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. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIVThe message of the cross is a crossroad God places before men. While the meaning of the word crossroads is intuitive, the word is an idiom (or saying) with literal meaning. Cultures from around the world use the term to highlight important life-decisions. The Message of the Cross is eight parts, beginning with Part 1 – The Call.
Choosing a Path
“Coming to a crossroads” means to consider one’s options carefully before choosing a path to follow. It means to count the cost (Luke 14:33). Whatever path we chose to walk has the potential to leave one’s life unchanged or changed forever (Matthew 7:14).
This article introduces an 8-part series showing the journey of the disciples from an inglorious past to a glorious future, by and according to the will of God (John 6:65). From the Jordan River to the Great Commission, the journey of Jesus and his disciples is our journey too. While their time and culture is unlike ours, the transforming power of the gospel remains unchanged (John 17:3). May the glory be to the Father and Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31; John 17:1).Part 1 – The Call
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
When Jesus came to call his disciples, they were clean slates upon which he could new truths; they had been led to seek mercy and forgiveness under the ministry of John the Baptist. And now as new disciples, they would hear things never before spoken and see wonders never imagined possible. They would walk a path never traveled, being led out from the kingdom of darkness into the glorious kingdom of light. In time they would become ambassadors of a far kingdom and guardians of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20).
Part 1 – The CallPart 2 – The Walk
He that says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 1 John 2:6
The disciples walked with Jesus for three years on dusty paths and winding trails. And when the path ended, a new path began. They ate what was available, drank from rivers, and slept under the night stars. They were with Jesus day and night. They got to know Him. They loved Him. They questioned Him. They didn’t always understand when He answered. They were often mystified by words never before spoken. Even so, they were disciples called on a journey.
But here’s the thing: discipleship takes time. God must ground every disciple in the truth before one can labor and walk in the truth, the things of God (1 Corinthians 1:23). Jesus uses time and instruction to examine and train the heart to labor for the souls of men. Jesus said to his disciples, “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31; 1 John 1:6).
Continuing in the truth is important. A truth received and nurtured in the soil of the heart brings forth the harvest of obedience, the walk of faith leading to life.
Part 2 – The WalkPart 3 – The Trial
…If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:17
Every disciple of Jesus Christ will undergo suffering and trials. The word “trial” has multiple meanings in Greek but the one pertaining to this article is puroō, the trial by fire or the refining of gold to purge dross. The Bible is clear about the need for trial and purging necessary to cleanse the soul.
The apostle Peter knew the meaning of trial. He wept bitterly after denying his Lord (Luke 22:54–62). Peter learned the importance of always professing Christ as Lord and Savior, and would later write that God will try the faith of His children through fiery trials, for the glory of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
The benefits of trials are many, often more essential than we might first imagine. The apostle James mentions a crown and writes, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12).
Part 3 – The TrialPart 4 – The Cross
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
While John 3:16 is the most widely recognized promise from God given among men, it often falls like a seed on stony ground (Matthew 13:20–22). Men surmise there is no logic in God’s willingness to give that which is holy for that which is unholy…to them it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Did Jesus really need to give His life to free men from the power of sin? Are men really that bad? Is the way to God only through Jesus Christ? The answers are yes and yes and yes (Hebrews 9:22; Romans 3:23; John 14:6)!
The idea that God would exchange His life for many is profound and for most unbelievable, which is why many don’t and won’t believe. But for those who do and receive the gift of faith leading to salvation, the message of the cross is believable and is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Part 4 – The CrossPart 5 – The Pardon
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… Romans 5:1
To avoid deep theology, the pardon of a penitent believer is explained through a story about a man and his young son mourning over the passing of his wife, the boy’s mother. Both were in a car and driving away from the graveyard. The boy was upset at Jesus for allowing his mother to die so young.
The dad understood the sting and tearfully said with a quiver in his voice, “Son…see that truck coming toward us…and do you see the shadow following on the road?” The boy said, “Yes, I see both!” The dad said, “Jesus died when he pushed your mother aside and took the full force of God’s judgment so your mother would only take the passing shadow.”
While the aforesaid story is indeed an oversimplification of the work of Christ on the cross resulting in pardon, it is indeed the crowning work of Christ on earth and in heaven. (Romans 5:1–2; John 19:30). Read More
Part 5 – The PardonPart 6 – The Life
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2
The resurrection is about life, not staying put. It is about change from the old to the new, to be purified. No one touched by the Savior stays the way they were; they change. About the change of new life Clarence W. Hall writes:
“The Resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence. Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. You can nail it to a Cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise!” (Source: Forty Quotes about the Resurrection)
The promise of eternal life is in Christ. It is the indisputable truth believers embrace in Romans 10:9–10 and look back to in John 3:16, a promise kept by the Father.
Part 6 – The LifePart 7 – The Change
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2
The word purge or purify in Greek is kathairō and it means to remove undesirable elements from metal during the refining process, known as dross. When metal melts and shimmers in the flame, dross rises to the top and is scooped away by the refiner! In the Bible, we can think of this process as sanctification: a process for purging impurities of the world and fallen nature from our life.
As a consequence, the Christian life is the easiest-hardest thing one will ever do and continue doing. Why? Because purging can be excruciating to the soul and at times feels as though God is nowhere to be found. And yet we endure and trust knowing the Refiner is ever nearby watching and waiting for you and me to come forth as pure gold (1 Peter 1:7).
We are purged by the many trials in life, each attending to mold us into Christlikeness. (Colossians 3:4)
Part 7 – The ChangePart 8 – The Glory
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… Philippians 3:20
Maybe the best way to close the introduction to the series is by simply saying we’ve been invited on an incredible journey, a holy quest from the world of darkness into the light of life (John 8:12)! For the believer, the journey of change has already begun (1 Peter 1:23). It is a journey through a wilderness with many difficulties but with persistent faith, our most earnest hope.
Changing from the earthly to the heavenly is an unimaginable wonder, and a promise. Glorification is not a fabrication of the mind. It is not a fairy tale. Not at all! Glorification of the believer is God’s idea and a promise that is sure to be fulfilled (Romans 8:18).
Though a believer’s journey begins in penitence and finds rest at the cross, it will one day end perfectly when our first breath in glory follows our last breath on earth.
Part 8 – The Glory__________________________________________________________________________ Image Credit: Shutterstock 256531771