Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cross Words and Gospel Hope

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
-1 Corinthians 2:1-2

“Do you want to live a cross centered life? A cross centered life is made up of cross centered days.”
-C.J. Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life, p. 132

“Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing, a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me, even to this day, the greatest wonder that I ever heard of, that God would justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin apart from His almighty love. I know and am fully assured that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and am treated as if I had been made perfectly just and made an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. And yet, by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas before I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder.”
-Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace, p. 11

“Look at the cross, my friend. Have you ever really looked at it? Have you ever, with Isaac Watts, surveyed this wondrous cross? I am asking you to do so now. Look at those three crosses on that little hill called Calvary, outside the city of Jerusalem. Look at the middle one and at that person who is dying there. They are amazed that he has died so quickly. Who is he? That is the first question. You will never understand the significance of what happened there until you are clear about who was dying there.”
-D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Cross, p. 29

Already this week I’ve been reminded again and again of why the Cross so important. Discouragement, conflict, unforgiveness, envy, slander, death, bitterness, anger, disease, hatred, and a host of other ills are all around us, and yet God plants the Cross right in the middle of our sin and suffering. The Cross is the believer’s hope. In the Cross my many sins have been forgiven. In the Cross I am no longer under the righteous wrath and judgment of God. In the Cross I hear God’s pardoning voice speaking reconciliation to me. In the Cross God has shown himself favorably disposed towards me and deigned my ultimate good. In the Cross I have hope for my marriage and my children. In the Cross I have the assurance of genuine change through the transforming power of the gospel. In the Cross I can forgive those who have sinned against me and truly love my enemies. In the Cross I have the assurance of comfort in the midst of suffering. In the Cross I know that death has no ultimate foothold. In the Cross I see the love of God for other believers. In the Cross I see the love of God for a hostile world. In the Cross I have hope for the future. In the Cross my greatest need has been met. In the Cross my sharp and critical words are silenced. In the Cross my lustful thoughts are reined in. In the Cross I have the confidence that the ministry of the Holy Spirit will convict me of sin. In the Cross I am assured of God’s love for me, a sinner.

As Christians, the Cross defines us. We must never move away from it. Instead, it should become more precious to us each day. The Cross is the emblem of God’s rescue of humanity through the ignominious death of His Son. The Cross is the standard by which biblical love has been measured. If you want to see the love of God, look at the Cross. If you want to see the mercy of God, look at the Cross. If you want to see the holiness of God, look at the Cross. If you want to see humility personified, look at the Cross. If you want to see the grace of God, look at the Cross. Looking at the Cross will help us maintain a right perspective. Surely Isaac Watts has helped us here,

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.

My hope for you this week is that you are once again captivated by the Cross. It truly is our hope.

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