Summary: A message that our spiritually dull generation does not want to hear. Sacrifice is one of the demands of Jesus Christ.
The Greatest Challenge of the Cross
Matthew 16:24-25 KJV Then said Jesus unto his
disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Romans 12:1-2 KJV I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
I. INTRODUCTION -- THE CROSS
-The Cross of Calvary is perhaps the most powerful reference point in the Bible. The Cross of Christ is the hope of all ages. It was pointed to by the prophets, it was the hope of the Old Testament saints, it was despised by the Pharisees and Sadducees, it was a "stumbling-block" for the Jews, and it was "foolishness" to the Greeks.
-It has become the central point of salvation to the Church. The place at Calvary is not bound by the limitations of time. The Cross will never be bound by the prejudices of men. It continues to tower as a great, mountain beacon pointing out a clear direction of purpose for the church. In addition to that, it still has the power to save men from their sins.
-Yet with that power of the Cross, there is also a repulsiveness that comes with the Cross. The huge difficulty with this Cross concept, is that it is hard for our generation to swallow something that will demand change in thinking, lifestyle, and outlook.
-The fact of the matter is that the Cross is outrageously offensive. “You want me to do what?” I am sometimes asked by incredulous voices. “I want you to live a Cross-Centered life!”
-That is the Greatest Challenge of the Cross.
-Despite the matter of the Cross being shameful, antagonizing, and even militant. . . . there is only one way for us to be saved and that is by the application of the blood of Christ to our lives.
II. THE WORDS OF JESUS CONCERNING THE CROSS
Matthew 16:24-25 KJV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
-The words of Jesus were for men not to allow the cross to become stationery and static in their lives. The cross had to be moving all the time. It had to be the foremost theme of the life of the disciples. I must take my cross with me everywhere I go.
-This Scripture goes completely against the orientation of consumer-based ideas that pervade our society today.
-The first requirement of being a disciple is self-denial. The second requirement is to take up the Cross. This is placing a man on the path of a willing death-march. The death that comes is to his flesh, desires, opinions, and choices.
-This is the Greatest Challenge of the Cross.
-The Lord places certain stipulations on the lives of the true disciples. There are numerous values that we can receive if we are willing to let the cross of Christ move into every aspect of our lives.
-If you notice in the following passage in Matthew, the all important question is posed there. What will a man give in exchange for his soul? It is far better for a man to be willing to bear the Cross now and to have a safe soul than to shirk the duty of cross bearing and lose his soul.
A. The Power of the Cross According to Scripture
-The Cross has the ability to settle our lives and provide stability for the saint of God. The Word of God provides us with a great picture of what the Cross is able to do.
1. It has the power to forgive sin.
1 John 1:7 KJV But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 KJV  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
-The Cross has the ability to erase sin from our lives.