The Message Of The Cross
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
The Message (Word) Of The Cross
Let’s pray. “Lord we just come before You. We thank You for Your word. Lord we ask You for Your light to shine. Lord we come to You for light. You said, “In Thy light we will see light.” Lord we ask You to shine Your light. Open Your word to us. Wash us with Your word. Nourish us with Your word. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.”
Without the “Word” of the cross there is no way to have the practical church-life
Turn to Psalms 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever- more.” You will show me the path of life. Now we are going to talk this morning about the message of the cross or the word of the cross. The cross is not just some event that took place two thousand years ago. Yes, it did. But it’s not just a historical event. The cross we are going to talk about is a path that we can walk in everyday which becomes the path of life. David said You will show me the path of life. How many would like to see that path? A path you can walk in everyday.
It is a path of life. David said, “Lord You will show me the path of life and in Your presence is fullness of joy.” This path of life guarantees the presence of God. How many want to have the presence of God in your life everyday, every minute of everyday? Well, this presence of God is in this path. We are going to take two verses, 1 Corinthians 1:17-18. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ, should be made of no effect.” For the message of the cross is literally the word of the cross. There is a word for us this morning. We want to see this word of the cross. What is the word of the cross? “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This is the message of the cross, the word of the cross.
In my Christian life, years ago I would meet the Lord and I would experience His presence from time to time, but I did not know how it came and I did not know how I lost it. It was like I stumbled across a road and I found His presence. Then I would stumble off that road somehow and I could not find Him. Where is it? Where did it go? It was a mystery until the word of the cross came as a message… the message of the cross. A brother came and shared with us in 1962. He stayed in our home and shared every morning and every night. We had meetings and they were about the word of the cross. I would see it a little bit in the meeting and then it would close. It would open and then it would close. So I sat there in the meeting and this experience progressed. This went on for three weeks, morning and evening, until one day I sat in the meeting and the word of the cross opened up to me. It was so refreshing and so helpful to realize I have a way to walk now that can effect everyday. It was not vague anymore. So we’ll pray that the Lord will make it real to us. Without the word of the cross there is no way to have the practical church- life. This is crucial for us to have the practical church-life. Without the word of the cross we would have church when we feel like it and when we don’t feel like it we wouldn’t have it. It appears and it dis- appears. That is not very satisfying. So we need to know and experience the word of the cross to have the practical church-life everyday.
How many want the church-life everyday? There’s a way. When you approach the tabernacle in the wilderness the first item of furniture you meet was the brazen altar. This altar was where they sacrificed animals. The blood was shed and offered upon this altar. It was a picture of the cross. The first thing that you saw when you came to the house of God was this altar, this cross. This cross is crucial for us to experience the tabernacle. For us to experience the church we must experience the cross. If we don’t have the cross we can go to “church” and never experience the church-life. If we realize the cross is the first thing that we come to in the church-life then we will have a way into the church-life.
Now what does the cross deal with. Luke 9:23-24 says, “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself…” This is what the cross tells us. First it is a denial of our- selves. “Not my will but Yours be done.” This what Jesus prayed be- fore He went to the cross. Denying ourself. I thought we came to church to get blessed. I thought we came to get something. How many have said, I went but I did not get anything. I think a lot of us have said that. I never got anything. It did not meet my needs. The cross does not come to meet your needs. It comes to kill you. The cross is death. It comes to do away with you. That is not too pleas- ant. There’s death there. There’s blood there. It’s not a very nice place. It’s not gold that you hang around your neck. It’s a place where you die. So, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross daily, and follow me.” The Greek word for life here is psuche. Whoever desires to save his soul will lose it, but whoever loses his soul- life for my sake will save it. So the cross means death to my soul-life. Well, am I willing to give up my soul-life? That means my opinions, my self. Am I willing to give it up? When you die you just don’t have any of that left. What are you going to do then? Well, He says, “If anyone desires to come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever desires to save his soul-life will lose it, but whoever loses his soul-life for my sake will save it.”
We’ll see that we are not saying that we are going to have our soul destroyed. The soul-life is this life that is independent of God developed outside of God as it’s source. It’s self developed. Self actuating. It is something that is in opposition to God. That is why we need the cross to this soul-life. Not to the soul itself, which is our mind, our emotions and our will but that life which is called the self. Deny thy self. Are you willing to give up yourself? When they came to the tabernacle the first item they met was the brazen altar… the cross. Matthew 16:21-26 says, “From that time Jesus begin to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord, this shall not happen to You.” Now Jesus just told them what was going to happen and Peter had a little problem with it. What was Peter’s problem? His soul, his mind, and his self came in conflict to what Jesus was saying. So verse 23 says “But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Get behind Me Satan!
