Posts Tagged 'cross of christ'



THE CROSS OF CHRIST, PART 4

The Purpose of the Cross

[Jesus Christ]…who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father… (Galatians 1:4)

The Cross of Christ finds its foreshadow in the Old Testament thousands of years before its reality in the New Testament. During the great Day of Atonement in Israel, the high priest would sprinkle all the vessels of the Tabernacle with blood, showing that it was now possible for all the people to enjoy the blessings which they represented. This ancient foreshadow is reflected in something Paul wrote to the Romans:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Thanks to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, everything we need for life and godliness is now available to us. Even before His sacrifice, Jesus tried to clue His followers in, not that they grasped this great truth when they heard it:

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:8)

All that “asking and receiving,” “seeking and finding,” and all those “open doors” are made possible to the believer because of the Cross of Christ. But beyond what Jesus said in the Gospels, there are some very special benefits, blessings, and privileges bought by the Blood of Christ, and what follows are some of them.

1. Christ bought our freedom from all wickedness, Titus 2:14

…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

“Wickedness,” or “iniquity” in the KJV, is both passive and and active. It’s passive in that it’s a state of being every sinner lives in. It’s active in the obvious sense that a wicked person commits wicked acts. One without Christ is wicked and he can’t help but commit wicked acts. It is from that life and from those acts that Blood of Christ delivers. To be redeemed from “all wickedness” is be set free from everything that blocks the redeemed sinner from becoming like the One who died for his sins.

It’s not enough to simply have your sins forgiven, but your whole life has to change: motives and attitudes, tempers and personalities that blur God’s plan for our lives must be changed. The Blood of Christ has purchased the whole man, therefore the whole man changes.

For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. (2 Corinthians 5:16, JBP)

2. Christ died to bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:18

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit…

The purpose for what happened on the Cross of Christ was not only to deliver us from wickedness, but to bring us to God.

No, you have been allowed to approach the true Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have drawn near to the countless angelic army, the great assembly of Heaven and the Church of the first-born whose names are written above. You have drawn near to God, the judge of all, to the souls of good men made perfect, and to Jesus, mediator of a new agreement, to the cleansing of blood which tells a better story than the age-old sacrifice of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22—24)

Count the number of times “you have drawn near” is written in those verses! What a blessing it is to “brought near” to God, not as a criminal, but as Blood-bought child of God.

But how, exactly, does the Blood of Christ do this?

  • When we come to Christ, we also come to know God personally, in a way that was not possible in our old lives. The promised Holy Spirit leads us into all truth concerning our Heavenly Father. We are able to experience God’s love, mercy, and grace like never before. The death of the Son of God reveals God to those who love Him.

  • The Cross of Christ brings us into God’s favor. We have been reconciled to God through the shed blood Jesus.

  • Through His death, we are able to become like Christ; we have been made “partakers of the divine nature.”

  • Thanks to the finished work of Christ, we are able at last to enjoy full, unfettered fellowship with God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. God’s abiding presence may be enjoyed all the time by believers.

3. Christ died to secure our adoption, Galatians 4:4—5

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Not only does God consider us to be His children by adoption, but—and this is the exciting part—all the privileges of God’s children have been purchased for us by the work of Christ. God becomes our Father when our sins are forgiven, the guilt and stain of those sins purged from us and when we place our full faith and confidence in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. At that moment, we become part of God’s great family, joint heirs with the Son of God. Because we are children of God, we are able to call God “our Father,” and we know that He hears us as any father would hear children.

4. Christ died for us to rescue us from this present age, Galatians 1:4

who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age…

Ours is a great heritage, thanks to the work of Christ. And yet, while we are living in the flesh—living in this world with sin and wickedness all around us—we continue to be exposed to the filth and corruption that characterizes this fallen society and world. Where it not for the continuous work of the Holy Spirit in us, we would be sucked right back into our former sinful state. One of the results of Christ’s death is the wonderful blessing of being “insulated” from the wickedness that swirls all around us. We have our Lord’s promise on this:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15)

That’s right, we may be protected from sin’s nefarious influence when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Remember, the three Hebrews who were tossed into the fiery furnace? God didn’t keep them out of the furnace, but He kept the fire from touching them. We will always be delivered as we look to the Cross of Christ.

