The Bare Soul - March 21, 2010
The Cross, Part I

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Cross" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on March 25, 2010.

The Cross - March 25, 2010

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

What is the meaning of the cross? While most of the world will never truly know its profound significance, it is generally agreed upon as the most universally recognized symbol. For devout followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, it has much more meaning than merely a "symbol". For in the cross, there is the true identification for every believer with the Lord's death. And, if identified in His death, than also partakers in His resurrection. As declared in our opening scripture, Paul as well as all humankind died with Christ in that most momentous event nearly 2,000 years ago . However, the scripture states that only few in comparison with the totality of mankind will ever accept the Savior and know the power of the cross through His resurrected life. Christ shedding His blood for the forgiveness of our sins was truly the way into the Most Holy Place where His blood made that "new and living way" possible (Hebrews 10:19-21). Through His forgiveness of sins, we can go beyond that simple understanding into the realization that we have been crucified with our Savior -- that He has dealt a death blow to our old nature through the work of the cross. Like Paul, we can acknowledge our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Only when we know this fact by the revelation of the Holy Spirit may we live the life that Christ bought for us all with His spent, mortal life.

While the cross is the most universally recognized symbol throughout the world, it is also the most despised. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) uses our court systems to remove symbols such as the cross from all public and government institutions, many Muslim nations threaten and impose imprisonment on their own countrymen and women for wearing a crucifix. The cross is a direct affront to secular, atheistic organizations such as the ACLU and likewise to Satanically-inspired religions such as radical Islam. Most Muslims will tell you that Jesus was one prophet of many that the Qur'an embraces. Then why do radical Muslims persecute Christians? I believe it is because they are filled with the spirit of hate and divisiveness -- they are sons and daughters of their father the devil! And, as sons and daughters of darkness, they hate the cross of Christ as much as their father! They may not consciously understand why they hate Christians as they do, yet they do just the same. The same can be said for radical Secular Humanists. Their hate comes across as mocking the so-called uneducated "rubes" that continue to believe in a resurrected Lord. They act in a more "civilized" approach, seeking to convince others of the sheer implausibility and lunacy of Christian belief. While Muslims and Secular Humanists seem worlds apart, both of these example groups are working toward one end and that is to exterminate the cross and its influence over all spheres of public AND private life. However, it is impossible to eradicate the cross's power by removing its symbolism, whether it is worn around a believer's neck or it is sculpted into a courthouse facade. In either case, if the devil can't get rid of the power of the cross, he will just as determinably attempt to remove any reminder thereof. For truly, if the prince of darkness had known ... the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (I Corinthians 2:8). Just as the devil is incapable of destroying the power of the cross, he will seek every opportunity to weaken its influence.

Paul spoke to both the hyper-religious and to the Secular Humanists of his day when he wrote to the Corinthians. In some ways, the Jews of Paul's day were as rabid and zealous as today's radical Muslims concerning their religion, that it ultimately filled them with hate for all others. Likewise, there was an arrogance and intolerance by the Greek stoics of Paul's day that resonates with today's Secular Humanist believers. Paul states in I Corinthians 1:22-24: For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  First century Jews sought continually to stone Paul because of their demonic hate toward his devotion towards Christ. Likewise, the Greeks scoffed at Paul (as on Mars Hill during his visit Athens [Acts 17:18]) much the same way as many secular liberals do today toward the Christian faith. Regardless, both groups possessed the underlying hate of the finished work of the cross. The devil continues to rage and will so until he is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Until that time, he will do his best to incite murderous "riot" in some of his followers toward those who cling to the cross and to its power. In others, he will continue to wage a "civilized" war, hammering away at the very foundation of Christianity through mockery and a dismissive attitude by trivializing the Christian faith. Either way, Satan is determined to make the cross impotent because he hates that it is the symbol of his defeat.

Whether we choose to believe that the cross of Calvary defeated Satan and the power of sin is irrelevant to its reality. Christ died for everyone who has ever been born or will ever be born into this world. As Paul states in Galatians 2:20 and also in Romans 6:6, all of humankind was crucified with Christ. Therefore, it is our choice as individuals whether to identify ourselves with this historical fact and to believe that we have been crucified and resurrected with our Lord, or to deny the power of his appearing to render sin of no effect (Romans 6:11). The explosive power that was able to defeat all darkness is the reason the world hates the cross! Whether it is the religion of Secular Humanism or Satanic radical Islam, the enemy of Calvary will either seek to discredit the cross through absorption into the world's intellectual compromises, or to destroy it though a false religion in the "name of God'. While the cross may be marginalized by the enemy of our souls in his end time push to enslave as many souls as possible, for many its revelation will continue to usher new believers into God's kingdom. While some may refer to us as "infidels" and others may view us as "uneducated fools", the power of the cross continues to empower true believers in the Risen Lord to live resurrected lives. May we all know the power of the cross as we triumph in Christ's victory, once and for all, over sin!

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to be nailed to a cross -- to bleed and die for our sins and to remove the power of sin from our lives. No longer must we walk in the power of the enemy for we have been raised into newness of life with Your Son. Thank you, Lord, for the cross. Thank You that You have defeated our foes -- sin and Satan! No power on earth can overwhelm us for we are more than conquerors through Your Son. We praise You! In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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