preachers have been martyred throughout history simply because their preaching did not align with those in leadership not because they were preaching the “true gospel.” Sure, some have been killed for preaching truth. Some have been killed for preaching lies. Most have been murdered because someone somewhere did not like to hear what they had to say, possibly because it challenged the murderer in some way. This article seems to be crucifying Osteen by word instead of by lumber and nails. Is it possible that Osteen’s message is challenging you in a particular way so you lash out at him. The tone of this post has the vibe of an angry mob ready to lynch a person for having a different perspective. This is certainly not Jesus or the gospel he taught.


    • Hi Timothy,

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment! Osteen’s book gets a brief mention in the article only for illustrative purposes. I can assure you, that the tone I was trying to convey was one of encouraging fellow leaders to follow Jesus and to preach the message He commissioned us to give: the message of His cross.

      I really liked your phrase “This article seems to be crucifying Osteen by word instead of by lumber and nails.” What a great analogy and use of words! I can assure you that wasn’t my intention. I publicly admit that I consder Mr. Olsteen a false teacher at best or a heretic at worst. But I would never want some one to hurt him because of that.


  6. I like your post. The Church has largely adopted a pragmatic approach to preaching rather than making Christ and the Holy Spirit the focus. In my humble opinion, much of this is driven by congregations who are consumerist or “success” driven. People listen to sermons to see how it benefits them—how it will make them successful wives, husbands, businessmen, fathers or mothers. Nothing’s wrong with these desires, but what about people’s motive. Do we truly seek God’s face and not just His hands(His benefits)?

    Jesus taught and preached what people needed to hear and some of those things were very tough—especially when He claimed to be God.

    That kind of preaching becomes very difficult today, and I can understand that. But it is necessary, and it will not be “popular.”

    thanks again for your article.


  7. I would certainly agree that the church is rarely taught to lay down our lives. Thanks for sharing your take.


  8. “If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.”

    so true… Repentance today is a dirty word not to be used..


  9. We would never have heard of Jesus if he preached materialism. He would have been an entirely different historical figure — probably not a noteworthy one. “The blessed meek” who will “inherit the earth” were Jesus’ target audience.

    Christianity has changed as society has changed. When Christianity first came to prominence in Rome, poor citizens didn’t have financial prospects like the poor do today in America. As poor Roman citizens were more likely stuck in their classes, they felt more attracted to the “Blessed are the meek” philosophy. Today, in America, poor people have better financial prospects, and so tailor their versions of Christianity accordingly.


  10. Great post! The problem is that congregations are told what they want to hear which draws a higher attendance or more publicity. God’s Word commands us to “Preach the Word” not what sounds good. Jesus was more about thinning out the crowd for genuiness rather than seeking more to follow him. He said statements such as
    “Pick up your cross and follow me”, and “If you cling to your life you will lose it.”
    We must teach and handle the text with His intentions in mind rather than our own. Again, great job on this post, keep up the good work.


  11. Oh man, I wish we had more people who think like you.
    I hardly hear anyone calling people to repent. Many people only take the good things about Jesus. However, It was still Jesus who rebuked the pharisees and it was Jesus who was very angry at the temple.
    Hearing about the Cross hardly moves anyone’s emotions today…
    Thank you.
    May the Lord bless you and shine His face upon you.


  12. In our attempts to be politically correct, we have managed to hop onto the world’s bandwagon instead of sticking to the word of God.
    We are so worried about offending people – but why? Jesus wasn’t. He offended the people who were the ‘traditional churchgoers’, i.e. the Pharisees. He called them some fairly strong names.
    We timidly preach – call it seeker friendly, and when God chooses to challenge, that person wonders what has struck them.
    “But no-one told me the bible says that”, they cry.
    No-one has told them that grace has a cost.
    Those of us entrusted with preaching and sharing the word better get real. We are the ones in the hot seat when our time comes to stand before God and tell him why we watered down His word so much.
    In some places its even hard to recognise as the word … it has been so diluted and sweetened.
    The cross doesn’t look like it was much of a sweet place to me – Jesus sweat drops of blood before facing it.


  13. Thank you for this post. It helps make sense of some of the questions I have. I am a recovering atheist meaning I have been an atheist for fifteen years. I renounced and turned my back on the Lord because he turned his back on me. I have been angry and resentful towards God ever since. I was perfectly at peace with the knowledge that once you died you ceased to exist. This changed in November 2009. My very good friend pasted away and since I have been seeking something more. I found comfort in Taoism and thought peace would come upon me, but it had not. I have since been searching for the right answers and somehow I always end up reading the Bible. I am still angry at God, and I am not sure if I even believe in him.


