What The Cross Is
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Intro: How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? How about those things we talked about early in January? How are you doing?
1. Have you brought a new family to church?
2. Have you shared the Grace of Jesus with a friend or family member?
3. Have you made it a point to look around every Sunday and call someone you know is missing?
4. How are we doing?
Are you ready for the spring of 2006? This spring is going to be GREAT. We are moving into our own new building this year. We are expanding our staff, and ministry at Cowboy Fellowship. We are taking what God gives us and we are using it for His Glory and His Kingdom, and I hope you are ready to make this year GREAT!
As I think about all these wonderful things that we are about to do, and the wonderful things that are about to happen God has burdened my heart to teach and preach on a familiar subject this Spring. I am starting a new series on the Cross.
When God first laid this on my heart, I thought, “WOW, a series on the cross of Christ. That will be great, but what will the people think? What will visitors think? What new things can I teach people about the cross?” As I dove into my Bible, and began to pray and ponder through the scriptures dealing with the cross,
1. I found myself at times..
4. Feeling unworthy,
6. Experiencing the incredible love of God,
7. And so many other things that I really began to, for the first time in my life, understand what the cross WAS and IS, and why it is such a offensive thing to non believers.
So as we head into the Spring, we are going to be studying the Cross of Christ. My prayer is that we will gain a better understanding of who God is, and what he did for each of us, along with keeping our focus on God through all the great things that are going on at the church.
So the Question today is what is the Cross? First it is the CENTER.
Do you think about the Cross every day?
According to Barna Research:
1. More than half of all adults (54%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven. (2005).
2. 51% of Christians and 54% of non-Christians believe that no matter how they feel about money, it is still the main symbol of success in life.
3. The proportion of households that tithe their income to their church – that is, give at least ten percent of their income to that ministry – has dropped by 62% in the past year, from 8% to just 3% of households that tithe at least 10%
4. When contributions are examined as a percentage of household income, giving to religious centers among regular members and attainders represents about 2.2% of annual household income.
5. In 2005 only 34% of Adults’ said they thought it was their personal Responsibility To Tell Other People about Jesus:
There has been too much watering down of the cross in America, and other places around the world. The Cross-is not:
1) Just a symbol that connects Christians
2) Just two pieces of Wood that were put together
3) Just away Romans killed people
4) A basic doctrine that young Christians must learn in order to advance on to deeper things in the faith.
(a) The Cross-is the CENTER of everything in the WORLD.
(iii) And Future
¨ The Cross is at the CENTER of it all.
Þ There is no deeper mystery for the Christian than the Cross.
Þ There is no deeper truth than the Cross
· The Cross is at the center of EVERYTHING!
Þ With that said, let me share with you three things that the cross is the center of, as we began our series on the cross.
I) The center of our Faith
A) The cross represents the absolute center of the Christian Faith.
1) The cross is not just the starting point of the Christian Faith
2) The cross is not just the ending point of the Christian Faith
3) The cross is the CENTER of the Christian FAITH.
(a) Everything in the Christian Faith is birthed out of the Cross of Christ.
(b) The Cross is the center of our faith.
(i) And tragically, most Christians only know a few facts about the cross, which is the center of their faith.
¨ Listen to what Martin Luther said about the cross:
Þ In other words, what the heart is to the body, the cross is to our faith. What the foundation is to a building, the cross is to Christian thought and practice. Lay this doctrine crooked, and our faith will be a leaning tower of Pisa. Martin Luther
B) 1 Cor 2:1-5 (NIV) 1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1) Does this sound like a man who knew a few things about the cross?
2) Does this sound like a man who accepted the message of the cross, got saved, and then went on to other things?
3) Does this sound like a man who only expected that one-day the cross of Christ would get him into heaven?
(a) No this man says: I resolve to know nothing… except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(i) This was a man who understood that the Cross was the center of everything
¨ He understood that Jesus dying on the cross was not the start nor the end.
¨ He understood that the cross was all there was for him as a Christian.
Þ He understood that the cross was the center of his faith, and because of that he desired to know nothing else except the Jesus on the cross.
· Are you there?
· Are we there?
· Is that our understanding of the cross?
Þ Is your desire in life to know Jesus and to know the cross, and nothing else?
C) This does not mean we should not work, own a business, raise a family, or have fun.
1) It means do you work for you and your fame? Or do you work for the Cross and the Fame of Christ?
2) Do you own a business to build your legacy and kingdom? Or do you run and own that business to build the legacy and kingdom of Christ and the cross?
