For our Scripture reading today, our text passage will be from Galatians chapter 6. I want to speak to you using this as a starting point in Galatians 6:14 on the theme of the "Glory of the Cross." Yes, that's right, the glory of the cross. You know, this modern day preaching, they like to sort of skim over the part about the cross and just leave that part out, it's too bloody!
But all of you already know that as long as you come to hear me preach, you're going to hear about the cross pretty often. And so, I want to speak to you specifically and particularly today about the need for us to preach the cross.
Yes, there's a great need to preach the cross. There's nothing that needs to be preached any more or any stronger. Nor is there any theme or subject or cause with a greater need for it to be preached than to preach about the cross of Christ, and what it really means.
We need to leave out all of these silly psychological dissertations that we get in place of sermons today and these political tirades that we get in place of sermons in many places. And just forget about all of those things like that, they don't get the job done anyway, and just preach the cross, and other essentials, directly from the Bible. That's what we need to do a lot more than what most churches do.
Read with me now, in Galatians chapter 6, verse 14: "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."
You know, as we begin to think about this and begin to turn our thoughts toward this—and we'll read this again in a moment, along with some other verses so many today are preaching -- But let's just hold here at the cross for the moment.
We might read a little verse from another song to you now. It fits very well at this point.
"Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut His glories in.
When Christ the mighty maker died, for man, the creatures sin."
The cross is recognized by many as a symbol or a sign of the gospel of the Christian faith, isn't it?
If we go on a little further, we see that the cross speaks of man's universal depravity. You know, we have so many people today who believe that down inside of every man there's a divine spark and all that needs to be done is fan it a little bit and it'll flame up into glorious divinity in the man. You know, if you know anything about the Bible, that even sounds silly doesn't it?
But you'd be surprised how many preachers are preaching that right now, today. Well, there's not a word of truth in it, of course. Not one little word of truth in the whole thing and yet, thousands of preachers right here in the Republic (Note: this Sermon was preached in the Republic of South Africa in 1982 at a mission Church) are preaching some such foolishness today. And it's not true at all. The cross does not speak of any little divine spark that needs to be fanned up in man, does it? But it speaks of man's universal and total depravity.
To really see what humanity is like, all we have to do is look at the cross. Just look at the cross and think about what it really means. And then, you'll begin to realize how truly depraved man really is. Because the cross makes a pretty good picture of man --- that's what the cross does.
The Cross is cruel and merciless. And man, in his natural state, is exactly that, is he not? The Cross is dark and sinful. And man in his natural state is exactly that way as well. So, the cross gives us a pretty good picture of humanity.
Jesus was God's gift of love and salvation to man. Remember, angels sang at His birth. Shepherds worshiped the child. Wise men from the East brought gifts (though they apparently had to travel over a year to get there). And even the stars pointed the way to Bethlehem, at His birth.
And then, thirty three years later, remembering that Jesus was God's gift of love to man, think a little further and remember that thirty-three years later, human kind or mankind gave back God's gift on the point of a Roman spear, didn't he? He gave God's love gift to the world back to God on the point of a bloody Roman spear.
Now, the next question that always comes up is, "Who did it? Who's guilty of His murder? Who's guilty of His crucifixion? Who's responsible for His shameful death?" And that's an important question to ask and an important one to answer.
There are all kinds of answers that you get from various people. Some people say, "It's God's fault. It's God's fault." And, of course, that's blasphemous to even think such a thing. Others say that He should have been more careful, that is, Jesus should have been more careful or shrewder. Or a better planner in His operations. And, of course, this is blasphemy as well.
Some blame the Jews. Others blame Judas who sold Him. Or Pilate and others of the rulers who condemned Him. And yet, the question, "Who nailed Him to the cross," can only be answered with these words: "We all did. We are all guilty of His blood."
I read a story one time about a man who said that he had a dream. He said, "In a dream, I saw the Savior. His back was bare and there was a soldier lifting up his hand and bringing down on that back the awful cat-o'-nine-tails with its bits of iron on the little leather tips. And in the dream, I arose and grabbed his arm to hold it back."
"But when I did, the soldier turned around in astonishment to look at me. And when I looked at him, I recognized myself." "Yes," he said, "when I looked at him, I recognized myself." And so, in reply to the question, "Who slew the Son of God," the only answer is, "We all did!" The cross is a sign of universal human depravity and sin. It is a sign of man's complete dependence upon the grace of God for salvation, and forgiveness of sins.
