Tag Archives: The Cross

Freedom In Christ: What does the Cross Mean…

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Corinthians 1:17-18 1:13 (NKJ)

Our Lenten 2018 devotional writings have explored “The Journey of the Cross”.   The intent of this series was to help us as believers understand and emulate the sacrifice and obedient behavior Christ demonstrated on His journey “to” the Cross.  We have done this through both reading and personal response—reflective Bible reading and prayer, journaling, and practicing acts of contemplation (solitude and reflection).  It is now time to evaluate if we have been successful in our attempt as we end our series with this question, “What does the Cross mean to you?”

What does the Cross mean to you?  Is it an object on which Christ was crucified? Or is it a piece of jewelry that you wear? Our view of the Cross is critical in that it establishes the basis of our Christian belief and personal walk of faith.  In the routine of daily living, we often forget Christ’s work of grace on the Cross.  Unfortunately, most believers are only superficially drawn to the Cross giving attention to it only during the sacrament of communion or at Easter.  It is critical that we clearly define the Cross’ significance so that we might re-engage its purpose and power in our life.

Christian doctrine is founded on “the Cross.”  Our belief about sin and salvation begin and end at the Cross (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).  Our identity as children and heirs of God (1 John 3:2; Rom. 8:17) are established by our knowledge of what Christ accomplished on the Cross.

To Jesus Christ, the Cross signified lordship and commitment to Him.  He told those who would follow Him that unless they were willing to bear His cross, they could not be His disciple (Luke 14:27). Christ has not altered His requirement for discipleship in the twenty-first century. The Cross demands commitment.

To Paul and other New Testament writers, the Cross represented the Good New (Gospel) of Jesus Christ.  This gospel was to be clearly articulated to those identified in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20)—Jesus Christ died for sin, He rose from the dead, and “whosoever believeth in Him” shall have everlasting life.  The gospel message remains the same in the twenty-first century.  The Cross is salvation.     

To Christians, the Cross recounts God’s extraordinary act of love.  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  George Matherson penned in his hymn these words:

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

God’s plan of salvation did not come as an “after thought” but was formed in eternity (Eph. 1:4-7).  Before the Fall, God set in motion His plan of salvation to return beloved man to Himself.  The Cross reveals the very heart of God (2 Cor. 4:6).

The Cross strengthens Christian’s confidence in the power of God.  Jesus was the decided Victor on Resurrection Sunday.  God disarmed and shamed Satan by His victory at the Cross.  Believers therefore reverence the Cross, not as a material object seen in isolation, but as the instrument of Christ’s triumph (Col. 2:13-15).  The Cross witnesses God’s goodness and greatness.  

Return to the Cross and Christ’s life-transforming love.  Return to the Cross and re-discover power that will never pass away.

Jesus keep me near the cross

There’s a precious fountain

Free to all a healing stream

Flows from Calvary’s mountain

In the Cross,

In the Cross,

Be my glory ever,

‘Til my raptured soul shall find

Rest beyond the river.

Have a blessed Easter.  Hallelujah, He is Risen!

RESPOND:

This week we will complete our “Journey of the Cross” by sharing our answers to last week’s response activity.  You were to choose the one (1) contemplative discipline you felt most comfortable in practicing. As you journal, answer these four (4) reflective questions:

  1. Did you experience God in this discipline? If not, then why not.
  2. What did you learn about God? The Father, the Son, and/or the Holy Ghost specifically.
  3. What did you learn about yourself? Your fears, your faith, your purpose.
  4. How will your life change as a result of experiencing God?

We have created a special group on Facebook for our WordBytes Community to post your responses.  Input “WordBytes Community” into your “search window” and then post your response then share what you have learned on your “Journey of the Cross”.  Thanks for being part of our family.    

Experiencing God: Partaker of Flesh and Blood

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is,

the devil.”  Hebrew 2:14 (KJV)

How appropriate that Lenten season 2018 would begin on Valentine’s Day.  What greater love have we experienced as believers than the extravagant and unconditional love of God the Father. For while I was yet in my sin, Christ died for me–the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-8) and now I rest in the blessed assurance that there is nothing that can separate me from that love (Rom. 8:39). What a sweet valentine of love we have received from the Father.

That’s why Lenten season is a perfect time to reciprocate the love that God has shown by giving Him a token of my love-the gift of sacrifice. In addition, Lent is a time of contemplation and reflection about God’s plan of salvation. Just as the birth of Christ was orchestrated by God, so it was with His crucifixion and glorious resurrection (Genesis 3:15).

God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) fashioned a plan whereby “He Himself” would become human and finally resolve the problem of sin. But why did this plan require Christ to take on flesh and blood?

  • So that Christ could satisfy the “righteous requirements” of the law (Romans 8:4). The Mosaic Law demanded that blood be shed, in the form of an animal sacrifice for the “forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). This process of sacrifice was repeated continuously, generation after generation, until Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23-28).
  • So that Christ would be able to share in our humanity. He would be able to understand our weaknesses and temptations. As a partaker of flesh and blood, He “might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrew 2:17).
  • So that Christ might defeat Satan and free believers from sin’s power (Romans 6:6-7). It is in the destruction of Satan’s power that we are able to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).  It is in Satan’s defeat that we are able to live victoriously in and for Christ.

God’s salvation does not require us to lay down our physical life for Him but God does ask us to die, spiritually, to the control which our flesh, the world and Satan exert upon us (Rom. 6:11). The apostle Peter reaffirmed this thought in his letter to God’s elect.

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God” (1 Peter 4: 1-2, NRSV).

This Lenten season become partakers of God’s “flesh and blood”-experience Him in all His fullness. Return to God your “love expression” by giving fully of you.

 

TIME TO RESPOND

Begin this time in prayer inviting Jesus to join you.   Read Hebrews 2:14-16 aloud and note words or phrases that “catch your attention”.  Read it a second time. Feel free to use a different translation or paraphrase.  This time note “what emotions you may feel” in reading this passage.   Read it a third and final time.  This time ask Jesus what He wants “you to know personally about Him” based on  this Scripture.  

Lessons I Learned at the Cross

There was book that was popular many years ago entitled, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”  It contained simple nuggets of wisdom that were garnered from watching how children interacted with each other and the world. It’s been said that life is a giant classroom in which we can experience many valuable lessons.

As the close of Lenten season approaches, I have learned three valuable lessons in observing Christ’s journey to and ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.  I share these with you.

Lesson  #1.   I must Die to Live.  Believers will never be able to live victoriously until we die to ourselves and surrender to the Lord.  In His final days with His disciples, Jesus used an example from farming to illustrate this point.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. .The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26)

Lesson  #2.  I must Lose to Win. Believers cannot live in the fullness of God apart from the “filling” of the Holy Spirit.  “Filling” means relinquishing control to the Holy Spirit.  Paul stated emphatically on his letter to the church in Philippi.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. .What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7, 8) 

Lesson #3.  I must Surrender for Victory.  Believers must surrender to the King of Kings who is the Sovereign of the universe.  We, as believers, are part of God’s kingdom and we must willingly abdicate to His rule over our lives. Habakkuk, the prophet, understood this relationship when he prayed this prayer. 

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines , though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

We need only a child-like trust in the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, to learn all we need to know about “what really matters.”

SELAH:   What are the things God is teaching you to lose, surrender and/or die to in order to live victoriously in the fullness of God?