The Cross As An Instrument of Glory
- This morning, I’d like to begin, as I often do, by asking you a series of questions;
1) What is your life organized around?
2) When you look at each day, what color glasses are you wearing?....or what is etched on the glasses through which you view your world?
3) What makes up the grid through which you interpret the events of your average day?
4) What do you glory in?
5) What’s your greatest treasure?
6) What makes a day a good day?
7) What’s important to you?
8) What are you living for?
9) What brings you joy and satisfaction?
10) What are your ruling beliefs?
11) What are your big ideas?
12) [back to where we started]....What is your life organized around?
- now, let’s push this one step further....
- would you agree, that there are a lot of options from which to choose?
- there’s a wide array of possible answers to those questions, aren’t there?
- what are some of them?
1) For many, the answer is money.
- frankly, their life is organized around dollars.
- that’s what brings them joy......that’s what they glory in.....
- if they have it, they’re happy....if they don't, they’re miserable.....
- the easiest way to rock their boat is something that threatens their wallet.
2) For others, its power.
- their life is organized around the control of others.
- they crave power
- they love to have others over a barrel
- the more people under them, the better
- the more times they can win, the better
- power for them is like a drug....and they look for a fix every day
3) Another option is pleasure.
- many people organize their lives, or at least as much of their lives as they have the freedom to do so, around pleasure.
- they wake up asking, what will bring me the most joy today?
- what route would be easiest for me?
- where’s the greatest source of fun?
- where’s the greatest source of amusement?
- I better be sure to get my lottery ticket today because the greatest thing that could happen is to hit it big and spend the rest of my days pursuing endless pleasure.
4) Others organize their lives around being loved, and accepted.
- finding the acceptable look consumes huge amounts of time
- a good day is when the group approves, a bad day is when they don't
- the greatest joy is acceptance, the greatest fear is rejection
- pleasing people becomes a passion, an obsession, a drive
- we could sketch that out in dozens of ways---but friend, what I’m asking you is---what is your life organized around?
- let’s push it one more step.
- what’s the price of selecting the wrong option?
- what’s the downside of making the wrong selection at Vanity Fair?
- that’s the troubling question.
- and the answers include ideas like....
- possibly wasting one’s life....being a poor steward of the opportunities God has provided...
- living in a way that is vain, or shallow, or meaningless.
- another possible cost is eternal separation from God, which is why Jesus Christ posed the question, “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
- another set of answers to the question of cost would include things like the lack of fulfillment, and peace, and joy.
- see, while the options are many, they are anything but equal.
- the cost of not thinking this issue through carefully and accurately is great.
- now, let me ask you this...Can God’s Word help us here?...Of course you know the answer to that question...
- the Scripture speaks about something in such/ exclusive terms, that the statement is made...
- God forbid that I would glory, except in _________[blank].
- May it never be that I would boast, except in _________[blank].
- if we want to please God and have His blessing, its very important we have our lives organized around whatever fits in that blank.
- its very important that we are learning to glory in whatever fits in that blank.
- its very important that we have that etched on the glasses through which we interpret life.
- the object about which that statement is made is the cross of Jesus Christ.
- let me invite you to open your Bible to the book of Galatians chapter 6.
- This morning we’re continuing on in our study entitled “Embracing the Cross.”
- We’ve been looking at what the Word of God teaches us about the cross-work of Jesus Christ.
- so far we’ve seen that the Bible teaches that the cross is an instrument of peace, the cross is an instrument of power, its an instrument of shame, and its an instrument of denial.
- one of our goals for this series is that we’ll each walk away with several key verses that we know so well that they guide us in the days ahead....
1) For example, the first week we learned that the cross is an instrument of peace from that great phrase in Col. 1:20 - “having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
2) We’ve also seen that the cross is an instrument of power from 1 Corinthians 1:18 - “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
3) We’ve learned that the cross is an instrument of shame when we read that we should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame
4) Last week we studied Mark 8:34, where God’s people are to “deny themselves” and “take up their cross”...its an instrument of denial.
- my hope is that as we go through this series, each of us will be becoming more cross centered believers....more Christ centered believers.
- I hope that will be true of our personal lives, of our families, of the way we function in the marketplace and the community....
