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Sermon: The Gospel that Divides

By Steve Gaines | Senior Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

Is religion relevant? Many people apparently do not think so. They don't believe religion is necessary because they are convinced that all anyone really needs in life can be obtained through science and technology. For them, any attention given to spiritual matters is a waste of time.

Such people sometimes reluctantly concede that religion might be useful as long as it focuses on humanitarian help at the individual level and universal unity and harmony at the societal level. In their minds, under no circumstances should religion ever be allowed to polarize or divide society. Instead it should relentlessly seek the utopian goal of "world peace."

Did Jesus Christ come to this earth to usher in world peace? Hardly. Hear the biblical rebuttal to this erroneous notion in Jesus' own words:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

With salty language, Jesus plainly said He did not come to bring peace to this world. Instead, He came to bring a dividing sword. The writer of Hebrews referred to that sword when he said: "The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The sword Jesus brought to this world is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The razor-sharp edge of that sword is the powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:16), and the Gospel of Jesus does not unify this world—it divides it.

The Gospel Divides Universally

Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth." Not long before Jesus made this statement, He had sent out His disciples, declaring them to be apostles to preach, heal and cast out demons. He also warned them about the price they would pay for serving Him—being arrested, imprisoned and even killed. Some of them would be betrayed and delivered to hostile authorities by their own families.

Jesus went on to say, "Nevertheless, do not fear any man. Men only have the power to kill your body. Instead, fear God because He alone has the power to destroy not only your physical body, but also your soul in hell."

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