A Misunderstanding Of The Cross Of Christ, Part I
“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” (Lk. 9:23).
A Misunderstanding Of The Cross Of Christ, Part I
The Message of the Cross is the single greatest word found in the world today. In fact, it is the single greatest doctrine found in the entirety of the Word of God, and it is the foundational doctrine upon which all other biblical doctrines are built.
It has been said, and rightfully so, that the greatest phrase ever uttered by human lips is the phrase, “Jesus died for me,” and thank God that He did. However, many Christians do not quite understand what we mean when we refer to the Cross of Christ. They have no concept of what that phrase really means regarding our everyday life and living. In this article, we are going to look at just a few misconceptions that many Christians have regarding the Cross of Christ.
A WOODEN BEAM
The first thing that I would like to address is the erroneous thought that when we talk about the Cross, we are referring to a simple wooden beam—the beam on which Jesus Christ was crucified. No! When we speak of the Cross, we are not speaking of a wooden beam. In fact, I have made the following statement any number of times: If an archeological team began excavating a patch of land in or near Jerusalem and just happened to stumble upon a piece of a Cross, and it was verified that it was the Cross on which Jesus died, there would be no power in that wooden beam whatsoever. No doubt, it would be put on display and worshipped by many; however, that would not change the facts.
Please understand that when we speak or preach about the Cross, we are never speaking of a wooden beam. Rather, we are speaking of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us there on Calvary’s Cross. There is no power in a wooden beam, but there is power in the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively through the means of the Cross (we will deal with this a little later).
The realization is that what Christ accomplished on the Cross was totally and completely for us. This means that He did not die for Himself, and neither did He die for the Father, but rather He died for us. As well, when He died, He atoned for all sin—past, present, and future—for all who will simply believe.
THE CROSS IS A LEGAL WORK
We must understand that the Cross was a legal work, and it satisfied a legal debt that man owed to God (a debt, incidentally, that man could not pay). This means that no matter how much of his own doing that man chooses to offer before God, God cannot and will not accept it. This goes all the way back to Cain and Abel.
When Cain offered sacrifices before God, he offered that of his own making—the fruits of his own labor—which God rejected, and rejected outright. No matter how much Cain put into the planning of this sacrifice, God could not honor it because of the fact that it was of his own doing. God can never honor anything of our own doing. The reason is that it negates the very sacrifice of Christ, which Abel’s offering represented.
The difference in the brothers’ sacrificial offerings was that Abel offered what God had required—a lamb of the first flock, one without spot, wrinkle, or sickness. He offered this as a sacrifice unto God, which God accepted. The reason God accepted Abel’s sacrifice was that his offering typified the soon coming Redeemer, namely Christ, and looked toward the price that He would pay at Calvary’s Cross, all on our behalf. It was Abel saying that he was totally unworthy of anything that God had, so he placed his trust in a sacrificial offering, which covered his sin.
We must understand that sin is the legal right that Satan has to hold man in captivity. The only freedom that man can have from this terrible monster is through the death of Jesus Christ, which all of the sacrifices represented.
BEARING OUR CROSS MEANS SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
The second misconception of the Cross is found in the idea of suffering. Satan has done a very good job of causing believers to have a total misunderstanding of the words of Christ when He said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily.”
Many have taken these words to mean suffering. They believe that to follow this command, it will entail much suffering and agony. It doesn’t mean that! Not in the slightest does it refer to our suffering.
Yes, Christ suffered such extreme pain and agony that we do not have the proper vocabulary to describe the amount of pain that was inflicted upon our Saviour. Thankfully, He suffered this for us.
Yes, we do suffer, for every single one of us will experience events in life that are completely unfair and trying. We will go through times in this life when we feel that we cannot handle another day. We suffer sickness, disease, divorce, death, and failure. In fact, the list can go on forever. However, take solace in the fact that our God knows everything that we will ever go through, and He has promised that He will never put upon us more than what we can bear (I Cor. 10:13).
While we as Christians may suffer heartbreaking events in life, we must understand that suffering to obtain the blessings of God is not found in Scripture. To take up the Cross and follow Christ means that we are to place our faith totally in Christ and what Christ did at the Cross and leave it there. We are to understand that it was the Cross that provided all that we will ever need from God, and the only way to access this is to simply believe it.
The key to all victory and blessing is faith in Christ and the Cross and that alone! If we do not understand this great truth, then we cannot have or experience these great blessings of God.
A SIMPLE GUIDELINE TO GOD’S WAY
A simple way of understanding this is the following:
· The only way to God is through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6).
· The only way to Christ is through the Cross (Lk. 14:27).
· The only way to the Cross is a denial of self (Lk. 9:23).
The above formula is a simple, yet meaningful way to explain the Cross as being God’s way. However, if we choose to ignore God’s way, then we cannot and will not be able to claim to be a follower of Christ. This is true no matter whom the person might be.
GETTING PAST THE CROSS
This next misconception reeks of self-righteousness, and I will do my best to gauge my words carefully. Ever since my grandfather began teaching the Message of the Cross over television, radio, and the Internet, we have received all sorts of emails from people claiming, “We already know all there is to know about the Cross. Let’s move on to something else.”
Those words are full of self-righteousness. The fact of the matter is that the Cross is a never-ending subject, and it's a subject that cannot be exhausted. For someone to say that he knows all he needs to know about the Cross is simply foolish.
As stated, the Cross of Christ is the single greatest message on the face of the planet, and it is the only way that man can approach a thrice-holy God. Without the Cross, man is left to his own devices, which will always lead to ruin and destruction, for everything that man touches turns to death. Without the intervention of God through the giving of His only begotten Son, man would spend eternity in hell.
On the flip side of that coin, if the Cross was only good for our salvation and nothing else, then how could we live a Christian life that is pleasing to the Lord? We couldn’t. All we would have to rely upon would be our own personal efforts, which is exactly what the self-righteous mean when they say that they know everything there is to know about the Cross.
This article will be continued in the April issue of The Evangelist.
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