Summary: The importance of the cross in the life of the believer TODAY. Especially in the light of opposition in the UK to this Christian symbol
11 Notice what large letters I use as I write these closing words in my own handwriting. 12 Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised are doing it for just one reason. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. 13 And even those who advocate circumcision don’t really keep the whole law. They only want you to be circumcised so they can brag about it and claim you as their disciples.
14 As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead. 15 It doesn’t make any difference now whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people. 16 May God’s mercy and peace be upon all those who live by this principle. They are the new people of God.
17 From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.
18 My dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Verse: 14 ‘As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead.’
We live in a ‘church world’ of extremes. Only this week in the paper, Terry Waite, who was the Archbishop’s envoy to Lebanon. He shot to fame by being held captive for five years. He spoke out about the modern trends in the Church of England. He was disgusted that a vicar did not wear his robes and then when it came time for him to preach removed his jacket and actually moved around while preaching. We have church services and especially worship which have taken on more the guise of a show, with lights and smoke and other special effects.
Out of the church scene there is the debate on television about PC of the presenters, should they wear a cross? BA staff member at home because of wearing a cross. I have to say is to so many no more than a piece of jewelry with no significant meaning at all. (The one in question was not even a crucifix just a plain cross.)
Modern presentations, feeling about the correctness of a piece of jewelry. If we are not careful, we will lose sight of the cross itself. If the cross of Jesus Christ with all it’s symbolic meaning, is lost to the Christian Church, whether under a smoke screen of presentation or through the political correctness of our world today, then we have lost a central part of our message. We might as well shut up shop!
The words of verse 14 in the AV are powerful. ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,...’ Yet the cross stands for shame. It is not a good luck charm it is a symbol of death and stands for the abrupt and violent end of human life. For the Christian believer it does of course stand for the death to the old life, and through Christ’s death and resurrection, it also stands for the new life which we have through and in Jesus Christ. The man who in the time of Jesus took up his cross, he had already said his good-byes to his loved ones and friends, he stepped out on a road of no-returns.
The cross did not compromise - it did not simply modify or change someone - it spared nothing. It killed the person! It is somewhat difficult to understand when the NT speaks of dying to sin. God takes a person whose life has been wrecked by sin, lets them die to the old life (liquidates them) and then raises them up to a totally new life. In coming to Christ, we do not simply lift our lives to a higher level, we leave our old life at the cross.
The cross can be a mystery, can be simply a piece of jewelry but most important of all it is a symbolic meeting place for the sinner with Jesus. It really is the place of death and new life!
The cross at work in the life of a man or woman is a real revolution, that is why Paul wrote, (verse14) ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, ...’ If you come to the cross (remember not a piece of wood but to the Christ of the Cross), then you will experience real revolution. The world of the sinner turned upside down, the eyes blinded by sin become eyes of faith, personal ‘will’ becomes the subject to the will of the Lord and the desire to be totally in charge of you life changes. Paul several time described himself as a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. One preacher speaking in a large prison is reputed to have said to the inmates, “I have good news for you today. God does not want to reform you, He wants you to die!”