The Cross!!! - Whose Cross???
“And he [Jesus] bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him , on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” (John 19:17-18 KJV)
“For it pleased the Father that in him [Jesus] should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:19-20 KJV)
“Though he [Jesus] were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” (Hebrews 5:8-9 KJV)
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me [Jesus], is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39 KJV)
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him [Jesus]: if we deny him [Jesus], he [Jesus] also will deny us:” (2 Timothy 2:12 KJV)
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV)
Now, you tell me:
Did Jesus complete the Salvation Process for Christians (Believers) through His suffering and death on “His Cross” so that there is nothing more that the Believer must do in order to make Heaven their everlasting home?
Is it an absolute necessity that all those who call themselves “followers of Jesus” (Christians) embrace (hug) “the cross” that God has designed especially for them?
In other words is suffering for Jesus (and doing it with joy) a necessary part of being saved?
Well if you didn’t believe what the preceding Scriptures had to say about “suffering for Jesus”, then maybe you’ll believe what Sister Carol had to say about her father’s “suffering for Jesus” (emphasis mine):
“…Although I have spent alot of years in church, my walk with Jesus never increased or got very personal. But something happened 7 years ago to change that. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. It's shameful how it takes some trials and tribulations to turn a person to our Heavenly Father when we should have been there all along. I never saw my daddy in church. He was a very intelligent man who liked to read alot. He was raised in church on Sunday just like we were and I know he believed in Jesus. I watched my daddy change in a good way. Before he died, he did alot of witnessing to my brother and I. Daddy said he went to the Lord in prayer the night he found out about the cancer. Momma was in bed asleep. He was praying for a miraculous healing. This was the Lord's answer: All your life you have kept me in a jar on the mantle. When you need me in time of trouble you take me out of that jar. When I make things better, you put me back in the jar and up on the mantle until you feel your need me again. I do not hear from you again until then. I will not give you that healing. You are going to have to go through this. But if you will learn to lean on me, I will get you through this. My Daddy did learn to lean on God and God did get him through it. Daddy started reading and studying the New Testament because he wanted to know Jesus. He really enjoyed the writings of Paul. By the time Daddy went in to remove part of his left lung, he had found that peace that passeth all understanding. He was not worried about the surgery. He told me that if he lived 5 more minutes, 5 more days or 5 more years, he would live them different with Jesus in his life. God gave him 5 more years to witness to family members in a way that would make them want what he had found in those pages of his Bible. He spent most of those years in alot of physical pain. But he leaned and God got him through. So when I was reading your sermonet on Perry Stone's Five Tornados, the part I found most interesting was what you wrote on "dying to the flesh." Momma said one time that she thought if Daddy knew about the pain, he wouldn't have had the surgery and ended things sooner. I disagreed. For some reason I just knew that 5 year period was a "process" he had to go through. It was something he had to go through to change his life...and mine. so when I read your sermonet, the light bulb went on…”
- Carol Bieker -
So what did you think about that beautiful testimony of God’s “grace and mercy”? Well I don’t know about you but I get Holy Ghost goose bumps every time I read it! I mean even though Sister Carol’s father was one of those “Christians” who ignored God’s calling to “take up your cross and follow Jesus”, Father God gave him one last chance to get it right. And of course what it took for him to “get it right” was his uncompromising determination to depend on Jesus (lean on Him) throughout the five long years of dying to his flesh – cancer – in order to be resurrected and born-again in God’s Spirit.
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26 KJV)
So what do you think is stopping most “Christians” (Believers) from following Jesus? Would you believe the “cross of Christ” – the one that’s designed specifically to crucify the Believer’s sinful flesh? I mean after all, that’s what this word “ashamed” is all about! In the pure and simple it means to have a feeling of shame or fear that prevents a person from doing what he knows he should do. And when it comes to the Believer being “ashamed” of God’s specific Word for them (their cross), the following Scripture gives us a real good example of just how “shameful” it can be:
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:26-28 KJV)
I mean how many Christians would ever believe that God would require them to “hate” their family in order to be obedient to His Word? Well if there was ever a “Word of God” for a Believer to be “ashamed” of, that one has got to be it!
However, as tough as that “cross” might be for most Believers to “embrace”, there is really no other good choice but to “embrace” it with “love”. Because you see Jesus has commanded that we love Him more than our own families – and if we’re not willing to do just that, then we shouldn’t be calling Him Lord:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV)
So the question is:
How bad do you really want to get to Heaven?
Are you willing to be crucified with Christ?
Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus?
“That I may know him [Jesus], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11 KJV)
Well, it should be pretty obvious by now that when the Holy Bible (Word of God) talks about the “Cross of Christ” it’s not only talking about the cross on which Jesus was crucified but also the cross that has been custom built for each and every Christian. So if for any reason there might be someone claiming the Name of Jesus (Believer) but yet not willing to suffer the cross with Christ, then the following most certainly applies to them:
“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: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19 KJV)
Now, if you really think your God-given cross is too much for you to bear, then please consider the cross that Jesus had to bear…especially for you:
As an instrument of death the cross was detested by the Jews. “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13; compare Deuteronomy 21:23), hence, it became a stumbling-block to them, for how could one accursed of God be their Messiah? …The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, especially in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with an insignificant bleeding of the jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever, which was aggravated the exposure to the heat of the sun, the strained of the body and insufferable thirst. The swelled about the rough nails and the torn lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued. The mind was confused and filled with anxiety and dread foreboding. The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths. Tetanus not rarely supervened and the rigors of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain, till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death. The sufferings were so frightful that “even among the raging passions of war pity was sometimes excited” (BJ, V, xi, 1). The length of this agony was wholly determined by the constitution of the victim, but death rarely ensued before thirty-six hours had elapsed. Instances are on record of victims of the cross who survived their terrible injuries when taken down from the cross after many hours of suspension (Josephus, Vita, 75). Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the victims and by a hard blow delivered under the armpit before crucifixion. Crura fracta was a well-known Roman term (Cicero Phil. xiii.12). – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia -
Take Up Your Cross The Saviour Said
- Take Up Your Cross -
"Take up your cross," the Saviour said,
"If you would my disciple be;
Forsake the past, and come this day,
And humbly follow after me."
Take up your cross; let not its weight
Pervade your soul with vain alarm;
His strength shall bear your spirit up,
Sustain your heart, and nerve your arm.
Take up your cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let your foolish heart rebel;
For you the Lord endured the cross
To save your soul from death and hell.
Take up your cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear a golden crown.
(See Is God Almighty A Sadist? (4/24/05) for more on "suffering for Jesus".)
"ALL FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS"
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