Our independent soul-life becomes the doorway for Satan to come out and be expressed. Our soul-life with it’s good opinions, with the self behind it, is a door way for Satan. How many times have you experienced Satan come through your soul-life? Think about it a little bit. Our soul-life. Our independent soul-life that has not come to the cross becomes a doorway for Satan to come out. That is why we get into all kinds of problems. Our mouth begins to speak out of our soul-life. We speak things that hurt. We speak, you see, out of our soul-life which is independent from God. It’s acting on it’s own. That’s why we need the cross for our soul-life, for it gets expressed through our mind and our emotions and our will. So the self must come to the cross. That soul-life must come to the cross, otherwise Satan can be expressed through our soul, and you cannot have the church-life with all of that going on. We all have different opinions, likes, and dislikes. When the cross comes and deals with all of that, Christ can be expressed in our soul. That’s why we can all speak the same thing. We can all think the same thing because it is Christ. Praise the Lord! We have Christ. We need the cross to our soul-life so that Christ could be expressed in us. Then just after Jesus talked to Peter verse 24 says “Then Jesus said to His disciples, if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his soul-life will lose it, but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake will find it.” Whoever de- sires to save his soul-life will lose it, but whoever loses it at the cross will save it or keep it for eternal life. Keep it for God’s life to be ex- pressed.
Wouldn’t you rather have God’s life expressed in your mind? God’s thoughts, God’s feelings in your feelings. God’s will in your will. This is what we were made for. As human beings we have a mind, emotion and will, which is our soul, but it’s for expressing God’s mind, God’s emotion and God’s will. This is what our soul is for. Satan has usurped the soul of man through all these things to express himself. So this is why the cross is such a wonderful answer. When we come to the cross, lay ourselves down, lose our soul-life, then we find it. We find it because Christ can be expressed now in our soul. This is for everyday. Verse 26 says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” This soul that you have been so busy taking care of, strengthening and developing. One day you gain the whole world and lose your own soul. By holding on to it, you lose it. “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Our soul is so valuable to God. It was made to experience all that God is, in His nature and in His person. That we could actually experience the feelings of God and have the very thoughts of God. God made our soul to be an expression of that.
Satan has come to usurp the soul. So, therefore, God is left out. The cross has come to open the door for God to be expressed in us other than Satan to be expressed in us. Praise the Lord! Look at mankind today, Satan is being expressed in homes, families, breaking up and destroying. It’s all because of the soul-life not coming to the cross of Christ. Sometimes it takes us coming to the bottom of our soul- life before we are ready to say, “God we need You,” and then we find it. The Lord becomes the path of life for us. Verse 27 says, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” So what is this reward based upon? What do think is the context of this? It’s based on works, but what does it have to do with? Our soul. What goes on in our soul becomes the basis for our reward or our loss. What goes on in your soul depends on what you allow. Martin Luther said, “You can’t prevent the birds from flying over your head but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair.” So if our soul gets filled up with all these negative thoughts and we live them out, then there surely will not be a reward but a loss as a Christian. If our soul-life has been brought to the cross and Christ is now having His way, in our soul, surely there will be a reward. That reward is based upon what goes on in our soul-life now. This is what we are here for. We only have one trip through.
Brother Dave said, “We cannot pass through here again we only have today, right now.” We have today. We are not going to pass here again. So what goes on in our soul is crucial. I was talking to a sister this morning. She said, “I catch myself in the dole drums and then I wonder what I am doing there. I don’t have to be there. I can live in Christ. I can let Christ live. I don’t have to live in the dole drums. Our soul just gets in all kinds of places, but Christ has come to save our soul by His life living in us. Our soul can be in the dole drums, but you don’t have to stay there because Christ is our life, and He is in our spirit to live out in our soul. So the reward has to do with what goes on in our soul. If our soul-life is just an independent soul-life, independent of God then this is what will be our loss. But if our soul-life has been brought to the cross, then Christ is living now there. Christ is our source and He is our reward.
The soul life is the independent natural life of man apart from God
This is what our soul-life is. Now there are a lot of different souls in this world. We are all different. We were created this way. We were created to be submitted to the Spirit of the Lord to see what He would do in us and for Him to be expressed through us. We only have one trip through this life and we are here to have God’s life ex- pressed in our soul. Our natural independent life is in opposition to the very life of God. This is why we must have the cross daily in our living if we would experience God’s life in our daily life and in our church-life. This is why we need the cross. If we would experience God’s life we must have the cross. Gal. 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.” This should be our scripture everyday.
