There was a time when you could walk into a church most anywhere in the United States of America and see the emblem of the cross of Jesus Christ in full view. As we sang songs of praise, it was a reminder to all those whose sins had been washed away by the crimson flow of the blood of Jesus, to be thankful. It was a reminder to those who had not experienced the cross of Jesus yet, that they needed to come and be cleansed of sin by the blood.
Colossians 1:20, “And having made peace through the blood of the cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in the earth, or things in heaven.”
Colossians 2:13-14, “And you being dead to sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses;
14-Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.”
Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising (discounting) the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Without the cross in view and the truth that Jesus Christ took the worlds sins, that is, the sins of each individual person into His own body and became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God through His blood, we would be a people without hope. But praise God, Jesus is our LIVING HOPE! He literally died on the cross but He didn’t stay dead as the devil hoped He would. Instead, Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day by the resurrection power---the glory of God, and He is alive forevermore as the first born from the dead. Hallelujah! The first to ever die, be buried and come back to life and because HE lives, we can now live eternally also.
The finished work of Jesus on the cross was God’s ultimate plan of salvation for all mankind (John 3:16). It WAS God’s plan, it IS God’s plan still today, and it will ALWAYS be His plan while the earth remains as is and before the second coming of Jesus. In the meantime, let us rejoice and be thankful that Jesus is no longer on the cross but that He is at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us (Heb.7:25).
Knowing this truth from God’s holy Word, are we to assume that we don’t need the cross anymore? Does it mean that we should, if you will, throw it on the fire like an old log and let it burn as something that has become useless and out-dated? God forbid! If you remove the cross from the church, either literally or figuratively, there is the danger of short-circuiting the blood from flowing freely to those in need. It would look like this, no cross=no blood. No blood=no power. No blood and power=no harvest of souls. Selah! (pause and think about that). Like the old song says, “There is wonder working POWER in the blood of the Lamb.” Amen!
This doesn’t apply to all churches, but it does apply to more than it should in our modern day times. I agree with Paul, we haven’t arrived yet. We haven’t arrived to the place where we no longer need to teach and preach about the cross of Jesus and the shedding of His blood there for the remission of sin. But that seems to have become a big problem today among some church groups who are afraid to preach on the cross. Its hard to preach about it if you haven’t first experienced its provision for your own sins.
Maybe you have experienced it but because of some difficult circumstances, you’re at a cross roads in your life and you’re more or less trying to walk two paths now. This doesn’t work for long. Unless a person gets themselves back to their first love and experiences that cleansing blood flow again, total destruction is bound to come. I know this may be a hard saying but God never told me to teach or preach anything that was watered down to make people feel comfortable. Following is what He did say a few years ago in regards to what I just said.
The Lord said, “For years now, men and women in the offices of pastors, evangelists, teachers and such have watered down My word by apologizing for it and compromising it to tickle people’s ears and gain popularity. But there is a call going forth for all people in these offices to get back to the purity of the gospel. To be more concerned with pleasing Me instead of trying to please the people. The rewards of the people are empty but My rewards will endure for all eternity.
In these last days, all the gifts of the Spirit will be restored back to the Church, and not just to leadership, but to all so that ministry can go forth in unity to the whole body of Christ. Even to those churches who have kept the Spirit of God on the outside of their doors. Those churches who have wondered why they have lacked power. Why they have lacked signs and wonders. Why they have lacked a harvest of souls and why they have lacked growth. Soon, they will wonder no more,” says the Spirit of the Lord.
Out of Sight-Out of Mind:
Satan has worked his evil plan for years to get the emblem of the cross taken out of the church, just like he’s worked to get prayer out of the schools and the Ten Commandments off of courtroom walls and other places. Unfortunately, he has succeed to a certain point, and though it may not look like we’re winning, we are because the Lord is on our side. The side of righteousness. Victory in these areas for the Church will increase as God’s people come into total unity, pulling together and not breaking rank to take back territory the devil has stolen through deceit. On top of that, our God has the absolute last ‘Word’ in this thing and Satan‘s final defeat is on the horizon as Jesus is about to return and wrap this thing up with the brightness of His coming, glory to God!
The question might be asked today by modern church-goers, why do we need this old crossed piece of wood (whatever its made of today)? To a lot of people, having it in the church is just merely a religious tradition. One that has served its purpose in the past but is now obsolete and unattractive. After all, this is modern day 2011 and people, seemingly, have moved on to bigger and deeper spiritual things. While we are not to worship the cross itself, we are to worship the Lord of the cross, Jesus Christ, therefore, I ask you, how can we forget its importance to us modern day Christians? Or to the unsaved?
Though the cross is a tangible object, it is so much more than that. It is a memorial of honor where our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, gave His life’s blood for all people. In taking communion of the last supper, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). It is to remember and honor His sacrifice on the cross for the world. It is where the agape love of God was poured out through His Son (John 3:16) as He bore our sins in His body.
