The Message of The Cross

Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 6:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NASB).

The Power of God (vv. 18-25)

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

What is this word (message) of the cross? It is not merely that Jesus Christ, God the Son (God incarnate), was crucified on a cross, was resurrected the third day, appeared to many people on the earth, and then was taken back up to heaven where he is now seated at the right hand of the Father, and that one day he will come again and take us to be with him. It is not just the fact that, when he died, our sins died with him, were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead that he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin on our behalf. It is also not simply the fact that through Jesus Christ’s shed blood on the cross for our sins that our sins were atoned (compensated, paid) for, and that through faith in Jesus Christ we can escape the punishment of hell, because Jesus paid the price for our sins, or the fact that those who have faith in Jesus Christ now have the hope of eternal life with God both now, forevermore, and in heaven when we die. Several verses come to mind here:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…” (1 Pet. 2:24). “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Co. 5:15). “I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Ac. 26:17-18). “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4).

“But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:11-14). “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:6-7).

The reason Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross was so that we, by God’s grace and through faith in him, could die to sin and live for righteousness; might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life for us; may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God; might walk NOT according to the flesh but according to the Spirit; could put off our old self, be renewed in the spirit in our minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness; may renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives; and that we might no longer walk in darkness, but that we might walk in the light (in God’s/Christ’s righteousness and holiness). This is the message of the cross, for this is the purpose for which Jesus Christ died for our sins, not just to save us from hell and give us the hope of heaven when we die, but to utterly transform our lives while we still live on the face of this earth, so that we no longer walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. This IS TRUE GRACE!

To those who are perishing (dying in their sins and are doomed to hell), this is all foolishness. Why? Because our sin nature does not naturally yield itself to the cross. Our sin nature wants to do what we want to do, and it does not want to surrender its will to the will of another. In our flesh, we want to control our own lives and live to please ourselves. We, by nature, don’t like the idea that we must give up what we want and do what God wants. We are taught that we can do it in our own strength, wisdom, and power, and that we have control over our own destiny. We are taught self-effort, and self-gratification, and we are bombarded with messages that say if we want it we can have it, or if we desire it we deserve to get it, and that life should be about pleasing us and entertaining ourselves. So, the idea of dying to self and living to please God is foreign to our sin nature.

Yet, for those of us who are being saved, which in the original (Greek) language means present and continuous (not just past), it is the power of God to transform human lives away from living for sin and self to walking in the Spirit in God’s righteousness and holiness, for this is why Jesus died, and this is the message of the cross, our hope, our joy, our freedom, and God’s true grace to us in teaching us to say “NO” to sin, and the power to live, to love and to serve our Lord in full surrender and in obedience to his will and to his purpose for our lives. I know what it is to live in bondage to sin, and I know what it is like to walk in freedom and in surrender to my Lord, and in submission to his will for my life, not in absolute perfection, but by his grace, through faith, and I can attest to the fact that if grace does not deliver us out of slavery to sin, then it is no grace at all, for we are still in our sin.

The Despised (vv. 26-31)

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

God did not choose us because of our goodness and because of our own self-righteousness, for our righteousness is as filthy rags to God, and there is none good but God, for all have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s approval in our own flesh. God also did not choose us because we have all kinds of book smarts, or on account of all of our worldly wisdom and knowledge and college (and seminary) degrees. He did not choose us because of our natural talents and abilities, our personalities, our good looks or charm and persuasiveness with people or our ability to easily make friends and influence people. God does not choose like humans choose, based upon what is seen outwardly, but God looks at the heart. He chooses us based upon his grace to us in saving us from our sins, and based upon our heart response to him in accepting what he did for us on the cross by faith.

God chose those of us who the world deems as foolish because we believe in the power of the cross to save people from sin and to deliver them out of bondage to sin and to set them free to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – all in the power of the Spirit within us. To the world, this is foolishness to give up our lives in surrender to Christ and to the cross and to follow Jesus Christ in obedience. Some of them will call us crazy, hyper-religious, extremists, disoriented, and not in touch with reality, and will try to encourage us away from such dedication to our Lord, which they consider abnormal in our society, and will try to persuade us to live a more “normal” life, which involves immersing (engrossing) ourselves in today’s world culture (philosophies, values, beliefs), which can be found on TV, in movies, in secular music, and in many forms of entertainment and worldly knowledge.

Yet, all glory goes to God, for even the ability to believe in Jesus and to surrender to him comes from him and is empowered by his Spirit. It is by his doing that we are in Christ Jesus, and that we have been set free from slavery to sin, and not of anything we have done in our own flesh to try to earn or to deserve salvation. So, when we are able to walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, it is only by God’s grace and in his power. When God uses us in the lives of others to bring forth the message of salvation so that many will believe and will be saved, it is only by God’s grace and in his power that we are able to share the message of salvation, and that God is able to use us as his willing instruments to see lives changed by the power of God. So, all glory goes to God. It is only by God’s grace and mercy to us that any of us can be saved from our sins and can walk in his righteousness and holiness. I am so thankful that HE set me free! All praise to God!

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.