Faith In The Cross – Faith In The Christ
It is more than significant that followers of Christ in the Bible are called CHRISTIANS, but they are not called CROSSTIANS. In other words, they are identified by the PERSON OF CHRIST and not by the CROSS OF CHRIST.
Or again, CHRISTIANS PRAY IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, but they DO NOT PRAY IN THE NAME OF THE CROSS of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christians PRAY TO THE PERSON OF CHRIST, but they DO NOT PRAY TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
What is more, Jesus Christ told us TO BELIEVE IN HIM, but never instructed us to BELIEVE IN THE CROSS. We remember His words in John 14:1,
“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.”
There most dramatically Jesus equates Himself with God, for when you believe in God, you believe in Him. Many do not know anything about Jesus Christ except what they read in a book or hear in a sermon. TRUE BELIEF is knowing Jesus Christ inside of your heart right WHERE YOU LIVE. It is the difference between KNOWING ABOUT CHRIST and KNOWING CHRIST.
We are told 104 times in the Bible that Christians are IN CHRIST. Never are we told that we are IN THE CROSS. We read in Romans 8:1,
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who
are IN CHRIST JESUS.”
I know, it sounds too good to be true. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. You and I can cite every sin in our lives, and it doesn’t make any difference how heinous they are. If we in true repentance and faith ask the crucified and living Christ to forgive us of our sins, then, THEY ARE NO LONGER THERE, THEY ARE WASHED AWAY FOREVER, and we are NOT UNDER CONDEMNATION but instead UNDER FULL AND COMPLETE DIVINE PARDON. So then why do we continue to heap condemnation upon ourselves for sins that are long gone forever?
I. THE CROSS DIDN’T DIE – JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS ON THE CROSS
I love the old hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” It goes like this:
“WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS
ON WHICH THE PRINCE OF GLORY DIED,
MY RICHEST GAIN I COUNT BUT LOSS,
I POUR CONTEMPT ON ALL MY PRIDE.”
And again “The Old Rugged Cross.” Who can ever forget these beloved words?:
“ON A HILL FAR AWAY STOOD AN OLD RUGGED CROSS,
THE EMBLEM OF SUFFERING AND SHAME;
AND I LOVE THAT OLD CROSS WHERE THE DEAREST AND BEST,
FOR A WORLD OF LOST SINNERS WAS SLAIN.”
It is so important to note that in both of these treasured hymns:
“THE CROSS IS RENDERED SACRED BECAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST,
BUT JESUS CHRIST IS NOT RENDERED SACRED BECAUSE OF THE CROSS.”
If you will:
“THE CROSS DID NOT SANCTIFY JESUS, BUT JESUS SANCTIFIED THE CROSS,
THAT IS, MADE IT HOLY AND SACRED.”
“THE CROSS IS SACRED IN THE BIBLE ONLY BECAUSE IT STANDS FOR THE
REDEMPTIVE WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS FOR SINNERS.”
We read the words of Philippians 2:8,
“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point
of death, even death on a cross.”
What a torturous death the cross death is! Awful! Horrible! Why a CROSS DEATH and not some other kind of quicker and less-agonizing death. There is not a believer on the face of the earth who can explain the CROSS. Why did God choose the CROSS for His Son? Why did it have to be the CROSS? How can it be that the CROSS is the only perfect way of salvation?
God says in Isaiah 55:8-9,
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways,’ declares the Lord.”
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
What can we say to that? Nothing but worship the God who is INCONCEIVABLE IN HIS ACTIONS, WONDERFUL IN HIS PURPOSES, and INEXPRESSIBLE IN HIS ATTRIBUTES!
“GOD IS IN ANOTHER WORLD OF HIS OWN, TOO HIGH FOR SPECULATIONS,TOO
GREAT FOR DESCRIPTION, AND TOO WISE FOR FINITE UNDERSTANDING.”
I have learned long ago that it is a total waste of time trying to figure God out. I tried to do that for years, trying to determine why He does this, and why He does not do that. If there is anything that will screw up your head, falsify your faith, and corrupt your theology, it is trying to make God’s way your ways.
Plus, we are all so cocksure that our ways are the best. We read about human nature in Proverbs 16:2,
“All the ways of man are clean in his own sight.”
