The Cross as an Instrument of Glory

Dr. Rob Green April 21, 2019 Galatians 6:11-16
Outline

Peace

Colossians 1:20 - …and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Power

1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…

Shame

Hebrews 12:2 - …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sacrifice

Mark 15:34 - At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Galatians 1:6-8 - I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting [think about the issue of loyalty here] Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

2 truths that can help us properly glory in the cross

I. Be Careful Not to Glory in the Wrong Things

A. Explanation of “glory”

Galatians 6:13b-14a - …so that they may boast in your flesh but may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…

B. Things that relieve good pressure

Galatians 6:12 - Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-9 - In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Matthew 10:32 - Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.

C. Things that are designed to make you superior to others

Galatians 6:13 - For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.

II. Glory in the Cross of Christ

Philippians 3:8 - More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…

A. Because it brought about a new way of thinking, evaluating, and living

Galatians 6:14 - But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Philippians 3:9 - …and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…

2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9a - …the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction…

“The world system with all its allurements, fleshly displays, and religions of human effort was cast aside by Paul. He looked at the world as if it were on a cross—and the world looked at Paul as though he were on a cross.” Donald K. Campbell, “Galatians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 611

B. Because it brings life in the present and in the future

Galatians 6:15 - For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come…

C. Because it brings peace and mercy

Galatians 6:16 - And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Take Aways

1. Ensure that you are a genuine believer

2. Grow in the amount of time you talk about and express excitement about how God is working in your life and in the lives of those around you

3. Invite others to the Passion Play

4. Embrace the pressure as an opportunity to grow in your faith

5. Repent of the ways you are building your own kingdom of superiority and embrace the kingdom of Christ where he is the king

Good morning and welcome to Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of his passion week.

This year our annual theme is Growing What God has Given. This year we have studied a portion of the book of Acts looking at the ways God grew the church with the goal of us adopting similar attitudes and mindsets in our own ministry so that Faith, as a ministry, grows.

Then we did a series dedicated to our own Christian growth so that we, as individuals, would be growing.

  • How are you doing?
    • From a church perspective … do you think about the mission? Are you seeking to help the church grow both spiritually and numerically?
    • From a personal perspective … Are you actively growing in your relationship with Jesus by identifying ways he wants you to change, repenting, and putting on what Christ desires? Do you use struggles and challenges as reasons to be refined or as reasons to be discouraged?

 

The series we are in now, called Growing by Embracing the Cross, gives us the motivation.  We have been looking at different aspects of the Cross and trying to learn what each one can teach us about life.

