Message of the Cross

April 9, 2017

There are many who still consider the message of the cross as insignificant and plain foolishness. But to the apostle Paul, it is not so. He said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). The reason many treat the cross with contempt is because they do not believe in God in the first place. These are the very people that consider the message of the cross as foolishness. We can better understand their situation when we again consider the words of the apostle Paul. He explained, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Only those who are born again in the Spirit can indeed accept and understand the message of the cross.

Furthermore, the fools cannot grasp the message of the cross because they are operating in their natural mind. They need to go up to the level of the spirit for them to understand the ways and things of God. This inability to understand was emphasized by the Lord when he said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). It is beyond us to dispute the ways of God. We should instead submit in reverence and in faith. The cross is part of God’s salvation plan for each one of us.

To us who are being saved, we rejoice at the sight of the cross. It gives us much hope and assurance for it is in the cross that God demonstrated his ultimate power by overcoming the power of sin and death. This should also give us the boldness to share our faith. We need to have the same attitude as that of the apostle Paul who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom 1:16). Indeed, the cross is the power of God for those who are being saved. Salvation is a process that continues on until either death comes first or until Jesus comes. No one should be too comfortable in their salvation, believing that they have done that one act of confessing that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour. We need to do good and be good “for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). Our good works should be the fruits of our being born again.

To emphasize that salvation is a process, the apostle Paul admonished believers saying, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). While we are weak and still susceptible to the works of our sinful nature, we can always draw strength from the Lord who is gracious and compassionate. These weaknesses should not be a reason for us to submit to sin. Many continue to sin because the consequences of their sinful acts do not come quickly. It is not as if the Lord will not make them account for their sins, but it is because he is patient. The apostle Peter said, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Even those that are perishing are going through a process. Not many will instantly die the moment that they sin. Some are like Adam, who lived 930 years in spite of his sin. However, there were those who died instantly like Ananias and Sapphira. The moment they lied to the Holy Spirit in front of the apostles, they dropped dead. But it is in the former case that people do not take all the warnings of the Lord seriously. They do not see the consequence coming quickly and they keep sinning against the Lord. Sooner or later, they become slaves to sin. For them not to slide to perdition and thus be beyond recovery, they need to heed the word of the Lord to Cain when he was about to kill his brother Abel. God said, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Gen 4:7). We have to master our emotions and not submit and be a slave to them.

In order to ensure our salvation, let us work it out daily and consistently. Indeed, the assurance of our salvation is living our Christian faith daily. However, we must remember that we can do so only by the grace of the Lord. For this reason, we need to remember the cross daily to be reminded that there is forgiveness of sin, if we repent. Emphasizing that our salvation is a process, Jesus finally said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Hallelujah!