"Looking through the lenses of the Cross"
I want to talk on the wonderful Cross this afternoon. There is so much Scripture we could read but we are going to read just one verse. 1 Corinthians 1:17;
"For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the Gospel - not with words of human wisdom - less the Cross of Christ be emptied of it's power".
It is an astounding insight to me that the Cross can be emptied of it's living power! As soon as we rely on human wisdom or intellectual power - we empty the Cross of it's supernatural content. Later in this chapter Paul said that God will frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent.
Intellectual preaching of the Cross is no gospel at all!
Paul said he wanted to know only Christ and Him crucified. Preaching and demonstration of His power so that men's faith would not rely on man's wisdom.
The scandal of the Cross is it's simplicity. The Cross is so simple - it confuses clever people.
Yet the Cross is the wisdom of God. The Cross is profound! The Cross is deep! Yet it is in simplicity - we preach the Cross and we believe on the Cross of Christ. When the Galatian church started leaving the Cross and going into Moses law like many Christians today - for them the Cross is just that baby thing. It is for immature believers. Paul wrote a letter immediately to the Galatians and all his apostolic passion and in the complete absence of political correctness or diplomacy - he said; "You foolish idiots! Who has bewitched you?! Christ was clearly betrayed before your very eyes as crucified!".
I want to ask you unreflecting idiots - does God move among and do miracles because you obey the law or because you believe the message of the Cross?
Paul is making it very clear that when the Cross of Christ is not central to all we preach - the power of God stops moving in the church and through the church!
When we repent of our intellectual arrogance, and understand that the Greeks want great philosophy and the Jews want signs and wonders and the world is divided between those that are brain-centered and those are that are intuitive and feeling-centered - and the answer for that is not to flatter this side or that side but to hold our line boldly and preach the message of the Cross that is foolishness by the arrogance of this world's standards - but it is the wisdom of God.
The wisdom of God is what I want. The wisdom of God and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible says that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man. The Cross is the lense that we must look at life through. When you look at principalities and powers through the lense of the Cross - you see them only defeated! You see the devil so small and the ruling spirit over Hong Kong is the Holy Spirit! All others were triumphed over at the Cross! Jesus took no prisoners.
He stripped them all of their authority, disarmed them, when you look at people through the lense of the Cross you see objects of God's love and affection. When you look at sickness through the Cross you see that all things are possible, when you look at the nations through the Cross, you KNOW it is possible to disciple nations! China can be discipled by the gospel of grace! Australia can! Africa can! All the nations will be! There will be cultural changes in government and education through the Cross.
Will all the world obey God? No. Will evil get worse? I don't know it can - but possibly. But this I know - that the greatest sign of the end of the age - the greatest sign of history being summed up at the consummation of the ages is not a temple on the Rock in Jerusalem! It has got nothing to do with "666" or the Anti-Christ! In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said in answer to the question what will be the sign of the end of the age - the gospel will be preached as a sign to all nations and then the end will come!
The greatest sign at the end of the age is a restored gospel of the Kingdom.
You say; "Rob why are you preaching with such intensity - can't you just chill and relax a bit?". No - it is because the Cross does that to my blood. Everything from the Old Covenant has to come through the lenses of the Cross. It changes before it goes into the New! Every church needs to have the lense - the filter of the Cross in place! There are certain night clubs that you cannot get into unless you have something to get in there with. There is a bouncer in the door that won't let you get in.
The Cross is God's defense to protect the Church from the ministry of death!
2 Corinthians 3:7 says the law is a ministry of death!
The law was meant to kill us and crush us and curse us and condemn us and pour wrath on us and stir up more sin in us! How many pastors in their right minds would let THAT into their congregation? Any preaching designed to perform and deserve is preaching the Law!
I don't care if you don't dress up in Levitical priestly clothes and don't say "Moses said ..." - when we preach to believers that we have to earn and deserve the blessing - we are preaching the Law. We heard this morning - preach the gospel of grace and stir believers to respond with faith and the power of the Cross will be released.
The Cross is the bouncer that won't let Old Covenant truths past through the Cross into New Covenant without them being changed.
