I was blown away by something I read from John Piper. He wrote:
Christ died to save us from hell but not to save us from the cross. He died so that we could be glorified, but not to keep us from being crucified. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily.” For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution.
Yes, I always knew that, but for some reason, it suddenly rung loud in my heart. I began to consider something Paul wrote:
Now what is our response to be? Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God? What a ghastly thought! We, who have died to sin — how could we live in sin a moment longer? Have you forgotten that all of us who were baptised into Jesus Christ were, by that very action, sharing in his death? In Baptism, we symbolized our dead and burial with him, so that just as he was raised from the dead by that splendid Revelation of the Father’s power so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether!
If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him! Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken — for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin. And if we were dead men with him we can believe that we shall also be men newly alive with him. We can be sure that the risen Christ never dies again — death’s power to touch him is finished. He died, because of sin, once: he lives for God for ever! In the same way, look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Oh, how we either forget or ignore that part: “Look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin!” Far too many believers see the power of their sin as being much stronger than it is. If you received Christ as your Lord and Savior, and received the recreated life and the Spirit of God residing in your life, then by golly, you are FREE! Sin is no longer your Master. Jesus is! What I am saying is that you should
What I am saying is that you should never let the cross lose its crucifying power in your life! Never forget that Christ did not die so you could live for pleasure. You have been reborn, renewed, regenerated, refreshed and restored, so you can live for your Savior!
In the same way, that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him, so can you! Today! Even in the midst of this fallen age! In the letter to the Hebrew church, you can read:
Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. Think constantly of him enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage (Hebrews 12:1–13).
Oh, the author didn’t stop there. The writer of Hebrews continued to say:
When the blood of animals was presented as a sin-offering by the High Priest in the sanctuary, their bodies were burned outside the precincts of the camp. That is why Jesus, when he sanctified men by the shedding of his own blood, suffered and died outside the city gates. Let us go out to him, then, beyond the boundaries of the camp, proudly bearing his “disgrace”. For we have no permanent city here on earth, we are looking for one in the world to come. Our constant sacrifice to God should be the praise of lips that give thanks to his name. Yet we should not forget to do good and to share our good things with others, for these too are the sort of sacrifices God will accept.(Hebrews 13:11–16)
Another translation renders that part of that as:
“We must go to him outside the camp and endure the insults he endured. We don’t have a permanent city here on earth, but we are looking for the city that we will have in the future.”
What he is saying is that if we are going try to save our life, you must actually, lose it, and if you want to follow Jesus, you must be willing to take up our cross every day! Not just on Sunday morning. Not just when the mood is right. Our contemporary churches are screwing this up is by viewing the cross too safely, and relegating it to the past.
Now, what does all this have to do with the cross of Christ? Well, Paul claimed that the whole reason he was sharing the Gospel was because he decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Wow! So what does that mean?
It means that whatever else he knew, whatever else he did, he would do it in relation to Christ crucified. Which brings us back to where we started. The cross should never become a historical relic. It should be at the center of our lives every day and in every relationship and in every conversation. Paul made tents in the shadow of the cross. He preached in the shadow of the cross. He disputed with opponents in the shadow of the cross. He ate and drank and slept with Christ crucified. And the effect this had on him made him, as one man wrote, “a man of broken-hearted love, so out of step with this glory-seeking world that he could only be explained by the power of God.”
So examine your own life. What empowers it? What motivates your work? What consumes your desires and ambitions? If it Jesus and him crucified?
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