- we should be people who are more and more learning how to joyfully embrace the cross.
- read Galatians 6:14.
- we’re talking this morning about the cross, an instrument of glory.
- we’re going to divide the remainder of our time this way....
I. What it Means to Glory in the Cross
II. How Others Have Gloried in the Cross
III. How You Can Glory in the Cross.
I. What it Means to Glory in the Cross
- there are a couple of key issues that have to be addressed if we’re going to accurately apply this verse to the way you and I live today.
1) For one, what was the setting / context in which this statement was made?
2) Secondly, what does the word “glory” in the phrase “glory in the cross” mean?
- so we can’t properly apply these truths to everyday life until we first carefully interpret the passage.
- by the way, the process of accurately and carefully seeking to interpret God’s Words is known as hermeneutics [the art and science of Bible interpretation].
- I realize that you may be relatively new to studying God’s Word, and a number of you have spoken to me about wanting to learn more about this.
- In our five-year ministry plan, our congregation determined that one of the initiatives we should work on next year in developing an offering a hermeneutics class.
- we’ve gotten the other life-application classes up and running now on marriage, parenting, finances, Christian Life and Growth, Introduction to Faith.
- the Basic and Advanced Evangelism Classes are up and running well....
- Lord willing next year we’ll be adding to all of those a class on interpreting the Bible.
- also, Lord willing next year, a large part of our new building will be dedicated to a Ministry Resource Center, which will have resources designed to help God’s people understand and then apply the Word of God to everyday life.
- so what we’re about to do is very important, and we’re trying, in our strategic planning, to provide the tools to help all of do this better in the days ahead.
- now, back to our two questions....
1) What was the setting / context in which this statement was made?
2) What does the word “glory” in the phrase “glory in the cross” mean?
- the book of Galatians is believed to be the earliest letter written by the apostle Paul in the Bible.
- By now, Paul and Barnabus had completed the 1st missionary journey, where the church at Antioch had chosen them and sent them out to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ.
- you can read about that in Acts chapters 13 and 14, which is the beginning of the world missionary endeavors of the Christian church.
- this first journey had included cities in the region of southern Galatia, cities like Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Antioch....we know this part of the world today as the country of Turkey.
- one other critical event that has already transpired before the book of Galatians was written was the Jerusalem Council.
- you can read about that in Acts chapter 15, where a group of people were upset that non-Jews were being taught that they too could be saved....so these people were going around saying that a person had to be circumcised to be saved, in adherence to the OT Jewish law.
- Paul and Barnabus were sent to the church at Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and the elders and the members of the Jerusalem church to try to determine God’s will on this matter.
- and the decision was crystal clear....
- salvation was through grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.....
- and there were absolutely no human works that were part of that equation.
- yes, a person’s life would be changed after they trusted Christ....but salvation was a gift to be received, not a payment to be earned.
- the problem was, false teachers had been running around teaching the opposite of all of this to these young churches, including the ones located in the region of Galatia.
- and to say that Paul was upset about that would be an understatement.
- look at Galatians 1:6...[read Galatians 1:6-10]
- now please look at chapter 3 verse 1...[read Galatians 3:1-3].
- now, the fact that some of this might sound pretty strong to us demonstrates why its so important for us to think about it.
- the issue of whether a person is saved by grace, through faith in the finished work of Christ alone....or whether he is saved by his/her own human works which somehow earn merit before God is THE issue that divides Christianity from all other man-made religions.
- I agree with John MacArthur who wrote,
The only two basic religions in the world are that of divine accomplishment and that of human achievement. The religion of divine accomplishment is the gospel of Jesus Christ, who, by God’s sovereign grace, provided for man’s redemption through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. The religion of human achievement encompasses all the other religions of the world, which share the common basis of works righteousness, or seeking to please God through various forms of human merit and effort.
- so when Paul talks about only boasting, or glorying in the cross of Jesus Christ in Galatians 6:14, he speaking in the context of other people organizing their life around something other than the cross.
2) Now, a second key question here is, “What did Paul mean by glorying, or boasting?”
- this presents a real challenge for us, because we think of boasting as always being bad, as being associated with pride, something we ought never to do...yet Paul talks about how we ought to be people who boast in the cross.