Peace

Colossians 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  • No one can be reconciled to God on their own because no one can satisfy the wrath of God on their own.
  • The cross is the location where peace between God and man can be found. It is a stabilizing location in a world full of sin and suffering.
  • The gospel message (the word of the cross) made the power of God that brings salvation effective. Just as the cross was a place of peace, it is a place of power --- bringing salvation to the lost.
  • Embracing the power of cross involved not celebrating gifts and associations too heavily and instead seeing how the cross as the message that can change the hardest heart and heal the deepest wounds.
  • The cross brought shame. But Jesus embraced that shame so that we can live the Christian life with endurance even when confronted with our own shame.
  • When those moments come when we want to give up, when we want to run and hide, we can look to Jesus who took the shame of the cross. That helps us not grow weary or lose heart.
  • Last week Pastor Viars explained the gruesome details of crucifixion. In the case of Christ, he also suffered the rejection and wrath of God so you and I would not have to.
  • Can you believe I only have two points this morning? I will do my best to make the two points just as valuable as three points and a song.
  • It has to do with what people are excited about, what they talk about, and how they view their worth and significance.
  • One friend says that his son just earned a presidential scholarship from the college of his choice and that his son’s college education is free. He is excited about that. He is rejoicing in that. He is glorying in that.
  • Another friend mentions that his daughter just signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Purdue. Again, free education. That friend is excited, rejoicing, and glorying.
  • You could go to the synagogue without fear of persecution. When you went to the church all bets were off.
  • They wanted enough of everything else that they could successfully navigate through the political and social structures without fear of loss or reprisal.
  • We need enough of the world to fit in … to be just like everyone else … to not stand out.
  • We want just enough of Jesus to fit into our church culture.
  • You want one foot in the world and the other next to Jesus.
  • [winner of the sporting events, the vacation you took, the new thing you purchased, the games that you played]
  • You can have a spouse or parent check your answers when you get home.
  • Does the list describe those areas where you are superior than others? Is it the place where you feel the best about yourself.
  • When I was a student I loved math. The reason I loved it is because I was good at it. I was not the best … there were certainly people better. But I was good enough that I beat most. It was the class where I was superior.
  • When I worked in the corporate world I might laugh at a joke or listen to garbage music because I wanted to fit in … not make too many waves. I wanted the pressure and persecution to remain at a tolerable level.
  • More recently … I remember reading the evaluations of the BCTC on Friday after the conference. I wanted to know what people thought for sure … but I was particularly interested in what they thought of me. Why? Because I wanted to be superior … at least superior than some.
  • The cross of Christ was different. He suffered in my place. He bore the wrath of God that I deserved.
  • The cross of Christ brought me into a right relationship with God.
  • This came up on Monday. We have a training class and I was doing a Q/A. A student asked about how to approach one of her friends who was very concerned that her husband would not share the contents of his phone specifically in some text messages with another woman about her! Got it?
    • How the world would answer the relational dynamics, the importance of privacy, and the place of openness and accountability are fundamentally different than the way a Christian should do so.
    • Believers in Christ use the Scriptures to answer such questions.
  • I could be angry about something every day … couldn’t you?
  • I could complain about something every day … couldn’t you?
  • I could worry about something every day … couldn’t you?
  • That helps me with my anger, with my complaining, with my worry.

Power

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God

Shame

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sacrifice

Mark 15:34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Is it fair to say that the cross has amazing significance for our lives?

This morning, we are going to look at the cross from yet another perspective: The Cross as an Instrument of Glory.

With that in mind please turn in your Bibles to Galatians 6:11. That is on page 150 of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

Galatians was the second book of the NT written (after James). Up to this point, the message of the gospel was transmitted orally. [show this]. Without a written document to which they could constantly refer, it was always possible for another person to come to a church and teach ungodly doctrine that looked like it was true. Paul wrote Galatians to combat these threats to the gospel message and ensure that these new believers would understand what it meant to truly live for Christ.

That is why after Paul’s normal greeting he writes …

Galatians 1:6-8 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting [think about the issue of loyalty here] Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

Instead of offering the church words of praise (which is what he does in every other book). At stake was the issue of the gospel message itself. It was worth being forceful about it.

He defends the true gospel over the course of 6 chapters along 3 lines.

  1. Paul explains that justification [legally declared righteous] is only by grace and cannot be by works. Any “gospel” that assigns work is not a legitimate gospel.
  2. He explains that the true gospel results in freedom and liberty rather than legalism. The law of Moses has a place in salvation history, but it must be kept in its rightful place.
  3. He explains that people who embrace the true gospel live consistent with the gospel and the work of the Spirit.

Since Galatians 6:11 begins the conclusion of the letter, it should be no surprise that all three of these issues come up in the final section. It is here that Paul’s theology of the Cross becomes not only important, but the organizing principle of salvation, freedom, and life.

Please follow along as I read Galatians 6:11-16. This is the Word of the Lord.

This morning we are considering The Cross as an Instrument of Glory. More specifically, I would like to present two truths that can help us properly glory in the cross.

I. Be careful not to glory in the wrong things (vv. 11-13)

We begin with a warning. In many ways this warning refers back to his opening statement in Galatians 1:7 about those “who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” So this section is super important.

In order to understand the full scale of God’s concern we need to think a bit more about the words “glory” and “things.”