5. Christ died that we might live for God, 2 Corinthians 5:15

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Here is a benefit of the Cross of Christ a lot Christians never take the time to think about. Christ died so that might be rescued from the awful condition of being self-centered. In Christ, we’re not supposed to be living for ourselves, but for God. The state of the average Christian’s life demonstrates that they don’t know this truth. Christ suffered for us, showing us how we are to live. The fact is, there is not a single born again believer who has the right to live as he pleases.

...you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Notice: God did something for us, now we are to do something in return. He won’t force us to live for Him; He wants us to come to that realization ourselves. Living for Him is something we are to consciously do, each and every day. It has been made possible by the Coiss, but our efforts make it reality.

6. Christ died so that we would receive the Holy Spirit, Galatians 3:13—14

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Jesus Christ purchased our freedom from the curse of the law so that we could receive the promised Holy Spirit. This truth has prompted some scholars to conclude that, in a way, true Pentecost happened at Calvary. The infinite power of the Holy Spirit is ours through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11 KJV)

Nobody can receive the Holy Spirit until they have been redeemed by Christ who was a curse for us. The Blood of Christ must first cleanse the heart before the Holy Spirit can take up residence there.

7. Christ died so that He might become the Lord of both the living and the dead, Romans 14:9

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Jesus Christ humbled Himself to the very lowest so that God could exalt Him to the very highest. Jesus Christ made Himself of “no reputation” and is now crowned “Lord of all!” And He redeemed us so that He might become the Lord of our lives.

For he gave himself for us all, that he might rescue us from all our evil ways and make for himself a people of his own, clean and pure, with our hearts set upon living a life that is good. (Titus 2:14 JBP)

Being Lord of all, Jesus Christ has all power in Heaven and on Earth. He is more than able to be your Lord in every sense of the word. Do you think there is any situation in your life that He cannot straighten out? Is there any anxiety you might be experiencing that He cannot change? Is your depression so deep that Jesus Christ can’t reach down and pull you up out of it? If Jesus Christ is your redeemer, then He must also be your Lord. And as your Lord, He owns you—all of you. He has an interest in you. Let the Lord of your life take care of you. Stop trying to do it all yourself. Learn how to submit to Him. It’s time for believers to let the Lord, their redeemer, take His rightful and permanent place on the throne of their  hearts. Only when that happens, will the Kingdom become real in your life, and His will be done.

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:10)

THE CROSS OF CHRIST, PART 3

From “The Passion of the Christ”

THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. (Colossians 1:13—20, JBP)

These are among the most powerful verses in the Bible concerning the Cross of Christ, but it is verse 20 that drives home the reality that God’s plan for man all hinged, not so much on the death of Christ, but of His shed blood.

1. What’s the big deal about Christ’s blood?

This is not an uncommon question asked by modern Christians. We are not used to talking about blood, and we are especially not used to thinking about bleeding out as being a good thing. So, at the very beginning of this message, we must distinguish the blood of Christ which was shed on the Cross from the blood shed on every other cross. It is true that a lot of good men and women have been martyred for their faith; the blood of uncounted thousands of Christians has been shed over the centuries, all over the world, for the cause of Christ. However, no amount of blood shed by the martyrs can atone for a single sin in God’s sight. We sing hymns about that “old rugged cross,” but our focus shouldn’t be on the Cross as much as it should be on the blood that stains it. The Son of God was nailed to His Cross, and as He hung there in His complete human holiness and His divine dignity, glory, and honor, He allowed His precious blood to pour out from His Body for the sake of those who crucified Him.

The Bible declares that “the life is in the blood,” therefore we know that when Jesus Christ allowed His Blood to flow out of His Body, He was allowing His life—His very soul—to leave His person so as to touch others. The shedding of His blood was the pouring out of God’s infinite wealth of holiness and purity, of love and compassion for sinful man.

These words are so easily said but they are very difficult to grasp with our finite minds. The Son of God gave Himself for us. We struggle to understand the eternal implications of that statement, realizing that only God is able to fully understand and appreciate the value of Christ’s Blood. All we can do is accept His sacrifice and rejoice.

2. What did Christ’s blood do for me?

The short answer to that is that Christ’s blood saved you. But what does that really mean? Theologically speaking, it goes like this:

The Blood of Christ is the foundation upon which God is able to righteously justify you, the ungodly.

Or, as we might put  it in everyday language, when Christ’s Blood flowed, so did God’s saving mercy and grace flow, having the potential to touch and save every single human being.

