Summary: When we neglect the truth of the cross we are left with empty religion and a powerless Christ.
A CROSS AND CHRIST OF NO EFFECT
"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God;" (2 Corinthians 3:2,3)
This verse is pretty clear. People who come into contact with Christ’s Church should to be able to see the manifestation and presence of Jesus Christ in our life. It is a supernatural occurrence. It is not accomplished by trying to make the presence of Christ manifest, but because we have died to self and to the flesh, becoming an unhindered conduit for the Spirit of God to work through.
As the world comes into contact with us they must be able to experience the compassion of the Jesus of the Gospel, the miracles of the book of Acts, the demonstration of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the love expressed in John’s writings and even the correction offered by Paul.
Yet so many of us who claim to be a child of God, lack any recognizable resemblance to our Father. We go to church and use all the religiously correct clichés, but our lifestyle contradicts us. Even our spiritual life seems to disaffirm the mercy, grace and love of the brethren so prevalent in scripture.
I once heard a preacher say that the worst thing some Christians could do was to invite their friends or co-workers to church. His reason was that the people closest to them knew their life style. They were familiar with their gossip, murmuring, complaining and inability to walk in holiness and righteousness.
Their friends have heard their off-color jokes. Sat with them at lunch as they devoured the pastor and his family, as well as those that posed a threat to their being recognized as dedicated church workers. They criticize the boss and make fun of others they work with. What liberty and freedom from a life of following Christ could these people offer others?
While at church they weep and cry, dance and shout, some even claim a calling into ministry. Yet the God they speak of seems to have been ineffective in changing their life. The Holy Spirit that they claim guides them seemingly has failed to bring about the attributes of Christ in their behavior, and the Word they preach does not conform their minds into that of our Savior. We talk about a cross, but our life does not reflect a life at the cross.
We instead propagate a gospel of hype and hoopla, camouflaging our services with new fads and fables in hopes of not offending anyone.
We attempt, through every means under the sun to chase and receive the power of God in our life, yet we have failed miserably in fully surrendering our selves to the God of the power.
It is said that at the height of the great Azuza Street Revival a prophecy went forth that we see fulfilled in many charismatic and Pentecostal churches. It says that in the last days, the Church would trade purity for power, and holiness for hype. In a message entitled A Christless Pentecost by David Wilkerson, he describes an altar service by one of his close friends. During the invitation the evangelist asked for all those who wanted power to line up on one side of the church. Then he asked for all those who wanted purity to line up on the other side. The people lined up ten to one for power over purity. Ladies and gentlemen this is to our shame. We have been blinded and deceived. There can be no power without purity and no purity without a dying to self, sin and pride.
Despite the grandeur of choreographed dance, the combined talent of musicians and singers, along with eloquent preaching or teaching, many have witnessed little or no true conversions or repentance of their members in years.
A genuine move of God to challenge and change people’s hearts should be common place in all churches and all services. It can be and usually is, when the message of the cross is preached, compelling congregations back to holiness and purity.
An Insufficient Cross
Satan hates the cross. He trembles over the effect it has on his kingdom. He despises those who preach it and uses every trick and deception to keep people from experiencing it’s power to live in Christ.
The cross made the ministry of Jesus effective. Without it mankind could not have been reconciled to God. Without the cross there could be no salvation, healing, deliverance or any other blessing we pursue God for.
Since the beginning of time Satan has tried to eliminate or circumvent the preaching of the cross. He has labeled it offensive, old fashion, unnecessary and legalistic. Nevertheless, without it we present a Christ of no effect.