Monday, November 19, 2007

The Cross Is a Radical Thing
a call to live the crucified life-boldly & unashamedly

An Encore Presentation

To listen to this song, click the flashing play button at the end of the information bar. I have chosen the song, "Could I Be Called a Christian" that perfectly compliments this article - The Cross is a Radical Thing. This song is from the CD "Consider the Cost" which was inspired after reading a book by my friend, Dr. John MacArthur, called, "The Gospel According to Jesus." I wrote this CD as a musical trac (which I call "sound" doctrine) so others could proclaim the gospel plainly and biblically using music as a powerful tool for evangelism. You can download the entire CD at AudienceONE by simply clicking on the CD picture link in the left hand column of this blog. As always, our policy is that any of our ministry resources can be obtained for whatever you can afford; and if you can't afford anything you may receive it free of charge.

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" -Galatians 2:20.

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most unprecedented event in human history. In Jesus' day it was the most excruciating, painful, horrific way of death known to man. It was usually reserved for the worst of criminals who had committed the most inhumane of crimes. The Roman roads were silhouetted with literally thousands of crosses that bore not only those outlaws, but ultimately the precious martyred bodies of the faithful for God.

A. W. Tozer brings this authenticity of the cross to vivid truth when he says, "We must do something about the cross and one of two things only we can - flee it or die upon it! The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts worst sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations." Sin had to be destroyed. Death had to be conquered. The only way to eternal life is for the Old Adam to die - to be crucified with Christ. To follow Jesus meant hardship, persecution, almost certain death.

When Jesus called for all His true disciples to "deny [themselves], take up [their] cross, and follow Him" (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:26f), He was not offering a suggestion but issuing a command. He was calling for the death of the old life, the old man, the old nature... the death of self (Romans 6:6). The crowd pleasers and thrill seekers of His time quickly dismissed any notion of giving up all to follow Him. They wanted an easier way - a broader road that they thought would lead to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).

Nowhere in any of the gospels did our Lord Jesus say, "If any man wishes to be my disciple let him slip up his hand and put it down quietly." That would be easy; no cross. The simple truth is this: happiness is convenient, but holiness costs. He does not want our hands raised beloved, but our lives surrendered.

Every true believer of the Lord Jesus Christ will know four realities of the cross: 1. the nakedness of the cross; 2. the loneliness of the cross; 3. the humiliation of the cross; and 4. the glory of the cross.

There is a nakedness to the cross.
We must be stripped of all confidence in our flesh; consider our lives to be bankrupt of any goodness that could add one additional work to our salvation. We must come destitute, broken, stripped of all fleshly religious boasting and as the hymn writer has instructed to sy, "nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Your cross I cling." (Phil. 3:3-12).

There is a loneliness to the cross.
We must come alone to Christ; not carrying our parents cross, not our neighbors cross, not our friends cross, nor our brothers or sisters or spouse's cross, but our cross. We must follow Jesus even if all others deny Him, reject Him, turn away from Him, and scorn Him (Luke 14:26-28; Matthew 10:34-39; 16:24-26).

There is a humiliation to the cross.
Pride is the most deadly of all sins; religious pride intensifies this depravity a hundred fold. Pride in ourselves, in our good works, in our abilities, in our own righteousness, must be crucified with Christ. We must be humbled under the weight of our sin and come as beggars pleading for His mercy; realizing that no church system, no religious practice, no ceremony or feast day, no indulgence from any church, no works of any kind can save us or add to our salvation (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10-12, 6:6; Matthew 5:3,20).

Lastly, there is a glory to the cross.
The cross was not tragedy--but triumph. What man viewed in horror and shame, God viewed as victory. For now man once alienated by sin, has been brought into peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Christ's death on the cross was a substitution for you and me. He died in our place. He accomplished what man and all his religious good works could never do and that was to satisfy the wrath, justice, righteousness and holiness of God once for all. It took an unblemished Lamb; a perfect High Priest; and a sinless life lived. All of those things were present only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Dr. MacArthur is profound when he says, "Every sin, ever committed, by everyone that would ever believe was imputed or credited to Christ on the cross." Though He is sinless, undefiled and absolutely holy, He was treated as if He lived our life. And by an act of grace (God's unmerited favor to us; getting what we don't deserve) when we by faith place our sole hope and trust for our salvation in the finished work and person of Jesus Christ alone, though we are sinful people to the core we are treated as if we lived His life; for His perfect righteousness is imputed or credited to us. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior you are clothed with the perfect righeousness of Christ not obtained through law-keeping, but through faith. What a wonderful, merciful Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen?