Looking a little closer, we may notice precisely what the Blood of Christ did for you:

Propitiation

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

This idea of “propitiation” and “atonement” goes back to the early chapters of Genesis, when God covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve with the skins of slaughtered animals. Now, with the death of His Son, there is a suitable covering for every sinner who names Christ as Savior. This covering, which is available to every child of Adam, is made possible by the shed Blood of Christ. Proverbs 28:13 teaches us that one who “covers his own sins does not prosper.” Indeed, no man-made covering can hide your sins from God! There’s not a single a sinner who is able to “clean up his act,” so as to make himself acceptable to God. Only God’s sacrifice in Christ can do this.

Redemption

The shed Blood of Jesus Christ is not only a covering for sin, bit it is a ransom paid for the sinner. 1 Peter 1:18—

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

And Paul told Titus this:

…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

Redemption is a key doctrine of the Christian Church, because without it, there would be no Church! Read carefully this powerful verse:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

The Church exists because of the Blood of Jesus Christ! And for the individual member of the Church, there is this eye-opener:

You have been bought, and at what a price! Therefore bring glory to God both in your body and your spirit, for they both belong to him. (1 Corinthians 6:20, JBP)

You do not belong to yourself! The Christian belongs to the One purchased him: God the Father, with the Blood of Jesus Christ. Sin is not just a debt, it is also a crime against God, for which Christ was made a curse. His Blood, then, not only paid the debt of sin but it eliminated it to redeem the sinner from sin. The price was Himself.

Jesus didn’t need to do that; Jesus was not entangled by sin in any way. He owed sin nothing. Jesus did what He did for you, the one unable to do it for himself. You have been given a chance at complete freedom from sin! The price has been paid!

Forgiveness

The Blood of Christ not only covered your sin and purchased your freedom from sin, but it also provides forgiveness of sins!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace… (Ephesians 1:7)

Jesus Christ came to earth—He was manifested in the flesh—for the purpose of taking away our sins. He bore our sins in His Body on the Cross and suffered the fate of all sinners to secure the forgiveness of YOUR sins. He had none Himself; He took care of yours. We are told that “the wages of sin is death” and Jesus suffered a death reserved for the sinner so that the sinner could avoid it. It only makes sense that if our sins are forgiven and the price paid, then sin does NOT own us any more. Sin has absolutely NO claim on the believer because the “sin debt” was paid off by Jesus and we stand completely forgiven.

How great is this forgiveness? How free is this forgiveness? Completely, because is it is based on the the riches of God’s grace. And because those riches never end, neither does His grace.

Cleansing

Our sins are covered, our ransom paid, we are forgiven and we are cleansed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. So great and unlimited is the power of that Blood, even the defilement caused by sin is taken care of.

In the Old Testament, we read of a very elaborate sacrificial system that was in place that served to foreshadow the Blood of Christ. The Jewish sacrificial system was complicated, it was burdensome, it meant the terrible deaths of unnumbered bulls, goats, and birds, yet it was completely ineffective. But it did show how impossible it is for any sacrifice short of God’s Son to cleanse the sinner from the stench of his sin.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

While we live in the light of God’s presence, the always effective Blood of Christ keeps purging away the slightest taints of sin that would mar our fellowship with other believers.

Peace

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation… (Colossians 1:21—22)

This is a very special peace; it is not peace we make with God, but rather it is a God-made peace. The eternal struggle between sinful man and his holy God finally came to an end on the Cross of Christ. With our sins covered, atonement made, forgiveness secured, and the stains of sin washed away, God has made it possible for us to be at peace with Him.

As the Bible declares, “He is our peace!” This is peace that is real; it is not an enforced peace, or a “do as I say” peace. The Cross of Christ is the manifestation of God’s “peace plan” for the human race.

Nearness

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

It’s hard for us to realize how awful sin is. It is not only bad behavior or an “uncleanness” that makes us unfit to be in God’s presences, but sin is also outright rebellion against God, and this rebellion literally “pushes” people away from Him. But, thanks to the Cross of Christ, His shed Blood actually reverses that outward momentum away from God. It’s the love of sin that repels a person away from God, but it is love for Jesus Christ that draws him closer. How can a right-thinking human being NOT love the Man who literally saved his soul? To have fellowship with the Son of God is to be close to God, but to be in fellowship with sin is to be drawn closer to death.

This could well be the most overlooked and under-appreciated result of the Cross of Christ. We, as believers, are so used to the presence of God in our lives that we forget what life was like before we were brought near to Him! What a precious thing nearness to God is.

