“Jesus Christ’s cross is more than a symbol of Christian faith; it is the secret of Christian life.”
Warren W. Wiersbe
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. “ Galatians 6.14
There are many Christians in pursuit of power in this age of little love. It does seem that wherever there is not much love, there is an intense desire for power. This can be verified in many ecclesiastic spheres. There are churches and denominations whose members substituted the word LOVE by the word POWER in their brotherhood chats as well as in their preaches. It is the powerful prayer, the powerful service, the powerful sermon. These are correct things and we should desire them. But I am not mentioning an isolated and a non-contextualized power from the devotional, study and meditation life as well as obedience and holy practice. Whenever such topics are cited, it seems a power lacking other divine attributes such as holiness and love. On the contrary, I am talking about power which arises from the core of the bible, the heart and, thus, it is high point of revelation which is Jesus Christ who “was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of GOD” ( 2. Co 13:4). It means the power arising from the crucification of the faithful with Christ when he believes and, afterwards, the way this mentioned faithful behaves in justification and sanctification.
1 God’s plan for redemption included, since the beginning, Jesus ´s death.
Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus´s death did not occur occasionally or as a political happening from which we are supposed to learn ethical lessons. Jesus knew, since the beginning, what he had come for the world. Reflect on these passages.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10); “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[put him to death by nailing him to the cross (Acts 2:23) and Peter in his first letter states that Jesus is the “ chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20)
We can perceive that it is not an unexpected happening, something which is the result of the Jews´ political and religious outlook. He is “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13.8). God had already prepared in HIS mercy, the man’s redemption before because “Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter HIS glory?” (Luke 24.26). If Christ is our master and shepherd, what shall be our attitude in relation to these truths?
2 Where can we obtain power to change the world?
I would really like that this word could reach the heart of those who seek GOD profoundly and that are not happy with a life marked by lack of power to solve personal, family, professional problems as well as bearing gospel witness. This, however, encompasses all these domains and not only in some ministry or service that GOD provided to you in local church.
God’s power is clear. Each God’s son, each Christian who was really reborn, that is, received power while descended on him the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 1.8. However, what can be noted in many old Christians are: impotence to bear witness, gain souls, sons and couples for Christ, indulgence with immorality and sensuality and sorrow. As result, we have religiosity, religious mechanics, religious talk; the result is the subtle or unveiled entrance of worries with the world or mundane attitudes such as lobby, politics and liberalism. Thanks to God it does not need to be like this because the Gospel is God’s power which we can have good cheer. The Lord says: “I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33)
I do invite you to think about these words which refer to Christ: “But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26). We have that Jesus overcame the world, offering himself as God’s Lamb, “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20). So, we have that He overcame the devil and his evils “triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
How did Jesus overcome the world, the sin and the devil? HE did it by “triumphing over them by the cross. This was God’s plan accomplished by Jesus who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God (Hebrews 9:14). Yet, “since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—(Hebrews 2:14). Do you start perceiving the power that is absent in many Christians´ lives, in many churches and maybe in yours? This is power! To overcome the empire of death and his sender! Christ overcame the devil, but He did not die for this world. In fact, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:4). There is no power in overcoming sin, devil that committed sin and the iniquity system which is called world without death in the cross. Likewise the winner Christian, the family and the church die for oneself in order to live by God’s power and for God. Just remember the word to do away with sin in Hebrews 9:26 and to break the power of him who holds the power of death in Hebrews 2:14. To do away with means to reduce to nothing, destruct entirely. Cheer my brother: Your LORD is a winner.
I invite you to think about the great number of Christian men and women who are wasting their time watching TV as well as with other attractive entertainments. For instance, we may mention a sports fan in their heart and that one is an idol and he does not know it. In stead of dedicating their time with prayer, bible study, home service, they do seek support and pleasure in the things mentioned above. People do not know that this is part of devil’s work: lead us to distraction whereas the enemy is taking our precious time with soccer games and soap operas and thus such things lead us to the world, at the same time, he goes on taking millions of people to hell.