It is where the grace and forgiveness of God was demonstrated when Jesus said of those casting lots for His clothes, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The cross is where the great exchange took place as Jesus paid the price for our righteousness and freedom from the bondage of sin. That makes the cross entirely and eternally vital, not only for this present generation but for all future generations yet to be born.
As I said earlier, Satan’s diabolical plan has been to remove the cross out of our churches. If he could successfully get the pastors and the people to agree to put it out, then hopefully, they would soon forget about it and its true meaning. They would move on and forget about their need to keep the cross ever close in their hearts. In place of the cross, Satan would then substitute it with religious ‘busy’ works of all kinds, being seeker friendly whereby, you’re always careful not to offend anyone.
Religious Busy Work:
Satan doesn’t care how religious you are. In fact, he’s the most religious being there is and he‘s in church every time the doors open. He doesn’t want you to know the truth of God’s holy word that will set you free from His deceptions. He doesn’t want the Church to move in the power and demonstration of the love of God, the blood of Jesus and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it means defeat to all his nasty and devious tricks. Hallelujah! The devil may come to church every time to cause confusion but when the people give themselves whole-heartedly to the praise and worship of our great God Jehovah, it runs the devil and his crowd fleeing out the door! Amen!
Meanwhile, he will continue trying to substitute the cross with programs and such that are less convicting, less threatening. He will deceive you to think that you have become so
sufficient in your Christianity that you don’t need to be reminded of an ‘event’ that happened so long ago. Something that is out-dated now. You don’t need to hear about the cross of Jesus Christ anymore. You’ve got it. You can move from that place now and go on to bigger and better spiritual things without needing to stay close to the power of the cross.
This is true up to a point, that we are to go forward in God. We are to keep pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:14). We are to grow in grace and abound in agape love toward God and others. We are to grow and become grounded in the word and rooted in our faith by getting off the sincere milk of the Word and getting onto the more meatier revelatory things of God by the Holy Spirit.
On the other side of the coin, we will never grow so far that we can ignore our need to remain close to the cross of Jesus Christ. Why? Because, the cross will always confront self-righteous pride and cause the heart to bow in humility before the Son of the living God. Self-righteous pride is a sin and the Church is full of it because people are still having to deal with the flesh, that loves to sin, on a daily basis. You only have to look at the Pharisees and how Jesus dealt with them to know this. Keep in mind that it was self-righteous pride that got Satan kicked out of heaven. All of this says, we haven’t arrived, therefore we must keep pressing toward the mark and the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Satan knows that if you don’t have to see a physical cross, then you don’t have to give much thought to any sin still in your life. After-all, our gross sins is what crucified Jesus on the cross. As long as you don’t SEE the cross, you can maintain a relatively guilt free conscience. Why is that? Partly because a lot of preachers and pastors today are not going to be preaching too much about sin in your life.
If pastors and preachers tell their congregations the real truth of God’s Word that DOES address sin, they fear it might offend some people. Especially those who tithe good and those who give substantial offerings. If these people become offended, they might leave and there goes the money they depended on. If this should happen, what is the pastor to do? He or she could try having some integrity and faith to believe that God will take care of the needs for the church as you preach His unembellished truth to the congregation. HE is your source first of all that you depend on, not the people. Amen!
A number of God’s people in many churches all over this country are being lulled to sleep by the watered down messages being preached today. While at the same time, there are those churches whose pastors and preachers are on fire with revival fire of the Holy Spirit and they are experiencing the glory of God in great degrees. Still, there are those churches that are dishing out a string of cutesy and fluffy messages being passed off as the word of God. Most of the time, there is not enough power in them to blow a feather across the room. I’ve been in several of these churches and they need a fresh infusion of the blood of Jesus Christ that came through, and does come through, the cross and through the Holy Spirit empowering it. Amen.
Still, some people want to maintain a relatively guilt free conscience at any cost to their spirit’s being nourished by the richness of God’s holy Word. You may be one of those who is there at church every time the doors are open. You may even serve on a committee of some kind and help plan programs for maybe a year in advance. What more should be required of you? You pay your tithes and sometimes even give an offering above your tithes. For that, you at least deserve a pat on the back.
Over all, we want to believe that we are doing well. That is, we’ve got all our spiritual ducks in a row, so to speak. But look out for the Holy Ghost who will eventually come along and blow all your well planned ducks in the water. He will do this so He can show you the real truth of where you stand spiritually and where He wants you to be. When you finally wake up and get your spiritual eyes open, you may be surprised to see where you really are. That you’re not standing as firm on solid spiritual ground as you thought.
Nobody is exactly where they think they are spiritually because we’re always going to try and project ourselves into a better light than what is actually true. This is called ‘self-promotion and self-preservation.’ Its not hard to figure out that Satan is behind this sort of thing. The truth is, there is always room for improvement, spiritually, morally and ethically at any given point in our journey with Jesus, even though we don‘t want reminders that there may be sin still clinging to our lives.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world, he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Whatever is hidden in darkness will be exposed by the light of His truth. From the word of God, it has been made plain (as day) to us that Satan rules the darkness, therefore, we must endeavor to move entirely out of that realm. That is, we want to move out of that place of deception where we’re just going through the motions of having church on Sunday morning and not experiencing any real power of the Spirit in our midst. I have talked to people who are wanting to see a real move of God in their church but in order for that to happen, the Church has got to come back and embrace the cross of Jesus Christ.
