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Archive for tag The cross

John Owen: 5 things that Jesus, in his death, achieved for us

  1. Reconciliation - when we were God's enemies
  2. Justification - when we were guilty according to God's law
  3. Sanctification - when we were unfit to enter God's presence
  4. Adoption - when we were estranged from God
  5. Glory And Immortality - promised to frail and fallible men and women
(Source: The Death of Death in The Death of Christ)

The Consequence of the Cross

17For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (ESV)

The idea that our creator loves us and demonstrates that love sounds amazing – but what does it mean now?

It means we get to choose. What will you do with Jesus? Will you look at the demonstration of his love and goodness towards you and choose him? Or will you reject it; reject him?

Because choosing him means accepting your inability to fix yourself. The message of the cross is that you are more depraved and sinful than you ever feared, but - in Jesus – you are more loved and accepted than you ever dreamed possible. And having accepted that, you must allow the cross the redefine your relationship to the world.

Choosing Christ means accepting that everything you ever thought you knew is wrong. Not the minor facts, but your most fundamental view of the universe. You thought your life was about you, but now it is about God. You thought freedom was being able to do exactly what you wanted to do – but now you find freedom is being able to serve the one you love. You thought the world was ruled by karma or by chance – but now you find the defining principle is grace; God’s unmerited favour towards you.

The Centrality of the Cross

17For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (ESV)

So what’s the big deal about the cross? Why does Paul talk about the word or the message of the cross?
The cross is how we treated God. We must appreciate that. God turned up in our world and we murdered him. Which is a depressing thing to think about – and hardly “good news.”

But more importantly, the cross is something done for us, by God. Jesus entered our world, became like us, identified with us – living with us, eating, sleeping, crying with us. The only substantive difference about Jesus was that he didn’t sin. Not even once. Not even slightly. Yet on the cross, Jesus is not merely the victim of our sin – he took the guilt of it on himself. He suffered the punishment, the penalty we deserved, as our substitute. He bore our sins in his body on the cross. God poured out his anger against sin on Jesus, who willingly took our place. At the same time, Jesus took on death and hell and evil and won; he triumphed over them. He died and rose again to set us from from our addiction to sin. He died and rose again to restore our relationship with the God who made us. He died and rose again in order that we might share in his new life. He died and rose again in order that God would not have to punish us, but could bless us. He died and rose again in order to make us holy, fit for the presence of God. He died and rose again in order that salvation would be his gift to his loved ones, not something that we earn. He was rejected in order that we might be accepted. He was forsaken, separated from God as he suffered our punishment on the cross, in order that we might never be.

He did it in order to display the depth and the wonder of his love towards us.

The Context of the Cross

17For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (ESV)

The “gospel” of verse 17 is the “word of the cross” of verse 18. The gospel is, simply put, the message of the cross. But it’s a message in context. Until we understand who Jesus is, the cross will make no sense.

Jesus is the Son of God. Not by creation, nor by adoption - rather he is co-eternal, equal with God. He was, as John 1:1 puts it, “in the beginning with God” and “was God.” He is the creator of the universe. He is God.

And yet the universe he created has rebelled against his rule. He made each of us in his image and yet we have marred that image with sin. We have rejected his authority and asserted our own right to create our own morality, rather than accept his. We have spurned his love and tried to make him surplus to requirements by trying to make ourselves like God.

As we sin, we elevate good things that God made and put them in his place. We treat them as God. We make them idols, which we then proceed to worship them, breaking God’s law, offending God’s nature, damaging God’s creation.

God could not be both good and indifferent to the evil that we visit on him, each other and his creation - so he cursed us. He pronounced judgement on sin and declared the penalty for sin would be death. Death is the judgement for sin for two reasons (1) because God himself is the source of life and in rejecting him we reject life and also (2) because God has decreed it.

But God is a good God. He is a merciful, kind, patient, loving God. And he is a saviour God.

Rather than sit at a distance as we condemned ourselves, he came near in order to save us. And he put into action a plan to save us – a plan in which he became human. He was born into this world as man. We call it the incarnation. God with flesh. Jesus.

God picked a teenage girl in northern Israel, in the middle east. A girl named Mary who was engaged to be married, but was still a virgin. He was then brought up by her and her working class husband, a guy named Joseph, in a small town named Nazareth. He grew up in obscurity, with a weight of prejudice against him: his home town was a place with a reputation like Scunthorpe.

At the age of 30, he started travelling round Israel, preaching the gospel to people, healing, caring – and urging them to repent. To turn away from their sin and turn to God.

After about 3 years, in which he became exceedingly controversial, he was betrayed by one of his closest friends. Arrested, tried on jumped up charges, beaten and then crucified – which meant he was nailed to a wooden cross – on the instructions of a mob. He died.

Three days later, he came back to life. Appeared to his disciples to prove it and then returned to heaven. His followers then went out into world and, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, they started telling everyone about Jesus. And the fact that he has promised to return.