Category Archives: The Cross

God Incarnate: Our Every Hope

Hebrews 2:9 “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

People often say around Christmas that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and they’re right. We celebrate Christmas because of Christ’s birth. More specifically, we rejoice in the incarnation, that the eternal son of God humbled himself by taking on flesh like ours. He became man, with all the needs, weaknesses, and frailty that comes with not only infancy, but the entire length of human life on a fallen planet.

More than just being the reason for a season, the incarnation of Jesus is the reason for every shred of hope found in the Christian life. Jesus displayed perfect obedience throughout his life, as “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross Philippians 2:8).” He was “in every respect…tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrew 4:15).”

We struggle to obey God, and we sin every day, but “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:4).”

But Jesus did. Jesus bowed to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane and resisted abandoning His Father’s will, crying “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42).” Jesus surrendered to the point of shedding blood, an unfathomable cost to Himself, to pay a far greater debt than we ever could pay. He purposefully surrendered Himself to wicked men, and to the cross, but ultimately to the purposes of God to save our souls.

You see, Jesus coming as a man, means we can never say “God doesn’t understand,” nor “God doesn’t care.”

He came and lived the life we never could live- a perfect, sinless life, full of trouble and abuse. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3).” He turned his cheek to those who struck him, closed his mouth to those who scorned him, gave his back to those who beat him, and resisted all urges to flee, dominate, or curse. We can’t say he doesn’t understand how hard it is to live in flesh on this sin-sick earth.

Why did he do it? “For the joy that was set before him (he) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2).”

Or as prophesied in Isaiah 53:10-11:
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

“For the joy that was set before him…”
“He shall see his offspring… “
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied…”

Out of love for His Father, and to glorify Him, Jesus also looked with love upon us. Out of the anguish of his soul he would win us. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” His death means we can never say he doesn’t care.

Without the incarnation we have no second Adam. There is no perfect, righteous life, lived on our behalf, as our representative. Without the incarnation there is no perfect sacrifice. No spotless lamb of God to finally bear the whole punishment for our sin, as Christ did on the cross.

But because of the incarnation we have hope. We can know God. We can look at the life of Jesus and find out what love is. We can be forgiven. We can have everything. Jesus Christ, his birth, death, resurrection, and awaited return is the reason for all our life and our hope. Don’t neglect his gift of salvation this Christmas.

 

Gethsemane

Did I hear my Savior cry
And did I see Him suffer?
Did He with sorrow and in grief
Not ask “Is there another?”
“Another way for death to die,
Or must this bitter cup be mine?”
“The only way?”
He cried, He cried
And knowing, yes, bowed and complied.

“The hour comes, the hour comes,
Betrayer is at hand!”
Did I hear the Lord say “Stay?”
“Stay here, keep watch, while I go pray.”
Three times looked back
Three times asleep,
Without companions He must weep.

“Wake up! The Son of Man must go!”
As has been told so it unfolds
A kiss, with venom behind lips,
A friend, with feet swift to shed blood,
A silver flash, an ear in mud.

“But no, but no,
Away your sword,
It’s me you want-
I am the Lord.
Let these ones go, let these ones go,”
So turned and fled
All friends, for dead.

He gave:
His wrists to chains
His back to beat
His face to spit
His love to cheat
Kingship to mock
His grace to scorn
Omniscience taunt
Then fully torn-
A cross to bear
Nails to pin
Then lifted up
My soul to win.

“But no one takes my life”
He said, “I lay it down”
Laid it down when-
“Nevertheless your will be done”
Grandest surrender
By the greatest one
Bowed low in Gethsemane
He chose the blood stained path
For me.

The Gospel of Grace: A Refresher Crash Course

Do you find yourself constantly coming back to the foundational truths of Christianity found at the cross, or are you trying to walk out your Christian life in your own strength? Are you motivated to obey God today, or do His commandments feel like a heavy burden? Do you feel that Jesus Christ has made you free indeed or do you live under a weight of guilt and uncertainty about your salvation? Did you know that the gospel is not only the entry way for unbelievers but the entire residence of Christian living? Consider the following, which I hope might prove encouraging and helpful.