- what does that word mean?
- look please at Romans chapter 5, and the same original word [kauchaomai] is used three times in the space of 11 verses...and perhaps these uses can help our understanding.
- I’d like to read Romans 5:1-2 from several different translations....please be looking for a word in this verse that you think might be the same as “boast” back in Galatians 6:14.
- I’ll start with the New American standard....[Transparency for all three]
NAS -- Romans 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
- now I realize that some of you have different translations, which makes this a bit more challenging....
- let’s try from the Kings James....
KJV -- Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
NIV -- Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
- now, which word do you think is the same as our word “boast” back in Galatians 6:14?
- its the word “exult” or “rejoice”.
- if you’re taking notes, you may want to note that this same word is found again in Romans 5:3, and Romans 5:11.
- the point is, the word literally means “what you’re excited about, what you’re rejoicing in, what you’re thankful for, what you couldn’t live without.”
- John Stott said it this way, “There is no exact equivalent in the English language to kauchaomai. It means to boast in, glory in, trust in, rejoice in, revel in, live for. The object of our boast or glory fills our horizons, engrosses our attention, and absorbs our time and energy.”
- that’s why I asked you the questions I did at the beginning....
- what is your life organized around?
- what do you glory in, or rejoice in?
- what is etched on your glasses?
- what is the lens through which you see life?
- last week, Kris and I were up in South Bend celebrating our 17th anniversary.
- we found a nice bed and breakfast and had a great time together.
- after lunch we were driving down the road and she said “look at that red building”
- it was a beautiful sunny day and I looked around [while I was trying to pay some level of attention to the road and said]...what red building?
- the bottom line is --- I wasn’t wearing sunglasses, which I seldom do, so all I saw was glare.
- Kris on the other hand, had sunglasses on, and she could see the building properly.
- when we got closer, guess what?....she wasn’t losing it after all....it was a beautiful red masonry building.
- Paul’s point is -- the lens through which I view life....is the cross of Jesus Christ.
- that’s what I glory in...that’s what I organize my life around...that’s what I rejoice over...
- that’s what’s etched on my glasses.....
- and he even goes so far as to say, God forbid that I would ever glory in anything else, except in the cross of Jesus Christ....in that sense, the cross is an instrument of glory.
- now, this is not an easy concept to immediately grasp....I think what will really help us is moving from I. What it Means to Glory in the Cross to...
II. How Others Have Gloried in the Cross
- how did this principle affect the way Paul went on to live, and how did it affect others in the early church?
- what did embracing the cross as an instrument of glory look like in their lives?
- you may know some things about the second and third missionary journeys of the apostle Paul.
- you can read about them in Acts 15 -21.
- what we find is, Paul organizing his life around the cross.
- do you remember those words earlier from John Stott....The object of our boast or glory fills our horizons, engrosses our attention, and absorbs our time and energy.”
- that’s a great description of the second and third missionary journeys and the way Paul embraced the cross.
- for example, in Acts 15:36, Paul said to Barnabus, “Let’s return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are."
- Paul was concerned about the furtherance of the cross.
- in chapter 16, they are beaten and thrown in prison because of their faith.
- guess what etched on their glasses as they sat in that prison cell that night?
- the cross......
- the Bible tells us they were singing hymns and praising God....they had had an opportunity to tell others about the cross.
- a great Bible study exercise this week would be to read through Acts 16-21, and note how many times you observe Paul “glorying in the cross”.
- those were not just words Paul flippantly said to the Galatian church, this was a principle of truth that guided his life.
- what about other Christian servants....did they have the cross of Christ etched on their glasses?.....would they too say, may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?
- what about Peter?....let me ask you to turn to John chapter 21.
- this is the passage where Jesus has already resurrected from the dead, and Peter had given up and gone fishing, then they didn’t catch anything, and in the morning a man tells them to cast the nets off the right side of the boat, they did, and they caught 153 great fish.
- after that, Jesus allows Peter to reaffirm his love for His Savior three times, to match the number of times he had denied Christ.....and He was given a three-fold reinstatement to ministry, feed my lambs, feed my sheep, feed my sheep.
- but then there’s an interesting detail about Peter’s relationship to the cross....
