“Why Is It That The Cross Doesn’t Work For Me?”
The Cross of Christ always works; it’s you and I who at times don’t work. We must understand that the Cross of Christ is not a magic wand that we wave over problems and the problems disappear. In fact, the Cross of Christ, one might say, is the door that leads to all of the great things of God. All of these things are learned slowly and most of the time with great difficulty.
MISUNDERSTANDING THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
Many people think of the Cross of Christ, at least when they first hear this Message, as a quick fix. To be sure, the Cross of Christ alone can, as the song says, “fix it for you”; however, it is definitely not a quick fix. As we have stated, there are no magical qualities about the Message of the Cross. Let not the Believer think, upon embracing this great New Covenant, which the Lord has given unto us and for which He paid such a price, that the moment our Faith is there placed is the moment that all problems stop.
To be sure, this Message is most definitely the key to “more abundant life” (Jn. 10:10). It is the one factor in this world, given to us by the Lord, which can set the captive free and it doesn’t matter what the bondage might be. In fact, it would be impossible for us to overstate the benefits for which Jesus paid such a price. It is as Simon Peter said, “a rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of Glory” (I Pet. 1:8), but, very few of these things come quickly or easily. Satan will contest every advancement we make, and do so with a venom that seems to defy description. He knows that such a person has found the key to Victory and, if he can get that person, through discouragement, to simply quit, in other words to transfer his Faith from the Cross of Christ to something else, then the Evil One has won the battle. However, if we stay the course, Victory, and in a capacity we have never previously known, will be ours.
THE CROSS IS THE ENTRANCE ONE MIGHT SAY
Once one begins to understand the Cross of Christ, a proper understanding of the Word of God will begin to fall into place. In fact, I do not personally believe that anyone can properly understand the Bible unless one first of all understands the Cross. That doesn’t mean one cannot understand some things about the Bible, for one certainly can; however, putting the pieces into place cannot come about until we understand the Atonement.
NO BELIEVER EVER MATURES BEYOND THE CROSS!
George Williams says, “The whole of the Christian life from beginning to end, day by day, moment by moment, is simply learning what it means to live by Grace through Faith alone in Christ alone.”
The Child of God can Grow in Grace, come to the place of Spiritual Maturity, only by evidencing Faith in Christ and what Christ did at the Cross. The Cross of Christ must ever be the Object of our Faith, that and that alone! If, in fact, that is correct, and it most definitely is, considering that the modern church understands the Cross of Christ not at all, at least as it regards Sanctification, this means there isn’t much maturity in the modern church. I think this should be obvious when we see those who claim to be Christians, even preachers, falling for that which is obviously unscriptural. It is a lack of maturity and because of the lack of the Cross.
WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST?
The only alternative is to fall back once again upon our own resources. Up beside Christ, what kind of resources do we have? What type of power and strength do we personally have?
Whatever it might be, it is understood, and graphically so, that we are no match within ourselves for the powers of darkness. So, the truth is, we have no alternative to the Cross of Christ, yet, the modern church keeps opting for that devised by man and, thereby, ignoring that provided by the Lord, i.e., “the Cross.”
The Cross is God’s Way and it is His only Way. The reason it is the only Way is because no other way is needed. Paul wrote:
“Then said He, Lo, I come to do Your Will, O God. (The doing of the Will of God, as it regards Christ, pertained totally and completely to His Sacrifice of Himself on the Cross.) He takes away the First (the Old Covenant, which He did by the Sacrifice of Himself), that He may establish the Second (the New Covenant which He did by going to the Cross, the only way it could be established).
THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST
“By the which will (the Sacrifice of Christ took away the First Covenant, satisfying its demands, and established the New Covenant) we are Sanctified through the Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. (This proclaims unequivocally that the only way the Believer can live a victorious life is by the Cross ever being the Object of his Faith.)
“And every Priest stands daily Ministering and offering oftentimes the same Sacrifices, which can never take away sins (proclaiming the insufficiency of this method):
“But this Man (this Priest, Christ Jesus), after He had offered One Sacrifice for sins forever (speaks of the Cross), sat down on the Right Hand of God (refers to the great contrast with the Priests under the Levitical system, who never sat down because their work was never completed; the Work of Christ was a ‘Finished Work,’ and needed no repetition)” (Heb. 10:9-12).
