Monday, March 30, 2015

The Necessity of the Cross

Minister Troy Humphrey - Berean Christian Church
As I read Jim’s article in Berean Connect Magazine about the nature of the church, I was drawn to the truth we can‘t understand 'the nature of the church' without accepting 'the necessity of the cross'.

Necessity is: “something indispensable; an imperative requirement or need for something”. It has the idea of essential, fundamental, must, no alternative.

With that being said, as believers we are reminded again....’For the word 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 1:18) Though not original with me, the following article is a great reminder of the necessity of the cross!

(by Ernie and Mary Kroeger) “The true meaning of the cross was an enigma to me for many years because I only saw it as a means of torture. I knew that Jesus had died on the cross for me, but my eyes were only focused on the physical cross - the same suffering and torture - and this blinded me to the spiritual.

We know Jesus was literally put to death on a physical cross. After being flogged He was forced to carry His own cross (crossbar). In His weakened condition, even the crossbar was too heavy for Him to carry. After being fastened to the crossbar by nails at the execution site, He was then hoisted up onto the upright stake that was already in place, and then left to die. In this article we will not focus on the physical cross but on the figurative meaning of the cross.

When Jesus spoke to the multitudes. He did not elaborate on the meaning of the cross, because crucifixion was a frequent occurrence, and because the spectacle of condemned men carrying their crosses to the place of execution was common. They all knew the cross was a death sentence, and that it was not an easy, comfortable death, but a harsh and painful one. Jesus’ words about taking up the cross and following Him are difficult for us to understand, both in the natural and spiritual sense. As we look at some Scripture references about the cross, we want to see how the cross applies to us spiritually.

As Christ was teaching the disciples He said, ” And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me... is not worthy of Me...Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple... And He was saying to them all, ‘ if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me“”(Matt. 10:38; Luke 14:27; 9:23; see also Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34) What did Jesus mean by “taking up his cross”? Jesus was not referring to a literal cross. Symbolically the cross represents a death sentence. Jesus was saying that anyone who wanted to follow Him had to take up a death sentence to his own desires.

Jesus lived a sinless life, and this cannot be achieved when we are alive to sin’s passions and lusts. So we see that the cross symbolizes death to all our selfish desires.

Jesus knew that humanity is dead in its trespasses and sins, but humanity is unaware of its true state. Therefore it tries to preserve its sense of being by pleasing and catering to its self-life. However, self-life is death - not life.

Only God is life, and no one can destroy His life. We can only receive life in union with Christ, so those who wish to follow Jesus have to be taken out of the death by being resurrected into life. Jesus knew that He was to be crucified by those who wanted to retain their self-life. On the cross our old humanity was put to death. Death to our old humanity can only be received in our identification with Christ. So to deny oneself does NOT mean abstinence from certain foods, pleasures, etc. Self is who you see yourself to be without Christ, and it caters to fleshly desires. Followers of Jesus have disowned the self-life, and received the life of Christ. Unlike the convict who is compelled to carry his cross, followers of Jesus do it voluntarily.”

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