Summary: The cross: 1. Can fill our hearts with hope (vs. 12-13). 2. Can break down barriers (vs. 14-15). 3. Can heal God’s hostility (vs. 16-17). 4. Can give access to the Almighty (vs. 18). 5. Can make Heaven our home (vs. 19)
The Power of the Cross
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May, 27, 2012
*One of the most famous pictures of World War II is of five brave Marines raising the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima. More than five thousand Marines gave their lives to capture that eight-square-mile island from the Japanese. And today there is a large statue to honor the men who fought and died in that terrible battle. The statue is based on the Iwo Jima picture, and it is just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.
*The man in the center of the Iwo Jima photo was John Bradley. After the war, Bradley moved back to Antigo, Wisconsin, married his high school sweetheart, and raised a family.
*John Bradley won the Navy Cross for saving a fellow Marine’s life, but he preferred not to talk about the war. And he absolutely refused to accept the hero worship that others tried to force on him. When his young son James said something to Dad about being a hero, John Bradley replied, “The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn’t come back.” Our veterans would say the same thing. (1)
*Tomorrow is Memorial Day and it should be much more than a day-off for us. We should remember the million-plus men and women who sacrificed their lives to help make and keep us free.
*The freedom we have cost much more than money. Many people gave their all, so that we might be free today. And their sacrifice helps point us to the greatest sacrifice of all: The death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.
*There is no way that we can exaggerate the importance of the cross to our world. There is no way that we can exaggerate the importance of the cross to us. And as the Apostle Paul speaks to Christians in these verses, God shows us what the cross can do in our lives.
1. First of all, the cross can fill our hearts with hope.
*Paul reminds us of this truth in vs. 12-13, where he describes our lives before we trusted in Jesus:
12. . . at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.
*Believers: Without Jesus, we had no hope. And I care enough about you to tell you that if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are without hope right now. But Jesus Christ can give you hope. And Jesus will give you hope, if you will trust in Him.
*Jesus will give you a joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.
-But it came at the highest price for Him: The blood of Christ in vs. 13 is the blood that Jesus poured out when He died on the cross for our sins.
*But Jesus rose from the dead!
-And when we receive the Risen Lord as our Savior, we have hope.
*The cross can fill our hearts with hope.
2. And it can break down barriers between us.
*Paul pointed out this truth in vs. 14&15, where he was talking about Jesus and said:
14. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us,
15. having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
*Jesus Himself is our peace! He “has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us.”
*Pastor Jim Black helped us understand these verses when he said: “Remember that Paul is talking to Gentiles, like (probably all of us here today). ‘Uncircumcision’ in vs. 11 was a typical disrespectful term used by the Jews to describe the Gentiles. They (i.e. we) were considered to be heathens, clearly not the people of God.”
*And Jim said: “It would be hard to adequately describe in today’s terms the (scorn) that the Jews had for Gentiles. As wide as the divide has been between whites and blacks in America, I don’t think that quite does it justice.
*The divide was racial, but extended far beyond race.
-It was political, but extended far beyond politics.
-It was religious, but extended far beyond religion.
*Other ancient Jewish writings refer to the Gentiles as ‘fuel for the fires of hell.’ In the Temple in the first century there was a literal dividing wall which separated the important part of the Temple, the Court of the Israelites from the Court of the Gentiles. Signs were posted in Latin and Greek to warn Gentiles not to go any farther into the temple under the penalty of death.” (2)