Our Lord, having conquered sin and death now gives life-everlasting, the forgiveness of sin, newness of life, securing us with His precious Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our redemption to all those that the Father has drawn and chosen from all eternity to be His own (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 2:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17,21; Ephesians 1:13-14; Galatians 2:20; Romans 5:1-10). What tremendous victories that cause us to glory in our Lord. (Titus 3:4-6).

Compare the cost of the cross with the cost of sin
A life of sin can leave you naked - stripped of friends, family, dignity, wealth, and reputation. A life of sin can leave you lonely - separated from fellowship with God and other believers, left in despair without much hope. A life of sin can leave you in utter humiliation - waking up in the "pigpen" of your rebellion as the prodigal son sorrowfully discovered (Luke 15:14-16). And last, a life of sin can never bring glory, but only shame on all who embraces it, cover it, and hold it dear (Philippians 3:18-19; Psalm 66:18).

Like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22) who wanted heaven on his own terms, people today, are trying to find their own way to God, but Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me (John 14:6 emphasis added)." The cross is truly a radical thing.

"Jesus Our Man In Glory" by A.W. Tozer; "The Cross of Christ" by John Stott; "Redemption Accomplished and Applied" by John Murray.

1. Why do you think the cross has become little more than a fashion statement in the minds of many people as they wear them on necklaces, etc...?

2. What has the cross cost you? What did it cost Jesus and accomplish on behalf of God and man?

3. What are the four realities of the cross? Explain in your own words.

4. Write down how you will daily take up your cross in living for Jesus. Pray over these things that the Lord would give you strength as you follow Him.

5. Use these passages of Scripture in your quiet-times this week. Reflect on the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross: Mark 10:17-21; 38-39; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Hebrews 2:5-18;Phil. 2:1-12; John 19; Luke 23.


pilgrim said...

From the article-
As Dr. MacArthur is profound when he says, "Every sin, ever committed, by everyone that would ever believe was imputed or credited to Christ on the cross."

I remember him saying that when he came to town many years ago--I already believed it, but it was wonderful to hear again. It is a strange thing for many people to hear--but it is a wondeful thing.

Then you also said-
"What a wonderful, merciful Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen?"


ambiance-five said...

Wonderful devotional! Praise God it is costly but in itself there is no greater joy!

Life as opposed to death
Love as opposed to hate
joy as opposed to weeping
peace as opposed to wrath

It is His cost that matters and never ours. Our cost through Him is great gain.

Bhedr said...

You said>It is His cost that matters and never ours. Our cost through Him is great gain. <

Good thought and truth. Amen!

Bhedr said...

BTW, this is a good quote, thought and truth as well>The only way to eternal life is for the Old Adam to die - to be crucified with Christ. To follow Jesus meant hardship, persecution, almost certain death.< Amen

Also remember it is the Holy Spirit alone that can teach us as well as give us the strength to do the prepatory work of repentance in John's Baptism that was later changed to a Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is important that we see this.

Shawn L said...

Thank you Steve as I read the word today. God has had me studying the cross of Christ in the last few days especially considering the offense of the cross and how much we don't as americans fully understand it.

Also for the memory of Consider the Cost, which really helped disciple me in the Lord as a new christian teenager and really changed my thinking about the gospel as at the time it was a popular time as today to have easy-believism. This is a great album which to this day I listen to quite a bit.

I remember using the album in my highschool to share the gospel to friends and try to listen to it with Christians friends and grow in our understanding of the scriptures. It was intreging how some of the most "hardened" people to the Christian faith melted when they heard "Consider the cost" as it is filled with so much Scripture. They were surprised and it seemed edifying to them in some ways, however then later many of them rejected Christ. Thankfully the sheep will hear His voice all follow Him when we proclaim His Word.

