Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What's in it for me (part 1)

Over the last two posts we saw how the cross testifies against us that we will never be good enough and we will never be wise enough to find our way to God. God is too high above us and we cannot ascend to find God because the distance is too great. However, the good news of the cross is that what we could not do ourselves, God did for us in sending His Son to live and die upon a cross. We could not ascend to God so He descended to us.
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)
In this post we want to look at what God appropriated for us through His death on the cross.

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:5-6)
All of us have been born in sin and we continue to live our lives in sin. Our sin stain has separated us from God. We are sinful and He is holy. The question is, how can unrighteous man be reconciled to a righteous and holy God? We have tried to keep the law but failed. Even on our best days, we fall far short. "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." (Isaiah 64:6) While God loves us and wants us to be reconciled to Him, He is also a God of justice and His justice demands that our issue of sin be dealt with. The penalty for our sin is death. "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) God can not simply wink at our sins, they have to be dealt with and paid in full. So God came to Earth Himself in the person of His Son and died in our place that the penalty of our sin might be paid and we set free to be reconciled back to God. "But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Jesus death on the cross appeased God's justice and set us free from the condemnation that was against us. Jesus became the solution to our sin problem, "He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26) The message of the cross, for us, is a message of forgiveness.


"And by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus' death on the cross not only paid for our forgiveness but also made provision for our healing. His scourging and torment, which so marred His body to the point that He was almost unrecognizable, purchased for us healing and wholeness in our bodies; His brokenness for our wholeness. There is a lot that can be said about healing and we certainly live in the time between what was and what should be, but we should never loose faith or stop contending for healing. Jesus paved the way for our healing through the suffering He experienced as He was lead to and crucified on a cross. The message of the cross is, for us, a message of healing.

More to come. David Robison

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What it says about us (Part 2)

In the previous post we looked at one reason why the message of the cross is offensive to many people. In this post we look at another reason.

We will never be wise enough

The platonic philosophers had the concept of two realms: the material realm in which we live and a higher realm of truth; a realm in which god lives. The problem for the philosophers was understanding how man, living in the lower realm, could ascertain truth, which was in the higher realm. To answer this question, Plato came up with the concept of the "Logos". Logos is a Greek word for reason. Plato's idea was that by applying reason, man could ascend into the higher realm and take hold of true knowledge. It was though the Logos that mankind could find the truth and, in the end, find god.

Plato got a lot of things right. He believed in a single creator god, he understood the divide between god and man, and he realized the need for something to bridge that gap. However, he failed to identify the true nature of that bridge. Man in all his wisdom, reasoning, and contemplation will never be wise enough to bridge that gap and ascend into the higher realm to know truth and to know God.
"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." (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)
Worldly wisdom has a way of puffing us up, making us proud, and making it hard for us to receive the true wisdom of God. We think we can figure it out on our own. We despise the simple truths of the Gospel and treat the message of the cross with contempt; preferring our own intellect, reason, and beliefs to that which God has revealed. However, if we are to have any hope in obtaining truth and the knowledge of God, we must first humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God's wisdom.
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.'" (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
More to come. David Robison

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What it says about us (Part 1)

Paul says that the message of the cross has become for us "the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) However, for many people the cross has become an offense. How can something that was meant to bring the "power of God" result is such offense to so many people? The reason is because of what it says about us.
"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." (1 Cor 1:22-24)
To the Jews the cross is a stumbling block, to the Gentiles it is foolishness, but to us it is wisdom and power. However, to find that wisdom and power we must be willing to press beyond our fleshly reaction to the cross. We must be willing to accept what the cross has to say about us.

We will never be good enough

The Jews had spent thousands of years trying to achieve a righteousness that was based on their law. God, through Moses, gave the Israelites a law that was holy and good. Their law, given by God, was what made them unique among the rest of the nations around them. "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:8) And along with the law, God gave them a promise, "So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18:5). And for two thousand years the Jews were committed to the law. It not only defined what their righteousness was to be but it was also their very identity.

However, all their efforts were failures. Try as they might, no one could keep the law; no one could find righteousness through the law. God's own testimony about mankind is,
"There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalms 14:1-3)
Paul also confirms this when he stated, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." (Galatians 2:16) This is not to say that the law was not good and holy, it was, however it was unable to impart life and righteousness to us because the weakness of our flesh, because of our sinful nature.

The message of the cross tells us that we will never be good enough. No matter how holy and good the law is, regardless of how great our efforts are, we will all ways fall short. We can never be good enough to earn God's righteousness and His favor. Our own righteousness will never draw us close to God nor grant us right standing before him. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin." (Galatians 3:22)

For those who have spent their entire life trying to be good enough, trying to establish their own righteousness, this is bad news. For those who love self righteousness, this is an offense. But the truth is we will never be good enough, we will never be righteous enough, we will never ascend high enough. We cannot ascend to heaven to find God, we cannot do it ourselves, we need a savior.

More to come. David Robison

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