THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (I Cor. 1:18).
“The Message of the Cross is the foundational doctrine of all doctrines” is a statement that I’m sure you have heard any number of times from any one of our ministers here at Family Worship Center and over Sonlife Broadcasting Network. However, it’s more than just a statement; it is, in fact, the truth. The Message of the Cross is the foundation upon which all other biblical doctrines are built, and without it, there is nothing but error. This is why we need to ask this question, Is your church preaching the Message of the Cross?
The Message of the Cross is more than just a phrase or a missions statement; it’s a way of life. As a believer, there is only one way that you can live a life that is pleasing to God and, at the same time, enjoy more abundant life, and that is through the means of the finished work of Christ. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God, but the question must be asked, where, or in what, do we place our faith? The answer is found in I Corinthians 1:18. In looking at this verse, we must ask two questions: What is the gospel and how is the Cross the power of God?
I can remember sitting in the den of my grandparents’ home many years ago when the subject matter of the Cross came up. I was still trying to learn the Message of the Cross, and I had some questions regarding it. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to ask my grandfather these particular questions. The answers that were given to me that evening set me on a course of a better understanding of the Cross that has impacted my life in a great way.
In the course of the conversation, the subject matter came up of “What is the gospel?” Of course, growing up in church, I thought I could give the right answer to that question, but it was something in the way that my grandfather explained it that gave the meaning new light. He said, “The gospel is the Cross of Christ, and the Cross of Christ is the gospel.” He meant that without the Cross, there is no gospel, for the Cross is the central theme of the entirety of the Bible. Without the crucifixion of Christ, Christianity is nothing more than a unexciting philosophy, and it is no different than the conjurations of the voodoo priests deep in the heart of the jungle. However, with it, something has been done that no other religion can do: It has brought salvation to the lost and has brought joy and peace to the oppressed. It has brought healing to the sick and lame and restoration to the broken. The Cross has done more for humanity than any other religion, and it is the only thing that will. That’s why it is important to preach the Cross, for the Cross is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
THE POWER OF GOD
The second question that is being posed is, how is the Cross of Christ the power of God? To answer that question, we must first look at sin, and what sin can do. Sin is something that is devastatingly powerful and is Satan’s legal right to hold lost humanity captive. Sin can break up a family. It can tear a person down and cause him to do something that is totally out of his character. Sin can destroy a life. It is a powerful entity—one we are all born with—and it brings death to whatever it touches. Sin can cause unspeakable heartache in the life of the unbeliever and the believer, and it does not discriminate. It is a powerful force with which man must deal; therefore, many think that they can deal with the problem of sin on their own. They try many different methods to overcome their problems, only to learn the hard way that there is nothing that they can do to stop this deadly force.
Now enters the Cross of Christ. There is no power in a wooden beam, but rather what Christ accomplished there. When Jesus Christ paid the price for sin by dying upon a cruel Cross, He atoned for all sin—past, present, and future—for all who will simply believe. As sin was Satan’s legal right to enslave mankind, the Cross provided a way of escape for anyone who would simply have faith in Christ and what He accomplished at the Cross. With all sin being atoned, Satan loses that legal right to keep anyone in sinful chains.
There are millions of people around the world who have yet to take advantage of God’s redemption plan because of lack of knowledge, meaning that they have never heard the gospel, or they simply don’t believe. They are slaves to sin and to Satan because they don’t realize what the Cross can do in their hearts and lives, which is bring liberation and freedom such as they have never known before. As well, there are millions of Christians who are trapped in sin, and they don’t know or understand how to be free. This means that they have failed to take advantage of God’s prescribed order of victory, which is the Cross of Christ. It was at Calvary where Jesus Christ paid the price to free the sinner and the saint from sin and to break the power of sin in our daily lives. As it has been stated any number of times, Jesus Christ died not only to save us from sin, but to break the grip of sin in our everyday lives.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Getting back to the question at hand, the power resides not in a wooden beam but the person of the Holy Spirit. We must understand that the Holy Spirit, who is God, works entirely through the confines of the Cross of Christ (Rom. 8:2). In fact, He cannot work through any other means or method. Let’s say it this way: The Cross of Christ (what Christ accomplished there) has given the Holy Spirit the latitude to work in our lives in the way that He sees fit, to take out the bad and to put in the good. This has to do with our sanctification, which means our everyday life.
