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.
Monday, November 19, 2007
An Encore Presentation