The Preaching of the Cross

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him
crucified
(1Cor.2: 2).

The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was taken to the Corinthians through
Paul, with great power and authority as we read in 1 Cor.2: 4,5. Yet the believers
there remained babes for a long time. With a heavy heart he wrote to them saying,
"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even
as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye
were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able" (1 Cor.3: 1-2). He had to
speak to them as little children and could not teach them the deeper truths of
salvation. Even though they heard the word with power and authority, yet they
remained babes in the spirit. As a result they not only had strife, confusion,
contention and divisions among them but sin also. Then came the wrong teaching
and false doctrines. The main reason for all that was, they had not experienced the
power of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us fail to grow spiritually
because we do not understand the meaning of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
do not appropriate it in our lives.

Over the centuries, the cross is being used as a sign or a symbol. Many
people bow before it or wear a small cross in the neck or keep it in their homes.
Some think of it by repeatedly saying, "He died, He died". But there is no power in
their lives. Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor.1: 18, "For the preaching of the cross is to
them that perish foolishness: but unto us which are saved it is the power of God".
The power of God comes into us in fullness and abundance by appropriating the
power of the cross of Christ in us. There is no other way, and no other plan by which
that power will come into us. Some people try to get that power by wrong means like
dreams and visions. Apostle Paul saw many visions but he did not depend on them
for this power. According to Phil.3: 10, he longed to know the Lord Jesus Christ and
the power of His resurrection. He had the privilege of seeing not one but many
visions and miracles in his life. He even had the privilege of being caught up into
third heaven and sees many wonderful things (2 Cor.12: 2-5). He did not glory in
those visions and miracles but longed to know how to identify with the death of
Christ and to enjoy the power of His resurrection.

Now the cross means, the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Many people think of hardship as their cross. Any difficulty, any trial, any
persecution or even an unhappy home, they call it their cross. Some say their wife is
their cross. But the cross means the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. He
never died as a martyr or by force. He gave Himself willingly. He is not asking for
any sympathy or tears from us. Some people think that by shedding tears on Good
Friday or by fasting for three days, they show sympathy. But in John 1 a: 18 we read
that He gave His life willingly. He died so that we may receive into us this powerfully.
That is why we should experience it in our lives. All of our teaching and preaching
should be centered on the cross of Christ. As we saw earlier, Paul saw the Lord
personally, did many miracles and great works, yet he did not glory in all that. He
gloried in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. "But God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto
me, and I unto the world" (Gal.6: 14). We have to learn that by experience. The
power and the secret of the cross is not one day's experience. It should be our daily
experience to claim the power of the cross by faith.

Christian life is warfare, a life -long warfare (Eph.6: 12). Do not be satisfied
because you got victory over a few temptations. That is no proof that you will not
face any more temptations or fall into sin. None of us who overcame in the past can
say, "I am safe". The devil makes us fall by simple things. Unknowingly you may put
your foot on a piece of soap, fall down and break your leg. It is not done intentionally
but a very small thing causes you to slip and fall and break the leg. Then you have to
be in bandage for some months. None " of us can say, "I will never fall". That is why
the Lord Jesus Christ says, "Watch". We may not know but it is possible to be
overtaken in sin. The devil can come as an angel of light, or as a roaring lion, a flood
or as a grievous wolf. Whenever we are not watchful, the devil comes in a subtle way
to deceive us. That is why we have to learn the secret of getting victory by the
power of the cross. It is not attained in one day, but as we appropriate that power
day by day we get strength to defeat the devil.

In Corinth, believers were divided. Some said they belonged to Paul, some to
Apollos, some to Cephas and some to Christ (1 Cor. 1: 12). They were full of hatred
and jealousy. That is why Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:2, "I determined not to know any
thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified". He also told them about the
great things God had purposed to give them. "... Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for
them that love him" (1 Cor. 2:9). There was no need for them to glory in the
miracles done by the apostles in the past. We can also have the same weakness of
glorying about the past. We should rather enter into the great purpose of God as
revealed in 1 Cor. 2:9. God wants to do so much for us, far beyond our
understanding. But these great mysteries can be understood only by the deeper
work of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is
why the apostle had such a burden to know among the Corinthians nothing but
Christ crucified (1 Cor .2:2).

The believers at Corinth gloried in their Bible knowledge, because they had plenty of
knowledge. They gloried in their utterance also (1 Cor. 1: 5- 7). They believed in and
waited for the second coming of the Lord Jesus. They had more gifts than other
people. In spite of all these advantages they remained babes. It is quite possible to
be like that. That is the sad condition of many believers even to day. With all the
preaching and knowledge, there is no depth in their spiritual life. They live a life of
defeat, and are dry spiritually. There is no spiritual oneness among them, whether
they are God's servants or believers. There is no understanding of deep spiritual
matters; they know only repentance and salvation. But Paul says, God wants to give
great things, and for that we need to understand the deeper meaning of the cross of
the Lord Jesus Christ.