Circumcision comes to the Cross and praise God - it doesn't get through easily! At the Cross - the bouncer made it irrelevant to have the snip on the tip! They used to snip on the tip and through it away - they never stuck it back on again with glue. Circumcision comes to the Cross and it changes as it comes through into the New Covenant! Now it is not the snip on the tip - it is circumcision of the heart!
Colossians chapter 2 says that old sinful nature which is really a nature of unbelief in the goodness of God - a nature driven to rebellion against God through unbelief in His goodness - that old nature was cut away, circumcised and thrown away - never to be brought back!
The power of the Cross removes the sinful nature from the unbeliever and gives us a new nature which is righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
A nature that does not want to sin! A nature that is just like Jesus! Identical to Jesus! That is powerful! A watered-down or powerless preaching of the Cross has produced millions of counterfeit conversions.
The Cross produces radical salvations! The curse of the law comes through the Cross and says; "I want to get into the New Covenant!". The Cross says; "No! I cancel you! You will not condemn God's people! You will not manipulate them with guilt! You will not control them with religious demons! It is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Stand free and refuse to submit to a yoke of slavery!".
What is the yoke of slavery Rob? Very simple: it tells us right there in the chapter before. Slavery is bondage from Mount Sinai. Paul goes on in that same chapter of Galatians 5 and says in verse 4 if you Christians already in Christ seek to be justified by the law then you have been alienated from Christ and you have fallen from grace! Grace is infinitely higher than the law because if you go back to law, then it means you have fallen to something low down and it means that someone hasn't been safe-guarding you with the bouncer of the Cross! Or you haven't been safe-guarding your own heart because the Cross and power will never let the law through that has been cancelled theoretically and potentially - there is now therefore NO condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus!
Every Christian should be dancing their way through life with NO condemnation! I just went into a trance there. I just saw multiple millions of believers in Christ dancing their way through life without condemnation! I saw one billion, 400 million Chinese experiencing what is God's heart before time began to hear this gospel and not an inadequate or false gospel mixed with law and grace.
To mix law and grace is to preach NO gospel at all.
For if law can get through the Cross, then it is not the cry of the Cross of Christ that is being preached. Colossians 2:14 said God cancelled the law at the Cross! To preach what has been cancelled - the Holy Spirit will not help you. The Holy Spirit will not help you preach something the Father cancelled at the Cross! The world is under the law - not those in Christ. To preach the law to the believers is to preach with whatever power it is - but it is not God. It is the power of human wisdom emptying the Cross - it is the power of human ability and the power of devils and witchcraft. The Cross is not baby steps towards some maturity.
The Cross is only one step. It is God's one-step programme. We didn't take that one step. God took that step. It was a divine loving step in Christ Jesus through the Cross. In that loving step He came right to us - so all the fullness of Who God is stepped through that Cross towards us totally available to us! And He didn't wait for us to have enough faith to step through the Cross to us. We heard this morning that before we had any faith God absolutely and fully in Christ Jesus stepped towards us through the Cross and everything God is - is with us right now. When God stepped through the Cross in fullness to us - all the heavens were opened.
The height, breadth, depth and length of heaven was open to us believers in Christ!
So when you hear believers today praying these kind of prayers; "Oh God rend the heavens and come down!" - I think God goes; "Eh? I have ripped the veil, I have ripped the heavens and stepped towards you through the Cross - I am here fully!". To say; "God rend the heavens and come down is an insult to the Cross!".
It is not judgement on my condemning anybody. I have been preaching a mixture of law and grace.
But the fact is that the majority of the body of Christ on the planet today is under performance pressure - is a sign to me that the Cross has been emptied of it's power.
Every imaginable idea by God's people - every formula is out there on the market. God stepped through that Cross in Christ Jesus towards us and He took an oath in Isaiah 54. I am paraphrasing it but it is true to Scripture;
"I take an oath that I will never step back away from you through the Cross backwards - in all My fullness I am here with you all the time whether you can feel it or not - I am here! In fullness! With you".
Who hasn't sinned in the last 3 weeks? Not once! Glenda keep your hand down!
