Why do you suppose sin hardens man’s heart to the claims of Christ and to the truth of the Gospel? And why are so many people deceived into believing that the central doctrine of the Christian faith is a foolish message?
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The word “power” in the original language of the New Testament is the Greek word dunamis, from which we get the English word “dynamite.” The message of the cross is spiritual dynamite for those who are saved by God’s grace through faith in the Savior.
And this is why Paul was compelled to spread the message of the Gospel. He wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power (dynamite) of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
In fact, the Gospel contains more power than a nuclear bomb. How so? Well, earthly weapons lack the force necessary to save a single soul, or transform even one person into a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Only God’s spiritual dynamite has that kind of power.
Paul wrote, “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
We know about mass “Roman crucifixions through the writings of Cicero, Plautus, Seneca, Tacitus and Plutarch.” When Spartacus led a slave rebellion in 73-71 BC, Marcus Crassus ordered “approximately 6000 slaves to be crucified.”
And while those 6,000 crucifixions are clearly part of the historical record, not a single one of those agonizing deaths has the power to convert souls. Your acceptance or rejection of the Spartacus Revolt as a historical event will not wash away even one of your sins.
The crucifixion of Jesus, on the other hand, has the power of God “to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). When a person looks to the cross with the eyes of faith, God performs the miracle of spiritual conversion (see John 3:5-8). You cannot work your way into Heaven or into God’s good graces, but you can believe your way into it.
Imagine that! You can actually believe your way into Heaven!
Jesus preached, “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). What is the good news Jesus invites people to believe? It is summed up in what has been called the golden text of the Bible. In John 3:16, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
Placing your faith in someone’s death may not seem to you like the correct way to obtain eternal salvation. And yet God’s Word reveals that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, redeemed, justified, born again and forgiven. God’s spiritual dynamite has the power to detonate your resistance to the Gospel, as well as your natural determination to attempt to save your soul by your own efforts.
Self-reliance is an enemy of the Gospel. You will never gain eternal life by relying upon your works and your righteous acts. Those things are incapable of saving your soul. After all, “If righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:22).
God’s spiritual dynamite is unleashed in your soul the moment you combine faith with the message of the Gospel. Faith involves embracing the good news personally and believing that Jesus Christ died in your place for your eternal salvation. Faith rests upon Christ’s finished work on the cross.
In the words of a well-known hymn written by Edward Mote in 1834, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand: all other ground is sinking sand.”
God’s spiritual dynamite can turn a deliberate sinner into a sanctified servant of the Most High God. The Gospel is able to explode a person’s unbelief and create belief in the good news.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The message of the cross is by far the most potent message in the entire Universe.
If you desire to see lost sinners become children of God, pray for them to be saved and then give them the Gospel. While some of them will reject it, others will gladly accept it. Paul experienced this dichotomy firsthand: “Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe” (Acts 20:24).
A persistent rejection of the good news results in man hardening his heart to the Gospel. And no man is powerful enough to break through his own hardened heart and get to God. The Holy Spirit, however, can break through and bring sinners to repentance and faith in the Gospel. Therefore, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:7).
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
What is your response to the Gospel? Acceptance, or rejection?
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
The Gospel message has the power to save your soul, but you will not benefit from God’s spiritual dynamite if you harden your heart by refusing to believe the good news.
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Well, do you?
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.