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The Persecuted Church

 

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                                           The CROSS                                  

General Booth of the Salvation Army had said, "The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, Heaven without Hell." Has this time come?

Scripture states in Heb. 12:2: "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." The Cross is a symbol of shame to the Romans and the world but it is a symbol of glory to God and the Christians.

There is a cross that stands in between hell and heaven. It is a bridge not made with the hands of men. It can rescue all that are willing. Whether they are black, white, red, yellow. Whether they are an atheist, a Jew, a Jehovah Witness, a Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim. Regardless of who we are in life or what religion we are, it will bring us to the God, the creator of all. For the prophets of old it was shrouded in mystery as they looked forward in time to that day. To us we look backward in time in amazement. Yet this cross is eternal, it transcends time. In the darkness of this world the power it contains, is no less explosive than when God first said let there be light. It is a guiding light in a world of darkness held in the grips of an enemy. It beckons all to come to the one who hung on it. But there is an enemy as old as time itself who hates what it stands for, and will do anything to cover it, shroud it, change it, and even blind the eyes of the people that would look toward it. There’s nothing special about the two wood beams that intersected together that day on the hill outside Jerusalem. The cross holds no power in itself many hung on crosses before and after Christ. Even the two thieves on each side hung on crosses. What does make it special is the one who hung on it. Because of him this cross has the power over death, giving those who believe power over the practice that brought death, our sins. It is the rallying point of unity for all mankind. It is also the expression of how low mankind can go in torturing a human beings body, soul and spirit. But from this act of hatred, revenge,  meant for humiliation from men, came love from our maker. Death did not linger, but its moment was chosen by the one who took upon himself all of our punishments and then breathed his last saying...  "It was finished."

3 days later in a sudden burst of light unlike any other in the annals of time, The Resurrection. Though all the religions scoff at this event, it is the apex of history. Paul an Apostle, probably the most gifted of the apostles reminds the Corinthians who lost their focus on who to follow. 1 Cor. 1:18: "For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not {come to} know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." God has commissioned those who were saved by the message to be ambassadors to bring the same message. The method may change  in time and cultures but the message can never change.

No religion has ever recognized the cross. It makes no sense to the natural man that one could suffer in the place of another, take their deserved penalty, and serve their sentence. And out of mercy give them his life of freedom and his riches for doing nothing on their own. To the Jews a suffering Messiah was repulsive (the Son of Joseph) they wanted the conqueror the ruling King who would vanquish all their enemies (the Son of David). But they could not have the conquering Messiah without first accepting the suffering one.

To Paul there was no knowing God without accepting the crucified Messiah and there was no following him on the narrow road without picking up ones own cross and suffering for his name sake. Jesus said if one does not take up his cross and follow him he is not worthy of him (Mt.10:38)

The example of the cross is by all who carry it. Jesus said unless you pick up your cross you cannot follow me. This is not a popular message today, in fact it is ignored. To die to self to remove our own will so that we can enjoy his, to have only the joy of doing only his will is not the instructions we hear from most pulpits.

Jesus further stated Mt. 10:39:  "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." New life in the church, true revival is for us to live a crucified life. To live for him is to live for others, to carry one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.  

1 Cor. 2:1-2: "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

The power of God is in the cross; the cross we carry is a crucified life. When the church picks up her cross real revival will come naturally. There is nothing man can do or invent that will ever give this new life. We must die first to be resurrected in newness of life, and then the real power will come.

Gal 6:14: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul’s world view is being dead to what the world offers so he can be alive to Christ." You can’t be alive to both.

Phil 3:10: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death," suffering is foreign to the Christian lifestyle today, but it was a way of life to the early Church. Without it we can’t know him in his death and we certainly can’t possess resurrection power.

Phil 3:18 "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:" People want his blessings and prosperity not his suffering. The same mistakes that caused the Jews not to be ready the first time will be repeated for the church the second time. Dominion theology, prosperity and a wrong view of what signs and wonders meant cause the Jewish leaders to misinterpret the Scriptures and the events of their day. They wanted him to take the Kingdom by force and overthrow the Roman Government, and then they would all follow him.   They sang Hillel Rabah Ps.113-118. to Jesus on Palm Sunday Ps.118:25 "Save now I pray O’Lord O’ lord I pray send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." They had a prosperity theology; they wanted prosperity not understanding he must suffer first. We do the same today; asking God to give us your blessings and remove any suffering to prove our faith. They also wanted his performances of power, yet Jesus said it is a wicked and adulterous generation that goes after signs and wonders. This is where we are at today. Give us the power and  miracles, without having him as Lord over our lives.  Christianity has been reduced to what Christ can do for me, can he heal me, and can he make me successful. Self-esteem has replaced the forgiveness of the cross. The Gospel of the cross has been softened by denying the action we need to take to follow. adding promises that were never included has watered down the Gospel of the Cross. The Gospel of the Cross has the waters muddied by not clarifying it to be the focus of our message of Christianity.

Revivalism is mans attempt to have what God wants to send in his own time and his own way. True Revival is a new beginning in the grace of God with true repentance and a renewed fervor for the word of God.

1 Pet 1:18-19: "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." His blood is effective because he was the God/man otherwise it would have no affect for us today only for those of his time.

Col. 2:14-15: "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."

The Cross is the central point of history and what should be our focus in the Christian life. There has been no more of a time in history when we need it more. In an age of technology, unbelief and antagonism we need to show the reality of the Living Christ, the one who rose again. Instead it seems to be vanishing away. Where’s the power?  When wewpe16.jpg (3364 bytes) realize we are empty only then can he fill us. He can't breathe new life in us until the old dies. When we rediscover the source, then we can draw from it.  Until then things will only continue in the church the way they are today. Want to see it all change, we need to die to self, God promises to do the rest.

 

 

The different Baptisms of the New Testament The Nephilim of Gen.6 Angelology      Hell 

  Martyr's of the early church      

   The New Covenant    Which day did Jesus Die and Resurrect   
   Sermon on the Mount   Eternal Security The two Adams and the Two trees 
Melchizedek priesthood   Soul Sleep   The Thief on the Cross and Paradise  Who is Jesus?
  The Transfiguration   The Feast of Chanukah Original sin      Blasphemy of the Spirit   
  The Book of Life Pleading the blood of Jesus    The Cross Could Jesus have sinned ? 
The Christmas Story The Resurrection of Jesus    Why do believers suffer?
Theological Terms and Definitions  Walking in the Spirit  Teaching, prayer and the will of God
what will prayer will and will not do  Self-Defense  Thy word is exalted
A cross-less Christianity The mystery of the Gospel   Adam and Eve- our beginnings
The nature of man the nature of the Gospel The Love of God    Why follow only Scripture

 

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