Summary: This sermon is to help us understand why Paul gloried in the Cross of Christ, and see how this motivated him in ministry.
Text: Galatians 6:14 “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.”
Intro: On this day we have gathered together for this special service to commemorate the Resurrection Morning nearly 2,000 years ago. This morning I want to look at how the events upon the Cross of Christ affected one of our Lord’s followers so deeply. So deep, that it rightfully became the foundation upon which he built his life and work.
[Let’s read the text this morning.]
Setting: In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul was writing to a group of his converts that were being deceived by Jewish evangelists that had come in after Paul was there to ABANDON grace for Jewish ritualism.
Paul not only shows the Galatians their folly, but deals directly with the motive of the Jewish evangelists, known as “Judaizers”, because they preached that a convert to Christianity must keep the Jewish law beginning with circumcision in order to be accepted by God.
1. Paul tells the Galatian church that their desire was to “glory in their flesh” (v.13), meaning that they were trying to bring glory to themselves (“see what we’ve accomplished”) for the “efforts” made by the Galatian believers to keep the Law of Moses. [Illus of Oneness Movement’s Re-baptism in Water in Jesus’ Name]
2. Paul admonishes them of the two-fold danger of trying to please God through keeping the Law:
o It’s impossible to keep the Law of Moses without fault (not even the Judaizers were keeping the Law) (v13);
o It minimizes the Gospel Message—that faith in the work of Christ alone can produce a changed life: a NEW CREATURE. (v.15) In other word’s the Cross effected the Power necessary for the salvation of Man, NOT THE WORKS OF THE FLESH.
Paul states in summary that he would glory ONLY in the Cross of Christ. The word “glory” in the Greek carries with it deeper meaning than our English word. The Greek word for GLORY embodies three shades of meaning:
1. To boast, i.e. “I will boast in nothing except the Cross…”
2. To rejoice, i.e. “I will rejoice in nothing except the Cross…”
3. To rely on, i.e. “I will rely on nothing except the Cross…” [base my trust in]
Let’s examine Paul’s profound passion for the Cross.
I. PAUL’S PASSION FOR THE CROSS
A. Things in which Paul could have found glory (things in which people today glory): (Phil. 3:4-6)
i. His heritage as a Jew (of the tribe of Benjamin): One of God’s chosen people.
ii. His education (sat at the feet of Gamaliel): Quality education
iii. His religion as a Pharisee: Conservative doctrine among the Jews
iv. His reputation of zeal: Persecutor of the church
v. His self-righteousness: “Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Paul’s goodness (while men glory in it) was not sufficient to save him.
None of these things brought inward freedom to Paul from the guilt of the past, nor a fellowship with the God he tried so diligently to serve!
B. Reasons why Paul could have been offended of the Cross:
i. The foolishness it represented to the Gentile world
1. Plinius Secundus, an ancient historian, called the preaching of the cross “a perverse and extravagant superstition” and said that Christians suffered from amentia (we would say dementia – a mental disorder).
2. Orator Caecilius said that Christians suffered from “sick delusions” and a “senseless and crazy superstition”. “Not least among the monstrosities of their faith is the fact that they worship one who has been crucified.”
ii. The double offense it represented to the Jewish world
1. It abolished the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law), the thing in which they trusted most.
2. It brought reproach to the Jewish people that their “Messiah” would debase himself to suffer at the hands of the heathen and godless Romans. [Their idea of a savior was far removed from God’s idea]
iii. The pain that it brought to Paul as a preacher of the Cross
C. The Reasons why Paul found glory in the Cross of Christ:
i. Because it was at the Cross where God’s Holy Justice & Righteous Anger were satisfied
1. God chose death by crucifixion to take the life of His Son
2. Klausner, the Jewish historian said, “Crucifixion is the most terrible and cruel death man has ever devised.”
3. Cicero says, “It was the most cruel and shameful of all punishments.”
4. Details of crucifixion:
a. Hands nailed to the crossbeam with 5” iron nails
b. Legs bent at the knees and feet brought up to just below the pelvis and nailed together.
c. As victim’s arms hung in “V” position he was plagued with two unendurable circumstances: