Moving the Pulpit From Mt. Sinai To Golgotha!

By: Åge M. Åleskjær
From: June 2009
Found in: The Gospel of Grace The old versus the new covenant
Let us make sure we share the message with our feet firmly planted on Golgotha.

The Gospel is good news to all men. It is of vital importance that we keep it as pure and simple as it really is, so that we may reach ordinary people with the good news. My question to you as a minister is, “From which pulpit are you sharing – Mt. Sinai or Golgotha?” Let us make sure that we share the message with our feet firmly planted on Golgotha! In this article I’m explaining what that means.

The essential difference

“But now we are delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Rom. 7:6)

There is an essential difference between “the oldness of the letter” versus “the newness of Spirit.” The oldness of the letter is all about commandments and requirements. Some commandments said: “You shall…,” but most said: “You shall not….” The newness of Spirit is based upon a life that comes from within! This is such a dramatic difference, even though the result is that “the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us.” (Rom. 8:4) The way we fulfill the Law is of vital importance. That is the essential difference I want to show you - the difference in nature. We are preaching about a salvation and a sanctification that are totally dependent on Christ and founded on His completed work. There is no room for works and self-effort. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” (Eph. 2:8-10).

The pulpit for “the oldness of the letter” is Mt. Sinai where the Law was given. The pulpit for “the newness of Spirit” is Golgotha where Jesus was given as a sacrifice for sin.

Religious rules and human tradition have no place in the Gospel

Ever since I was called, at a young age, to teach the Gospel, I have realized that as Christians we have a tendency to bring a lot of bondage, religious rules and human traditions into the Christian life. These are burdens which are not a part of true Christianity as Christ intended it to be. What we have shared is a mixture of Law and Gospel, which has made people think that Christianity is a religion based on works and human performance.

There is a yoke upon Christianity around the world today, and this yoke has made us ineffective in our mission.

There is a yoke upon Christianity around the world today, and this yoke has made us ineffective in our mission. We have succeeded in “putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples,” even though the early Christians solemnly agreed not to do so! (Acts. 15:10) In the apostolic meeting in Jerusalem they agreed that the Mosaic Law, with its rules and regulations, did not apply to the New Testament Church. The converted were to experience the life and liberty in Christ, and have Christ as their Lord, Master and Head. All life should flow from Christ to them, and He should be their only source of life and godliness.

However, bondage tried to creep into the churches in Galatia. Even though the apostle Paul at that time was able to put things straight, new generations of Christians have experienced that same bondage attempting to influence them. I myself was pulled into the same flow of thoughts and traditional views both in the traditional evangelical denomination that I used to belong to, in the Pentecostal-Charismatic traditions, and finally in the traditions of the so-called Faith movement. I want you to understand that I am thankful for many things I learned through these movements, and I am thankful to ministers there. The grief in my heart that I am sharing with you is the grief of the yoke that has been creeping in on us, the yoke of man-made rules and traditions.

These traditions often create struggle and performance anxiety in people’s lives.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees and told them that they were annulling the Word of God because of their own rules and traditions. The same phenomenon is still occurring today, and it is robbing Christians of the liberty that Jesus provided for us in the redemption. These traditions often create struggle and performance anxiety in people’s lives. In many ways it becomes a gospel for the gifted and energetic, and then it produces losers who fail to live up to the standards which man’s religion of works continues to impose.

The apostle Paul warns us against those who “pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Gal. 1:7) My great concern is that often it is a perverted view of the Gospel that ripples into the non-Christian community causing the Gospel to sound like “bad” news rather than “good” news.

Believing I had to struggle to please God

I grew up in a traditional evangelical denomination that had a clear definition of grace. That has helped me to come to the clarity I now rejoice in. But at the same time there would be a lot of religious rules that made Christianity appear as a straitjacket to the outsiders. The pietistic environment that I grew up in was extremely strict. Among many other things, the law of keeping the Sunday holy included restricting the use of scissors or going fishing on a Sunday. Doing those things on a Sunday was considered sin! Later I joined the Pentecostal and the Charismatic circles; in some areas the struggle was actually worse. At that time, there were a lot of rules on dress code - for example, that women should have long hair and cover their heads. We were also instructed to abstain from certain types of food and drink. These rules were new to me, as we did not have them in the denomination I came from. I was not aware that eating black pudding was sin, or that the ladies needed to have long hair and a hat to please God. But I soon conformed to the rules. There were also certain requirements in order for you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. You had to be at a certain level of holiness, and be capable of seeking and praying enough. I was energetic and threw myself into it with great zeal, feeling that I was being productive and useful to God. However, as strange as it would seem, it did not happen until I realized that Jesus had made everything ready for me a long time ago.

It is by grace through faith

I had to come to the end of my own struggling before the miracle could happen—by grace through faith! Later I read Galatians 3 and noticed that the apostle Paul was writing about the same thing. It is not only salvation that we receive by grace through faith; we also receive the Spirit without works, just by hearing and believing - by grace (Eph. 2:8-9).