The power of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ helps us to die with Him as Paul
testifies in Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but
Christ liveth in me: and the life which r now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the
Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". Before we can die with Him,
we have to understand how He died for our sins. He became our Substitute. He did
no sin; He knew no sin, yet He died for us. "For he hath made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor.
5:21). "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he
threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own
self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should
live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:23, 24). "Who
was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom.
4:25). We must remember this fact day by day, not just think about it now and then.
It will take our whole life, even eternity to know this unchanging, divine love of the
Lord Jesus Christ. First of all, we must know that He died for our sins (Rom. 6:23).
God is just. He must punish us for the sins, which we committed by word, deed and
thought. We think that the sins of deeds only are great sins. But before our God, "
any thing that breaks our contact with Him is sin. A few drops of water in a switch,
causes all lights and fans to go off. Once in a big building we found that lights were
going off very often. When one of us went to see the cause, he found few ants
running in and out of the switch. Small ants only, but because of them fuse was
going off and the whole building was in darkness. Even so, a sinful thought or deed
breaks our contact with God.

Now who can count evil thoughts? In Mark 7:21-22 we read, "For from within,
out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries. Fornications, murders,
Thefts, covetousness.,... an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness". Though we do
not want, thoughts of hatred and jealousy often come into us. In the same way, all
our idle words will be counted. "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men
shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment"(Matt.12: 36).

We have to be punished for our sinful deeds, words and also thoughts. If we can
count our bad thoughts of one day, they are more than the number of our hairs. If
that is true of one day, what about every day? If we put all our thoughts together,
our punishment will be very great. Our sins are so many, that we deserve eternal
death. But our Lord Jesus Christ as our loving Creator bore all our punishment on the
cross. His love is very great! Many parents pay the debts of their children. Some
children throw stones and break the neighbor’s windowpanes. Then the parents will
pay the cost of the glass. Similarly, the Lord Jesus Christ our Creator paid the
penalty of all our sins. That is why He allowed people to do to Him whatever they
wanted. If He wanted, He would have brought fire from heaven, as the disciples
wanted to do in Luke 9:52-54. But He rebuked them and said, "...the Son of man is
not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" (v.56). As our loving Savior He
bore all our sins in His own body. He gave His hands and feet to be pierced, face to
be spat upon, hair to be plucked, and back to be scourged. Every joint of His body
became loose. When He was scourged His whole body was bruised, for the scourges
were made of steel pieces. He gave all as the Scripture says. That is why it will take
us eternity to thank Him sufficiently. Do you thank Him for dying for your sins? How
many times do you thank Him? You may take hardly a minute. Many thank Him only
as a routine, and not from their hearts.

See the Lord Jesus taking your place, bearing your punishment, your curse
and your condemnation upon Him and you will know that He is so loving, holy and
perfect. Wicked people mocked Him, reviled Him, and pulled His hair, but He did not
say one word. He gave Himself fully. In the world, even if one has committed
murder, he will not be punished unless his crime is proved by two or three witnesses.
Without witnesses there cannot be any punishment. But in the case of the Lord Jesus
Christ there were no witnesses, yet He was punished. He has full record of all our
sins. We may forget what we have done, but He says, "My dear child, I know how
many sins you have committed. I have paid the price for all your sins". So we have
to go on thanking Him. It must be from the heart. For the power of the cross to
come into our lives, we must spend much time in thanking the Lord for dying for our
sins.

If any one pays our debts we will be very grateful to them. In my school days
I was once traveling by train to go to my hostel. I slept and went beyond the station
where I had to get down. Only at the next station I woke up and realized what had
happened. I got down there, went to the stationmaster and said to him, "Sir, I
overslept, which I should not have done, and so did not get down at the right
station". He was a kind man. He gave me food and put me in the next train. Even
today, I am grateful to him. The Lord Jesus did so much for us; how much more
should we be thankful to Him! That is why our worship round the Lord's Table is so
important. If we take part in the Lord's Table worthily and thank Him for the very
fact that He paid all our debt and saved us, the power of resurrection will come into
us. If we thank Him day by day for dying in our stead, sin becomes very sinful to us.

Then we begin to hate sin and say, "How can I grieve the Lord again and again?"
There were two brothers who were always quarrelling. One day as they were
having food, they started quarrelling again. One of them threw a knife at the other in
anger. Then the mother put forth her hand to protect the other brother. Her hand
was cut. They both felt very much ashamed for hurting her. Thereafter whenever
they quarreled, the mother would say. "My dear boys, I get hurt whenever you
quarrel", and she would show her hand. That is how every time we commit sin, we
grieve our Lord. We must remember how much He suffered for our sins and thank
Him adequately and sufficiently and learn to hate sin. We must love Him for His
great love, which no one else can ever show; love which constrained Him to die for
us.

