The offense of the cross (29/3/11)

 

Gal 5:11-12

11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. NKJV
 

The cross is an offense to religion and the world in the preaching of the gospel because it proclaims loud and clear the message that no matter how hard man works at being good he cannot earn his own righteousness…(state of being right with God…or good enough to get to Heaven and not Hell) ....the only way is to trust in Christ's death for us!

It SPECIFICALLY related to 'matters of the Law' which clearly the Judaisers said were necessary for people to 'obey' in order to be 'right with God'. Today 'faith alone' or believing is criticized almost as much...as religion demands 'works'.

 

Matt 16:21-27

From that time Jesus began to show to 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.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"

23 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." 

 

Peter wanted Jesus to remain and establish a physical kingdom on earth. It was like saying.... "Lord we will follow you and eventually we will all become holy... as we follow your teaching"

For man to assume that anyone can get to heaven without relying on Christ death by crucifixion is an offense to GOD. It is saying that there was no need for the Father to have given Jesus to die for us! It says man can become ‘good enough’ to satisfy God’s righteousness....and pick himself up by his own bootlaces!

 

Gal 2:21

21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."    NKJV

For Jewish believers who again go under the Law to try to secure or add to their righteousness….this too is an offense. This also applies to Gentile believers who seek to ADD the Law to Christ’s work on the cross....by doing works such as 'tithing'...or eating 'kosher' food, etc

 

Gal 3:21-23

For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.    NKJV

The Law shows to the religious (esp the Jews) that no matter how religious and zealous they were they WOULD NEVER succeed in their own rights. Worse than that in the mind of the religious zealots ....sinners could now be made righteous...through faith alone!

 

Matt 5:20

20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  NKJV

This can only be achieved by putting our faith in Jesus who fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law FOR US.

The legalistic religious establishment looks at the law wrongly. It is not meant to be a tool for them (or anyone) to earn salvation or holiness by. It is to humble man…to bring them to their knees…to make him realize that God is so HOLY we can never relate to Him through an earned right….or as an equal! (Gen 3…this is the reason man fell in the first place)

 

Rom 3:19-21

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,     NKJV

The Law applies to ISRAEL...to those trying to earn their own righteousness. This is an insult to God…and has disastrous results! God's righteousnes is APART from the Law....NO works are required.

Isa 64:6

6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags    NKJV
 

Mankind in pride battles to see this truth.... 'in me dwells NO good thing'

 

Gal 5:2-5

2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.     NKJV

(I had someone send me an email saying "I would rather be right standing with God than lose my salvation over stupid money" because of not 'tithing'....The truth is that is probably where he is heading BY HIS 'TITHING' works!)

 

We need to walk in the state of mind Paul did……ie all my religious works have ZERO benefit towards my righteousness. If we don’t …then we WON’T gain Christ….or find ourselves in HIM

 

Phil 3:7-9

7 But what things were gain to me (the context is ALL his legalistic righteousness as a Jew), these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish (literally ‘poo’), that I may gain Christ  9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;    NKJV

This is summed up in the words of the old hymn….. ‘Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling’.

If we are bringing our own works this proves we are NOT relying solely on Christ's work for us....and have NOT come to a place of FAITH

 

Rom 10:1-4

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.    NKJV

Focusing on our efforts WILL usually cause people to fail to see God’s way of salvation!

Faith is believing that JESUS paid the price for us…..the FULL price….and that we have to ADD NOTHING to it to secure the deal!

When Paul preached ‘Christ crucified’ the Jews hated it because it said to them that all their religious efforts were IN VAIN….and their righteousness was mere self-righteousness! (“What do you mean when you say that I am no more saved than those sinful Gentiles? Do you mean I gave all those tithes and they are going to heaven and I am not?”)

 

1 Cor 2:1-2

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.   NKJV

The power of God flows when it is of HIM alone...and we take none of the glory

 

1 Cor 1:18-20

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (YES those who think they are good enough not to need Jesus), but to us who are being saved (YES even while we are yet sinners) it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."  

20 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?   NKJV

The wisdom of the world is ..."Live right, become right"

The wisdom of God is ..."Believe right, become right....then you will live right" (2 Tim 2:19)

 

1 Cor 1:21-25

21 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. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.    NKJV

There is one reason alone that man can be 'righteous'....JESUS dies for us to be made so....faith alone can grasp this!

The Gentiles also are offended because they believe that it is by the acquisition of knowledge that they will find the answers to life....while the Jews (and most religious people even today) believe it is because of their 'good works'

 

Acts 4:10-12

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'   12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"     NKJV

The offense of the cross is that there is only ONE way…the world HATES this!

Apologies to Mohammed...and Joseph Smith...and all other religious leaders....but JESUS CHRIST alone is the ONLY way!

 

John 14:6

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.        KJV

Jews and religious people still find the message of the cross a stumbling block!

God says that it is only by finding a relationship with HIM in Christ that we ever find true knowledge and life. (Jn 17:3)

 

2 Cor 5:14-21

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 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.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.    NKJV

We need to come to the place where we LIVE out of the spiritual reality that we are dead to ourselves.....especially our religious and self-righteous self …and alive in Christ. This specifically relates to our ongoing walk. We are called to LIVE for and as Christ.

Just as we did not GET saved by our righteous works….so we will not retain our salvation by doing ‘works of righteousness’…and neither will we be perfected by them…or earn our ‘sanctification’ by them!

 

Heb 10:13-14

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. NKJV

Gal 2:20-21

20 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.    NKJV

‘…and when HE looks at me , He sees not what I used to be but He sees Jesus’.