Burdens Jesus already carried
The “Faith Movement” had some of the same phenomenon when it came to struggling with performance Christianity, but in different areas. There the struggle was found in the areas of prayer, warfare against devils and demons, and struggling to have more faith. Many pastors were also striving because of the focus on church growth.

the ministry of condemnation belongs to the Old Covenant. I have given you the ministry of righteousness, the ministry of reconciliation and the ministry of the Spirit

You know, the invitation of Jesus is still valid, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30, NLT, emphasis added.)

God revised my outlines

Let me share a life changing encounter with God that happened to me in the Seventies. At the time I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and I was eager to preach about faith. I realized that “all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) So I tried to preach about faith, and I was frustrated about the attitude Christians had towards the Word of Faith.

I had been taught to be the kind of revivalist who tries the best he can to give as many as possible as much guilt as possible, and then invite them to the altar. Seemingly, this kind of meeting gave a lot of results, and sometimes most of the congregation responded to the altar call. It was after such a meeting, where I had rebuked the congregation because of their lack of faith, that the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “This is not preaching the Word of Faith. This is the ministry of condemnation!”

I was shocked! In my opinion I had been preaching faith. However, the Lord showed me that the only thing preaching like that would create was condemnation; people motivated by guilt and shame. He said to me, “The Word of Faith creates faith! However, this kind of preaching creates condemnation, and the ministry of condemnation belongs to the Old Covenant. I have given you the ministry of righteousness, the ministry of reconciliation and the ministry of the Spirit.” (See 2 Cor. 3:6-11.)

T.L. Osborn says, “You can not preach the good news mad, you can only preach the good news glad!”

Then He guided me through my teaching outlines, and I had to throw away more than half of them, including my special sermon, “You Cannot Fool God.” For me that was tough! However, it was after this revising that the turning point in my ministry came. I used to be a mad preacher, but now I am a glad preacher! T.L. Osborn says, “You can not preach the good news mad, you can only preach the good news glad!”

Moving the Pulpit from Sinai to Golgotha

My first encounter with Dr. David Yonggi Cho was in a meeting in Norway in 1981. He is the founder and pastor of “Yoido Full Gospel Church” in South Korea. This is the largest church in the world. Dr. Yonggi Cho told us about how he had visited a classmate from Bible school who experienced stagnation and decrease in the number of church members. Dr. Cho was experiencing growth and increase, and so this friend had invited Dr. Cho to help. Dr. Cho preached a liberating message about how Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law. People were set free and became happy and many received salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, and healing.

Dr. Cho noticed, however, that his friend was not content. The more glorious the meeting was, the grumpier he became! Subsequently, his reaction came. He responded saying something like this: “You shouldn’t preach like that to this congregation! I know them. They need to be rebuked. They need to understand how things ought to be! Every Sunday I chastise and admonish them, because that’s what they need.”

He guided me through my teaching outlines, and I had to throw away more than half of them, including my special sermon, “You Cannot Fool God.

”That’s when Dr. Yonggi Cho said the liberating words that are the title of this article: “You have to move the pulpit from Mt. Sinai to Golgotha!” In other words, move from where the Law was given to where grace was given. He explained it in more detail saying: “Even a dog knows better and would start to eat at the neighbor’s if it would be hit in the head every time it came to eat!”

Imagine how many churches, chapels and assembly rooms are almost empty, simply because the message has “hit people in the head.”  They have heard phrases like these: “What we need is…,” “If we only had been more…,” “As for myself I know…,” “I’ve received a word that has become so serious to me….”

The whole atmosphere has been that of Mt. Sinai! If it has not been “blackness and darkness and tempest” (Heb. 12:18), it surely has been rules and regulations and requirements - “You shall” and “You shall not!”

The newness of Spirit and Golgotha

In fact, it is quite possible to bring the oldness of the letter into the Christian life, so that even the Christian life becomes full of rules, regulations and requirements: “You have to read and pray. You have to tell others about Jesus. You have to attend church services, etc.” The newness of the Spirit, fulfills all these expectations, but it happens through the power of the inner life, and not through outward requirements.

In other words, move from where the Law was given to where grace was given.

Because “the oldness of the letter” has been permitted to survive, Christianity has become a religion of works, just like any other religion. But our faith is futile and of no value without the living Christ who has been raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:14-20). All our faith is based upon the new man who was created when Christ rose from the dead. Inasmuch as we died to sin and were raised with Him, we now live a new life (Rom. 6:1-11). It is all based on the work that took place on Golgotha, and all we are to share is based upon that finished work. We share about a new nature that is part of “the newness of Spirit,” and we leave “the oldness of the letter” alone on Mt. Sinai.

By: Åge M. Åleskjær

Former Senior Pastor at Oslo Christian Center, now spending most of his time ministering all over Norway and internationally.

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