Liberty

Liberty is something so many people are looking for, but true liberty is only available to the Christian through the Blood of Jesus Christ. True liberty isn’t what most people think it is:

Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. (Hebrews 10:18—21)

True liberty has nothing to do with the freedom to do and act as you please, rather, it is the liberty to enter into God’s holy presence. This is the greatest privilege afforded a human being—to enter into the most Holy Place and stand in the presence of Almighty God. This liberty of access is the greatest result of Christ’s shed Blood, for by the Blood of Jesus the guilt of our sin has been removed and the pollution of sin cleansed from the soul, making us fit for God’s presence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

Have you taken full advantage of the liberty you have in Christ? Or are you still living as though were a slave? Learn to live in the liberty procured for you by Christ. Remember that those who confidently approach God also confidently work for Him.

You have been set free. Live like it.

THE CROSS OF CHRIST, PART 2


THE DEATH OF THE CROSS

 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8

The death of Christ is the overriding theme of the New Testament, so much so that it is directly mentioned 175 times. But even more significant is the fact that without exception every single doctrine of the Bible, every bit of theology from Genesis to Revelation, somehow comes back to the reality of the Cross of Christ. The truth is, the Cross and the Christ are One; they cannot be separated for they are quite literally nailed together. You can’t about Jesus without eventually getting around to His Cross, and you can’t talk about the Cross without talking about the Man hanging on it. And this is the way it should be! We ought to not only appreciate the Cross of Christ, but we ought to glory in it, for the grace that was poured out on sinful man by way of the Cross has put away sin once and for all and eliminated the enmity of the human heart. It might be more proper to say that the death of the Cross wasn’t the death of the Messiah, for He did rise again. The death of the Cross was the utter annihilation of sin as the barrier between God and man, and the death of death as the wages of sin. The death of the Cross involves four points:

1. It was a shameful death

Crucifixion was the worst death possible; a death reserved for the lowest of the low. Whether it was for murder or robbery, the one condemned to this awful death was made a spectacle; stripped naked in front of everybody, nailed to a rough-hewn cross and hoisted up, where he hung for hours and sometimes days, waiting to die a very public, humiliating death. Jesus Christ, the One who never sinned, was “numbered with the transgressors,” and treated as bad or worse than the worst kind of criminal.

When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, “Let’s not tear it up. Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This confirmed the Scripture that said, “They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat.” (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!) (John 19:23-24, MSG)

It’s hard to imagine an innocent human being subjected to such inhuman humiliation, and yet Jesus was, and He took it!

For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)

To be crucified – to be strung up on a tree as Jesus was – was to be considered cursed by both Heaven and Earth. Jesus Christ bore the sin and suffered the shame; the two cannot be separated. The question we must all ask ourselves is a simple, but hard one: Are we so ashamed of our sins that we have stopped putting our Lord to shame?

…if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:6)

Christians do it all the time, though we seldom admit it. We sin and we embarrass our Lord because we forget that we are His ambassadors; what we do reflects on His character. Or we live like we are ashamed of Him! That might be deepest cut of all: being ashamed of the One who suffered the painful and shameful death on the Cross for us so that we might be spared the guilt of sin and the agony of eternal shame. How, in good conscience, can we ever be ashamed of Someone who would do that for us? Yet, many of us do it routinely, without even giving it a second thought.

2. It was a voluntary death

What Jesus did He did because He chose to do so; He knew His Father’s will because it was written in His heart. We sometimes forget this, but Jesus was not murdered by the Romans or the Jews or anybody else. Of course, that’s what it looked like, even the apostles acknowledged this. But we must always remember that at the Cross, Jesus was never the victim; He was always in complete charge of what was going on.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17, 18)

Jesus Christ was no martyr, in the traditional sense. Certainly many people have given their lives for the cause of Christ, but nobody ever took back their lives! He was the only One! He was the One who was able to say with complete confidence:

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)

This was not the statement of a prophet or a good man who was willing to suffer and die for the cause. The very fact that Jesus Christ was able to take back His life gave infinite value to His death. That’s why He was no martyr. His resurrection is what gave weight and meaning to His death. Good men die all the time for good causes, but only One man came back, just as He promised He would. Everything Jesus did, from His life to His death to His Resurrection was done because He alone chose to. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of a free man. And yet His freedom was grounded in His obedience to His Father’s will; we must never lose sight of this. In complete freedom, Jesus did what He did for you:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

