And He Who Looks Will Live
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Once a person begins to understand the cross, as much as we poor humans can, our relationship with Christ improves a thousand percent. Looking back at my own life—before I had at least a modicum of understanding respecting this great subject and what I have now, what I see now; the relationship with the Lord now—it’s no comparison. I wish I had the proper vocabulary to elucidate exactly that of which I feel in my spirit. It’s like having a friend that you’ve known for some time, and he’s a good friend, but then you find out a little later that he’s your brother—that’s an entirely different relationship. No matter how good of a friend he was, when you realize that he’s your blood brother, that puts an entirely different perspective on the situation.
That’s the way I see the Lord Jesus Christ now—I see Him as my Brother, and there’s a closeness, a proximity, a nearness there that I did not once have, and I believe that relationship will increase; it will grow. But without an understanding of the cross, it will not. Are we saying that for every person who has at least a modicum of understanding respecting the cross that his relationship with Christ will improve? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. And I think that many of you reading this believe what we are teaching, according to the Word of God, and if you will look at your own life, your own experience, your own walk with God, you will find that your relationship with Christ has increased dramatically so.
Among the many things that change is this: you don’t see Jesus as a stern Judge. You see Him as a Saviour, as a Redeemer, as your Brother, and it’s altogether different. He’s not waiting to smite you if you don’t do just right. No, He loves you. You sense that love, you feel that love, and it makes you want to draw closer to Him.
Closer to the Lord
We should strive to draw closer to the Lord constantly. One of my most favorite passages is where it says that Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God. I want to please God. I want to please Him, and I can only do it by understanding the cross—the great price that was paid for my redemption and the redemption of all of mankind. It’s all enmeshed in the cross. You can’t really understand what I’m talking about unless your understanding of the cross is as it ought to be. And don’t misunderstand: you can’t exhaust what the cross means, I don’t care how much you know about it.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
He endured the cross, despising the shame. We don’t think of the shame now, but it was an awful thing. In the eyes of Jews, for a person to die on a cross—a wooden gibbet—it meant that they were cursed by God, according to the book of Deuteronomy. So we might ask the question, Was Jesus cursed by God? No. He was made a curse. He could not be cursed by God because He had not sinned. He never failed, not in one iota did He fail. So for Him to pay the price, God had to place a curse upon him—that curse was death. He didn’t die for Himself; He died for you and for me, and He will bear the scars in His hands forever. He endured the cross because it had to be if man was to be saved; it had to be.
Look And Live
Think about the children of Israel, when they were in the wilderness, how God sent a plague among them because of their murmuring and complaining. And that plague was serpents, thousands and thousands of poisonous serpents and whoever they bit would die.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live,” (Num. 21:8). The Lord told Moses to take a piece of copper and beat it into the form of a serpent, put it on a pole, and then run—run throughout the camp—and tell the people, no matter if they were in the last moments of life, “Look on that serpent on the pole, and he who looks will live.”
Sin is the problem, ladies and gentlemen. It steals and kills and destroys. And the only cure for it is the cross—that serpent on the pole—that symbolizes Jesus defeating Satan, defeating sin, defeating the forces of darkness totally and completely. That’s the only solution; there is no other.
The Lord told Aaron to run through the camp and tell the people to look and if they looked, they lived. It wasn’t difficult; they didn’t have to get up and build a temple; just look and you will live, and so they did. The command for us today is the same: Run. That’s the reason these telecasts are going out all over the world. The Lord told me a few weeks ago after the Spirit of God had moved on The Message of the Cross program and we prayed for people to be saved. He said, “Wherever the signal of that camera goes—anywhere in the world—My Spirit will go with it.” Now you think of what I just said: “My Spirit will go with it, and people will be saved; believers filled with the Spirit, bondages of darkness broken, the sick healed, blessings unparalleled.” Because the message is the cross—the solution—is the cross, and there is no other solution. It’s not one of several, take your cafeteria pick, no. The cross is it, friend. What we’re trying to do, and maybe we do it clumsily, maybe others could do it much better, but we’re doing the best we can is running with the message of the cross.
The Word Of God
Paul said, “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” (I Cor. 1:17). He said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18). He said, “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” (Gal. 6:14). He said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).
I don’t know how much clearer it could be, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m afraid the church is dying. It’s not getting worse; it’s already destroyed. I fear it’s in worse condition than it has ever been in my lifetime, and the only solution for it is the cross because the Holy Spirit works through the cross—that’s what gives Him the legal means to do all that He does. Preacher, are you preaching the cross? Paul said we preach Christ crucified. Do you just mention it in passing once and a while, or do you preach it as the answer—the sole answer, the only answer—for man’s dilemma?
You see, in the old economy of God, before the cross, there was no place to sit down in the tabernacle or the temple. There were tables, but no chair. And the reason there was no chair was because the work of the priest was never done, never finished. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin, so they had to keep offering up sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice. But when Jesus finished the work at Calvary’s cross, He was recognized by God, and is set down at the right hand of God because He is accepted. His sacrifice was accepted. God accepts it; do you accept it?
Going back to my earlier comment on the church, most people, when they think of “the church,” they think of denominations—this denomination to that denomination. But that’s not church. Denomination is something that man devised—it may be good, it may be bad, it may be indifferent—but it’s not really the church. A building by the side of the road with a steeple on top is not the church either; that’s just a building to keep out the weather. The early church didn’t even have buildings, period. The church is that blood-bought child of God, wherever in the world he or she may be—whosoever will—that is saved by the blood of the Lamb.
There’s really been a change in me.
Born again, just like Jesus said,
Born again, and all because of Calvary,
Thank God, thank God that I’ve been born again.
That’s the church—that gray-headed grandmother, that gray-headed great-grandmother who is aged in years and is loath to get on her knees because she may not can push herself up, but she can pray a hole through heaven; she can make demons tremble and make Satan shake. Glory to God—that’s the church! It’s a blood-bought church, a blood-washed church, washed in the blood of the Lamb, praise God, and what God is about to do, hear me, I believe there’s going to be a move of God that’s going to sweep untold numbers into the kingdom of God. The Lord is not caught without an answer. He’s not calling a board meeting in heaven asking, “What are we going to do?” He knows what He’s going to do, and He is going to do it, and all of hell cannot stop it. We may not be much here, but we’re doing everything we can to proclaim the message of the cross, to hold up Jesus Christ and Him crucified to the world, running through the camp shouting, “Look and live! Look and live! Look and live!” And the Bible says, “If a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived,” praise the Lord!