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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