by Travis Bryan III
Questions and answers about the importance of the cross message in today’s church:
1. What is the core divine purpose for the cross–of Christ and for us? The cross and the resurrection is God’s uniquely chosen way to transform the fallen old creation (earth, heavens, dirt, deserts, plants, animals, birds, and humanity) into a totally new creation. See Rom 8:18-23; Acts 3:21; 2 Cor 5:14-21; Is 65:-7-25; Rev 21:1-6, 10-27; Rev 22:all. The old self must die and be done away in order for the new creation to come forth. Rom 6:3-7. The rest of creation follows along after the work done by God in mens’ hearts. Rom 8:19-21.
2. Why is divine stripping necessary? All of the “bondage of corruption” (Rom 8:21) which resides in the cursed ground, in animals as well as in all of humanity, must be stripped off and put away in order for all of creation to “put on” (be clothed with) Christ and His Holy Ghost thereby becoming a new humanity and a new creation. This is a metamorphosis similar to when the caterpillar sheds the chrysalis and emerges as a beautiful transcendent butterfly. We must be stripped of the old nature and re-clothed with the new. See Gal 3:26-29; Rom 13:11-14. We must be crucified to (separated from) this present evil old world and the old world crucified unto us. Gal 1:4; 6:14. We will then be enabled to walk according to the true new world order or new rule of life. Gal 6:16.
3. What part does the cross play in being a vessel of honor in serving God ( doing ministry)? You can’t serve God until you die with Christ and are raised up into a newness of life or the resurrection life. Rom 6:3-5; 2 Cor 4:10-11; Phili 3:10; Gal 2:20. There never can be any authentic ministry or service to God EXCEPT thru the Cross of Christ, a dying and rising participation with Christ. The treasure of Christ and His indwelling Spirit needs an earthen vessel or clay jar to dwell in. But the excellency of the power never is sourced in the earthen vessel. It only comes from the contents of the vessel, Christ in you, our only hope of glory. 2 Cor 4:7; Col 1:27. This emptying can only occur thru our experience of the cross. Phili 2:7-8. The KJV renders v7 as “made himself of no reputation.” The key Greek word there is “Kenosis” which also means He “emptied himself” at the cross. Similarly, we also must be emptied of self in order to be filled with Christ!
4. How is the cross essential in our treatment of our enemies? The cross is only experienced thru opposition. Satan is always the provider of the adversity or opposition. God allows it for a good purpose, resurrection life and power and the building up of the new creation. Satan is always behind the negative events of opposition: evil angels, principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, demons, evil people, good people operating in the flesh, even family and friends who betray us or come out against us, disease, catastrophic weather, earthquakes, fires, and economic disaster and depressions causing loss of job security and wealth. Satan has a lot of tools. See book of Job chapters 1 and 2. See also 1 Cor 5:5; Luke 22:31-32; 1 Tim 1:19-20; and 2 Cor 12:1-10 for examples of how God takes Satan’s actions (the cross) and turns them into benefits and spiritual victories (resurrection life and power, humility, peace, rest and joy). We must take up and embrace these Satan caused cross experiences seeing them as opportunities. 2 Cor 12:9-10. Transformation never comes thru human effort (Gal 3:3) or law based performance. It can only come through death and resurrection thru the sufferings of the cross. Rom 8:17. IT BECOMES EASY TO LOVE OUR ENEMIES WHEN WE BEGIN TO SEE THEM AS AGENTS ALLOWED BY GOD TO TAKE US DEEPER AND HIGHER INTO CHRIST! 2 Cor 12:9-10. We can then pray from the heart for our enemies as did Jesus, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
5. How do you see the cross being neglected in the modern gospel message? The cross message that we die with Christ is perceived by the natural ear as condemning and it does not tickle that ear. The strongest of all human instincts is self-preservation. The cross teaches the death of the Self, crucified with Christ. Self-gain and self-ambition and self-approval by others are three l more instincts that are not far behind as natural motives of human hearts. The cross flies directly in the face of these, too. The message of the cross calls us to a downward, not an upward, mobility. It hits man’s arrogance head on and knocks man down into God. We therefore fall into God thru the cross. Many people will leave a church that teaches the cross. They will quit providing job security to any preacher of the cross. Only a remnant will remain. Preachers want masses of people rather than a remnant of true believers. So preachers default to teaching law for sanctification and obedience or at least they mix in a little arsenic of law in with the sweet tea of grace and this will absolutely will kill any vitality of any congregation. A dead church results. The law killed Jesus (John 19:7) and it kills churches (2 Cor 3:all) and brings people into hypocrisy. No one can keep the law so a person must now put on a mask and pretend that he is righteous. This is the old “holier than thou” of self-righteousness. Young people especially are discerning enough to see the dissimulation in this and they refuse to be part of it. Teaching and preaching of law in this age of grace is the greatest enemy of the Christian, the church, and of Christ. The legalists constantly opposed both Jesus and Paul and eventually killed both after many failed attempts. So law preaching is most often what replaces the true gospel of the cross. All other false gospels are a distant second to legalism. In Phili 3, Paul called the legalists “dogs” and wrote that his desire was that they would “cut off” or castrate themselves in their practice of Moses’ law. The law is PERFORMANCE-BASED and says to the listener “you can do it.” The self is built up, not killed, by law preaching. Grace says “you can’t do it” so we need to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” or surrender all our faculties to the cross to die. Only then will transformation take place in the believer’s heart and conduct. Rom 12:1-2. Grace is NOT PERFORMANCE-BASED as is the law. 99 percent of Christian teachers and preachers today mix law with grace!
The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the (mosaic) law of sin and death. Rom 8:1-4.
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