3. It was the predicted death

The death of Christ was THE predicted death. The death of the Son of God was not a contingency plan in God’s mind because Adam and Eve sinned. It was not some plan cobbled together at the last minute. 1 Peter 1:20 says in no uncertain terms that Jesus “was chosen before the creation of the world.” At the very foundation of the universe, the Son of God knew what His fate would be. His death was the very purpose of the Incarnation. Throughout the Old Testament, we read the things that Moses, David, and the prophets wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, concerning the coming of Christ and of His fate. The death of Jesus was THE predicted death; it was no secret; it was obvious for those who had ears to hear. When Peter was defending himself before the religious leaders, men who knew what their own prophets had written, he made this clear:

But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. (Acts 3:18)

This predicted death, which culminated in the resurrection and eventual glorification of Christ, was the singular event around which the world revolves. It is such a significant, never-to-be-repeated event, it’s strange that so many Christians take it for granted. What’s worse is that we don’t appreciate the wonderful intricacies of God’s great plan of redemption. We may excuse the young, immature believer because he’s ignorant, but surely the mature, Biblically literate believer should praise the Lord for God’s perfect plan. But even folks in Jesus’ day were taken by surprise:

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)

Let’s never grow so comfortable and used to our faith that we forget to be eternally grateful for the wonder of John 3:16!

4. It was a substitutionary death

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus Christ gave His life in place of ours, thus setting us free from sin, the guilt of sin, and its ensuing punishment.

…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

There are dozens of verses that teach us about Christ’s substitutionary death, but none so graphically as a handful of verses in Isaiah:

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering… (Isaiah 53:4-10, verse 10a cited)

The death of the Son of God in place of the sinner is God’s absolute, only, final, and irrevocable plan for dealing with man’s sin problem. The Old Testament sacrificial system couldn’t accomplish this. No amount of good intentions, good deeds, and positive thinking can accomplish this. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the last image God sees of your sins. Jeremiah 31:34:

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Your sin – your life of sin – is something so awful to behold, God cannot and will not look at you until you have dealt with that sin problem. Your conundrum is this: there is nothing you can do about it on your own! The fact is God cannot and He will not accept any other solution to your sin problem besides than His. His is the perfect solution. Only His Son, Jesus Christ, is capable of lifting your sins off of you and flinging them into an eternal pit, never to be seen again. This is the offer every man gets from God: Let me help you! The price of your soul is covered by His.

The Lord makes his life a guilt offering. (Isaiah 53:10)

THE CROSS OF CHRIST, PART ONE

THE WORD OF THE CROSS

The heart of Christianity is the Bible. The heart of the Bible is the Cross. The heart of the Cross is the heart of God. (James Smith)

The heart of God is a heart that is full of compassion for the one who is lost and living without hope. When we think about God’s concern for those living without Him, our minds go immediately to a verse of Scripture almost every Christian knows by heart:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Imagine the depths of love that compelled the Heavenly Father to offer His Son in atonement for our sin and guilt. The Cross is, at the same time, the most glorious and the most awful object ever seen by angels or men. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us what the Cross is all about:

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.

The “message of the cross” isn’t found in any single verse of Scripture, but throughout the fullness of God’s Word. This is why so many Christians don’t really understand the true “message of the cross.” It’s simply because they’ve never really heard it. Modern preaching has so fragmented it that, at best, the average church-goer has only heard bits and pieces of the great “message of the cross.” Even at that, there isn’t a Christian anywhere in the world who doesn’t grasp the eternal significance of the Cross of Christ. They may not grasp it in its entirety, but what they do know has resulted in their salvation. Such is the awesome power of the Cross!

It is a sign that you are perishing if you cannot see the infinite wisdom and power of God on display in the Cross of Jesus Christ. God’s word concerning the Cross is God’s message of love and grace to us through the Cross.

Let’s look at God’s word concerning the Cross and what that great word means to us today.

1. Holiness and sin

One message of the Cross is God’s own opinion concerning holiness and sin; that is to say, the holiness of the Son of God who suffered on the Cross and the utter wickedness of sin for which He suffered. The true wickedness of sin is revealed in what Jesus said out it John 8:34—

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

What an awful thing sin is! It seduces you, tricks you into becoming your friend, then it never, ever lets you go. James, the earthly brother of Jesus, understood all about sin:

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:15)

Back to John 3, after stating bluntly that sinners are enslaved by sin, Jesus poses a question a few verses later:

Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? (John 8:46)

Jesus’ teaching on sin is plain: sin and slavery are inexorably linked. No human being can be free if they are not free from sin. The only free people are those who have placed their full faith and trust in Christ; who have broken the hold sin had on them.

