INTRO: I would hazard to say that the best known religious symbol in the world is the cross. I can hardly imagine a place on our globe where the cross is not known ... even if only to a very limited degree. While I do not believe that religious symbols are authorized by the New Testament, I cannot help but see crosses of every shape, size and form as I travel in our world. Do you suppose that people have any idea of what the cross is all about? The ceremony, the formality, the display of crosses, I fear, is vanity ... superstition. What is the cross all about?
I. IT IS ALL ABOUT SIN
A. The cross was the instrument of atoning sacrifice
1. Note Heb 10:7-10 the offering of the body ...
2. 2 Cor 5:21 ... to be sin for us ...
3. Rom 5:11 ... the atonement ...
4. it was a tool by which sacrifice for sin was offered ... but not for His sin - 1 Pet 2:24
B. So, sin sent Jesus to the cross
1. sin must be bad to have required this sacrifice
2. Eph 2:1dead in ... sins - the here and now
3. Rom 6:23a wages of sin is death - the eternity
4. can we appreciate the cross without understanding the horror of sin? do we understand it?
II. IT IS ALL ABOUT LOVE
A. Why else would God permit such a thing?
1. Eph 2:4 ... for His great love ...
2. Jno 3:16 God so loved ... that He gave ...
3. such a decision of love defies explanation
4. I just dont know how a father could offer His Son for others
B. An instrument of torture is a reminder, then, of love
1. the cross is, therefore, a paradox!
2. yes, it was a cruel death for Jesus ... no argument
3. but that death grew out of great love - Rom 5:8
4. what more must God do to prove His love for us? what more loving thing to motivate us to respond?
III. IT IS ALL ABOUT GRACE
A. Here is another thing difficult to comprehend
1. start with Rom 3:23.... the human condition!
2. in a system of justice sin requires punishment
3. therefore, mankind should be destined for hell
4. enter Gods grace! Rom 3:24-26
B. At the cross the penalty for sin was paid
1. Heb 9:24-28a to bear the sins of many
2. the penalty had to be paid ... Gods justness and holiness could demand no less
3. and each of us should pay his own ... except for Gods interceding grace ... having His own Son pay for us
4. I understand the concept ... but I cannot fathom the mind of God as He provided! Grace!
IV. IT IS ALL ABOUT RECONCILIATION
A. Sin broke the relationship between you and God
1. Isa 59:1,2 puts it plainly
2. but God desires a reconciliation!
3. why? I cannot answer - mans history with God has been one of dismal failure ... God keeps His covenants; man does not
4. but the cross is proof of Gods desire
B. So, Col 1:21,22 ...now hat He reconciled ...
1. Eph 2:16 ... by the cross ...
2. reconciliation is a beautiful thing!
3. and reconciliation with/to God is now possible
4. notice, too, Col 1:23 and the if
CLOSE: The cross is all about you and me ... and a choice we can make. The cross, with its blessings, is for you. But a response from you is necessary to receive its blessings. The proper response? Faith! Penitence! Baptism into Christ!
Cecil A. Hutson
22 December 2002
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)