There must be a fresh move of the Spirit of Grace upon the hearts of people, whereby, corporate and godly repentance can come forth. This is a part of any true revival of God. Without the cross of Jesus Christ and the true reality of all it stands for, pastors and preachers don’t have much ‘gospel’ (of the Kingdom) to preach about. Don’t you think Satan knows this? Don’t you think he knows the power of the cross and the blood that Jesus so freely shed there to pay the price for sin? Of course, he does. Especially, when the glory of God defeated Him and raised Jesus from the dead. Praise the Lord!
The Cross and Confrontation:
As I said earlier, a lot of people don’t want to be confronted with the cross of Jesus and Satan knows this all too well. This is why he has worked so hard to remove the emblem of the cross from out of many churches across the United States. Thank God for those who still honors the cross in their churches. Satan has accommodated who unknowingly follow him more than they follow Jesus, although they proclaim loudly to follow Jesus. I may be stepping on some religious toes but people need to be shaken out of deception and awakened to the truth, as all truth is in Jesus. Let me say again, that Satan has worked hard to remove the cross out of many churches, that offensive reminder of our human helplessness without Jesus.
Satan’s diabolical plan has been to remove the cross from view so we could sit in our padded seats on Sunday morning and feel religiously comfortable. Then, when the service was over, we could walk out of the church feeling relatively guilt free. Our conscience is soothed. We weren’t offended by the (fluff) message preached, therefore, we can feel good that we’ve done our religious duty for one more Sunday.
To the pridefully religious sector, the confrontation of the cross of Jesus is absolutely an offense. The Bible calls Jesus the “Rock of offense.” It is an offense to us because, as I said before, it reminds us that we’re not as self-sufficient as we thought we were, or would like to think we are. The cross is a reminder that no matter how long you have been saved, or how far you have grown in the things of God, the truth is, you can never get away from Calvary. Every blessing, every provision that God has given us by way of the New Covenant came through Jesus going to the cross and pouring out His life’s blood to guarantee those bountiful provisions. Hallelujah to the spotless Lamb of God!
People are uncomfortable with seeing and being reminded of the cross because it confronts you with the truth of real humility, while it shows you the pride still lurking in the recesses of your heart. We want to believe that we’ve become humble in thoughts, speech and actions but a quick check on these things from yesterday will show us that the opposite is true. No doubt, to some degree, we have been humbled individually but maybe not to the degree that we each need to be. The cross of Jesus reveals the hardness of fear and unbelief still surrounding our hearts and affecting our walk of faith.
Our faith is as strong as our belief is in Calvary and in the truth that Jesus took our sins in His own body and died there to set us free. Believing that Jesus also took our place in hell so we wouldn’t have to go. Believing that on the third day, He arose from the dead by the glory of God, and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Believing also that Jesus is coming back to this earth a second time for a Church without spot wrinkle or blemish and He‘s coming soon.
The most relevant thing you could do today is to ask Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you as an individual believer in Jesus Christ. The question is, how do you feel toward the cross of Jesus?
If your church doesn’t have the emblem of the cross in it, ask yourself if you feel relieved not to visually see it? Does it make you more comfortable?
Ask yourself (if your church doesn’t have the cross) if you would like to see the cross brought back inside the church as a reminder of its true reality of Jesus and His finished work there?
In closing this short message, I would like to share something out of my own experience. I was raised in the Baptist church. As most everyone knows, the Baptist church has majored on evangelism and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. Thank God for the foundation the Baptist church I grew up in put under me.
Behind the pulpit, up on the wall was a glaring pink/orange neon electric sign that said, “Jesus Saves. Everytime there was a service in the church, this sign was plugged in and lighted. It very bright. There was no way you could walk into the church and not be drawn to look at this sign, whether you wanted to or not. It was there to draw your attention to the message of it.
As I got up toward being a teenager I was saved at twelve), that sign really bothered me. It would convict me, though I didn’t want to be convicted. I didn’t want to be confronted with what those words, “Jesus Saves” meant, that I was a sinner who needed to repent and give my life to Jesus Christ. I would feel relieved to finally get outside and away from that haunting neon sign. This goes back to “out of sight, out of mind.”
That visual neon sign, “Jesus Saves” made such an impression upon my heart and soul that even today, many years later, I have never forgotten it. I thank God now for it, though at the time, it made me feel very uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit used it to convict and woo my heart and by age twelve during a revival, I yielded my life to Jesus Christ. Does the Holy Spirit use the emblem of the cross in this way to convict and woo the hearts of men and women, boys and girls? The way He used that bright and pink neon sign? He absolutely does. He uses it in harmony with the preaching of the pure and holy word of God. Let us all honor and keep the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ever close in our hearts. Amen.