Friday, February 15, 2008
Why is The Preaching of The Cross Important?
The Missing Message In The Modern Church...
Phil 2:8 (NIV) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!
Mark 8:34-38 (NAS) And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
Luke 9:23 (KJV) And he said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
The Full Gospel
1 Cor 15:1-4 (Wey) But let me recall to you, brethren, the Good News [the gospel] which I brought you, which you accepted, and on which you are standing, through which also you are obtaining salvation, if you bear in mind the words in which I proclaimed it--unless indeed your faith has been unreal from the very first. For I repeated to you the all-important fact which also I had been taught, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that He was buried; that He rose to life again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Luke 24:7 (NIV) "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again."
Mat 16:24 (KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
But That's Condemning, Brother!
1 Cor 2:2 (Phi) ...It was my determination to concentrate entirely on Jesus Christ himself and the fact of his death upon the cross.
A.W. Tozer: "The old cross is a symbol of death. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again in newness of life. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It always stands at the far side of the cross."
God Has Passed Sentence On The Carnal Man. Will We Agree?
Before God can give us new life "in Christ", we must participate in His death. God will not tolerate sin in the long run, so the carnal man is condemned. To be condemned is to be sentenced to death. While we all know this (what the "wages of sin" are) we'd just as soon not hear any more about it. It's sounds so negative! How are we going to attract people with this kind of offensive stuff? Let's skip straight to the encouraging part and mis-apply all the Scriptures to our flesh, instead of allowing the Spirit to be born in us through the condemning message of the gospel.
Rom 8:1,3 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man...
Those who are resistant to the gospel often quote the "no condemnation" part of the above verses, not reading on to how this is achieved: by "condemning sin in sinful man". The only way we can be "in Christ Jesus" is by experientially participating in His death, daily, so that we might receive new life.
2 Cor 1:9 (Wey) ...We had, as we still have, the sentence of death within our own selves, in order that our confidence may rely, not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead to life.
2 Cor 2:15-16 (NKJ) For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life...
Rom 8:1,3 (NRS) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For... to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.
A.W. Tozer: "Why do we build our churches upon human flesh? For we teach men not to die with Christ but to live in the strength of their dying manhood... If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it."
Save Yourself! Come Down Off That Cross... And We Will Believe!
Mat 27:40 (NIV) [the mockers to Jesus at the Crucifixion:] "...Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
Mat 27:42 (NIV) "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him."
Gal 6:12 (NAS) Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Luke 14:27 (Phi) "The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple."
Condemnation: Now Or Later?
Whenever God manifests himself to sinful man through the Holy Spirit, it means condemnation for the flesh. If we will quit squirming off the alter, there is new life offered--after death. The only way the Spirit can come alive in us--is through us agreeing with God's "death sentence" (what condemnation means) on our sinful nature now, rather than later.
Mark 8:35 (NAS) "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it."
1 Cor 11:31-32 (Phi) If we were closely to examine ourselves beforehand, we should avoid the judgment of God. But when God does judge us, he disciplines us as his own sons, that we not be involved in the general condemnation of the world.
A.W. Tozer: "There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross of judgment."
Phil 3:18-19 (Phi) For there are many, of whom I have told you before and tell you again now, even with tears, whose lives make them the enemies of the cross of Christ. These men are heading for utter destruction--their god is their own appetite, they glory in their shame, and this world is the limit of their horizon.
The Old Rugged Cross Versus The New "Nerf Cross"
A.W. Tozer: "All unannounced, and almost undetected, there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles... The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. The new cross, if understood aright, is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure.
"That this world is a playground rather than a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians. They are facing both ways, enjoying Christ and the world too."
Mark 15:30 (NKJ) [the mockers] "Save Yourself, and come down from the cross!"
Following Christ, Or A New "Un-Condemning" Gospel?
A.W. Tozer: "The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect... Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name... We want to be saved but we insist Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility."
John 12:48 (NIV) "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day."
Luke 24:25-26 (Wey) [Jesus:] "O dull-witted men," He replied, "with minds so slow to believe all that the Prophets have spoken! Was there not a necessity for the Christ thus to suffer, and then enter into His glory?"
Want To Know The Future?
The prophetic fact is, if we will not agree with God's sentence of condemnation to all that is sin within us now, then we will be condemned eternally later. We must choose the pain of temporary condemnation now, or permanent eternal condemnation later. If you want to save your life--you will lose it.
God has told us the end from the beginning, and the way to Him. It is the way of the cross. "Follow me" Jesus says, and He proved it worked. This is the gospel as we have received it, and we have been warned not to change or alter it. There is no other way to eternal life. God "encourages" us to participate with Him in a life of condemnation to all that is carnal. He promises new life--a very encouraging message, but only through death, a very condemning message.
