Covenant Church: Sunday 10:30am service - July 6, 2020

COME JOIN US FOR SERVICES SUNDAY'S AT 10:30AM AND TUESDAY'S AT 7PM

1124 BRINKLEY AVE . MURFREESBORO, TN 37129

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JUST MORE OF JESUS

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised..." Luke 4:18

Jesus still wants the broken, the bruised, and the bound, to simply come to Him, by faith through grace, that He would make you whole.

WE ARE MESSENGERS,

NOT PERFORMERS

The simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  As well, in 2 Corinthians 5:14,20 "For the love of Christ compels us... Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God."

God has called us to be messengers of the greatest message the world has ever known, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Article: What is the Message of the Cross?

     In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul wrote to the christians in Corinth “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.” Even though Paul was writing to believers in Corinth in the mid 50’s AD, the meaning and importance of his statement is as relevant today as it was back then. Generations, cultures, nationalities all change but the truth of God’s Word is eternal. We see a timeless truth in this verse. 


     Why is it important that christians (Christ believers and followers) know and understand what the “message of the cross” means?  It is crucially important because, as Paul wrote, Christ’s death is the source of the power of God, the Holy Spirit, to those who saved and in the sanctification process. Without Christ’s death there is no power of God available to get saved initially.  Many christians would understand that point, at least to some degree. But Paul was stating that the “message of the cross” is not just power to get saved initially. He was making the point that without Christ’s death there is no power of God available to “to us who are being saved.” It is correctly translated as “being saved” because “saved” is in the present tense which refers to a present, continual activity. “Being saved” is the life-long sanctification process in which we are transformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. This leads us back to the question, why is it important that children of God understand what the “message of the cross” means? The answer is because with no or little understanding of the “message of the cross,” the way that Paul used this term, that child of God will inevitably believe something else is the source by which their lives are to be changed. That christian will not know properly how the Holy Spirit works in their life. The christian life already includes trials and the normal difficulties of being in this world. Ignorance of what Christ’s death accomplished for us will lead to an overwhelmingly frustrating, even miserable at times, Christian existence, trying to live for Christ by means of our “flesh.”


    Another reason why it is important to understand the “message of the cross,” the way Paul used the term, is so that our christianity is not a mere “slogan christianity.” Too many christians know the “christianeze” lingo that makes them sound like a christian.  This can even be cross terminology.  One thing that Paul did not have was a “slogan theology.”  If he did, we would see Paul repeatedly using the term “message of the cross” or other terms as a slogan of what he preached. He used the term “message of the cross” and “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) one time each in all of his epistles. That speaks volumes. Is it wrong for preachers today to use these terms as a mottos of what they preach? Absolutely not. Historically, preachers have used many terms as mottos for their ministry; i.e. “Foursquare Gospel” was used as a motto by Aimee Semple MacPherson from the 1920’s-1940’s.  The problem with certain terms being used over and over again, like a politician uses a certain phrase to describe their campaign, it inevitably causes believers to focus on the preacher and their “niche” term.  That might be alright for a politician, but a God called preacher must be more careful. This wrong focus on the speaker/preacher is part of the reason why Paul wrote this letter of 1 Corinthians. The preacher that uses certain phrases repeatedly, like a motto is used, MUST make it VERY CLEAR that the content of the term is more important than the term itself.  We do not see Paul using terms like mottos to describe his message and ministry.  Why? Most likely because he knew it would lead to the problem the believers in Corinth were having, a wrong focus on preachers and the term itself, rather than the actual message of Christ crucified.