We all know that after we come to Christ, we are not yet in a perfected state—far from it. There is a lot of work that needs to be done inside of us to make us into the image of Christ. This process of sanctification begins at our initial salvation experience and ends when we go to glory, whether through the rapture or death. It’s the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to bring our state up to our standing.
Everything done on this planet, and everything that has ever been done on this planet, with the exception of the first advent of Christ, has been done by and through the person, power, office work, and agency of the Holy Spirit. Before the Cross, the sacrificial system was in place; however, it could not take away sin, for the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin but could only cover sin. As a result, the Holy Spirit could not personally come in and dwell in the life of a believer. He could come upon one to help him regarding a certain task, but once that task was completed, He would have to remove Himself from that person. However, now that the Cross has become a fact, and the sin debt is no longer a question, the Holy Spirit can officially come in and take up residence inside of the heart and life of every believer (John 14:17).
The Holy Spirit is much more than having a prayer language (the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues), and He does more than just take up space in our lives (regeneration). He comes in to help us be what we ought to be in Christ. If we fail to grasp how the Holy Spirit works, then we will continue to live a roller coaster Christian existence—one that is constantly up and down. We have to understand that we are facing powers that are greater than what we have at our disposal in the natural. We are facing the literal powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12), and we have to have the help of the Holy Spirit to bring about the victory that is so desperately needed. This means that you as a believer can live a life of total and complete victory over the powers of darkness if you can properly grasp God’s prescribed order of victory. All victory comes through the means of the Cross of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, but is there anything else?
FAITH IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR
Yes, there is! It is faith. All of this takes simple childlike faith on the part of the believer. At the very moment that faith in Christ and the Cross is engaged, that believer is now functioning according to God’s prescribed order of victory. Think of it this way: With Christ paying the price for all sin, don’t you think He wants to give us access to all that He has provided? He does, and the way we access this is through simple faith. The Bible tells us that without faith, it’s not just improbable, but it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). If our faith is anchored in something else entirely, then we cannot access the blessings for which He has provided.
People ask me all of the time about the part that they play regarding their sanctification. The answer is very simple: The only part that we play as believers in our daily walk with the Lord is to simply believe. That’s it, and that’s all. There is nothing else required of us. We don’t have to work, labor, toil, or struggle to live right. Rather, we must believe in what Christ has accomplished for us, which then gives the Holy Spirit the ability to work in our lives in the way that He desires. Everything else must be laid aside, for everything else will not and cannot take the place of the Cross and the Holy Spirit.
Granted, Satan does not like it when a Christian begins to look to the Cross exclusively for his sanctification, and he will stop at nothing to sway one away from the Cross to something else. However, as Paul told us, we need to daily fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12), which means to daily keep our eyes on Christ and the Cross. As well, this is the only fight wherein we are told to engage. It is the good fight of faith. It will be a fight for us to daily look unto the finished work of Christ, but it’s a fight that has enormous benefits, with victory being the main one.
While a person can be saved without having a proper understanding of the Cross of Christ, which should be obvious, a believer cannot walk in victory unless his faith is anchored exclusively in Christ and the Cross. He will try, and he will fail, but the key to all of this is faith—believing that what Christ accomplished at the Cross was enough not only to save us, but to free us from sin. For us believers to live a life of constant victory, we must understand God’s prescribed order of victory. That simply means that Christ is the source of all blessing, the Cross is the means by which we receive these blessings, faith is the key that unlocks the door, and the Holy Spirit oversees it all. That’s it, and that’s all.
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