Galatians 3:1-3 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

How did you get saved? Was it by law-keeping or by hearing the gospel and receiving grace through faith? I think you know the answer. If you are saved you know the power of the risen Savior Jesus Christ. Salvation has come in a person who is “Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1Corinthians 1:30-31).” He is all these things for us, and He will produce fruit in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In regards to our salvation the law contributed nothing but only bound everything up under sin (Galatians 3:22) and shut every mouth in regards to making an appeal of innocence before God (Romans 3:20). “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:21).”

So the question comes- if we were saved apart from the law (read the rest of Galatians 3, or Romans 3:28), and if Jesus Christ is our salvation and our sanctification, then what becomes of the law?
Now, as believers, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary we uphold the law (Romans 3:31).” We recognize that “the law is good if one uses it lawfully”- which is to use it for its intended purpose of convicting unbelievers of sin and pointing them to Christ (see 1Timothy 1:8-11). There is no problem with the law, but it presents a problem for law-breakers. God’s righteous standards still stand, and in fact, Jesus Christ explained the heart of the commandments in such a way that he exposed sin hidden within men’s hearts (see Matthew 5:17-48). Jesus upheld the law, kept the law, and bore the punishment for our law-breaking, so that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).” Now, we see the law, but we turn away from looking to law-keeping to gain righteousness, and we look to Jesus Christ who redeems us and sets us free to live by grace. That is faith. Continue reading The Gospel of Grace: A Refresher Crash Course

The Death of Christ: Our Example

2 Peter 2:20-21 “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

How often have you considered that the manner in which Jesus Christ suffered and died has been recorded that you might follow His example? The cross is the apex of everything. It is humility pressed to the farthest extreme. Selflessness poured out in blood. Forgiveness in the face of false accusations, ridicule, and torture. Trust in God even when His presence is not felt, even when it feels He has turned His back. Resistance against all temptations to escape the Father’s will when it is tremendously costly. It is love, with every stumble beneath the weight of a cross, with every pounding of the nails, with all that He fulfilled like a lamb lead to the slaughter who did not open up His mouth(Isaiah 53:7). It is the pinnacle of obedience and faith; You will not find a better example. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6).” Where do we turn when we feel like the cost is too high? When we want to give up? We look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).” We “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that (we) may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3).” Continue reading The Death of Christ: Our Example

Preach Penal Substitution

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family or in church and I still managed to ask Jesus in my heart three times by the age of 15. As a kid, it was kind of like fire insurance, something to tag on in case Hell was real. As a teenager, it was because I was invited to church and the preacher told me I had a God shaped hole in my heart only He could fill, and that resonated with me. Tears running down my face I raised my hand to accept Jesus. Christian kids from school smiled and got teary and gave me hugs. I went home with a One Minute Daily Devotional and felt pretty certain that now I was headed for Heaven.

Soon after, I went to the local Christian book store. I found a Teen Study Bible and bought the only poster available that didn’t look like it was for pansies. It was black with scrawled writing and a bloody cross, and I thought it looked pretty hardcore. Not only that but it had some pretty profound words- words that truly did speak to me and testify to my soul as being true: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).” Continue reading Preach Penal Substitution

Without God, Without Hope

I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.

I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
Continue reading Without God, Without Hope

Who Will Deliver Me?

Who Will Deliver Me?

Oh sin, that dwells within
That wages war and threatens
To destroy my joy,
That sin that seeks to win
The battle and mock at my defeat.

Oh sin, that enemy within
Crashing through my great resolve
Outpouring words, I’ve cringed and heard
Them, hasty and marking me a fool.

Continue reading Who Will Deliver Me?

The Terror of the Lord

Isaiah 2:19 “And people shall enter the caves of the rocks And the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, And from the splendor of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth.”

 We often hear the fear of God taught as “reverential awe,” and for Christians I think I understand why. The redeemed no longer fear judgement because we abide in God and His perfect love has cast out all fear of punishment (1John 4:16-18). But the same cannot be said of all those who are without Christ, for all who have not called on His name have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36). To tell an unbeliever that the definition of fearing God is to stand in awe is a weakened and partial truth.

Continue reading The Terror of the Lord

Praise that Kills the Gospel

I’ve noticed a trend in some of today’s popular Christian music that disturbs me. There’s a song that’s been playing on our local “praise” station, where the artist sings his prayer to God: “Yeah, I want to believe, Jesus help me believe, that I am someone worth dying for.” In the end the artist turns to the listener and exhorts them “You gotta believe, ya you gotta believe, that you are someone worth dying for.” Continue reading Praise that Kills the Gospel