Boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ
Boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ
Us dead to the word, the world dead to us
Music starts playing unannounced
Call to worship
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Psalm 95:6-8)
The Lord’s Prayer
Grace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord
Hymn No 1: “Rejoice the Lord is King”
Scripture Reading Isaiah 53:10-12
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Declaration of pardon
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Hymn No 388: “Come unto Me” (Tune 406)
Offering and Dedication
While the offering is take up, all sing, remaining seated:
Hymn no 610 “We plough the fields and scatter”
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Galatians 6:11:18
In his book “Don’t waste your life” John Piper writes:
Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain.
The apostle, in an effort to talk sense into the Galatians who so easily turned to a different gospel (which he states in 1:6 is no gospel at all) takes the people of God back to the basics of the Good News of the massage regarding salvation in Jesus Christ. If they would not fervently adhere to this only gospel, all effort of the apostle and those who preached and laboured would be in vain.
Indeed, let us take heed: any gospel that does not center in the cross of Jesus Christ and his resurrection, is time wasted. Any Christian who does not wholly embrace the gospel of the cross, and this gospel only, leads to a life wasted. Outwardly things might look impressive and good, but if our lives do not center in the glory of the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ all will be wasted.
Churches might have a lot of ceremony, a lot of candles, a lot of extras that might on the surface look good, but if it adds this to the glory of the cross of Jesus Christ, it will lead to destruction.
I heard about the visiting minister who was asked to administer the sacrament of baptism. He was handed two white flowers. These, he was told, symbolize the innocence of the child. He refused, not because he didn’t like the flowers, but he couldn’t reconcile it with the message of the bible. All are infected by sin. The very fact the children are baptized, point to the fact that they are sinful from conception and need to be saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism takes its glory in the cross of Jesus Christ; white flowers will distract from the glory. And that means there is no gospel at all. It means all effort in the gospel is wasted.
Nothing but the cross
Some preachers entered the church in Galatia. Their preaching sounded good. They preached about Jesus Christ, but they maintained that the people needed to be circumcised like the Jews, Israel of the Old Testament. The argument probably went like this: as long as you are circumcised, as long as you conform to the eternal requirements of the law, you are right. In the end it did not make much difference in the way people lived. It was a popular gospel. Listen to how the apostle summerised the situation:
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)
In contrast, for the truth of the gospel and the effectiveness of the message of the cross, Paul says:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:14-15)
To this he adds in verse 17: “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”
To boast in the cross
“Exult in” or rejoice in”; to express an unusually high degree of confidence in someone or something being exceptionally noteworthy.
Paul writes to the church almost destroyed by a new gospel and he says: if there is only one thing that you should have confidence in, only one thing that you will see as extremely important, it should be the cross – nothing else. To the Corinthian church Paul writes:
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Now, when he says have confidence in nothing else but the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, he (to put it in today’s terms) would say “boast only in the electric chair, or the gas chamber, or the gallows. This should be the one passion in our lives. He says, this must be the only thing we should have confidence in, the only thing we should glory in. He says this because this is the only aspect of our faith that will bring an everlasting change. If you exult in the hope of our future glory, this exultation must be anchored in the cross of the Lord. If we exult in tribulation because tribulation and suffering brings hope, our exultation must be anchored in the cross of Jesus Christ. If we exult in weaknesses, or in the people of God, we should be exulting in the cross of Christ.
Why” Because for redeemed sinners everything, good or bad, was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the corss of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment from God. What we have in God, we have because of the cross – the death and resurrection of our Lord.
It can so easily happen that we take life and breath and health and friends and everything for granted. We think it is ours by right. And if we do as the Galatians did by adding a bit of good works (as they were told by those who preached the circumcision) then we stand be fore God, not boasting in the cross of the Lord only, but we stand there with something of our own.
We don’t have a right, because we are doubly undeserving of it: Let’s keep in mind we are only creatures of the living God. And as Creator He is not obliged to give us anything. If and when He decides not to give He does us not injustice. But further as creatures we must keep in mind that we are fallen, sinful creatures. Therefore every breath we take, every heartbeat, every new day, every moment we see with our eyes or hear with our ears or speak with our mouths or walk with our legs is are gift to us. And it comes to us because of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Let’s glory in the cross.
Christ purchased this grace for us on the cross. He bought us by his blood. Everything I have is the reward of his suffering, and definitely not my merit. This means that all of my life, all my thoughts, all my efforts – yes my heart, soul, mind and strength – should glory in the cross of Jesus Christ. Once sanctified by Christ and the Holy Spirit, my getting up in the morning, my conducting of my business, the spending of my time and my money must glorify God. Yes, my only glory should be the glory of the cross. Everything is meant to glorify Christ, and Him crucified. He died there and took away God’s wrath on a wrath-deserving people. By grace are we saved. Our glory is in he cross.
Now why can the apostle say all theses things?
The world is crucified through the cross
When a man is saved by the grace displayed on the cross, the world says goodbye to him, and he says goodbye to the world. He is spoiled as far as the world is concerned because he is no longer interested in its fleeting pleasures.
Note the tense here: the world has been crucified to me – passive tense. He does not say that he crucified the world when he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Part of the grace of the cross is that by the death of the Lord, when He died on the cross, He crucified the world for us. To be crucified means to die. So, when Christ died, He took with Him on the cross the world. The world here implies the sinless, godless system of standards. This means that what previously might have had some value all of a sudden lost its value. The apostle puts it this way:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)
In another place he states the same truth in a different way:
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)
This also is a gift from God. When He sent his Son to die on the cross, Jesus took the world and had it nailed to the cross so it died for us. The foolishness of this world now becomes the wisdom of God. Now we think with a new mindset. Our standards are different; we are now set apart in Christ, we are now holy in Him.
With this new mindset I am set to glory in the cross. It might be foolishness to this world, but for the Christian it makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact, without this mindset all of life would be wasted. I might find myself busy with a lot of things, but not with something worthwhile. I might be chasing riches that will leave my soul unsatisfied and hungry. But thank God, the world is crucified in Jesus Christ.
I am crucified to the world through the cross
The world has lost its attraction for the Christian, because he has found One who completely satisfies. Findlay says:
“He can never believe in it, never take pride in it, nor do homage to it any more. It is stripped of its glory and robbed of its power to charm or govern him.”
Thus the cross is a great barrier or dividing line between the world and the child of God.
Between Paul and the world there was a cross. That should be the position of every believer today. That will have more to do with shaping your conduct than anything else. You will not boast about the fact that you are keeping the Sermon on the Mount, or that you belong to a certain church, or that you are a church officer, or a preacher, or a Sunday school teacher. You will not be able to boast of anything. You will just glory in the Cross and the One who died there.
For this reason we find an exhortation in Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
If there is something that really concerns me for the church today it would be worldliness; that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ would act according to the patterns of this world; that our mindset would be a baptized worldly mindset. This means that we will want to be church according to the patterns of the world, that we will want to worship according to the patterns of the world, instead of having our glory, our confidence and trust in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s hear it again: the world has been crucified to us through the cross, and we have been crucified to the world through the cross.
Let us glory in the cross only. Amen.