And in Proverbs 21:2,
“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes.”
There you have it! Not only because of know-it-all human nature, God cannot tell us anything, but we actually try to tell Him a thing or two or three.
But this much we know:
-The CROSS did not suffer for our sins, JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not die for sins, JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not shed its blood for our sins, JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not become sin for us, JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not bear the sins of the world, JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not suffer hell for our sins, JESUS did!
-The CROSS was not forsaken by the Father for us, JESUS WAS!
-The CROSS did not cry, “It Is Finished,” JESUS did!
-The CROSS did not forgive Christ’s murderers, JESUS did!
-The CROSS by itself didn’t do a blessed thing for us. JESUS on the cross did it all.
-The CROSS did not rise from the dead, JESUS did!
This teaches us, that from a human suffering standpoint, the CROSS OF CHRIST was the greatest tragedy in the history of the world! But the resurrection of the crucified Christ also teaches us that we are never in Christ’s life, or in his disciples’ lives, to judge a tragedy the day it occurs. Christ’s apparent ending, as well as our own apparent terminations, are God’s beginnings.
We read the exalting words of the Apostle Paul about the cross in Galatians 6:14,
“But may it never be that I should boast, except in THE CROSS
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.”
Paul was a former Pharisee, in fact, a dyed-in-the-wool Pharisee. He, with all his other Pharisees, gloated in and boasted about their own self-righteousness. Paul had been stripped of all of that on the road to Damascus and in a house on Straight Street. Having collided with a light from Heaven brighter than the noonday sun, Paul no longer lit up his life and the world with his own glory. In his three-day blindness and darkness in a stranger’s house, he discovered how bleak, ugly, and non-glorious he really was. Now:
“JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED ON A CROSS WAS THE ONLY LIGHT IN HIS
SIN-DARKENED WORLD, FOR HE HAD TRULY SEEN THE LIGHT. NOW HE
BOASTS ONLY IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.”
Christians do not worship A CRUCIFIX. Nor do they make a SIGN OF THE CROSS like it is some sort of magic cure-all for whatever is ailing them. I remember so well in high school basketball days when we played against a Catholic team how so many of them, before shooting foul shots, would triangularize their heads and hearts with the sign of the cross. And I remember thinking to myself when they CROSSED THEMSELVES AND STILL MISSED THE FREE THROWS, “A lot of good that did! Maybe they ought to practice shooting more and crossing themselves less.” The CROSS SIGN by itself is nothing more than SO MUCH HOCUS POCUS.
“WE ARE TO WORSHIP THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS, AND NOT
THE CROSS OF THE CHRIST.”
The former is PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, the latter is IDOLATROUS RELIGION. People can and do MAKE AN IDOL OUT OF THE CROSS. To fixate on the CROSS and not on the CHRIST OF THE CROSS is sheer IDOLATRY. It is in fact making a GRAVEN IMAGE, which God forbids in no uncertain terms in Exodus 20:4,
“You shall not make for yourself an idol (graven image), or
any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth
beneath or in the water under the earth.”
“You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord
your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children, on the third and fourth
generations of them that hate Me,”
“but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who
love Me and keep My commandments.”
What is IDOLORY – IMAGE WORSHIP? Simply put:
“IT IS ACCOUNTING OR WORSHIPPNG THAT FOR GOD WHICH IS NOT GOD.”
God in Exodus 20:5 counts IDOLATRY as INIQUITY and it makes God downright JEALOUS. Why? Because IDOLATRY-IMAGE WORSHIP takes all the attention and glory away from Him onto another object which supposedly represents Him. He becomes at best a REFLECTED GOD and not a PERSONAL GOD. Sort of like me kissing my wife’s picture rather than kissing her. Not going to happen!
Satan will lead us into iniquity by luring us away from Christ. So sneaky is this Lucifer, this angel of light, that he will even use the CROSS to lure us away from the CHRIST. The very guys who SHOT CROSSED-FREE THROWS swore like devils and CURSED CHRIST’S NAME the moment they missed the shot.
II. BELIEVE IN CHRIST – NOT IN THE CROSS
Have you ever noticed that when we haven’t seen someone for a while and we know that they have been on a trip, we often ask things like, “Where did you go? How long were you there? What else did you do?” To such questions to Jesus, He could reply,
“I WAS ON EARTH. I WAS THERE FOR 33 YEARS. I BROUGHT MY BRIDE,
THE CHURCH, WITH MY OWN BLOOD. IT WAS MY ONLY PURCHASE.”