My loved brothers and sisters, if the Lord HIMSELF did not surrender to the devil, either to sadness in the Gethsemane for loving me and you and if HE is our LORD and SAVIOR, I do ask: What is happening to us as GOD´s church when most of us keep silent and do not proclaim Jesus´love? What is happening, that with religious freedom, bibles and more bibles of study and videos on the internet, with facilities such as bible schools, books and still the world gets worse each day and people at church defend suspicious behavior? Why are there lots of misunderstanding and so little power at churches? The answer is: the devil is seducing the church, just like a persecution based on appeals and seductions through the television (the modern narrator) and the cinema (the most influent modern educator). While the devil paralyses church by developing the world culture inside it, he makes the world a hell. Have you ever noticed the advancement of homosexual practices as well as hidden sciences in the world? Why is it happening? A short answer would be the fulfillment of prophecies. But what I want to point out is that this sad scenery is correspondent to church’s silence for not proclaiming, for not getting worried with souls, for leading a life just focused on their own concerns. For instance, I mention: the new temple, its air-conditioning, a new job, a new house etc as if these were the most important things in the world, and not GOD´s glory. They did forget Jesus´ word: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” ( Matthew 6:33.
In order to overcome the world, however, and seek GOD´s kingdom in first place it is necessary to be aware of Christ’s death in the cross and our death with HIM, according to Romans 6. Not only did Christ die for us, but we also died for HIM: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) This is a fact: we died with HIM in the cross and now we can walk in the newness of life. But it is not the old life because this one was destructed once “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6) Therefore, there are victory and power. HE starts with our death in the cross and then we can walk in newness of life. But this life has to be lived by faith: “ …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 gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2.20) For this reason, Paul says in this same context: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me... “ ( Galatians 2. 19-20). So, HE was used by GOD more than the others. Because of this, HE could change the world, for HE died for HIMSELF in order to bear fruit for GOD. He understood “… wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30)
“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15
The difference among Jesus´ life and that of Apostle Paul and Christians´ life of our generation resides in the fact that Jesus and Paul died for themselves and most of the modern Christians did not develop such understanding and practice. They have a strong relation with material things, they are easily seduced by consumerism, have no commitment with studying the bible etc. This explains why so many Christians are entangled with world’s problems as well as relationship ones. They did not understand or they were not taught that if they became Christ’s slaves, therefore they would serve a new Lord who is Jesus; they left behind the old Lord who was the devil. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (According to Ephesians 2: 1-2). They did not understand that their salvation means losing the old life forever: “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me”, as it in Matthew 10:38, it means die for Christ; the cross was an instrument of torture and death. His disciples knew about this because they had seen many men dying. For this reason, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39). The unfaithful “finds” his life by defending it physically in stead of accepting the cross (it implies loss of pleasure and friends, etc); the Christian, on the other hand, loses his life (that of the old man) to overcome eternal life. However, this message, the cross word is not being preached anymore either to avoid confrontation or due to lack of knowledge. For this reason, there are lots of people suffering failure or full of doubt and / or acting not as a disciple in church. People who are proud, full of self love because they do not know the real meaning of dying for themselves, for the ego, for the old man. When we leave behind the message of the cross and the subsequent one of sanctification, which comes from gospel and we do separate grace from obedience or faith from discipleship, as stated by James Boice: “….people take Christ’s name without undergoing radical change which the real conversion presents”. Such change is the result of the old man’s death and the newness of life introduced in the faithful by the Lord through HIS Spirit due to the victory that Jesus Christ, our Lord, overcame in the cross, once more triumphing over the darkness empire. That’s the victory. That’s the change from sin to Christ’s grace by means of faith in HIS blood. You and I only need to die daily for living a productive life for God’s glory.
