The Cross

Weekly Sabbath Survey
The Cross —  2-4-2016
Just exactly what IS The Cross? For some it’s a piece of jewelry or an item of household decor, that speaks to the “Christian” faith. In the beginning, years before the birth of Jesus, it was already the Roman equivalent of our electric chair (Ol’ Sparky). It was an instrument of death, for execution of criminals and/or politically incorrect persons. It was not used as a Christian symbol (in churches) until it was no longer an instrument of torture/death. So, how has it come to us worn on chains around our necks? Tattooed on our arms? The cross is a symbol of Believers in every tribe and tongue, recognized the world over. But what SHOULD it mean to us?  Just what is the real meaning of the cross in the life of a Born Again Spirit-led Believer?
First we must dispel the idea that the cross is the end of something. The end of suffering, the end of searching, the end of sickness, the end of pain, the end of sin, the end of crying, grief and mourning. Sometimes when we are trying to lead a person to the Lord, we make it sound like that. “Your troubles will be over when you come to Jesus.” I hope I won’t shock my readers by saying, NONE of these things END when we get saved. The rain still falls on just and unjust. Another important truth is this: Salvation is free, the gift of God through His son. Free, but not cheap. It is the most valuable gift anybody ever gave you! Guard it with your life!
The cross is The Beginning:  Of a new life, a blessed life, a life with holy peace, a life with hope, a life that will grow and change. Will our loved ones still die; will we grieve when they do? Yes. Will we suffer financially at times? Possibly. Will we have illnesses? Probably. Will we still sin? Definitely—surely In thought, word and/or deed!  (Please, Stay with me here!)
Once we come to the cross and are saved, the next step is to Get On It. Whoa!!!  What??? Jesus preached the most horrible sermon message there ever was: “Come Die with Me.” It means you were a slave and have been bought. A high price was paid for you. It was the blood and the life of Jesus! So you no longer belong to yourself, you belong to Him, The Master. And, you must now follow His example. Go to the cross often and die a little there every time you do. [Gal. 2:20]  As soon as we are Born Again, we have our new life, but the old one is still hanging around. It dies slowly. On the Cross. The cross was His destiny. Now it is ours. We must die daily from now on, and yet go on to be a living sacrifice for Him. This fulfills the destiny The Father has for us. [1 Cor. 15:31] This is what Paul called “being made conformable unto His death.” [Phil 3:10] The more we get rid of our old self, the more room there is for our new self to grow.
Paul also taught that we must be conformed [molded, shaped] into the image of Jesus. [Rom. 8:29]. This would not make us a photo or statue of Him, but an exact duplication!  (The word “Christian” means “Little Christ” or more correctly “Little Messiah/Savior.) Paul also said we should not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So there are times at the foot of the cross when we worship or cry for help, but the real Christian Power Life comes from hanging on it while our enemies do their worst. This would be the definition of “Living Sacrifice.” Even those nauseating rides on the Potter’s Wheel, belly of the whale, whatever— all part of God’s transformation. This process of dying to self, living the life of The Cross, is ongoing for the rest of our time on Earth. Each trip we make to hang on the cross we come away stronger than before. And, we go forth filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead!
One last parting thought:  I have learned almost as much from my detractors as I have from my teachers. It was the enemies of Jesus who put Him on the cross, but some of His ‘friends’ were yelling, “Crucify Him!!” These people were unwitting tools of God to accomplish His PLAN. Love your enemies and pray for those that despitefully use you and persecute you.  [Matt. 5:44 ]
The mystery which was hidden for many generations is now made known:  which is, Christ in you, the Hope of Glory.  Colossians 1:26-27
 
Charlene Reams Manning, Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah                                                     
Copyright  August 2016
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