We live in a time when it is so difficult for the average person to see things in terms of the SPIRITUAL AND THE ETERNAL, because everything and everybody around us is so CARNAL AND TEMPORAL in the outlook on life. It is hard to take and keep a SPIRITUAL view of all things when we live in such an UNSPIRITUAL time.
There were THREE CROSSES on GOLGATHA’S HILL, not just one. Two criminals were being put to death on crosses on each side of Jesus’ cross. They too were in the agony of crucifixion on crosses just like His. It was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53:12,
“He was numbered among the wicked.”
No doubt they suffered both in body and in soul. In terms of CROSS CRUCIFIXION, they experienced the same torture as the man in the middle. His feet and his hands are nailed to the cross, as I believe were the feet and hands of the bandits. He with them suffers the same SLOW SUFFOCATION, the same BURNING THIRST, the same RACKING of the MUSCLES as they were strained and convulsed.
He suffers in his FLESH; he suffers also in his SOUL. He is on this CROSS very much against his will, and longs to get off. He says to Jesus,
“If you are the Christ, save yourself and us
with you.” (Luke 23:39).
He feels that everything is failing him. He rebels against his fate. In his despair he blasphemes God and curses everybody around him. Yes, he suffers! No REST for his BODY, no PEACE for his HEART. His lot is a sad one indeed. A sad end indeed for this bandit! He suffers and dies rejecting and cursing his cross. He loses his life and loses his soul. And he is DAMNED. He is a type of all those who are lost.
The heart of this poor thief about to die seems to YEARN only for HEAVEN. He no longer cares for the goods of this world! He does not ask for them. He only wants Jesus to REMEMBER HIM when He comes into His KINGDOM — that Jesus will find him a little corner there. The goods of this world are taken away from him, and he does not cling to them. He lets them go willingly.
With his past life he does not merit them, but it does not matter. He places all his CONFIDENCE in Jesus. He knows well that he never did any good, that he accumulated crimes. He does not rely on his own merits, or good works, for he does not have any. He counts only on the MERCY OF JESUS, who is, he feels, so infinitely good and compassionate. He is a type of all those who are saved.
He counts on the MERCY OF JESUS, and he counts also on Jesus’ power. When everything seems lost for Jesus, when He seems powerless to save Himself, when the Jews mock His helplessness, this thief places his confidence in His superhuman MERCY AND MIGHT, and says in Luke 23:42,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
When everything is all over for him, with no hope of escaping death, with no power on earth that could save him, he still has confidence in Jesus, for only He can do something to save Himself and him. His humble cry is accepted, and Jesus saves this gangster and changes him from a bandit into a saint — the first who entered paradise.
Yes, there were three crosses, so which one saved the humble thief? Which one saves us? Let me make it simple for you! None of those crosses in and of themselves saved the thief, and none of those crosses in and of themselves can save any of us sinners.
What do you mean Bob? It wasn’t the CROSS IN THE MIDDLE, but it is THE GOD-MAN ON THE MIDDLE CROSS. He alone suffered HELL FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD ON THAT CROSS, suffering that the flanking thieves knew nothing about. It was SPIRITUAL – HELLISH – ETERNAL SUFFERING that God’s wrath filled His body and soul and spirit with. THE CROSS DID NOT SUFFER HELL ON CALVARY, BUT THE CHRIST SUFFERED HELL ON CALVARY’S MIDDLE CROSS – YOUR HELL AND MY HELL FOR YOUR SINS AND MY SINS.
And so we read of the suffering of the man on the middle cross in Psalm 88:7 and 16,
“Thy WRATH has rested upon me, and Thou hast afflicted
Me with all thy waves.”
“Thy burning ANGER has passed over me, Thy TERRORS
have destroyed me.”
-Nowhere are we told in the Bible TO BELIEVE IN THE CROSS.
-Nowhere are we told in the Bible TO TRUST IN THE CROSS.
-Everywhere we read in the Bible what Paul and Silas said to the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16:31,
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,
and your household.”
-And John 6:47 right from the Savior’s mouth,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.”