Now, let us go on a step further. The cross is a sign of our hope of heaven. That's what it is. It's a sign or a symbol of our hope of heaven. It's a sign of atonement made and salvation paid for with the precious blood of Christ, the "Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world!"
Our own hope of glory is based on one thing only . And that hope we have is because Christ died, isn't it? And now we ask, "How did He die? And why did He die? Like Socrates or like Julius Caesar? Like Abraham Lincoln? As a martyr?" And, of course, the answer is, no, He did not die like they did.
There's a divine meaning in the death of Christ. God's only plan for our salvation is all based on His death on the cross, isn't it? The only way for man to be saved is based entirely on the death of Christ on the cross. There is no pardon and peace apart from atonement. There can never be pardon and peace for man apart from the atonement -- None whatever, no other possible means. Hebrews chapter 9 tells us that "without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." And this is certainly true, and the Bible plainly teaches it from cover to cover. So Jesus bought our pardon, our adoption as sons of God, with His own blood.
If we turn over to I Peter and read there together, in I Peter chapter 1, let's read verses 18 thru 20. I Peter 1:18 thru 20, tells us this: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Peter says it very well there.
If we go on to John and see what John says on the same theme, we find in I John 2:2, he says this—and I particularly love this verse where he says, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
He didn't just die for you or just for me, but He died for the sins of the whole world. Every person on earth who will truly repent and believe, receiving Christ as Savior will be saved. As John, in I John 2:2 tells us.
If we go on to see what Paul says to Timothy, in I Timothy 2:5, we find he says this: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." He's the only one that can mediate for us. Between us and God there is only Jesus. Our Savior is the only mediator between man and God, not a priest, not Mary, not a preacher, just Jesus.
Going on further to Hebrews 7:25 we see it says this: "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
And then, in Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Our own hope of glory is based entirely, solely, absolutely and exclusively on the glory of the cross, isn't it?
Then if we go to the gospel of John chapter 3, and read verses 14 and 15, he says it very plainly in these words: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
So, the cross is a sign of the atonement made for us by Christ, our Redeemer and Lord. The cross is a sign of love, of mercy, of forgiveness and healing from the hands of God, isn't it?
Now think about this --- The shape of the cross is an interesting thing as well. It touches Earth, but yet it points to heaven, doesn't it? The arms of the cross are outstretched to all the world, aren't they? So that whosoever will, may come.
The cross is a sign of God's divine love for the fallen creature, man! It's a sign of. His invitation to pardon and forgiveness. And it's a sign of eternal life that can be found in His Son and nowhere else. The cross is a sign of our only hope of glory. And so, to the unsaved, we need to continually say, in the words of the song, "Look and live, my brother, live. Look to Jesus now, and live. ‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah. It is only that you look and live."
And that's the message we need to be continually giving, day by day, at every possible opportunity, to all the ones with whom we come in contact. And to the Church, I'd remind you, that the most urgent and important task, the most critical thing that we could possibly do, now or ever until the Lord comes, is that we should hold up the banner of the cross. It is the great imperative that we should preach the glory of the cross, until our Lord comes again in power and great glory.
In our book that we sing from is a good poem to close with. I read you one verse of it earlier. Let's go through it again all together now.
"In the cross of Christ I glory. Towering o'er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story, gathers 'round its head sublime."
"When the woes of life o'er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy.
Never shall the cross forsake me. Lo, it glows with peace and joy."
"When the sun of bliss is beaming, light and love upon my way.
From the cross, the radiant stream adds new luster to the day."
"Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified.
Peace is there that knows no measure. Joys that through all time abide."
And so, we need to remember, from day to day and week to week, that our principal task is to preach the glory of the cross. To show to men the way of salvation, which is found only in the cross. Let each of us, here and now, commit our very lives to the task of holding up the blood stained banner of the cross, pointing men to Jesus Christ, the only Savior.
Let us pray. Our Father, we thank You today for the cross upon which Jesus died to atone for our sins. We thank you for the glory of the cross, Father. And we pray that You'll impress it more and more upon our minds in these last days that we may continually preach the glory of the cross, and that we may witness to others and win others to Christ, the Savior of the world. For we ask it in His name. Amen.