He died not only to forgive our sins but also that we might die to our sinful
nature. Many people stop at the first stage. They confess their sins, receive
forgiveness and stop there. Through the power of His death we can die to our sinful
nature with which we were born. Sin is like a serpent or a scorpion. No amount of
milk can change their nature. Supposing a man takes a serpent and feeds it with
milk everyday for some months. Then one day he puts his hand in its mouth. It will
surely bite him. Then that man may say, "Mr. Serpent, how much milk I gave you
and looked after you? Why did you bite me?" Then the serpent will say, "Sir, I am
born like that, I cannot help because it is my nature". So also, we have inherited
from our first parents Adam and Eve, their sinful nature. Many scholars and great
men have tried to overcome their sinful nature, but all have failed. That nature must
die. Cancer cannot be cured by any medicine or injections. The diseased part must
die. That disease is too horrible. People who have suffered from cancer may think
that they are all right, but after a short time they find that they were wrong. We also
may think, "I have conquered this sin, I have conquered that sin", but the very next
day we will fall into the same sin again. Every day you say, "I won't fall, I won't fall",
but you will be surprised to see how you fall again and again. We are defeated,
either by word, thought or deed. We have to appropriate the power of the death of
the Lord Jesus Christ daily and go on dying to our sinful nature.

By faith we must pray saying, "Lord, I don't depend upon my will-power or
strength. You help me to die to my sinful nature". None of us should be careless
about this; otherwise we are liable to be deceived. We must ask the Lord Jesus
Christ for His thoughts and His desires, saying, "I am.. troubled with sinful thoughts
and desires. Lord, please help me to die to these sins". It is a daily warfare. There
are wicked, evil and unseen powers coming upon us. Because of that so many times
you are full of fear and evil thoughts. You must die to all these. Do not depend upon
your own strength or will power. Ask the Lord to pour His power of death into you
that you may die. This is how we have to die daily and receive the power of Christ
into us.
Apostle Paul says in Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live:
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by
the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". We have to
give complete charge of our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the purpose of
having morning quiet time. His life should control us the whole day.

Thirdly, the Lord Jesus Christ died that we may die to the world. "But God
forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the
world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal.6: 14). Not only should we be
delivered from our sinful nature but also be delivered from worldly attractions, such
as honor, fame, fashions, glitter and glory of the world. We are easily attracted by
earthly glory, but the Lord Jesus Christ put an end to all these by His death. We
must not imitate worldly people in our conversation, deeds, dress and manners. "For
our conversation is in heaven" (Phil.3: 20). We see many believers imitating worldly
people in dress, hairstyle etc. All these show that they are; living in darkness, If we
follow worldly people In conversation, dress, music etc, we become spiritually weak.

We- must die to all the things of the world. It is only possible by the power of the
cross of our lord Jesus Christ. Whenever a temptation comes to you to imitate
worldly people, pray, "Lord, have mercy upon me; I am tempted to follow the world
in my ways and dress. Please help me to follow Your; ways". We have to live as
pilgrims and strangers in this world, as God's peculiar people. "But ye are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should
shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous
light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which
had not obtained mercy. But now have obtained mercy" (1 Pet.2: 9, 10). It should
be seen in our dress, conversation, and ways. And everything else that we are really
a heavenly people. But sad to say. Many believers become worldly. That is why they
are dry spiritually; they have knowledge but no power only by a deep work of the
cross, can one be delivered from these attractions.

See for instance, Joseph was the wealthiest man in the whole of Egypt. He
was next to Pharaoh. But he was never deceived by the glory of Egypt. Before he
died he said to his people, "Carry up my bones from hence" (Gen.50: 25;
Exo..13:19; Josh.24: 32). If you go to Palestine, even today you can see Jacob's
well, and Joseph's tomb side by side. Even though his brothers deceived him
because of jealousy, he felt more one with them than with the Egyptians. He
identified himself with Abraham and his people but not with the people of Egypt. This
is possible only by the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not be deceived by
worldly methods, worldly fame, worldly glory, worldly honor, and worldly ways. It is
a great temptation in the West. But the working of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ
can deliver us from all these and we can enjoy the things, which are kept for us in
heaven.

Thus, the power of the cross of the Lord Jesus works in a threefold manner,
First of all, the Lord Jesus died in our stead that our sins may be forgiven. Secondly,
He died that we may also die to our old sinful nature and live as new people, for the
new nature only will qualify us for Heaven. Thirdly, He died that we may die to the
world, that is, we may be delivered from worldly attractions and live as pilgrims and
strangers in this world.

May the Lord give us all a full experience of this power of the cross of the
Lord Jesus Christ.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.   Matthew 24: 42