The cross is the most widely recognised symbol of Christianity, but it is also a symbol, once tolerated, or even respected, that is openly despised and scorned by a Christ-rejecting world. But there’s nothing new about that. What is new is the sheer scale of the loss and abandonment of the central truths of the cross by people who claim to be Christians. Let me explain what I mean.
While the cross-shaped symbol is instantly recognisable, as standing for the death of Jesus Christ, as a common subversive, by the old, callously cruel Roman method of crucifixion, the message of the cross that we find in New Testament Scriptures is as far removed from an elegant piece of silver religious jewellery as the east is from the west.
What we find on those pages are radical and challenging truths that pierce the heart and disturb the conscience. And in an increasingly atheistic, and secular humanistic western culture that wants to smother every noble, biblical Christian virtue and let rampant wickedness reign supreme, the message of the cross of Christ represents the most potent threat. Here the living evidence of transformed lives filled with the Holy Spirit, and lived in joyful purity in fellowship with God, is witness to the high destiny of redeemed lives.
For only in the message of the cross of Christ do we see how the sinless Son of God shed his blood, willingly enduring God’s holy judgement as the just penalty of other’s sins. This message alone confronts the dark and evil forces that have taken over the rule of nations with effects that would blight the lives of millions with sinful degradation, misery, corruption, disease, guilt and depression.
So why is the cross of Christ being so forgotten? – Because it is God’s final remedy for killing the rule and reign of sin in the lives of all those who turn to Jesus Christ for salvation and life everlasting. But, now biblical Christian belief and life-style are under intense assault.
Our sin and sex-obsessed world is intent on blotting out every biblical virtue and God-given truth by a feverish normalising of every type of sinful behaviour and perversion under the sun. Sadly, this is at times, weakens and subtly undermines the Christian life of joyful abiding in Christ, and instead we see compromise. So why not just go with the flow?
This is why – if you are a genuine believer in Christ, a person who has received God’s great salvation, you will know that Christ died to rescue you from the evil tyranny of sin and give you life in all its fullness. You will ‘know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, [rendered broken and powerless], so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin’ (Rom. 6:6).
You will know that Jesus came to set us free from the power of indwelling sin and its false promise of life, so that if we are ‘in Christ’ we have died to sin ‘in him’ and been raised to a whole new life that is also ‘in him’. Now we are able to say with the apostle, ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
This brings us to the heart of the Christian life, a life given by God in which he is restoring all that was lost in Adam at the fall, and bringing us into the glory of all that he is preparing for his children; a glory and a sin-slaying victory by the gracious Holy Spirit that begins in the here and now, ‘For the death he [Christ] died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 6:10-11).
If you have forgotten the powerful, Christ-glorifying message of the cross, now is the time to repent and recover what you have lost, and take the victor’s cry again, and live in the light of eternity, and of our soon-appearing Lord: ‘But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ (Galatians 6:14).
Today, will you turn back to the Christ who once died upon that cross, and who now lives for evermore?