- read John 21:18-19
- so Jesus told Peter that he would also be crucified one day.
- its interesting to see how Peter responds to that....look at verse 20 [Read 20-22]
- Peter had always been uncomfortable about this matter of the cross----he didn’t like it when he learned that Jesus would have to die this way.....
- he surely didn’t like it if he was going to have to die that way, unless he had assurances that John wouldn’t get a better deal.
- but you know what we find as we read through the New Testament?
- Peter is getting more and more comfortable with the cross....more and more centered on the cross.
- so in the day of Pentecost, what does he preach about?....the cross.
- Acts 2:23 - this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
- that message, along with the great news of the resurrection, is what was used to give birth to the NT church.
- in Acts 5, the civil rulers tell them to stop talking about Christ, and Peter says.....
We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.
- at the end of the passage, the civil officials called the apostles in, and.....
flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
- do you see the transition-----where now Peter even considers in a privilege to suffer in the name of Christ?
- what’s going on?......he’s looking at life through the lens of the cross....he’s organizing his life around the cross.
- he’s embracing the cross as an instrument of glory.
- its interesting to think about this from the perspective of the end of Peter’s life.
- these words are written 30 years after Jesus told Peter how he would die....2 Peter 1:13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.
- Peter had lived 30 years knowing that some day he would too die on a cross....
- but he didn’t run and hide....
- he didn’t find something else to believe....
- he faithfully won others to Christ by proclaiming the cross....
- he faithfully discipled others by proclaiming the cross....
- and history tells us that when it was time for Peter to die, he was crucified on a cross under the wicked Emperor Nero....just like Jesus said....
- however, when the time came, Peter asked to be crucified upside down....so there would be no mistaking who the real Savior was, and who was just one of His servants.
- that’s called glorying in the cross......that’s called organizing your life around the cross....
- that’s called etching the cross on the lens of your glasses.....
- But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
- the cross is an instrument of peace, an instrument of power, an instrument of shame, and an instrument of denial.....but its also an instrument of glory.....it gives direction and focus to believers in Jesus Christ.
- we’ve talked about I. What it Means to Glory in the Cross, and II. How Others Have Gloried in the Cross, let’s conclude with....
III. How You Can Glory in the Cross.
- how do men and women in 1999, and soon to be 2000 embrace the cross as in instrument of glory?
1) It starts with believing the gospel.
- friend, are you trusting in something other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone for your salvation?
- are you trusting in your good works?
- are you trusting in your baptism?
- are you trusting in your church attendance....the list of things you do....the list of things you don't do as a means of gaining merit before God?
- God would want you to cast off any hope of earning salvation and humbly embrace the cross of Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation.
- you can do that even in the quietness of this moment.....[develop -- no magic formula].
- for those who know Christ, let me return again to the questions we began with this morning?
- friend, what are you organizing your life around?
- what’s etched on your glasses?
- and what steps would need to be taken so that the answer you could honestly give to those questions would be....the cross?
- what would need to be different so that you could say with the apostle Paul, - But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
- the possible application of this principle is practical endless.....
- let me just sketch out a few.....
a. Are you glorying in the cross in your family?
- is there an honest concern that your home be Christ centered?
- have you organized your home life around Christ, or is it organized around something else?
b. Are you glorying in the cross at work?
- do you do your work heartily, as unto the Lord?
- or do you look for shortcuts and the easiest way out?
- do you endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ....counting it a privilege to be counted worthy to suffer for His name....or are you forever wining, and complaining, and griping when things don’t go your way?
c. Have you allowed this principle to affect you evangelistically?
- when’s the last time you told someone else about Jesus Christ?
- can we really say we’re glorying in the cross if we’re not trying to reach people?
- there are a lot of things to be excited about under this heading....
- College Mission trip
- growing Missionary support
- growing # of people leaving for the field
- growing number of people taking evangelism training, and doing something with it
[could develop -- there will be some headaches that come with this......]
d. Do you view your money through the lens of the cross?
e. Do you view trials through the lens of the cross.
- Conclude --- there are all sorts of things to organize ones life around.
- all kinds of things to etch on our glasses.....
- may we be like the apostle Paul --- - But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.