Mat 23:33 (NIV) "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?"
The ultimate prophecy about any of us is that we are either headed to heaven or hell. Will we continue to despise (1 Thes 5:19) the most personal of prophecies--that we are going to be eternally condemned if we continue to refuse the temporarily condemning message of the Gospel now? Will we continue to collect to ourselves teachers who "are not condemning" to our flesh? Will we reject the Spirit of prophecy, the Spirit of Jesus, telling us the truth--that condemnation is now or later, temporary or permanent? Who then will save us? Who then will be our advocate?
Luke 6:46 (NKJ) "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?"
Mark 8:34 (NAS) And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Mat 10:38 (NIV) "And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
A.W. Tozer: "The man who is crucified is facing only one direction... He [cannot] look back. The crucified man on the cross is looking only one direction and that is the direction of God, and Christ and the Holy Ghost... The man on the cross... has no further plans of his own... Somebody else made his plans for him, and when they nailed him up there all his plans disappeared... When you go out to die on the cross you bid good-bye--you are not going back!
"If we would preach more of this and stop trying to make the Christian life so easy it's contemptible--we would have more converts that would last. Get a man converted who knows that if he joins Jesus Christ he's finished, and that while he's going to come up and live anew, as far as this world is concerned he is not going back--then you have a real Christian indeed."
1 Pet 4:1 (Phi) Since Christ suffered physical pain you must arm yourselves with the same inner conviction that he had. To be free from sin means bodily suffering.
Been There, Done That?
Having been made holy by participating with Christ unto death, by accepting God's condemnation of sin in us now, we are included "in Christ" and will escape God's eternal condemnation. But are we holy yet? Have we been through the whole treatment? Or are we deluding ourselves that we are completely "in Christ" while still partially "in the flesh"?
1 Jn 3:5-6 (NIV) ...In him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Rom 6:5-8 (NIV) If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
A.W. Tozer: "Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God's face, that vision which has been the light of the earth and will be the completeness of heaven."
Through The Cross...
Gal 6:14 (NIV) May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Rom 5:16,18 (Wey) And it is not with the gift as it was with the results of one individual's sin; for the judgment which one individual provoked resulted in condemnation, whereas the free gift after a multitude of transgressions results in acquittal... It follows then that just as the result of a single transgression is a condemnation which extends to the whole race, so also the result of a single decree of righteousness is a life-giving acquittal which extends to the whole race.
Gal 2:20 (Wey) I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me; and the life which I now live in the body I live through faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up to death on my behalf.
Gal 5:24 (NIV) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
A.W. Tozer: "The man who takes his cross and follows Christ will soon find that his direction is away from the sepulcher. Death is behind him and joyous and increasing life before."
2 Cor 13:4 (NIV) For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him...
John 5:24 (NIV) "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
Heb 12:2 (Phi) Let us run the race we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and goal of our faith. 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.
1 Cor 1:18 (Phi) The preaching of the cross is, I know, nonsense to those who are involved in this dying world, but to us who are being saved from that death it is nothing less than the power of God.
Ray Stedman On The Cross:
"[Crosses] had only one purpose... to bring an end to an evil man! Those who were crucified had no life in this world beyond that point... This is what God does with evil people: he puts them to death. Thus, in the cross of Christ, God took all that we are in Adam, all our natural life with its dreams and hopes and resources and brought it to a crashing end by the dying of Jesus.
"I must clearly understand that it is not up to me to put this natural life to death... I am only expected to agree with the rightness of that execution and stop trying to make it "live" again before God... Thus when I cease trying to justify myself and excuse the activities of the flesh and agree with God that it is rightfully under sentence of death, then I ...'carry in my body the dying of Jesus.'
"If I welcome the cross and see that it has already put to death the flesh... then I find myself able to say no to its cry for expression. [We must] agree with the implications of the cross in terms of actual experience.
2 Tim 2:11 (NKJ) This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.
"Throughout Scriptures the order never varies. First death, then life. Death [leads to] resurrection. When we consent to death, then the life of Jesus can flow unhindered from us. It is never the other way. We cannot claim resurrection life first, and then by means of that put the flesh to death. We must first bow to the cross, then God will effect the resurrection.
"The key to experiencing the life of Jesus is our willingness to accept the implications of his death. We will not discover the glory of the treasure and power within us until we are ready to accept in practical terms the result of the dying of Jesus."
Luke 24:25-26 (NIV) 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 9:23 (NAS) ..."Follow Me."