-And John 3:36,
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not
the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
How many times have I seen athletes kiss the CROSS that is hanging around their necks! Too often to count! The CROSS is worn as a GOOD LUCK CHARM in time of need, challenge, or crisis. It has been done throughout the ages, and it is as rampant as it has ever been if not more. It is putting ONE’S TRUST IN THE CROSS, and then kissing it to seal the deal and get the desired results or protection.
Listen now, NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE ARE WE EVER TOLD TO KISS THE CROSS, even as we are told nowhere to believe in the cross. I know that this will tick off Catholic Book Store Owners, for THE CROSS IS ONE OF THE HISTORIC BEST SELLERS. To this very day it sells like hotcakes, because people are enamored by what they can see, and only secondarily so with the Christ Who they cannot see.
But the fact of the matter is that you can KISS THE CROSS UNTIL YOUR LIPS DROP OFF, but smooching the cross will do you no good. If you think kissing the cross on a necklace around your neck has special power, sorry, you can kiss it off.
Though we are never instructed to kiss the cross, we are commanded in the Word of God to KISS THE SON. We read in Psalm 2:12,
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who
take refuge in Him.”
I gladly yield at this point to the great preacher Charles Spurgeon who preached the following:
“The kiss of my text is a kiss of allegiance and homage.It is an Eastern custom for the subjects to kiss the feet of the king; nay, in some instances their homage is so abject that they kiss the dust beneath his feet, and the very steps of his throne. Now, Christ requires of every man who would be saved, that he shall yield to His eternal Kingship and His rule”
“There are some who are willing enough to be saved and take Christ to be their priest, but they are not willing to give up their sins, not willing to obey His precepts, to walk in His ordinances, and keep His commandments. Now, salvation cannot be cut in twain. If you would have justification you must have sanctification too. If your sins are pardoned they must be abhorred; if ye are washed in the blood to take away the guilt of sin, you must be washed in the water to take away the power of sin over your affections and life.”
“Oh, sinners, the command is, “Kiss the Son,” bow your knee, and come and own him to be a monarch, and say, ‘Other lords have had dominion over us; we have worshipped our lusts, our pleasures, our pride, our selfishness, but now will we submit ourselves to thine easy yoke. Take us and make us thine, for we are willing to be thy subjects.’” (End of Spurgeon Quote)
I might add that I believe it also is a HUMBLE AND CONTRITE KISS FOR MERCY AND FAVOR. The SON OF GOD – JESUS CHRIST – THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS alone has the power and right TO SAVE US OR SENTENCE US.
I would remind us that the LORD AND JUDGE of every man, woman, and child is JESUS. Not the Father! Not the Holy Spirit! The Son alone! Hear it:
“THE ONE WHO THE DIVINE MISSION ON THE CROSS TO SAVE, NOW SITS ON THE
THRONE OF HEAVEN WITH THE SOLE AUTHORITY TO ASSIGN ANY
AND EVERY PERSON TO HELL OR TO HEAVEN.”
We read in the Bible that the Father has given over all JUDGMENT TO THE SON, AND THAT THE FATHER JUDGES NO MAN. We read the words of Jesus to the Jewish hearers in John 5:22,
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given
all judgment to the Son.”
So we read:
“KISS THE SON, LEST YOU PERISH…!”
What follows is a glaring and blaring example of the SEEKER FRIENDLY, GREASY GRACE, AND SLOPPY AGAPE GOSPEL that is rampant in the church today. Read on and ask the Lord to give you discernment. Just a touch of Divine Discernment will do, for it is so loud in its errors that it barks like a dog:
“In Frederick Buchner’s novel ‘The Final Beast’ there is a scene in which a member of a congregation is begging the pastor to declare forgiveness to a deeply disturbed woman in their church.
The pastor replies that the woman already knows that he, the pastor, has forgiven her, to which this other member replies, “But she doesn’t know God forgives her. That’s the only power you have, pastor: to tell her that. Not just that God forgives her for her poor adultery. Tell her that God forgives her for the faces she cannot bear to look at now. Tell her that God forgives her for being lonely and bored, for not being full of joy every day in a household full of children.
Tell her that her sin is forgiven whether she knows it or not, that what she wants more than anything else–what we all want–is true. Pastor, what on earth do you think you were ordained for?”