I pray that God is still working in their lives, so thanks for the memory and faithfully preaching Christ. I pray for our hearts and actions to only boast in the Cross of Christ. I mean to really only boast in it!

Blessings in Christ,
Shawn Lynes

Shawn L said...

Here's another thought.

I've been sharing the gospel some more via the Hindu websites and email with some Hindus and ex-Hindus from India for the past month or so. Though I wish to meet them in person, it is nice to write back and forth. Hindus talk so much of Christ in their daily conversations, it's a very great way to bring up the gospel!

I encourage others to pray for the Hindus and those lost without Christ.

My conversations with them in relationship to the Cross reminded me of the fact that is is a very odd statement for people to hear Jesus say "Take up your cross and follow me" and also to have the apostles say "I boast only in the Cross of Christ".

That is why the scripture says we are the fragrance of Christ. To some the smell of sweet joy of seeing and delighting in the Savior and sometimes smelling of hatred and death for affections for a Savior who hung on a Cross.

In Christ,
Shawn Lynes

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 - Fragrance
Hebrews 12:1-4

Jeremy Weaver said...

BTW, Is that your Sunday School lesson from this morning?

Sparks said...

"As Dr. MacArthur is profound when he says, "Every sin, ever committed, by everyone that would ever believe was imputed or credited to Christ on the cross.""

Not trying to split straws, but didn't Jesus bear the sin of everyone- whether they became believers or not- when He became the sacrifice for the whole world?

Good article Steve.

DOGpreacher said...

No, He died for the sheep, as He said. He told some, "...You are not My sheep...".

There are at least eight different uses of the word "Kosmos (world)" in the bible. I suggest A.W. Pink, or L. Boettner on this issue.

DOGpreacher said...

Thanks Steve,

In the middle of our theological polemics, thanks for the reminder of the radical nature of the cross, and what this means. Let us live a life aflame with the knowledge that He was obedient, even to death on a cross, that I might know the TRUTH (Him), and be set free. Not A truth, or some truth, or some facts, but THE TRUTH!...I am...

grateful for grace.

DOGpreacher said...

WOW!...what a song...thanks!

Eric M Schumacher said...

Great song, Steve!
Do you make the chords available anywhere?



MTG said...

Read the 'Cost of Discipleship' by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Sparks said...

I'm still confused about Jesus' sacrifice only being for those who would become believers. Could someone explain this (with Scripture) to me?


DOGpreacher said...

To Sparks:

Read John 6:37-40, 44-45, 63-65. Then read John chapter 10. He (Jesus) tells us in verses 11 & 15-16 'who' He layed down His life for (the sheep). you will notice that in verse 26 that He says to the jews (of verse 24), "...You are not my sheep...". 'I lay down my life for the sheep' + 'You are not my sheep'= He didn't die for the ones He was addressing.

NOTE: In verse 26: The REASON they didn't believe, was BECAUSE they were NOT His sheep...not the other way around. Being His sheep (chosen, elect, predestined), is eventually causal to believing!

pilgrim said...

To add to dogpreacher's comment--
Other verses include Eph 5-
When comparing marriage between man & woman to Jesus & the Church Paul wrote-
"25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."
Christ gave Himself up for the Church--not everybody.

Matthew 1:21 gives the reason Jesus was named Jesus.
"21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Many assume this refers to the Jews--but not all the Jews believed and were saved from their sins. The Church, as above is referred to as Christ's.
As well many of the verses that speak of Christ's death and salvation refer to "you" or "us" or similar terms--In context the writers are referring to the Church--not to the world.

Acts 20:28 is self explanatory-
"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

raine said...

i have an ezboard and a forum entitled discipleship.. i think this word on the cross would be an excellent addition to it. what is your policy on reprinting it?


SJ Camp said...

raine wrote: i have an ezboard and a forum entitled discipleship i think this word on the cross would be an excellent addition to it. what is your policy on reprinting it?

Yes you may... anything that can be used for the Lord and His glory you may use--you just can't charge people for it--that is my only stipulation.

I am honored...
Col. 1:9-14

Sparks said...

dogpreacher and pilgrim ( there a movie title in there),

Thank you so much for the information. It makes sense to me now.