Summary: This message focuses on four gifts given to each of us because of Jesus' finished work on the cross. This material was inspired by "Search for Significance" written by Robert McGee who shared the four answers from Jesus to false beliefs.
Because of the Cross
CHCC – September 8, 2013
(Outlline inspired by Robert McGee, "The Search for Significance")
The God of the Bible is the complete opposite of the kinds of gods human beings tend to invent. The gods that humans concoct are impressive, powerful, victorious, and even dangerous. But the God of the Bible showed us His identity by dying the most humiliating, horrific, demeaning death ever invented. People want to turn away from such a horrible kind of death.
The apostle Paul addressed this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 "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."
Those who are being saved understand that Jesus died on the Cross to give us forgiveness and eternal life. But today I want to focus on the meaning and purpose of the cross in the here and now. Jesus died on the cross so we can have the hope of Heaven when we die. But our salvation is not just other-worldly. Because of the cross, our daily lives --- our whole way of thinking about ourselves and others --- can be completely transformed.
The default position of most people is to hold all kinds of harmful and false beliefs that lead us down a depressing spiral into despair and hopelessness. Today I want to look at the remedy Jesus provided on the cross to save us from the traps, addictions, and bondage we tend to think ourselves into. I think this is a good way to top off the series Ronnie and Richard just preached about “toxic thoughts.”
For the sake of you visual learners, I found 4 images that represent what Jesus did for us on the cross. Hopefully the images will stick in your mind to help us remember the freedom we have because of the cross.
1. Justification – Saving forgiveness – Free from the performance trap
The first visual is a picture of a strong arm reaching down to rescue someone else who is helpless and powerless to save himself. If you look closely you’ll see that the arm reaching down has a wound in the very place where they put nails in Jesus’ hands. You will also notice that the hand of the person being saved is so weak it is not able to grab the saving arm to assist in its own salvation. All the power comes from the arm of the Savior alone.
This picture represents the Biblical word: Justification. Romans 5:1 says, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.” We may not understand the full meaning of this word.
Someone described it this way: “Justification means it’s just as if I’d never sinned.”
The trouble is that most of us are held captive in a trap called The Performance Trap. We live our lives focused on behavior … our own and the behavior of others … and we assume that this is what really matters in life. The person caught in the performance trap might think something like this: “I must meet certain standards before I can feel good about myself. And you have to meet those standards, too, before I can feel good about YOU.”
The truth is that most of the world’s religions philosophies are behavior centric. From Islam to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism --- and even legalistic Christian groups --- the focus is trying to live up to a standard in order to somehow please whatever deity or moral code you think you should follow.
Satan loves this kind of thinking. It allows him to lead people down one of two dead end paths. Either people delude themselves into thinking they ARE living up to the standard that has been set … with the end result of PRIDE and LEGALISM. These are the people you want to avoid because they have that “better than thou” attitude. The Pharisees in the Bible were a prime example. The point is, you may THINK you’re all that, but you’re not.
If you have a more realistic view of yourself and you recognize your own failures and sins, then Satan wants you to get demoralized and give up. He wants you to think you’re worthless and hopeless. He wants you to focus on all your mistakes and blunders. The next thing you know, you’re miserable and depressed.
Either way … whether you’re full of pride or totally demoralized … Satan has you where he wants you. It’s called the performance trap for a reason … because it truly IS a trap in every sense of the word.
But here’s the good news. Because of the cross, the performance trap has sprung open. You’ve been set free! 2 Corinthians 5:21 shows what Jesus did on the cross. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”