I see and hear often a phrase, that is supposed to be encouraging or motivational: “Jesus died so you don’t have to”. This statement says, Christ died so that we don’t have to die. By saying this, we believe that we take out the “ugly”, uncomfortable idea of death from the message of salvation, so that we can attract into our “churches” the masses who found that message too scary. We put bumper stickers with this message and we have made it our campaign. But does this actually make it easier for people to be saved?
We need to notice that this kind of message is an altered version of the original call to repentance that was uttered from the Old Testament times, to John the Baptist, to Jesus, to the apostles, to the original Church. The original message was just “Repent, believe in the name of Jesus, and be saved”. The Lord Himself said something that sounded very cruel for people to “stomach”: “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53, KJV). That was when the religious people of that time sought to kill him. He caused a scandal! Who can stand to hear such a message? It is too cruel, too ugly! There must be some other way to say those things, without becoming gory! This is exactly how today’s “church” thinks. “How are we going to add souls to our attendance, if we tell them they will have to die? Who can stand to hear such things? There must be some other way to say those things. Aha, that’s it! We can tell them that Christ died so they don’t have to!” And we go out, spreading the “message of salvation” to the masses.
Death, not a popular or easy issue to talk about. Yet the New Testament is full of it. The Old Testament is also replete with death, as a shadow of the spiritual things that were to come. And if we were to write a brief summary of the New Testament teachings, we would be left with a text whose central message would be the death of the “old man”, the flesh, the nature that got corrupted during the fall from God’s glory in the garden of Eden. The death by crucifixion is something that is a must, if anyone is to be saved. It is a cruel, shameful, “cruel and unusual” death that we MUST go through, if we are to be united with Christ in His glory. So, we need to do away with such “easy, walk on the red carpet” messages that not only prevent souls from being saved, but also nullify the entire work of Christ on the cross. I would rephrase that saying to this: “Christ died so you will know how to”. A crossless call is the wide way that leads to perdition; the straight and narrow way always makes a big deal of the death by crucifixion that leads to eternal life.