    • Hi Tim, thank you very much for sharing! If there any questions I can help you with, contact me via emai: NotForItchingEars@yahoo.com


    • Hi Jim, we all go through things, good or bad, that’s just how it is in this world, but this world can also lead us astray from the one true God who is still drawing you back to Him by His Word and love. I grew up in Native American religioun, but have turned my back to it because of Christ’s love for me. It has been difficult over the years, and lately even more so, but it is because of His love for me that the enemy comes to try to make me believe that God does not love me, that is the deception ‘if’ I choose to believe those words. It is a battle, even each day at times. The devil comes to deceive us ‘if’ he can, but we choose Life and truth when the deceiver comes. It isn’t easy at times, but, we have One who is with us, and that is Jesus Christ. Hold true to the faith in Him, for He will show you the way; talk to Him and He will reveal Himself to you. Believe. May the Lord bless you. ~ joshobel


  14. I agree, the problem is the human condition trying to accomodate God to us instead of us entering in God’s realm. The people back in Jesus’s day were waiting for a warrior that was going to get them out of the Roman regime, which its not a far stretch from a prosperity speech. So, I think if he would have told them to follow him and they were going to reign the world and be rich, he probably would not have been crucified.
    Some Christians abuse the concept of Grace to continue a life of sin and like many have mention repentance has become the new curse word.
    Thanks for sharing this


  15. These days preachers are supporting homosexuality. And I am guilty to say that I may not be crucified because my actions don’t always represent my messages. If you would like to read my blog is http://www.walletwisdom.wordpress.com


  16. Love me some Leonard Ravenhill! That dude brought the gospel heat no matter who the audience was!

    I was thinking about the same thing today, the shocking disparity between the modern American Christians issues : finances, self-esteem, diet, loneliness; and the first century Christians issues: persecution to death, family abandonment, complete social and political isolation. They didn’t cling to some shallow cheery maxim “God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life” No, they clung to the cross of Christ, the only way to everlasting life through the blood of God’s dear Son.


  17. livingcreatingbreathing

    Thanks for posting this! It’s refreshing to see that I’m not the only one in the Christian faith questioning what it taught today. It’s amazing how many people let others think for them, especially when it comes to something so important such as one’s faith. I was actually criticized a lot recently by people I grew up going to church with because I nicely pointed out that Sunday is not the Sabbath, never has been and never will be. Apparently the norm is to just go along with whatever the church is doing and not ask questions, which directly contradicts the Bible. It tells us to rely on the Word of God, not the word of man. People should be checking out everything they hear or are told against the Word of God. If it doesn’t line up then it’s out, period.


  18. There are times of encouragment and times of refreshing; there are times of dying and times of the crucified life; we are to know the seasons (and when God delivers His word).
    We are to ‘pick up’ ‘our’ cross and follow Him. That ‘picking up’ comes at different times in our individual lives for each one of us. It depends upon where we are at.
    God is merciful and full of grace and truth. 🙂
    I understand what is being said here, and it is sad.
    May we honor Him by praying for the lost sheep.
    God bless.


  19. Marcus Perumal

    The prosperity gospel as preached today especially by the American Tele – evangelists on TBN is totally misleading mllions of people to a Christless eternity, salvation should be preached more than anything else. There is nothing wrong with preaching that God blesses & prosperous us as recorded in scriptures but it is the way it is done.


  20. Good article. No one would kill nor cruclfy Jesus if the Jesus preached that we should love the worldly systems and HE will meet our desires of lust, money and fame. If Jesus preached prosperity gospel then who would hate Jesus? If Jesus wishes every human being to be wealthy which Jesus can give to anyone easily without any problem then why in the world would anyone want to kill Him and why even Christians are facing serious financial problems? Ever think why people hate Jesus?


    • Hi Alex!

      The longer I dialogue with non-Christians, the more I realize it is not Jesus that bothers them. It is we Christians, who often times talk the talk but don’t live out what we believe, and then tell them how to live the way we won’t live.


  21. This is a good article. I do have one question though. For preachers, like myself, who might come across to inheriting a lot of money, is that wrong? It wouldn’t be my fault and all I would want to do is provide for my family and put the money forward to help forward God’s message.


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