THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS
BY DON BANTUM
I believe Paul and the writer of Hebrews say it best; no wonder God chose them to tell this story. Mankind despises the cross of Jesus and is appalled by it. Unfortunately many within the “professed” Christian community are in denial of it. Mankind in general abhors the fact we are basically evil. That’s right, not basically good, but basically evil.
“You mean somebody had to die and shed his blood for my sins? You must be kidding; wonderful, righteous, loving ME? Don’t make me laugh; I’m basically a good person!”
Well, frankly…no you’re not. God could have created us out of sugar and spice and everything nice, but instead He chose the dust of the earth. Now, should that make us feel high and mighty and lifted up? I hope not. We’re worthy of death. Referring to the Holy Spirit-inspired Psalms of David, Paul reminds us in Romans 3: that there is NONE righteous, not even one.
Romans 3: 9. What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10. As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11. there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one."
13. "Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14. "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15. "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16. ruin and misery mark their ways,
17. and the way of peace they do not know."
18. "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
We may be tempted to say, “That is simply referring to those ‘other people;’ you know, back then. We aren’t like that today, we’re wonderful and basically GOOD, right?”
We are everything God said we are and more. The passage from Romans above cites the Old Covenant which, as hard as it is to believe, is what many professed Christians are opting to live under today. They don’t seem to realize we have been under God’s New Covenant for roughly 2,000 years. They are far too busy hoping to find righteousness under the Old Covenant, the one from which much of mankind has never separated itself.
In Jeremiah, God speaks to us through the prophet saying,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. (KJV)
Who knows the condition of mankind better than the creator of mankind?
Luke 3: 7. John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
Sound familiar? How many times have you heard or said in your heart, “I go to church every week; I was brought up in a Christian home; my grandmother was a Christian,” or “we live in a Christian country; I’m a Catholic; I’m a Baptist; I go to Calvary Chapel; I go to the CMA” or some other such group or organization?
We are saved by grace through “FAITH” in Jesus Christ! We are not saved by faith in a group or organization. We are not saved as the result of some rite, or by accepting some denominational dogma. Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 15:1. Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4. that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5. and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8. and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The faith each of us exercises must include our believing in our heart, “Jesus is God, was born of a virgin, was crucified for YOUR sins, was buried and raised to life again on the third day.”
We claim we believe that, but often it’s just double talk on our part. Why? Because we often say out of one side of our mouth that Jesus died for our sins and took them all away. Then all day long, or just before we fall asleep at night, we begin confessing our sins to God, and asking him to forgive us of our sins. What is that? Is it not unbelief? Jesus took away the sins of the whole world, except the sin of UNBELIEF. That sin can’t be taken away, other than by repentance. Repentance, as you know, involves turning around and walking 180 degrees in the opposite direction. At one point I didn’t believe, but now I’m walking in the other direction, I’ve become a believer. I’ve repented of my unbelief and turned to complete faith in the gospel message.
Have you really repented of your sin of unbelief? If you’re still trying to obtain more forgiveness, you’re still an unbeliever; not an unbeliever in Jesus, per say, but an unbeliever in what Jesus has accomplished on your behalf. Faith in Christ, along with God’s grace, is what saves us. If we are unbelievers in all that Christ has done, we aren’t saved. Does each of us fully understand that?
We often sing about the Old Rugged Cross, and how the cross made a difference for us. We wear crosses around our necks, put crosses in and on our church buildings, talk about the cross and discuss the Passion of Christ with considerable intensity. Yet when it comes right down to it, the cross means very little to many “religious” people. The cross has become an affront through the actions of some. Our obsession with confession has lead to a dependency on OUR ability to confess, rather than God's ability to have forgiven. We should be celebrating the fact that we are forgiven. But by coming to the altar over and over again, begging to obtain further forgiveness for sins, we expose the fact that we have never truly put saving faith in the blood of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice in our place at the cross. And again we make it all about us, rather than complete and utter dependence on the only one that could ever take away sins.
People stream down sanctuary aisles every week seeking forgiveness; not understanding they’ve already been forgiven. Jesus took away the sins of the whole world on that cross we talk about so much. Why does this truth escape the minds of so many today? Are we so completely obsessed with obtaining forgiveness that we fail to understand we were born forgiven? Listen again to the Holy Spirit-inspired words of the writer of Hebrews:
Hebrews 9:22. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Can you see that? Do you understand that without the shedding of Christ’s blood there could be no remission of the world’s sins? Shall we cry out for Jesus to be crucified again and again?
Hebrews 10: 5. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6. with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.' " 8. First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9. Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Now didn’t he just say through that sacrifice, we HAVE BEEN MADE HOLY? Or is this something Jesus has to do again and again, day after day? I don’t know about you, but I find it rather odd that the blood of bulls and goats had the power to cover sins for an entire year, but the blood of Christ himself, doesn’t have the power to take care of the sins of one day?