However, Jesus Christ was completely sinless—He was guilty of no sin—for if He had slipped but a single time, He would not have been fit to be the Messiah; He would have been in the grip of sin. But our Lord knew what His mission was and He remained unfettered and out of sin’s grip.

Jesus Christ was holy, harmless, completely separate from sinners, even while living among them, revealing the invisible God to them. Thanks to the Cross of Christ, we are given a clear picture of our Heavenly Father’s love for sinful man. The holiness of God and the sinfulness of man collided on the Cross, in the Body of Jesus Christ. In the Cross, we see God at His best and man at his worst. Even while the vilest of sinners plotted to crucify Christ, our Lord bore their sins in His body.

But that is the only time holiness and sin have met together in one Person. The truth is, darkness cannot exist in the light. The unrenewed spirit of a man cannot have any fellowship with God on any level. The Word of the Cross is the word of victory because the holiness of Christ crushed the sinfulness of man.

2. Love and sacrifice

John 3:16 tells us that God gave His only son to save the lost. God gave His Son with no expectation that He would escape His death on the Cross. God the Father had no hope of saving sinful man apart from the awful death of His Son. Therefore, man has no hope of salvation without the Cross.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

God loved us so much that He offered His Son’s life in exchange for the ours. Imagine that kind of love! And the Son of God, loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice Himself as an offering for us. Remember what Jesus taught:
the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

The message of the Cross is not only a message of holiness and sin, but also a message of love and sacrifice.

…Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

Only God the Father could love us so much as to give His one and only Son over to the terrible death on the Cross to save them. Only God the Son could love us so much that even while we were still enslaved to sin; even while were were still His sworn enemies, He offered Himself as the prefect sacrifice for our souls.

As one scholar has observed:

The sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the irrefutable proof and expression of the intensity of the love of God.

3. Righteousness and peace

There is aberrant theology that has been floating around since the days of the early church that teaches the redemption price offered by Christ was paid to Satan in order to free the souls of man. However, Satan has never had the right to any soul. In fact, we are told in Scripture that Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice to God. The Cross, then, contrasts the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, stands for love and sacrifice, but it also makes possible peace with God through righteousness.

...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:20)

The requirements of righteousness are infinite, and they are met only by the infinite value of the life and blood of Jesus Christ, who Himself is infinite.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13, 14)

Before Christ, everything stood between us and God and everything stood against us. The work of Christ took it all away! Every single thing that stopped us from approaching God, summed up in one word: unrighteousness, was taken to the Cross and removed from us as far as the east is from the west. Because our unrighteousness has been taken away and replaced by His righteousness, we are now completely free to approach God without any fear.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalm 85:10)

On the Cross, righteousness and peace have met!

by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:15, 16)

There was no other way to make peace between God and man except by way of the Cross. Only Christ’s righteousness could accomplish this. There is no other way for any human being to be at complete peace with God except through the Cross of Christ.

4. Salvation and power

When we began this study, we quoted Colossians 1:18. Refer briefly back to that verse:

For the message of the cross … is the power of God.

The Cross is a magnificent symbol of God’s power to save. All who believe in what was accomplished on the Cross and all who understand the message of the Cross, are conscious of the saving power of God.

In the Old Testament, during the Passover, the Israelites were safe only as long as they remained in a house whose door posts had been sprinkled by the blood of the lamb. Similarly, as Christians we are safe only as long as we live within the shadow of the blood-sprinkled Cross of Christ. At the Cross Jesus gave His life for ours, so we must lose our lives in that same Cross if we are to truly live for Him.

The word of the Cross is the word of salvation to all who believe. It’s the way to a new life in Jesus Christ. The Cross is God’s instrument by which any sinner may be made a new person. There is not a sinner anywhere in the world who is beyond the shadow of the Cross. Anywhere and everywhere to anyone is available the power of the Cross.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The only way to experience new life in Christ, is by way of the Cross. The Word of the Cross makes no sense to those who are already dying. But to those who are looking for hope and purpose and salvation, the Cross is the power of God.


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