The Power Of The Cross
By Dave Butts (1953 – 2022)
Throughout all of human history, Satan held man enslaved by sin and death. The very law of God declared that if a man sinned, he deserved death. Satan used mankind’s fear of death to enslave him even more. Mankind’s plight looked pretty desperate. It was for this reason that Christ entered the conflict. Man could not save himself. Death and sin held absolute sway over all people. Then came the Cross!
Upon that Cross, Christ won the battle for mankind. The innocent Lamb of God, wrongly slain, paid the penalty. He willingly took upon Himself all our sin, and along with our sin, the penalty for those sins. He died the death each one of us deserved, and ended once for all, sin and death’s hold over mankind. All who follow Jesus have been freed from sin, saved from death, and now have life. The Cross stands forever as the means of victory!
Understanding this will help us see why the Cross is so vital to the church. The Cross literally becomes an object of our faith. “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 Cor. 1:18). The Cross is the power of God. Of all the things God could have chosen to demonstrate His power, He chose a cross. The Cross is how God manifests His power. That’s why Paul writes, “…that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:5). Paul just told us in chapter one that the Cross is the power of God. Then he told us to let our faith rest on the power of God…the Cross. Where is our faith based today?
The Apostle said these things in the context of his assertion that he preached in weakness, in fear, and much trembling and that his message was not in persuasive words of wisdom. This was so the Corinthians’ faith would not be based upon him or any other man, but on the power of God through the Cross. My friends, the church today is desperate to hear and live out these words. Too many today act as though our faith is based on men, not the Cross. If we like our pastor, then we like church. If our pastor is on our blacklist, then we don’t like church. Where is our faith when this is the case? It is rooted in men, rather than the Cross.
The Message and Means
The church must come to understand that not only is our faith based on the Cross, but our message is the Cross. God help the church that forgets the message of the Cross. This is the message that must be held out to a lost and dying world. There is no other solution for our world. There is no alternative plan. It is through the Cross that the power of God has been demonstrated to this world. Regardless of the offense it creates, the church must hold out the message of the Cross to our world.
Let’s go one more step in our understanding of the Cross by moving from the church to the individual Christian. We, as individuals, must understand that the Cross is our means of salvation. Speaking of the message of the Cross in First Corinthians, Paul writes, “...God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1:21). Those who believe the message of the Cross shall have eternal life because on the Cross our sins died. In the person of Christ they died…and sin and death no longer rule us. We live because of the Cross. The Cross is our only means of salvation. Lots of people today try to find other ways. It seems foolish, a cross saving us…yet it does. The Bible presents no other way.
Crucified with Christ
The Christian must come to love the Cross and accept it as his or her own. The Cross of Jesus must become our cross. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). Every Christian has a cross. We all bear this same cross, and it’s the Cross of Christ the Crucified. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...” (Gal. 2:20). The church is a gathering of crucified people. If we don’t understand how we have been crucified with Christ, we are missing the key to victorious Christian living.
Listen as Paul explains this: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:3-11).
My friends, if we have died with Christ, why do we act as though we have not? Why do we cling so hard to this life? We concern ourselves with the world and the things of the world – we who are not to be of this world. Our citizenship is elsewhere. Not even physical death can end our lives. If we have already died, what then is death to us? When we are alive in Christ, we are alive forever. And what a glorious life it is! We run the race before us, not in our power, but in the power of the Cross. Christ’s Cross becomes our cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me.” Lord Jesus, live out Your life fully and completely in me!