Here we go again with the offense of the cross. We were offended that Jesus had to go to a cross for our sakes, yet we’ve come to expect him to go there constantly, every time we start feeling guilty again.
“A little more blood over here Lord, could you splash some more on this sin. Please Lord, you know it makes me feel better to know you’re shedding more of your precious blood on my account. Please forgive me Lord, a bit more blood is required here, Lord.” What fools we are. We don’t believe Jesus took away our sins, we say we do, but we are found to be liars, and at the same time we make God himself out to be a liar when we ask him to do again what he’s already done. Consider this:
11. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14. because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Could anything be more clear? In biblical times, the priest would sacrifice the lives of animals, all day long, every day, day in and day out; but Jesus isn’t about to do that. If you don’t accept his one time offering of himself, and his blood, you’re lost.
Continuing in Hebrews, Chapter 10 we see…
15. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16. "This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds." 17. Then he adds:
"Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more." 18. And where these HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21. and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
So tell me friend, are you holding “unswervingly” to the hope you profess? Not if you are asking Jesus to go to the cross again to take away your sins and render you forgiven.
26. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
What did Paul say just seven verses earlier? He said, speaking of God’s promise, “…their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” That, my friend, is the knowledge of TRUTH. You see, that cross actually meant something to God. Hopefully it will mean just as much to you. If it does, you won’t continue seeking that which you already have – God’s forgiveness.
27. but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire (of HELL) that will consume the enemies of God.
Do YOU and I, want to be enemies of God? See calling Jesus a liar, by refusing to believe his blood cleansed us of all sins, is doing that very thing. So if we do, the consequences are eternal damnation. Does that sound like fun? We must repent of our unbelief in the completed work of Christ on the cross, 2,000 years before we were born. We don’t get forgive, we are forgiven. Do you believe that or not. If you do, let’s stop the Satan inspired habit of refusing to believe Jesus when he said it’s finished, stop asking for what it cost Jesus his very life to obtain for YOU.
What did Jesus cry out from the cross? “IT IS FINISHED!” Do we truly understand just what “finished” means? Are we going to continue to shake our fists in the face of God, and say, “No, it will be finished when I say it’s finished. Now forgive me; I’ve confessed my sin, and now you’re obligated to splash more blood on my sins, so comply with my demands and just do it.” Wow, what nerve some of us have! Aren’t we important, that we can demand God to keep going to a cross every time our conscience is bothering us? If this describes your relationship with the Lord, are you sure you want to continue with this hoax, this pretense of claiming you believe Jesus took your past, present and future sins away, while continually asking him to do it again and again? Check this out people….
28. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30. For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Do you think the Scripture you just read is an excerpt from a fairy tale? Do you think God isn’t listening to you, do you think he can’t hear what you’re saying? God knows everything you’re thinking, not just what you’re saying, dear friend. You may want to rethink any obsession you might have with confession, and forgiveness. When everybody in the world is born forgiven, you who claim to be a Christian, make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and are trampling the Son of God under foot and treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified you, and you are insulting the Spirit of Grace. Either you believe the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Paul, and the writer of Hebrews or you don’t. Besides, the forgiveness of sins does not represent salvation, it’s only half of it. Though forgiven, we, nevertheless, are born spiritually dead in Adam and in need of life, and that life is all wrapped-up in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in order to be raised from the dead, Jesus first had to go to the cross and die, right? So if he went to the cross to take away our sins, we must believe he did precisely that in order to share in his resurrection from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15: 12. But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel. What is that gospel? Simply this…Jesus Christ died on a cross and took away the sins of the whole world. He was buried and raised to life again on the third day. In order to be SAVED, we must actually believe what we profess. Did Jesus really deal with sins once and for ALL? Or is it our confession and asking that’s saves us? Is it what we’re doing, or is it what Jesus did (past tense)?
Satan wants us to play this game, because if we continue to play this game of unbelief and doubt, we’re lost. Jesus died 2,000 years ago on a cross, was buried and raised to life again on the third day. Let’s deal with it, let's get over ourselves and – live. Salvation isn’t about us anyway; it’s all about Jesus and what HE did. If we want to make this about us, we’re denying the cross and hoping to gain forgiveness through our own efforts, making forgiveness all about US. God forbid. So...come to saving faith in Jesus, and LIVE. He has already done it all. Just as He said, "It is finished."
Hebrews 11: 6. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
So if you’re hoping to please God, put faith in what he is telling you, or……….
Galatians 6: 7. Be not deceiced; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (KJV)
Do you really want to persist in unbelief and go on confessing to receive what God said you already have? Faith is the only thing that pleases God. Where do you stand, dear friend?
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