- [1 Cor 1:23-24] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
- [1 Cor 1:18] For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
- [Eph 2:16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
- [Col 1:20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
- [Gal 2:20] I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
What is the greatest, most significant event in the history of the universe?
The Big Bang?
The appearance of God Almighty in human flesh at Bethlehem?
As momentous as these were, they cannot equal what happened on that cross atop Mount Calvary about 30 AD. During those three hours from noon to 3 pm, while darkness shrouded the whole earth, the sinless Lamb of God bore the crushing weight of the sins of the world. [Psa 85:10] ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other’. It was the transaction of the ages, ordained from eternity past. The Lord Jesus Christ was the ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’
Imagine the interest of the angelic hosts as they gazed upon the scene! Holy messengers of God on one side of the conflict, and fallen angels on the other. I wonder when the powers of darkness first realized the mistake they had made. I Cor 2:8 says that if any of the ‘princes of this world’ had known the consequences, they would not have slain the Lord of Glory. Because that transaction sealed their doom, as it provided redemption for mankind. [Col 2:14-15] ‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross]’. It was not just the crucifixion that made the cross the triumph that it was, however, but also the resurrection from the grave that followed. That was the proof of God’s satisfaction with the sacrifice, the provision of a living Savior, and the basis of the Christian’s hope of a new glorified body
The diagram shows that for the believer who stands firmly on the truth of the gospel, the cross is a fence between him and the enemies on the right. But one must understand the facts before he can appropriate all the benefits of the cross. Many people wear ornamental replicas of the cross. It is not ornaments, but the facts -- and faith in the facts -- that provide deliverance from the curse of the enemies listed in the picture. That’s why when Paul went to Corinth, he was determined to preach nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. So what are the important truths regarding the cross?
The most basic fact is that the Lord ‘bore our sins in his own body on the tree’ (1 Pet 2:24). Last week someone told me that Jesus died only to provide an example of a sacrificial life. It’s unfortunate that so many have that misunderstanding. The Word of God plainly says: [Rom 5:10] ‘...we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son...’, and [Rom 3:24-25a] ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood’. A propitiation -- it satisfied the righteousness and justice of a holy God -- so that God’s righteousness and forgiveness, His mercy and truth, could coexist (Psa 85:10). As the hymn below says, ‘O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!’
Justification removed the guilt of sin, the first item listed in the diagram, from all that have trusted in the Lord Jesus. But the removal of the guilt did not remove the power of sin. The source of sin had to be dealt with also. Here’s how -- crucifixion (our crucifixion): [Rom 6:6] ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin’. Note that Paul emphasized that we need to know the truth in order for it to do us any good. We need to know that we were identified with the Lord in His death. Then by faith we can appropriate the value of the cross in breaking the power of sin.
The next thing that the cross sets us free from is the law: [Rom 7:4] ‘Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God’. When we died with the Lord Jesus on the cross, we died with Him to the bondage of the law. We are now joined to the Lord, and free from the law, praise God!
We already saw above that on the cross the Lord ‘spoiled powers and principalities, making a show of them openly’, but here is another verse that shows how the cross broke the power of the devil: [Heb 2:14] ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil’.
The last enemy listed in the diagram is the world. Paul said, [Gal 6:14] ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world’. It is a shame that so few Christians have that testimony; that the world is crucified to them, and them to the world. We should follow Paul’s example. I get a lot of flak from Christians for not approving of their love of worldly amusements. But can you imagine Paul, to whom the world was crucified, sitting down for an afternoon to watch a football game? No one could accuse C A Coates of legalism, but he minced no words about this:
Alas! my friends, there are thousands in the spiritual Israel today who are not Nazarites; carnal believers who have never seen the Lord in glory or known the power of His cross, and whose joys are earthly and not heavenly. I only mention them to warn you that if you mean, through grace, to be a Nazarite, their example must be no standard for you. Professing Christians today are ready to drink every drop of the wine of earthly pleasure that they can get. They are ready to eat the whole vine -- kernel, and husks, and all.
The strait-laced legality of Puritan times has given place to a corrupt taste for pleasure and amusement, which is being gratified to the full by a sickly, effeminate, and unfaithful church, so that there is hardly any form of earthly or worldly pleasure which is not indulged in by professed people of God. My brethren, if you are set for the Lord, you will very soon find out that you cannot go to a cricket or football match, to a dramatic or musical entertainment, or to a worldly party, and that you cannot read light or fictitious literature, without defiling the head of your consecration.
If you indulge in such things you will find that they destroy your appetite for the Word of God, they take away your liberty in prayer, they bring a shade upon your spiritual joy, and very soon -- unless you repent -- they will deprive you of all power to be a living witness for Christ... There are many things, which could not be pronounced sinful, from which a thoroughly devoted heart would hold itself aloof.
Paul enjoined his disciple, Timothy, to: [2 Tim 2:3,4] ‘therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier’. And a greater than Paul said, [Luke 9:23-24] ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it’.
Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.
O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.
There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.
Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.