This is the most powerful truth in Earth to change the world: when one knows that he died for this life, but lives for God. Because, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:15) . Many preachers do not preach this anymore. Many Christians do not even know about this. We need to come back to the cross and leave behind our mean life because Jesus went to the cross to destroy it forever. Adam’s old life keeps hiding from God. Adam’s life or the Flesh or sinful nature is useless for God and for somebody else. It is full of vanity. God does not accept it, for this reason He regenerated us by giving a new life. We have to remain in Christ (John 15:7) and so we will produce fruit and we will change the world. Are you thus in the cross, crucified for the world and living only for God? If you are not, it is urgent that you do regret it in order to produce fruit and glorify the Lord.
Examining the Church and fixing things
If the newly converted ones were taught since the very beginning that they would lose the old life and that now they do belong to the ONE who bought them with His blood and thus He became their owner (1 Corinthians 6:20); if they were taught, from the very beginning of their Christian life, that they should remain in Christ and do not love the world (1 John 2:15), forget the lusts of the flesh – “and those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” ( Galatians 5:24), “they should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5.15), and they have to carry the cross “ or that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” ( Colossians 1:10), we can concluded that many things would be different in churches. Vanity would no longer exist; any mean project would not have its place, malice would not have destructed communion of so many with God and the brothers.
Because many Christians did not put the cross as their maximum guideline, there is so much useless work in church, so much misunderstandings in marriages, so many failed ministries, so much failure where there should reign the power of God’s holy spirit and Christ’s love. It seems that in many cases, it is not intended to offend the newly converted by calling his attention and claiming him to take his cross just like Jesus taught: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) and explain to him that “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) and them He asks: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26)
What people, at church, do most of the time is to welcome the newly converted members and tell them that from now on everything is going to be alright. Therefore, this denies Jesus´ words: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). However, it has been noticed that both few visits have been made and little knowledge about the doctrine has been conveyed to the newly converted ones. Nevertheless, the most important thing to teach them is to live a new life including the responsibilities of God´s son, in all its aspects of obedience, in order to please God, that is, God´s will. Salomon preaching about child´s education highlights “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverb 22:6). The result of an incomplete discipleship, which does not encompass self-denial, can be noticed easily and need not to be described: religiosity, conformation with the world, lack of commitment and arrogance. If the spiritual vision of the old and newly converted is not summed up by God´s glorious words, their hearts ‘eyes will not shine so that they will expect their call just as in “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1. 17-18), Thus, only one typical flesh view of the old man who despises the cross because “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so (Romans 8:7). That is the reason why a newly converted becomes religious so fast, full of habits and slangs pertaining to the local church.
I invite you to examine Paul´s apostle: think about the proud Pharisee that he had been. He confesses in Philippians, chapter 3 that he gave up everything for Christ. Observe, in his entire Epistle, the value that he gives to the cross in his life. Read the Gospel and its epistles carefully, the brothers´ priorities for serving and living life they received. Would Lazarus have had the will to return to the tomb? This is the word forgotten by an entire generation of Christians who do not remain in victory that Christ conquered for them: How did you receive Jesus Christ, the Lord? (He is the Lord; He commands you). So, act according to His law. You can check it in Colossians 2:6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him”. Examine great missioners´ and preachers´ life and check what they thought and how they related to the cross (death, shame, crucification for the world); what the cross meant to them. Have a look at Vejam Charles H. Spurgeon, the preachers´ Prince. Examine Amy Carmichael´s, Adoniram Judson´s life: the cross is there. The cross is present in the religious and glorious revivals. We do gain when we lose. The cross was forgotten or deleted; therefore we did lose so much nowadays. Shall we come back to the cross, to the Gospel which exhorts sorrow and the daily living that die for the earth and live for the heaven? This cross, said Spurgeon, is “a sanctified load, a load that provides communion with Christ”.
I do finish here with one of Charles Spurgeon´s statement:
Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you’re not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them. Only let me whisper this in your ear, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”