In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 God says that “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him [Christ] everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). We as Christians are the sweet perfume of Christ to a world that does not know Him. Like a flower sends off its perfume, we send off the fragrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for all, that all might be saved through Him. Can you imagine that? We smell like Jesus’ sacrifice. Can you smell it? God does!
The word “a sweet smell” (vs. 15) is broken down into two words in the Greek: the word eu, and ozo. The word eu we find in our word eulogy, which in Greek means to bless. So, the word eu by itself carries the meaning of being “good, noble”. The word ozo on the other hand means “to smell, to emit an odor,” especially concerning a corpse that stinks. What can then be gathered from us being the “sweet smell of Christ” means that we smell like His sacrifice. The passage goes on to say in verse 16 that this sweet smell is the offensive foul stench of death for those who do not want to be saved by Jesus. However, for those who are being saved, Jesus’ sacrifice is the sweet-smelling fragrance of life.
In verse 14 another word is also used concerning our fragrance, and that is the word “aroma” osme, meaning, “to emit an odor whether good or bad.” This same word is used in the Song of Solomon for fragrant oils and fragrant blossoms (SoS 1:3, 2:13). Thus, the sacrifice of Christ does not stink like death to us or to God, but rather, is fragrant like living blossoms, fragrant anointing oils, and even our modern perfume/cologne.
Thus, the undiluted fragrance of who He is as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the resurrected savior, soon and coming King, the ONLY Way, the ONLY Truth, and the ONLY Life, is spread everywhere through us to those who are being saved and to those who are not, and this amazing fact is noble and sweet smelling to God.
However, something foul is occurring in the Body of Christ today. Flies have landed in our fine perfume, and there they have wallowed and died. As they lie there in the perfect oil that was once sweet and lovely, their dead bodies fester and the stench of their death mingles with the sweetness, creating a putrid smell. Indeed, “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor,” (Ecclesiastes 10:1). What folly is this that is outweighing wisdom? What foolishness is this that is polluting honor? What filth is this that has corrupted Christ’s sweet perfume?
Though Billy Graham has time and again said it right (https://youtu.be/VWv1jiWC4b0), on May 31, 1997 he addressed a question posited by Robert Schuler regarding the future of Christianity by stating, “I think everybody who loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they’re conscience of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And that’s what God is doing today. He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world or the Buddhist world or the Christian world or the non-believing world; they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their heart that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think that they are saved, and they are going to be with us in heaven.” Schuler was delighted with that statement and remarked, “there is a wideness in God’s mercy.” And Graham responded, “There is,” thus agreeing that the way of salvation is wide and not narrow.
Then, when being interviewed by Larry King, Graham responded to a question regarding the salvation of Muslims and Jews who don’t believe in Jesus, by saying, “That’s in God’s hands. I can’t be their judge.” When asked by King about preachers who tell those who don’t believe in Jesus that they are going to hell and “are forceful and judgmental” Graham responds, “They have a right to say that. And they are true to a certain extent, but that’s not my calling. My calling is to preach the love of God, the forgiveness of God….that’s what the cross is all about…that’s the Gospel. And you can get off on all kinds of different side trails….in my earlier ministry I did the same. But as I got older, I guess I became more mellow, and more forgiving and more loving” (youtube video “Billy Graham Denies Jesus!” https://youtu.be/-gtR8rp4ozw).
Billy Graham is not the only major minister of the Gospel who believes that Jesus is not the only way and that he cannot judge hearts. When Larry King asked Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America (Erica Hill of CNN Prime News, youtube, “Joel Osteen Denies Jesus Christ and Oprah Winfrey Exposed” https://youtu.be/weEWI52wevl), if it’s possible for a Jew or Muslim to go to heaven, Osteen remarked, “I’m very carefully about saying who would or wouldn’t go to heaven…I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong” (youtube video, “Joel Osteen: Gays Get Into Heaven” https://youtu.be/B4i-00c32J4 ) He goes on to say that “I spent a lot of time in India with my father, and you know, I don’t know all about their religion, but I know they love God, and I don’t know, I’ve seen their sincerity. I don’t know” (youtube video, “Joel Osteen: Gays Get Into Heaven” https://youtu.be/B4i-00c32J4 ). A lady caller from Phoenix, Arizona then called in on the Larry King Show to first of all thank Joel Osteen for his positive message but goes on to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Osteen at first agrees with this, until Larry King questions him. It is then that Osteen said, “I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know, I don’t know. Only God can look at somebody’s heart. I don’t know, to me it’s not my business to say, ‘this one is or this one isn’t’ I just say here’s what the Bible teaches. And I want to put my faith in Christ. I just think it’s wrong when we go around saying, ‘you’re not going…because it’s not exactly my way.” He says he doesn’t see another’s “way” as wrong but he would “present his way” to one who does not believe in Jesus as the only way to heaven, but then “let God be the judge of that. I don’t know. I don’t know.” Even when it comes to atheists, Osteen says that God will determine if they are going to hell or not (youtube video, “Joel Osteen Denies Jesus” https://youtu.be/ihnGEV-q1gw ).
Osteen, in an interview with Chris Wallace, says that to him Mormons are Christians. Though he also admits to not knowing a lot about Mormonism, when they say they believe in Christ as savior that’s enough for him. He doesn’t want to judge the “little details of it” (youtube video, “Joel Osteen Denies the Gospel (Embraces Mormonism) https://youtu.be/_FNvNhq-brs). Furthermore, Osteen was honored to have Oprah Winfrey appear at his church and had his entire church applaud her. Later she asks in an interview, “So here’s the big question. Are there many paths to get to the one god?” And Osteen responds, “Well, I believe, Orpah, that there, that Jesus is the way to the one god, but I believe there are many paths to Jesus. You don’t know how Jesus will reveal himself to somebody” (youtube video: “Joel Osteen: Gays Get Into Heaven” https://youtu.be/B4i-00c32J4).
This little bit of foolishness has marred the honor and wisdom of these leaders. What has happened in them that they can deny Jesus as the ONLY way for ALL? This is a stinking dead fly in the ointment of the Gospel. This is the stench rising from what used to be a sweet-smelling savor unto God. Let us not corrupt the sweet fragrance of Christ’s sacrifice and offering to God for us (Ephesians 5:2). May we not water down the Gospel with talk of “many paths to Jesus”. May we not see the truth as a “side trail”. May we not pollute the Gospel with thoughts that people of any religion can “turn to the only light that they have” and be saved. It is ONLY through Jesus’ name that all MUST be saved (Acts 4:11-12). It is ONLY through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are reconciled to God and offered eternal life (I Corinthians 15:13-19). It is ONLY through blood that there is forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25a). Jesus said and is still saying, “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…Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” (John 10:1, 7, 9a); “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).