God's Presence is as much with you when you fail, mess up or make a mistake or even sin. We do not encourage sin. It is just silly to sin. It is not what our new creation nature wants. But we are all learning to walk this walk. And it is not our sin, our short-comings and our failings that causes Christ to be alienated from us. It is coming back under law.
People said when these great revivals came to the end, it was because there was too much sin. Friends - revival started in times of terrible sinning! Legalistic religion stirs up sinning! It is when people come back into grace that the power of Christ is operating in their lives - that is revival!
And the church would never need another revival if they would just stay in the power of the Cross!
It is like you want to get every pastor on the planet and say "Listen - there is a way for us to stay in the flow of God's Presence and power!". We are taking about 70 leaders away after this conference and we want to learn from each other the wisdom of how to administrate local church in grace. It is like Andrew Wommack said this morning - people get into extremes of both sides. This message of the gospel has to be so protected that local churches flourish in this gospel! We don't want to end up like the Galatians or end up like the Corinthians! People in grace are starting to say - listen I can be undisciplined, I don't need to go to church or read my Bible - just live loose! That is not the Cross!
If your heart doesn't beat with a passion to see the nations saved then you haven't understood grace! If the Bible isn't alive to you then you haven't understood grace! If local church isn't exciting to you then you haven't understood grace!
"But Rob I don't want to go to church that mixes law and grace!". We don't want "Grace Pharisees" who are so judgmental about everything - but if you can't a church that preaches the Cross in power then start one! There are enough of us to come help you! You can be a man or a woman, or any colour, it doesn't matter if you are not a preacher - start one! And if you are not stupid or a grace Pharisee then we will come help you! Anywhere in the world!
God's people have got to be assured of this. It is a one-step programme. There are no backward steps. Galatians 2, Colossians chapter 2 and Ephesians chapter 2, Romans chapter and Romans chapter 8 tells us why God will not step back from you. He is stuck with you even when you mess up and sin sometimes! On that Cross Christ was not crucified by Himself! Jesus said; "Take up your Cross and follow Me". Deny yourself - self-righteousness, religious arrogance, hypocrisy and come to Me those who are heavy laden and I will give you rest for My yoke is easy and My burden is light! Come to Me! And every person on the planet - the Bible says in those verses - we were co-crucified with Christ. We were co-buried with Christ, we were co-raised with Christ! We were co-ascended with Christ! We were co-seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! We are co-equal heirs with Christ!
God cannot go anywhere without you! For Christ to step away from you - He has to step away from Himself! 1st Corinthians 6:17 says;
"But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him".
So everywhere God is - you are there! When your shadow heals the sick, it is no big mystery! When your words carry miracle life and power - it is no mystery! You start this Christian race at the finishing line as a winner.
The spirit of suicide and the spirit of demonic religion is one and the same thing. Religion is occupied with trying to get us to die to ourselves.
"Come on - die to that flesh. Die to yourself!". If we believe that then we are admitting that Jesus didn't really die on the Cross. How can you die to yourself - when you have already been fully crucified with Christ? He fully died on that Cross! And your old sinful nature fully died on that Cross! And you have fully been raised from the dead in Christ! How can you die to yourself? "Rob I have heard Paul say - I die daily". Probably Tuesday morning, God allowing - I want to take Hebrews 5 and Hebrews 6 and in two sessions unpack those two chapters. We are going to hit verses 4, 5 and 6 in Hebrews 6. It says that those who fall away, it is impossible to be restored to repentance. We are going to show how many lies have been preached through not reading Scripture in context.
When Paul said; "I die daily" - he was not contradicting when he said; "I have been crucified with Christ". When Paul said; "I die daily" - he was not talking about his old nature having to be crucified again. The context was persecution for preaching this gospel. It caused him to be lashed many times and rejected by false brothers and imprisoned and go hungry, naked and sleepless. Let me promise you this - if you preach the gospel Paul preached, not in an arrogant way there will be things coming against you and attacking you and THAT is what Paul is talking about. Some days you will feel like you are dying!
For me resurrection is not a doctrine anymore! It is a daily life necessity! All the intense attacks are absolutely worth it to preach this gospel! This gospel is worth it! Come on - let's give the Lord a shout in this place!