A clear proclamation of the gospel is inherently offensive:
The gospel, by telling us Jesus died for us, is also really insulting. It tells us that we are so wicked that only the death of the Son of God could save us. This offends the modern cult of self-expression and the popular belief in the innate goodness of humanity.
John Piper made a similar point in his book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. The death of Christ does not prove our worth; it proves our lack of worth:
I have heard it said, “God didn’t die for frogs. So he was responding to our value as humans.” This turns grace on its head. We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They aren’t bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay for it.
“We are worse off than frogs.” That’s an insult, and until you can gladly embrace it, you cannot be saved. The unflattering truth, the truth that we often try to avoid, is that we are the ones who have grievously insulted God by our sin and selfish disregard of Him.
But the death of Christ for our sins isn’t just an insult; it’s a lifeline. In fact, it’s not just a lifeline, it’s the only lifeline there is.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber… I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” – John 10:1, 9
Make no mistake. The gospel, the death of Christ for our sins, is a jarring insult, but it’s also bursting with a tender mercy that can snatch us from the jaws of the very hell we deserve. In the end, there are only two possibilities. The death of Christ will either offend us and seal our condemnation, or it will completely conquer our proud, self-satisfied hearts, and save us. There is no third option.