The Message of the Cross of Christ

1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”

The church of God is not a church denomination, it is not a building, it is not an institution of man, it is not a social club nor a civic center, and it is not a corporation under the state, although many people have made it just that, in practice. It is the body of Christ, the people belonging to God, his called out ones – we who are to live our lives separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are now being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ.

We are those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but so we would now become slaves of God and of his righteousness, to the glory and praise of God.

Our purpose is to live holy lives pleasing to God in walks of obedience to our Lord, in all humility, and in surrender to our Lord and to his will for our lives. Daily we are to be putting sin to death and walking in the ways of the Lord, for the glory of God, and in his power and strength. And then we are to be ministering to one another via times spent together in the word of God, and in prayer, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread.

And God has gifted each one of us with spiritual gifts and he has assigned to each one of us our body parts, i.e. the specific roles and ministries he has for us within the body of Christ. And we are to be operating within the body of Christ in those roles and in using the gifts of the Spirit given to us by God for the mutual edification and encouragement of the body of Christ that we might all walk in holiness and grow to maturity in our faith in Christ Jesus.

[Ac. 2:42-47; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 3:9,16-17; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Co. 12:1-31; 2 Co 5:1; 2 Co 6:14-16; Eph 1:4,22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 4:1-32; Eph 5:17-30; Col 1:18-24; Col 2:19; Col 3:12-16; 2 Tim 1:9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Titus 2:11-14; Heb 3:13; Lu 9:23-26; Jude 1:20-21; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

1 Corinthians 1:17-19 ESV

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For the word of the cross is folly 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 discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’”

One of the purposes of the church, the body of Christ, i.e. those crucified with Christ in death to sin, who are living to God and to his righteousness, is for us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world about us, and with the worldly institutional church, too, since so many within the gatherings of what is called “church” are not hearing nor are they believing in the true gospel of Christ. For many are believing in a false half-truth gospel of men which is not putting sin to death in their lives.

[1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18]

So, what is the gospel that Paul preached? What is the power of the cross? And why is the word of the cross, the gospel of our salvation, considered folly to those who are perishing (to those who are dying in their sins)?

I keep seeing this message on social media, usually in the form of a meme which says, “We are saved, not by what we do.. But by what Christ has done for us. It is finished.” Now, is that true? Yes, absolutely! But is it misleading, too? Yes, definitely! It is intentionally misleading to say that we have no part in our salvation whatsoever and that our salvation was finished at the cross.

Now, can we do anything in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation? No! Our fleshly works, which are of our own doing, no matter how good they are, will never be good enough to gain God’s divine approval of us. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. We can never be righteous in our own selves. Even our faith is not of our own doing.

And what was finished at the cross? Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins was finished at the cross. He never had to die again for our sins, and no longer is any blood sacrifice required for the forgiveness of our sins other than the one he gave for us on that cross. Jesus did everything for us on that cross to provide the way for us to be saved from our slavery to sin so that we might now become slaves of God and of his righteousness.

But we are saved by God’s grace THROUGH FAITH. And yes, this faith is not of ourselves, but it is gifted to us by God, which means also that we cannot make up in our own minds what that faith should look like. We have to get our definition of faith from the Scriptures (in context) and from the divine character of God, since Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. So our faith is going to be in line with God’s will and purpose for our lives.

[Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; 2 Pet 1:1; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 11:1-40; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

Faith is not a feeling nor an emotion. It is not a mere acknowledgement of who Jesus is and of what he did for us on that cross. It is not merely an acceptance of his love, grace, and forgiveness of sins, either. Faith is divine persuasion as to the righteousness and holiness of God, of our own sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins, to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and to follow him in obedience to his commands.

And faith is obedience. It is doing what God says we must do. Just look at the “Faith Chapter” of the Bible, Hebrews 11. By faith most everyone listed there did something either in obedience to the Lord or that they knew would be pleasing to the Lord out of honor and respect for him. Now just imagine what would have happened to Noah and his family if he did not build the ark. He and his family would have drowned with the rest of the people.

Then, look at what Jesus said. He said if any of us would come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin) and follow (obey) him. He also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of his Father who is in heaven. And the apostles taught the same, that we must forsake our lives of sin and we must follow Jesus in obedience or we don’t have eternal life.

So, what’s the message of the gospel? Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. That is the power of the cross. For he died to free us from our slavery to sin and to empower us to walk in obedience to his commands and to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him. And our salvation will not be complete until Jesus Christ returns for his bride and he takes us to be with him for eternity.

And this message is foolishness to those who are perishing because they want to hold on to their sins and they don’t want to obey the Lord, and that is why so many are rejecting the truth of the gospel. So, don’t be like them.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

William W. Walford / William B. Bradbury

Acts 3:1: “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

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