Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thoughts On The Cross Of Christ

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By Michele Rayburn

When I think about the cross, I think of what Christ's death on the cross accomplished. What Christ did on the cross is not "the end" or "an end in and of itself". But rather it is the beginning, and the means by which we are not only forgiven and our sins paid for, but we begin to experience eternal life right now, having received the Holy Spirit. And we are now able to "walk in the Spirit" and thereby grow and mature in our faith.

Without Christ’s crucifixion, we could not receive the Holy Spirit so as to experience His life and become ministers of the New Covenant, the gospel of our salvation to all that would believe. Because we have received the Holy Spirit, we glorify God in the earth and carry out His work as well.

When I think of Christ’s death on the cross, I think of Galatians 2:20, “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.”

And Colossians 3:1-4 says, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God...For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

Hebrews 12:2-3 says, “...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

The author of Hebrews reminds us to look at how Jesus was able to endure such suffering because He was forward-looking, anticipating the joy that would follow, and encourages us to be not become weary and discouraged in our sufferings, but to look forward to the joy that is to come after this life.

Our church had to say goodbye to one of the members of our congregation a couple of Sundays ago. He came to church to see everyone one last time because he knew that he only had a few days left to live. He was a young man with inoperable brain cancer. I was so glad to see him just one more time, because I wanted to know how he was feeling spiritually...could he say, “It is well with my soul”.

Though he was very, very weak sitting in his wheelchair, barely able to speak or hear, and very frail, I was blessed by his countenance. He had an almost imperceptible smile on his face, and a glow about him. I could see that though outwardly he was perishing, inwardly he had the joy of the Lord. That’s what I needed to see.

I thought of how he must be looking forward to his new home in Heaven, that he was ready. He was looking forward to the joy that was to come. And that’s what the author of Hebrews is encouraging us to do in our sufferings. (This young man has since gone home to be with the Lord.)

When I think of Christ’s death on the cross, I think of the acceptance and unconditional love that we have in Him. Ephesians 1:4-7 says, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”

One Pastor/theologian wrote, “...other religions cannot tell us of a dying Savior.” I would have to say that other religions not only cannot tell us of a “dying Savior”, (though “many Christs will come”) but they cannot tell us of a risen Savior either.

I remember talking to my cousin about Jesus Christ years ago. She preferred to follow the teachings of Buddha. So, I finally said to her that all those other “prophets” from those other religions are dead, but Jesus Christ is alive...He has risen from the dead! I will never forget the look in her eyes. She was speechless. It was a moment I will never forget.

The gospel is not the cross, per se, as I sometimes hear people say. It is that Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day. (1 Cor.15:3-4)

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32)

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Bhedr said...

That is a wonderful hymn and thanks for telling us about your friend.

"My Sin Oh the bliss of this glorious thought; my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Oh my soul."

Michele Rayburn said...

Thanks, Brian. That was really sweet. I always love hearing from you.