WHAT THE CROSS PROVIDES
Today, there is not a whole lot of talk about Calvary. In many churches, Easter may be the only Sunday that it is ever mentioned. For many it is probably nothing more than a historical event. Christians routinely and, in my opinion, carelessly wear a crucifix around their neck to remind them that Jesus died for their sins. But the cross of Calvary is so much more than a historical event. And certainly, it is more than just a decorative ornament. In fact, there was nothing attractive about Calvary. It was a horribly ugly event. And yet in spite of the pain, in spite of the rejection, Jesus so hated sin that He chose to die on the cross of Calvary. Sin is the reason for all the world’s problems. And sin is the reason for the cross of Calvary. If there were no sinners there would be no need for a savior.
We know that we are more sinner than saint. Our sin is the reason for the cross. The Cross has made provision for our sin-sick souls. The Cross provided everything my soul needs. Everything people need, they can find at the Cross.
Ask yourself, “What do I need?” Then examine the cross of Jesus. I promise you will find that Jesus provides everything your soul truly desires.
PARDON BY THE CROSS
The first thing we truly need is a pardon. We need more than instruction, education, or legislation. We need a pardon.
Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” If we are in sin we are condemned. Sinners need a pardon—a pardon from death.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In [Christ] we have redemption (we have a pardon) through his blood (that is His Cross)”…
We have a pardon from sin. The Cross provides redemption from Satan’s hold. We have redemption from death. But there is more… the original word “redemption” implies, “We are having redemption.” It is present tense. Our redemption is right now!
Hebrews 7:25 says, “Wherefore [Jesus Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth (He is always present) to make intercession for them.”
Later, the same writer says…
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).
ETERNAL REDEMPTION! ETERNAL PARDON!
If perchance you were taken and held captive till a ransom could be provided, it would only be for that occasion. That ransom would not protect you from a later captivity. So it was with the Old Testament. At no time was Israel allowed to think that enough animals had been slain on the altar. They were perpetually bringing another sacrifice. No sooner was one accumulation of sins washed away than another one began to appear. And thus, also, no sooner did the priest wipe away the blood of one beast than he began to make ready for shedding the blood of another. The task was endless.
But Jesus Christ entered for all into the Holy Place and obtained an eternal pardon.
Sins are pardoned by the Cross. Moral failures are an outward manifestation of an inward disease. Sin is that inward moral disease. And it is here, present in human life. We are all conscious of it. We sense there is a force beyond the sinful deed itself that propelled us to commit the sin. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15).
This is not the experience of a wretched few. It is the common experience of every member of every race. Every man fails. Every woman goes wrong. Every person breaks down.
It is against this moral disease that the psalmist prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Pardon is the first provision of the Cross. The Cross, however, has provided far more than just a pardon.
PURITY BY THE CROSS
Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge (purify) your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
In this verse the writer declared that Jesus Christ by offering Himself, made a provision by which my conscience can be cleansed and purified from dead works. The Cross makes it possible to do that which I have not been able to do . . . “to serve the living God.”
A clean conscience! That is exactly what the Cross provides for every man. No matter how depraved a person may be, the Cross provides a cleansing for man’s conscience. Regardless of how utterly a person’s conscience has become evil, the Cross provides purity. Purged, the verse says, from dead works.
James 1:15 says, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Dead works are the works of sin and we are purified from dead works.
First, the Cross provides a pardon—a separation from my sin. Second, the Cross provides a purity of conscience. It gives me liberty to serve the Living God.
Then, when my soul has been pardoned and my conscience has been cleansed, there is still yet another element—the element of peace. There can be no peace as long as sin is unforgiven. There can be no perfect peace as long as impurity remains. Pardon and purity equal peace.
PEACE BY THE CROSS
Colossians 1:20 says, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross…”
It is sin that cuts us off from God. It is sin that blinds our vision so we cannot see God. It is sin that deadens our emotions so we cannot love God. It is sin that turns our will into perverse attitudes so we cannot obey God.
Sin pollutes the very sources of life. This pollution prevents communion with God. Sin alienates us from God. And when a sinner is alienated from God, they cannot cease to sin. This alienation causes us to lose our power not to sin. For the only power that enables a man not to sin is that of direct communion with God.
