Why Doesn't The Cross Work For Me?

May 2015

IN 1997, THE LORD began to open up to me the great Message of the Cross. To be sure, it was not something new but is actually the oldest doctrine known to man.

Peter said: “Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (vain lifestyle) received by tradition from your fathers (speaks of original sin that is passed on from father to child at conception);

“But with the precious blood of Christ (presents the payment, which proclaims the poured out life of Christ on behalf of sinners), as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (speaks of the lambs offered as substitutes in the old Jewish economy; the death of Christ was not an execution, an assassination, an incident or an accident, it was a sacrifice; the offering of Himself presented a perfect sacrifice, for He was perfect in every respect [Ex. 12:5]):

“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world (refers to the fact that God, in His omniscience, knew He would create man, man would fall, and man would be redeemed by Christ going to the Cross; this was all done before the universe was created; this means the Cross of Christ is the foundation doctrine of all doctrine, referring to the fact that all doctrine must be built upon that foundation, or else it is specious), but was manifest in these last times for you (refers to the invisible God, who, in the person of the Son, was made visible to human eyesight by assuming a human body and human limitations)” (I Pet. 1:18-20).

Of course, the full meaning of all of this was given to the Apostle Paul. One can say that Jesus is the new covenant, which means that this is far more than Christ merely having the new covenant, but rather He is the new covenant. However, the meaning of this new covenant was given to the Apostle Paul, the meaning of which in totality is the Cross of Christ.


The first thing the Lord showed me was the meaning of the “sin nature.” Actually, that particular morning before daylight, I was in the office studying Chapter 6 of Romans. In my study, I picked up a book by the Greek scholar, Dr. Kenneth Wuest, and turned to the particular verse in question and began to read. I suppose I had read these very passages previously, but somehow, the meaning of these passages did not register on me.

Wuest began to explain the sin nature, what it is, how it affects the believer, etc. The Holy Spirit opened up my heart to understand this tremendous doctrine regarding why the believer fails. Now, why we as believers, who love the Lord very much and who abhor sin, but yet, fail, is very critical. Most of the time, the reason is because the believer does not understand the sin nature.

I had seen the term before but had never really read anything about it that explained what it was. However, the Lord opened it up to me that morning. I found myself pacing across the floor with tears rolling down my face, thanking the Lord for the tremendous degree of information that He had imparted to me. Even though the Lord did not give me the solution to the problem at that time, the knowledge of knowing why something has happened, when before I had drawn a blank, was to me a tremendously importa

nt situation. Now I knew why the failure! Now, don’t misunderstand. Failure on the part of the Christian is always the fault of the Christian. It’s certainly not the fault of God. It is always and without exception the fault of the believer, but the reason for the failure is far different than most people think. Most of the time, the failure is merely a symptom of the real problem, and the real problem is not fully understanding the sin nature.


A few weeks later in one of our morning prayer meetings, the Lord opened up to me the solution to the problem, in other words, how to have victory, and I mean total victory over the sin nature that it never raise its head as a problem anymore.

In a very simple way, with only about eight or 10 people present that particular morning, the Lord spoke to my heart and said:

“The answer for which you seek is found in the Cross.”

Then the Lord said it the second time, with a slight change:

“The solution for which you seek is found in the Cross.”

And then, the third time came, but with a startling revelation. He said:

“The answer for which you seek is found only in the Cross.”

In this, He once again took me back to Chapter 6 of Romans. He showed me how the believer died with Christ, was buried with Christ, and was resurrected with Christ to the position of a new man (Rom. 6:3-5).

I will never forget how happy that I was, with the joy of the Lord filling my soul as the Lord opened up this simple thing to me. But yet, the Lord didn’t mention the Holy Spirit, at least not at that time.


I knew the Holy Spirit played a great part in all of this, but the Lord never told me how. I was to learn a little later that this truth of how the Holy Spirit works, as the Lord would give it to me, would be one of the greatest truths that the church could ever know. Once again, it was not something new, but that which the Lord had already given to the Apostle Paul. Still, the words of the Lord resonated in my mind and spirit when He had said, “The answer for which you seek is found only in the Cross.” While He never mentioned the Holy Spirit at that time, still, I knew that the Holy Spirit had to play a great part in some way. I was to find out very soon that the part He plays is great indeed.


Back in March 1988, at a very trying time for me personally and for the ministry, the Lord spoke something to me in the midst of all of this that was startling indeed.

That particular morning while I was in prayer, Satan had attacked very powerfully. It was so powerful, in fact, that I reminded the Lord that He had said, “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13). I remonstrated that I felt the Lord was allowing Satan too much latitude. At any rate, the Lord heard my petition.

One moment, it was as if a thousand pounds were on my shoulders, and the next moment, the power of God moved over me to such an extent that I think I have never experienced such before or since. Then the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, “I’m going to show you things about the Holy Spirit you do not now know.”

My thoughts instantly went to who the Holy Spirit is. Concerning that, there were all kinds of things about the Holy Spirit I did not know, nor did any other human being for that matter. But yet, I somehow knew that the Lord was speaking of the situation at hand. One moment, I was weighted down with the powers of darkness, and the next moment, it was like I was walking on clouds. But yet, as the weeks went into months, there was nothing that happened that I could say had fulfilled what the Lord had told me.

In fact, it was to be some nine years before that answer would come. Actually, the Lord told me in October 1991 to begin two prayer meetings a day, which I immediately carried out and continue unto this hour.


The year now was 1997. Just a few weeks earlier, the Lord had given me the great word of the Cross, and now He was to do something as great or greater. Since the Lord had begun to open up the Message of the Cross, I was attempting to teach it over our morning radio program, A Study in the Word. It was a program that aired Monday through Friday, which was one hour and 15 minutes in length.