I will tell you what on earth I was ordained for, and it isn’t what the woman told the pastor to speak:
-THERE IS NO BLOOD IT IN!
-THERE IS NO CROSS IN IT!
-THERE IS NO CHRIST IN IT!
-THERE IS NO GOSPEL IN IT!
-THERE IS NO CONFESSION OF SIN IN IT!
-THERE IS NO REPENTING IN IT!
-THERE IS NO CONVERSION IN IT!
-THERE IS NOTHING IN IT, EXCEPT:
“THE MODERN FALSE-GOSPEL FLUFF OF GOD LOVES YOU, HE FORGIVES
YOU, HAVE A GREAT DAY.”
“HE WHO PREACHES OR COUNSELS WHAT THE WOMAN TOLD THE PASTOR
HE WAS ORDAINED FOR, IS A FRAUD, LIAR, AND A
PASTOR FALSELY NAMED.”
III. ALL IN THE CROSS – ALL IN THE CHRIST
There is a theology that is being preached on the pulpit, on radio, on TV, and on the internet 7/24, and it is this:
“EVERYTHING WE NEED IS IN THE CROSS.”
It is stated in different ways like:
“IT’S ALL IN THE CROSS.”
“WHATEVER IT IS, IT’S IN THE CROSS.”
“YOU NEED IT – THE CROSS HAS IT.”
However it is spoken, IT JUST DON’T SOUND RIGHT. Bad grammar I know! The word DON’T should be DOESN’T.
I am not a great speaker. When we think of the 20th century, we marvel at the voice of one man – WINSTON CHURCHILL, literally a speaker who changed the course of human history. He rallied an entire people, never realizing that his great speaking ability was not really an eloquent style – it was an affliction. Little known is the fact that he stammered and stuttered all of his life, and it made him sound the way he did. With great affliction he grew in greatness – and became the voice that helped save a world from devilish tyranny.
No matter how you say it, stammering or fluent:
“THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE STATEMENT ‘IT’S ALL IN THE CROSS’
THAT AIN’T RIGHT.”
Yes I know, the word AIN’T should be ISN’T! But at least I got your attention.
“NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT STATE THAT EVERYTHING WE NEED IS IN
THE CROSS, NOWHERE AT ALL.”
Rather what the Bible does teach is this glorious truth:
“WHATEVER WE NEED IS IN THE CHRIST WHO MADE IT ALL POSSIBLE BY
WHAT HE DID ON THE CROSS.”
Hear the Word of the Lord:
–II Corinthians 1:20,
“For as many as may be the promises of God, in HIM – JESUS CHRIST – they are
YES, wherefore also by HIM – JESUS CHRIST – is our AMEN to the
glory of God the Father.”
“And my God shall supply ALL YOUR NEEDS according to His
riches in glory IN CHRIST JESUS.”
JESUS CHRIST is nailed to the CROSS. He is crucified between two robbers. He is in suffering unlike anything we will or have ever known. And he does something that we can scarce take in. He asks the Father to forgive all of those who are carrying out the crucifixion:
-Forgiveness for those who motivated it.
-Forgiveness for those who campaigned for it.
-Forgiveness for those who are sticking out their tongues at Him.
-Forgiveness for those who are telling dirty jokes.
-Forgiveness for those who are mocking Him to come down from the cross.
-Forgiveness for those who are cursing Him and railing at Him.
So we hear Him cry to the Father in Luke 23:34,
“FATHER FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.”
You say, “I know that I could have never done that! Not in a million years.” Oh yes you can, not you, but through Jesus Christ, you can. You can forgive your worst enemies and greatest hurters, because:
“YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS
YOU – IT’S ALL IN THE CHRIST.”
This is wonderful! I can do all things through Christ – under His direction – for His purposes – consistent with His Word – to accomplish His goals – where and when He wants me to. In my own strength? In my own intellect? In my own ability? No, not at all. Never! Why:
“BECAUSE ONLY JESUS HAS IT ALL, AND ONLY IN
JESUS WILL I FIND IT ALL.”
We read the words of Jesus on the cross in John 19:30,
“It is finished!”