WHY IS IT SO FOOLISH TO REJECT THE CROSS?
To be frank, the way the question was formed in the heading presents a gross understatement. The word “foolish” is not nearly strong enough. To turn from the Cross of Christ is to turn from the only way of coming to God, the only way of having fellowship with God, and the only way of overcoming the world, the flesh, and the Devil. For one to exchange the free Grace of God, which comes to us solely by the means of the Cross, for the bondage of our own works is stupid indeed!
The Gospel of Grace says: God gives and gives and gives! The Law says: you must do and do and do! So, that being the case, why would most Believers desire Law over Grace?
That’s a good question!
One of the reasons is, “the doing of Religion is the most powerful narcotic there is,” the doing of whatever makes us think that we are really righteous. Please understand the following:
There is absolutely nothing any Believer can do to make himself righteous, and I mean nothing! Righteousness is a free Gift from God and is freely given to anyone, irrespective as to what their past has been, if they will simply evidence Faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross. Then a perfect, pure, untainted, unstained Righteousness will be imputed by God to such a believing soul (Rom. 5:1-2).
THE POWER THAT TRIES TO KEEP US UNDER
We quoted the following from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE some Chapters back but it presents such a great Truth, that it needs, I think, to be repeated. It said:
“The glad Tidings of Salvation is one thing; the struggle against the power that tries to keep the soul in bondage is quite another.”
Many think that once the Cross of Christ is the Object of their Faith all temptation will end and Satan will not be able to bother them again. Please understand that the Bible does not promise such a life. One day that will come, but, only when the Trump of God sounds (I Cor. 15). So, if you, as a Believer, think the Cross is not working because temptation is once again coming your way, you are misunderstanding the entirety of the great Plan of God.
In no place in the Word of God are we promised an uneventful life. To be frank, if such did come our way at this stage, it would not be for our benefit, but rather would play out to our hurt. Once again, allow me to quote from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE:
“Satan will not easily allow his captives to go free; and God permits the bitter experience of Satan’s power in order to exercise and strengthen Faith.
“That is ever the work of the Holy Spirit, the strengthening of our Faith. It is done in many ways; however, perhaps one could say, the greatest way of all is Satan’s attacks against us. We don’t like them! We certainly don’t desire them in any fashion! But the truth is, such is necessary, that is if we are to ‘Grow in Grace and the knowledge of the Lord.’”
IT IS WAR
We as Believers must understand that as long as we are in this world, and even though we understand the great Message of the Cross perfectly, none of this will exempt us from the opposition of the Evil One. In fact, Paul refers to this conflict as “war”; however, the Lord has shown us the way to have Victory in this war, and we speak of Victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Admittedly, it’s not simple and it’s not easy, but if we function according to the way laid down in the Word of God, we will win this war. In other words, sin will not have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14). There is nothing the Believer can do to escape the war, but most definitely we can have Victory in this war. Paul said:
“For though we walk in the flesh (refers to the fact that we do not yet have Glorified Bodies), we do not war after the flesh (after our own ability, but rather by the Power of the Spirit):
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (carnal weapons consist of those which are man-devised), but mighty through God (the Cross of Christ [I Cor. 1:18]) to the pulling down of strongholds;)
“Casting down imaginations (philosophic strongholds; every effort man makes outside of the Cross of Christ), and every high thing that exalts itself against the Knowledge of God (all the pride of the human heart), and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (can be done only by the Believer looking exclusively to the Cross, where all Victory is found; the Holy Spirit will then perform the task)” (II Cor. 10:3-5).
As Paul says here, Satan will do everything within his power to erect “strongholds” of evil in our lives, and he will do so if we oppose him in the wrong way. However, if we place our Faith exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross and refuse to allow it to be moved elsewhere, this “war” will be won. In the meantime, our Faith and strength in the Lord will grow mightily!
Yes, the Cross of Christ most definitely works and, in fact, is the only thing that will work. However, don’t expect such to absolve us of all temptation, of all attacks by Satan, etc. That’s not going to happen, but, as we have repeatedly stated, what the Lord gave to the Apostle Paul shows us the way to Victory, that is, if we will persevere, which means that we won’t quit.
1. George Williams. The Students Commentary on the Holy Scripture, Grand Rapids, Kregel Publications, 1949.
(This message was derived from the book, “Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Cross”.)