Live as the child of God that you are!

  

1 John 4:17-19

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.    NKJV

The righteousness of JESUS as He sits on the throne beside the Father IS ours TODAY in this world!

The stumbling block to the Jews was because they judged people by their works and adherence to the Law. “How could these sinners of Gentiles possibly be right with God when they….are not circumcised, don’t do ceremonial washings, eat unclean food, don’t tithe, etc?”

Many religious Christians today still make the mistake of regarding people ‘according to the flesh’ ie “Look at the clothes she wears…look at his tattoos…she used to be a prostitute....he was the guy convicted for fraud…they don’t belong to the right church, etc”.

 

Gal 6:14-15

4 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but a new creation. NKJV

NOTE that the matter of the world…or the flesh ... is regarding the RELIGIOUS world which seeks to earn its own righteousness…and NOT the sinful world! This IS indicated by the reference to circumcision…rather than a ‘moral law’…ie immorality

 

Gal 3:1-8

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth,

Obeying the truth means relying on our FAITH in Christ’s completed work and not our works of the LAW

 

before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified ?2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Paul portrayed Christ as crucified BY THE GOSPEL he preached ie Gal 1-2. ie that Christ’s sacrifice was ALL God required….and not adherence to the Law!

We all know that God doesn’t respond to us trying to ‘earn our salvation’ Receiving the Spirit IS the proof of salvation by faith which is the ONLY way we can be saved (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:44, Acts 11:16-18, Romans 8:9-11)

 

3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

If we got saved by FAITH…ie trusting God…..then we CANNOT be ‘perfected’…or improved …or sanctified or made holy by any other way! (Heb 10:14)

 

4 Have you suffered so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain?

Most of the persecution was from religious Jews…in the same way as the religious ‘church’ today still hates the ‘gospel of His grace’

People say ‘How can you be so proud as to believe you ARE saved and perfected’…The answer is that this is the most humble position to take because it is NOT a work of my own. “How can you be so proud as to believe you can ADD to the salvation Christ provided on the cross by your works?” (ie with your filthy rags)

 

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

The only way we will become more usable to God …is to realize that our salvation is a COMPLETE work which HE has provided….and IN this FAITH go out into the world and BE His children

 

6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."   7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.    NKJV

 

FAITH IS WALKING IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH GOD HAS GIVEN US!

And NOT relying on our own works….or letting our failures stop us…

from FULFILLING THE WORK WHICH GOD HAS FOR US! (Eph 2:10)

 

It is only when WE (the self-righteous religious ones) are dead…..and WE realize that the ONLY righteousness which we can LIVE BY is that of JESUS for us….

THAT GOD CAN FLOW THROUGH US!

 

Jesus teaching on ‘the cross’

 

Matt 10:34-39

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'  37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 

The great division was between Jews who rejected Christ’s message and those who followed HIM. Try telling people that you don't have to belong to their church to be saved.

 

38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it

Those who would not follow HIM were those who thought they could find ‘LIFE’ in the Law (Rom 10:3)...their religion!. They HATED others who like Paul were prepared lay aside their own righteousness (Phil 3:7-9) and because they had found their LIFE in Christ!

It is in dying to ourselves…both our religious …and our selfish ways…that we find true life in Christ

 

2 Cor 1:9-10
9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,    NKJV

Notice that the 'sentence of death in oursleves'....was specifically in regards to NOT TRUSTING in ourselves but in God...This is what enabled Paul to achieve his call....

 

Luke 22:41-42

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."    NKJV

If there was another way then that man could become righteous then ‘Jesus died in vain’ …. And the Father ‘needlessly’ sacrificed His Son for us.....this is clearly not right

This has a connection to man trying to make his own way of salvation apart from God’s way…and sounds a bit like the serpents suggestion to Eve in the Garden of Eden…that man could be equal to God!.....ie Who needs to be saved anyway?

 

Mat 16:24 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.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?    NKJV

The greatest need for man is to set aside his OWN pride-filled solution for salvation….and abandon himself in TRUST to God and His plan …

as fulfilled by Jesus …on the cross for us!

 

The greatest fulfillment in life comes when we seek to live it God's way…out of our relationship with Him...and not with self-centered objectives!

 

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.     NKJV

John 12:31-33

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."  33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.    NKJV

The cross reaches ALL peoples…religion is usually based around a specific culture.

Where we preach Christ crucified…and not religion …people respond because the message is universal!

The simple message of the Gospel of grace is ..

 

Gal 1:3-4, 16

3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

(and for the religiously inclined and Jews … a small addendum..)

16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Faith says     ‘Father God loves me…..I will accept His WAY of salvation…..and trust totally in His Son Jesus’

 

ALL of Him and NOTHING of me….is very liberating. ….Are you FREE?

I did not earn it by my good works…I cannot loose it by my failures …Are you at REST?

I did not earn it by my works…I cannot keep it by them either …REST?

I was a sinner when I got saved….if I sin again I will not loose what I did not earn…Are you at PEACE?

My Abba does not love me because I am good….I am good because He loves me…Are you in FAITH…or works?

 

Rev 3:15-19
15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  17 Because you say,'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked —   18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.    NKJV

 

Those who are proud of their religious self righteousness...earned by their works...do not impress God.

They are 'wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked'......ie they have NOTHING spiritually!

Very much like the pharisee who boasted about his 'tithing'...and other religious obersvations...but was NOT RIGHTEOUS! (Luke 18:14)

 

The just shall live by faith from first to last

 

('Tithing' as taught today is a demonstration of a lack of FAITH in the completed work of Christ on the cross!)