This is what He means:
“WHAT I CAME TO DO, I HAVE DONE IT! WHAT I SOUGHT TO ACCOMPLISH, I HAVE
ACCOMPLISHED. THE MISSION FATHER YOU GAVE ME IS NOW
COMPLETE. I HAVE DONE IT ALL.”
“JESUS HAS COMPLETED THE WORK OF OUR SALVATION ON THE CROSS, BUT
THE CROSS DID NOT COMPLETE THE FINISHED WORK OF JESUS.”
-The Cross is not our Savior, Jesus is!
-The Cross is not our Salvation, Jesus is!
-The Cross is not our Deliverer, Jesus is!
-The Cross is not out Freedom, Jesus is!
And so we interview the Apostle Paul. We ask him, “Paul, you thought Jesus was a fraud, didn’t you?” He answers, “Yes I did once.” We persist, “Then God the Son spoke to you from Heaven in blazing light on the road to Damascus, didn’t He?” He responds, “That’s right.” We continue, “And Paul, the life He led you into wasn’t easy, was it?” He responds, “That’s right.” And we ask. “And Paul, how do you feel about this Jesus now?” And he responds in Colossians 3:4,
“CHRIST IS MY TOTAL LIFE – EVERYTHING I HAVE AND HAVE BECOME
IS IN AND FROM HIM.”
And I Corinthians 1:30-31,
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us WISDOM FROM GOD,
and RIGHTEOUSNESS and SANCTIFICATION and REDEMPTION,”
“that just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
“ALL THAT WE MUST HAVE AND BECOME FOR THE GLORY OF GOD IS IN
THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS.”
Recently in America, there is an ongoing attempt by Obama and the Democrats to foist on this nation a different history, a politically correct history of the United States – full of lies, full of omissions, and a general tearing down of this country. No mention of:
-THE PRICE PAID FOR FREEDOM
-THE BLOOD SHED FOR FREEDOM
-THE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
-THE FREEDOM TO DIFFER
-THE FREEDOM TO SUCCEED OR FAIL
-THE FREEDOM OF ENTERPRISE
We are now in a MARXIST TAKEOVER, a COMMUNIST COUP, and America is being redefined and taken hostage by a rogue president and administration.
At the same time, the godless forces are eating away at the heart of the church, which heart is THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS. Listen:
-SUCCESS IS REPLACING SALVATION
-PURPOSE IS REPLACING PARDON
-SELF-IMAGE IS REPLACING SIN-CONVICTION
-RICHES ARE REPLACING RIGHTEOUSNESS
-CASH IS REPLACING CHRIST
-COMFORT IS REPLACING THE CROSS
-BOUNTY IS REPLACING THE BLOOD
In his book, “A Biblical Who’s Who,” Frederick Buechner presents from A-Z several dozen character sketches of well-known, and sometimes not-so-well-known, biblical characters. And if there is one thing that stands out, it is that all mankind is critically in need of a SAVIOR to save them from SIN, SATAN, and SELF:
-There’s Aaron whooping it up with the Golden Calf the moment his brother’s back is turned, and there’s Jacob conning everybody including his own father.
-There’s Jael driving a tent-peg through the head of an overnight guest, and Rahab, the first of the red-hot mamas.
-There’s Nebuchadnezzar with his taste for roasting the opposition, and Paul holding the lynch mob’s coats as they go to work on Stephen.
-There’s Saul the paranoid, and David the stud, and those mealy-mouthed friends of Job’s who would probably have succeeded in boring Job to death if Yahweh had not stepped in just in the nick of time.
-And then there are the ones who betrayed the people who loved them best such as Absalom and poor old Peter, such as Judas even.
-Zacchaeus makes for a good character to end with because in a way he can stand for all the rest. He’s a sawed-off little social disaster with a big bank account and a crooked job, but Jesus welcomes him aboard anyway, and that’s why he reminds you of all the others too. Like Zacchaeus, they’re all of them peculiar as Hell, to put it quite literally, and yet you can’t help feeling that, like Zacchaeus, they’re all of them somehow treasured too.
-Because God so loves the whole world, and if we look closely, we are all in there too, just as peculiar, jaded, and disreputable as all the rest. God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance and life in THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS. In that sea of horrific but precious humanity hung a MAN ON A CROSS NAMED JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE ONLY HOPE OF THE WORLD. Amen!