     Here are some observations in the context that will help us understand what the “message of the cross” means, as Paul used the term, in 1 Cor. 1:18. In the surrounding verses Paul was contrasting God’s wisdom expressed in the crucifixion of Christ with the wisdom of the world which was proudly self-centered. The wisdom of the world; i.e. “know how” of the world that exists now is no different, at its core, as it was in Corinth. The statement Paul makes immediately before vs. 18 is “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” (vs. 17). The term “wisdom of words” refers to the practice of philosophy orators in Corinth. Corinth was widely known for its excessive entertainment culture, whether it be in blatant sexual immorality, religion, athletics, or in philosophical speakers. In Corinth, philosophical orators were like entertainers who were always trying to “wow” the crowd with their speaking ability, unique wisdom, and charismatic appeal. For example, they would often speak during breaks in athletic events. As entertainers, their agenda was audience approval, and to attract a following; i.e. fans. Paul was making the point that God did not call him to preach the gospel in the same way as the philosophical orators in Corinth, “wowing” people with his words and style, drawing people to himself. Many of the believers in Corinth had embraced this mindset of “worldly wisdom” and were “hungry for status.” This embracing of “worldly wisdom” caused many to say “I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Peter, or I am of Christ (no need of teachers)” (vs. 12). They wanted to follow a particular preacher, just like unsaved Corinthians were fans of certain philosophical orators. If Paul approached the gospel in this way, he would make “the cross of Christ of no effect.” The words “of no effect” mean “to make empty, void.” Making the “cross of Christ of no effect” means to empty what Christ’s death of its life transforming power. The root word for “power” in vs. 18 is dunamis which here refers “to have the ability to carry something through, or to be able to do it.


    With the context in mind, Paul’s words in vs. 18 could be elaborated on with “For the proclamation of all that Christ’s crucifixion means is an ‘absolutely stupid kind of wisdom’ to those who are on their way to complete destruction, but to those who are saved and in the process of sanctification, the proclamation of all that Christ’s crucifixion means is the life transforming power of God.”  

 

  So, what does the “message of the cross” mean, as Paul used the term, in 1 Cor. 1:18? A book could be written explaining all the details of what the “message of the cross” means. In a way it is beyond words to fully describe. Why? Because it is literally the “logos (explanation) of the cross.” But here are some meanings from simple phrases to more detailed explanations:

  • 1.     Jesus did it all!
  • 2.     Faith in Christ’s death is the means by which we receive everything from God. 
  • 3.     Jesus’s death is the means by which we are saved, instantly and continually, from the penalty and power of the sin nature within us.
  • 4.     It declares all our works to be right with God and victorious over sin are in vain; only faith/dependence in Christ’s death with bring righteousness and victory over sin.
  • 5.     Jesus’ death is the means by which God’s power transforms us into the character of Jesus Christ.
  • 6.     Jesus’ death is the demonstration of God’s love, wisdom, power, and righteousness.
  • 7.     It is the means by which God’s gives us a new identity and new life in Christ Jesus.
  • 8.     It is the means by which we understand what God demands our faith/dependence to be in, in order to be in proper relationship with Him.
  • 9.     Jesus’ death gives us the correct focus, foundation, fuel, and fervency to live for God.
  • 10.  It is the message that explains how we are justified, being sanctified, and one day glorified through faith/dependence in Christ’s death on the cross.
  • 11.  It is the foundational means by which the Holy Spirit’s power works in our life as we live by faith in Christ.
  • 12.  It is the means by which we receive and live in Christ’s resurrection power.
  • 13.  Faith in Jesus’ death is the means by which all of God’s Law was fulfilled by Christ and fulfilled in us through Christ

Summary of the Message of the Cross

  • 1.     It shows us the correct object of faith
  • 2.     It is the means by which the Holy Spirit works in our life.
  • 3.     It is the foundation upon which we grow in our relationship with God through the biblical practices of prayer, Bible reading/study, worship, and fellowship.
  • 4.     It is the means by which we receive everything from God. 


The A,B,C's of the Message of the Cross for the Unsaved


        A.  Admit to God that you are a sinner in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

        B.  Believe fully in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for you sins, and that He rose from the dead.

              *John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not     

              perish but have everlasting life.”

             *Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised

             Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth

            confession is made unto salvation.”    

       C.  Confess with your mouth to God and others what Jesus has done in your life.

            *Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised

            Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth

            confession is made unto salvation.”    


The A,B,C's of the Message of the Cross for the Saved


      A.  Admit to God that none of your good works can earn, merit, or achieve all of the blessings of God.

             *John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me

             you can do nothing.

      B.  Believe continually in Christ’s finished work on the cross, and in all the promises of God in His  Word.

            *Colossians 2:6 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

      C.  Come to God continually in prayer with thanksgiving bringing to Him every need.

            *Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help

            in time of need.”

           *Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your

           requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts

           and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 



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