(a) The cross is the center of our faith, so why is it not the center of our lives?
(i) Without Jesus dying on the cross, there is no Christianity.
(ii) Without Jesus dying on the cross, there is no hope of eternity.
(iii) Without Jesus dying on the cross, there is no reason to worship.
(iv) Without Jesus dying on the cross, there is nothing but emptiness.
¨ We must wake up. We must realize that the Cross is the Center of our faith.
II) The center of our Future
A) How were things looking in your life before you met Jesus on the cross?
1) Not good, is the answer I get the most. Things were not looking good at all.
(a) Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins, and secured our future.
(b) The cross is at the center of the future of all men and women, not just Christians.
(i) Jesus, on the cross, is at the center of everyone’s eternity.
¨ If you know Jesus and know him crucified, then he knows you. And if that is the case, Heaven is in store.
¨ On the other hand, for those who don’t know Jesus, for those who reject, mock, and shun Jesus, well the cross is at the center of your future as well.
Þ And the Bible says Jesus won’t know you, the Bible says you will be rejected, and be cast from the presence of Jesus for eternity.
Þ The cross is at the center of everyone’s FUTURE whether you want to admit it or not!
· Listen to the HEART of Jesus on this issue.
B) John 10:7-18 (NIV) 7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
1) Jesus came to lay his life down on the cross, why? So that we might have a life and have it to the full.
(a) He came to lay his life down so we would have a future.
(b) His death on the cross is at the center of everyone’s future.
2) Without the Cross we are:
(c) Separated from God
(d) Enemies of God
(e) Without hope
(f) Without a Future
(g) Doomed to suffer
(h) Doomed to Fail
(j) On our own
(k) We are without God, without the Cross
(i) My friends, the cross is at the center of everyone’s future.
¨ Without the cross you have no future.
¨ Without the cross there is no future.
¨ Without the cross of Christ no one has any hope of anything good in the future.
Þ The cross is the CENTER
· It is the Center of our faith.
· And it is at the Center of our future.
III) The center of God’s Favor
A) Oh, if you missed the first two incredible points this morning, don’t miss this one.
B) Col 1:19-20 (GW) 19 God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ. 20 God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross.
1) The Cross of Christ is right smack in the CENTER of God’s FAVOR to us.
(a) Many times when bad things happen, we don’t see God’s favor in our lives:
(i) When a loved one dies tragically
(ii) When times get hard in our marriages
(iii) When money is tight at home
(iv) When we have to close the doors on our small or large business
(v) When we get news from the doctors that there is nothing more they can do.
(vi) When our world is turned upside down we often say where is God’s favor????
¨ It is in the same place it has always been, at the CENTER! His FAVOR is at the cross.
Þ Stop looking at your spouse for God’s Favor
Þ Stop looking to your bank accounts to find God’s favor
Þ Stop judging God’s favor by how well you do at work
Þ Stop looking at the doctors and nurses for a sign of God’s favor on your life.
· Is the cross not enough?
· Is the center of his favor not enough for you?
Þ Look to the Cross, there you will always find the FAVOR of God.
Þ His favor is always there
Þ His favor never leaves
Þ You can find his favor on the cross because that is the CENTER of his favor in your life. Look at the cross!
C) Col 2:13-15 (NIV) 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
1) You and I were dead in our sins and transgressions. There was no hope, but there was God’s favor at the center of it all there on the cross.
(a) He took it all away nailing it to the cross
(b) He disarmed the powers that held us down
(c) He canceled the written code we would not meet
(d) He forgave our sins
(e) He made us alive
(f) He poured His favor out on us through the cross.
(i) Make no mistake about it. The cross is at the center of God’s favor.
¨ It has been from the beginning, and will be till the end.
D) 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) 24 and He Himself (NO ONE ELSE HE DID IT HIMSELF) bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
1) The world may not show you favor
2) Your boss may not show you favor
3) Your spouse and kids may not show you favor
4) You may find no favor through friendships
5) You may not find a bit of favor in this world.
(a) Let me tell you simply to look to the center of it all. Look to the cross and there you will find FAVOR you do not deserve.
(i) There you will experience grace that is unmerited
(ii) There you will have the favor of God poured out in abundance on your life
(iii) There and only there will you find the Favor you are seeking.
¨ Will you come to the center this morning?
Þ Will you come to the cross of Christ today at the start of our journey to understand this great thing we know as the cross.
· It is at the center of our faith, future and God’s favor, come to the cross today.