Loren Larson was the only other person on the program with me that day. The program had almost ended when all of a sudden, something came out of my mouth that I had never heard, never read anything about it, did not know it, and yet, there it was.

I made the statement, “The Holy Spirit works entirely within the parameters of the finished work of Christ and will not work outside of those parameters.” I sat there stunned for a few moments, wondering where that came from. There was dead silence from both of us, which you don’t do on radio. At any rate, Loren then spoke up and asked, “Can you give me Scripture for that?”

How could I give him Scripture when I didn’t even know what I had said? What did it mean, “The Holy Spirit works entirely within the parameters of the Cross of Christ and will not work outside of those parameters”?

Then I looked down at my Bible, which was open to Romans, Chapter 8. Verse 2 leaped out at me.

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). There was the Scripture. In other words, the Lord was telling me at that moment how the Holy Spirit works. It is the Cross of Christ which gives Him the legal means to do all that He does. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about how the Holy Spirit works.

At any rate, the program ended a few moments later.


As I stood up and turned to my right to walk out of the small studio, all of a sudden, the Spirit of God came upon me mightily, and the Lord spoke to me, saying, “Do you remember the promise I made to you in March of 1988?” Of course, I did!

Then the Lord said, “I have just kept My word to you, showing you things about the Holy Spirit that you did not know.” Indeed He had.

To be very brief, all of this means that if we want the Holy Spirit to work within our lives, in which we cannot do anything without Him, our faith must be anchored exclusively in Christ and the Cross. That being done and maintained, the Holy Spirit will then work mightily within our hearts and lives.

Otherwise, while He does not leave us, and thank God for that, still, we tie His hands, so to speak, when our faith is elsewhere other than the Cross. That’s why Paul said, “For the preaching of the Cross is to them who perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18). Is the power in the Cross itself? No, it isn’t! The power is in the Holy Spirit. However, considering that the Holy Spirit works entirely within the parameters of the Cross of Christ and will not work outside of those parameters, this shows us how the Holy Spirit works. This, as stated, is one of the greatest truths in the entirety of the Word of God, but yet, almost unknown as it regards the modern church.


Before the Cross, due to the fact that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. 10:4), the Holy Spirit could not come into the hearts and lives of believers to abide permanently. While He went into the hearts of some, such as prophets, to help them carry out their tasks, when that was ended, He left out again. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was with believers before the Cross, but after the Cross, would be in believers (Jn. 14:17). As we’ve already stated, the reason the Holy Spirit could not come into the hearts and lives of all believers before the Cross was because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, meaning that the sin debt remained. However, when Jesus died on the Cross, that settled the sin debt once and for all, at least for all who will believe (Jn. 3:16). That’s what Paul was speaking about when he said, as it concerned the resurrection of Christ, that first Jesus, “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8). This means that before the Cross, all the believers in paradise were actually captives of Satan. While Satan could not get them over into the burning side of hell, still, they were his captives because, as stated, the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins. However, when Jesus died on the Cross, He made all of those people in paradise, ever how many there were, who were captives of Satan, in effect, His captives, and there was nothing Satan could do about it. The debt was forever paid. As well, before the Cross, when believers died, as we just stated, they did not go to heaven, but rather down into paradise. Since the Cross, due to the fact of the sin debt being settled at the Cross, whenever a believer dies, his soul and spirit instantly go to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (Phil. 1:23). I trust that one can see just how important the Cross was and is. In fact, everything hinges on the Cross. Whenever people tell us that we address the Cross too much, they simply don’t know what they’re talking about.


When we began to preach the Cross strongly, which very soon graduated to television and now covers a great part of this world, I began to hear some people ask questions or make statements such as:

“Brother Swaggart, why doesn’t the Cross work for me?”

“There must be something wrong with me.”

“Why does it work for others and not for me?”

“I’ve tried the Cross, and it doesn’t work.”

Actually, the list is almost endless.

The truth is, oh yes, the Cross works wondrously well (Rom. 6:1-14; Col.

2:10-15). It’s you and me who don’t work very well, not the Cross.

At any rate, it was a Saturday night, I think. It must have been about 11 p.m. Frances and I had gone to bed. I had not yet gone to sleep, so what happened was not a dream, and neither was it a vision. At any rate, the Lord began to move upon me as it regarded this subject that we have broached and began to show me from the Word of God, actually, from the great book of Exodus, just exactly how Satan works in this respect. It was so powerful in my spirit that I got up, got a pencil and paper, and wrote down what the Lord gave me.

What I wrote eventually turned into to the text for the book, Brother Swaggart, Why Doesn’t the Cross Work for Me? I strongly encourage you to get this book because I believe that it will help you greatly. The beginning of that book deals with quite a few particulars in Moses’ life before we get to the meat of the problem. It may seem strange for material given in the Old Testament, actually the great book of Exodus, to answer questions concerning the new covenant and this present time. However, it does and I think that book will be a great blessing to you and will answer many, many questions.

As you’ve heard me state so many times before, the Message of the Cross is not something that is new. In fact, it is the oldest doctrine known to man, actually formulated in the mind of the Godhead from before the foundation of the world (I Pet. 1:18-20). Unfortunately, the modern church is little preaching the Cross of Christ, if at all. We must understand that while Jesus Christ is the source of all things we receive from God, the Cross of Christ is the means by which all of this is made possible. As we have repeatedly stated, the Holy Spirit works entirely within the parameters of the finished work of Christ. He doesn’t demand much of us, but He does demand one thing, and of that He will not relent. He demands that our faith be exclusively in Christ and the Cross, and maintained exclusively in Christ and the Cross (Lk. 9:23).

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