Summary: As we consider Thanksgiving, we should be mindful of the many blessings we have in Christ. While these are too numerous to name, every believer should be thankful for the cross!
Thankful for the Cross
This particular epistle of Paul was written to the churches in the region of Galatia. As you read and study this letter, a common theme becomes evident. Many in the region of Galatia had been influenced by the Judaizers, those who insisted the Law must be kept, especially the practice of circumcision, along with faith in Christ in order for one to be truly saved. They believed salvation was achieved partly by faith and partly by works. They insisted that spiritual maturity was only attained through faith and personal effort.
John MacArthur summed up the attitude prevalent in Galatia. He declares there are only two types of religion in the world – one of divine accomplishment and that of human achievement. Christianity stands alone as the “religion” of divine accomplishment. (I prefer to define it as a relationship rather than a religion.) Our salvation was provided by the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, through faith in His atoning work on the cross. It is wholly an act of grace, freely given to humanity. All other religions in the world rest in human accomplishment.
As we meet for worship in November, our thoughts are being directed toward Thanksgiving. For some, the entire month is given to an attitude of thanks and praise. Over the next few weeks I want to examine some of the blessings believers have through a relationship with Christ. As we discuss the attributes associated with the cross of Christ, I want to preach on the thought: Thankful for the Cross.
I. The Humility in the Cross (14) – But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Paul reveals that in himself there is no reason for boasting. There was absolutely no goodness within him. I’m sure he remembered the man he used to be. He was a man who once sought to hinder the church and the work of God. It was the Lord who brought him out of the bondage of sin and placed him into the family of God.
? He was simply the recipient of God’s loving favor. His life had been used of God in a mighty way since that day on the Damascus road, but it was God who had made him the man he was. Paul recognized apart from the Lord he would not have been able to accomplish any of the things he had. It was the Lord who gave him the ability to preach the gospel, to endure the hardships, and reach the world.
? We live in a day of pride. It seems as if everyone wants to be recognized for their accomplishments. Some have to be bragged on and encouraged if they are to continue serving the Lord. Man is a prideful creature, but none of us would be here today were it not for the Lord.
? I have nothing to glory in of myself. I was just a sinful beggar in need of salvation when the Lord came unto me. He has made me what I am today. If there is any reason for boasting in my life, it is only in the Lord and what He has done for me! This church has achieved what it has solely in the Lord. We have not prospered because of who we are or what we’ve done! I pray that we will see ourselves as nothing and Jesus as everything.
II. The Identity in the Cross (14) – But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There were many in Paul’s day who refused the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. They rejected the idea of a suffering Savior. Many were still trying to keep the law and work their way into favor with God. For many the cross was a symbol of reproach and they refused to identify with it. Paul declared the cross was his only reason of rejoicing.
? It was the cross that provided the means for salvation. It was the cross that gave him the opportunity to become a member of the family of God. The cross was the only reason for boasting in Paul. He may have suffered persecution and rejection for embracing the cross, but Paul was not ashamed. He knew it was the cross that men needed to see. It was the preaching of the cross that men needed to hear. Rom.1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 1 Cor.2:2 – For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.