Our verse for the day: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” He wants to live in us to be expressed in our soul. It’s wonderful to have God’s thoughts, to have God’s feelings. This is why we need to come to the cross everyday so we can lay down our soul-life and say, “Lord, what are your thoughts about this.” We get a lot of thoughts but we need to say, “Lord, what is your thought?” Jesus is there to save us in our soul with His thoughts and His feelings and with His will. This is the Christian life and issues in the church-life. 2 Cor. 4:10-11 says, “Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
So, losing your soul life is not a once and for all deal. It’s everyday. So why does Paul say, “Always carrying about,” how long is that? Someone told me they would like to get past this, you know, so we would not have to have this. But it says always, How long is always? “Always”, everyday carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. This is what the cross is; that the life of Jesus also might be manifested in our body. How many want the life of Jesus manifested in your body? This is what it is all about, that on earth the life of Jesus could be manifested. Of course corporately that’s the church- life. That the life of Jesus is being manifested, not our soul-life, but the life of Jesus. Then we who live are always delivered to death. We would say we would like to get rid of that, “Always being delivered…” Look what you have to look forward to Monday morning, Micah, being delivered to death. Always being delivered to death. This is what our living is for; that the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh. So on the one hand we are being delivered to death always, but on the other hand it is so the life of Jesus could be manifested. Praise the Lord! This death is for His life. So when we get into a certain situation, “Oh here is death, Lord, thank You. Thank you Lord for Your death.”
I can be one with You in Your suffering, for Your life will be manifested here. Jesus’ life was manifested through His death.” Praise the Lord! Sometimes it might go along for a short time of suffering and sometimes it’s long time of suffering. It is so life can be manifested. So His life can be manifested in our experience of His death. 2 Cor. 5:14-15 says, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus; that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” That we should live no longer for ourselves but for Him! Isn’t that something? We are here so His life could be manifested in us. We suffer so that Christ could be expressed in us. In our suffering, it’s not just for suffering, it’s so Christ could be manifested. Suffering makes us weak, brings us down, and Oh what are we going to do? Thank You Lord, this is so You could be manifested.
I shared with the brothers the other day, that a number of years ago things were going on in our lives in Moses Lake. I was thinking we needed to get out of this place. There were lots of problems, yet God was blessing, but things were just not going so good. A brother called and asked me to hold a meeting in Bellingham, WA. I remember praying on the way. “Lord, make me dependent upon You.” I just prayed that prayer. “Lord, make me dependent on You.” So I got there and went in. It was about 4:30 and before dinner time. I went into the church building and begin to pray. The meeting was going to began that night, I believe at 7:30. I went in to pray, but I could hardly pray. “Wow, Lord, I do not have anything for tonight.” I just felt zero. The meeting is coming up here and what’s going to happen? I felt totally wasted. Then I remembered what I had prayed, “Lord make me dependent upon You.” I said, “Oh, that’s what’s going on. My weakness is making me dependent on You.” So I begin to praise the Lord, and I said, “Praise the Lord!” I went in to eat dinner and then to the meeting. I did not have any idea what I was going to say, but I stood up and it flowed out. The Lord’s presence was there. Night after night God was there. Many people got healed, people got saved, the presence of God was there. People started coming and the building was filled. The paster had to go downtown to look for a bigger building so the meeting could continue for another week. My point is this; that the Lord in my weakness made me dependent on Him and He was manifested. I just stood up there and the Lord was there ministering, meeting peoples needs. It was the Lord, but He had to bring me to a place of weakness.
So that’s what these things we go through are for; so Jesus can be manifested in us. Don’t get so taken in by your own weakness, just say, “Thank you Lord. You are going to be manifested. In my weakness You are going to be manifested.” So we should live no longer for ourselves. Phil 2:19-21 says, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded (like-souled),who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things of Christ Jesus.” Now when he says all seek their own, he was not talking about the world. He was talking about other Christians and others perhaps that he knew who preached the gospel. He said he had no one to send this time except Timothy who was like-souled, like-minded, because Timothy walked the same way Paul did – by the cross. This was his description of Timothy who would sincerely care for your state. Timothy will come and care for their state just like I have been doing. “For all seek their own, not the things that are of Christ Jesus.” (vs. 21)
Phil 3:17-18 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us as a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” He was not talking about unbelievers, he was talking about believers. The way they walked was according to their own souls, their own opinions and they became enemies of the cross of Christ. Do we have this message of the cross, this word of the cross? It means losing our soul-life, denying ourselves that Christ could be expressed in us, i.e. manifested in us where we are everyday. This is what the Lord is after. As we have this, then we have the church-life. We have the manifestation of Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of the cross. Amen.