This is the awful tragedy of sin—it becomes the reflex action in human life. If a person is to find perfect peace, they must find their way into harmony with God. The person who is out of harmony with God is out of harmony within their own personality.
Out of this discord of human life come the questionings and the agonies, the conflicts and the defeats that are perpetual in human history. Out of that discord comes the dual cry of a man when he says, I would do good… but evil is present with me. I would climb, but I fall. I would run, but I stumble.
The man or woman who is godless lacks peace within. However, there are men and women who have peace. There are men and women who know peace with God, with themselves, with their fellow men, and with all the universe of God. And here is why and how. At the center of the worst disorder of all is the Cross. Proceeding from the Cross is the reconciliation and restoration of peace. It is at the Cross that men and women find themselves. Why? Because they have found God.
At the Cross there is pardon from the past.
At the Cross there is purity for the present.
At the Cross there is peace for the future.
POWER BY THE CROSS
And I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
It is not the preaching that saves. It is the preaching of the Cross. It is the message of the preacher that saves. The preaching of the Cross is the power of God to those who are being saved.
Consider for a moment the need of the soul that has been pardoned purified and given peace. What could that person who has been pardoned by Jesus, purified by Jesus, and comforted by Jesus need? In spite of pardon, in spite of purity, in spite of peace, a relationship with Jesus Christ does not remove us from the world. We still live in the same neighborhood and still work in the same occupation. Even though our sins are forgiven, all the peculiar forces that have played on our personality prior to our relationship with Jesus still operate after we come to Christ. The old temptations come again. In fact, they are felt far more keenly than they have ever before. For this, Jesus Christ has empowered us through the preaching of His Cross.
When I yielded myself to the Cross and received its blessings, I was brought into a new realm of activity. And what I need is a new force that is equal to all the demands. I need power to resist temptation, power to endure suffering, and power to stand in faith.
The Scriptures says that it is the preaching of the Cross that is the power of God. The message of the Cross is the power of God.
Hebrews 1:3: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
Our word is nothing more than a wish! But the Word of God is a work already done! We speak and we must do it. But God speaks and it is already done. And we can make contact with that power. But there is only one way, and it is that we surrender.
Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ.” Never until we come to the Cross will we know what power is in our own lives. The power of the Cross operates in and through those who are content to die with Him. It is, however, this dying that hinders us.
Paul continued, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” It is the canceling of the “I” in the life of the Christian that creates contact with the power of the Cross.
First, we have seen how pardon is ours—that we have redemption through His blood. Second, we have seen how purity comes to us by the way of the Cross. Third, we have seen how peace comes to us by His shed blood. And fourth, we have considered how power comes to us, for the preaching of the Cross is the power of God.
PROMISE AT THE CROSS
And lastly, consider that, in the closing words of Romans 8, Paul asked four questions.
- In Romans 8:31 he asked, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
- In Romans 8:33 he asked, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?”
- In Romans 8:34 he asked, “Who is he that condemneth?”
- And in Romans 8:35 he asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
We too ask these great questions.
Who is against us?
Who will bring charges against us?
Who is he that will condemn us?
Who can separate us from the love of God?
Sometimes we ask them with great, challenging faith. At other times we ask while awfully aware of our frailty. But in this same eighth chapter of Romans—in the midst of these questions—Paul proclaimed in verse 32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” When God gave His Son, He gave His best. He emptied Heaven, if you will, of its richest. There is nothing worth more. In that moment, He gave something better than the rest—and yet all is included.
He freely gave us all! It is not merely that if He spared not His Son, He will give other things. It is really that when He gave His Son, He gave all.
Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” How do we know God is for us? We know because He gave everything! There is no other demonstration.
We look back and the Cross brings us pardon.
We look back and the Cross brings us purity.
We look ahead and the Cross brings us peace.
We look around and the Cross is the word of power.
We look out at the infinite and unknown possibilities of eternity and the Cross is the message of promise.
Here and now our hope for today, our hope for tomorrow, our hope in death, our hope in life, our hope in time, our hope for eternity is only in the cross of Jesus Christ.