A.     Explanation of “glory”

Galatians 6:13b-14a so that they may boast in your flesh 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

When we think about boasting or bragging, those words often carry a negative connotation. They refer to prideful people talking about how amazing they are. They are here and you are here (illustrate). There is you … and then there is me (illustrate).

But you can tell in this section that our normal notion is not big enough to explain what is going on here. This term is often used with the meaning to exalt, to rejoice, or to praise.

Imagine, if you will, you are sitting around talking to a few of your friends. You are discussing your children.

At least for the purpose of this message … glory, exalt, praise, boast are used negatively when we speak of ourselves (v. 13) and positively when we speak about the work of Christ (v. 14).

The boasting, glorying, rejoicing, and excitement are about certain things.

In v. 13 it is possible to glory in the wrong things. It is possible to rejoice in, praise, exalt, glory in the wrong things. Now we need to think about what in this text is the wrong set of “things.”

B.      Things that relieve good pressure

Galatians 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Circumcision in our day and age is a conversation limited to two times … what to do when a male child is born. When we are talking about passages like this. The Bible speaks of it far more than we do.

In the first century here is what is happening. Jesus shared the good news of the gospel with his fellow Jews. Circumcision was a physical sign of covenant that God made with his people. It was part of their culture and part of their identity.

As the good news of Christ spread, it became more common for those who had no Jewish connection to become followers of Christ. They did not have circumcision as part of their culture. How do you take one group of people who have this physical symbol of identity and belonging to God and combine them with another group of people who do not have that symbol of identity and belonging to God?

It was a point of tension.

But worse than that … the true motive of these individuals was clear --- avoid persecution. So what persecution are they talking about?

Source #1: Roman persecution … Judaism enjoyed a protected status in the Roman Empire. Even though the Romans believed in many gods, they allowed certain other religious ideas to exist in the empire. One of those was Judaism.

So here is what they wanted … they wanted their cake and eat it to. Let’s take enough of Jesus to get into heaven and keep our Judaism so that the Romans will leave us alone.

Source #2: Social persecution … The connections you have with others opens up opportunities you might not have otherwise. A Jewish Christian would like his son to work as an apprentice in the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith only takes apprentices who bear the sign of the covenant (circumcision). You want to trade some garments you made with a farmer who grew some crops, but he only does business with those who bear the sign of the covenant.

Friends, here is the point of Galatians 6:12. They wanted only the amount of Jesus that would not cost them anything.

Circumcision is not how we talk about that today. But the concept is certainly alive and well in our culture.

That is why we can go to church on Sunday at least once a month (my pastors and deacon will not be on my case) and then I can live how I want the rest of the week. Church is fine, but being all about Jesus is not so fine.

Friends, please listen to this. If your relationship with Jesus has not cost you anything, then maybe you have not been living very faithfully.

That is why the things that you glory in … the things that make you most excited … are things that have nothing to do with Christ or his work in people’s lives. They remain the socially acceptable things …

In fact, they have to do with protecting you from social (school, work, or neighborhood) pressure that might actually be good for you.

1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

There is such a thing as good pressure. There is such a thing as refining pressure to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith.

Matthew 10:32 Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.

Glorying in things that relieve good pressure is not the sum total of the wrong things. We also see …

C.      Things that are designed to make you superior to others

Galatians 6:13   For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.

These teachers were excited about, talking about, and glorying in how many people they convinced that circumcision was a critical part of salvation.

It was how they rose above others. When we studied 1 Corinthians 1 a few weeks ago we see this “boasting” terminology. Like Galatians 6:13 it was boasting / bragging / taking pride in the things that made you superior to your peers.

This mentality can be about anything … students … it can be about your grades. You are better than ______ because you get better grades. Athletes … it can be about your achievements. You are better than ________ because you achieved more. This can be about money, the size of a house, the car we drive … you name it and we can find a reason why we are better than someone else.

We believe in the value of stewardship and wanting to do our best. But when our best is recognized by others as really good … the praise and glory needs to go to the Lord. It cannot be the way you and I view ourselves as superior to others.

I think it would be helpful for each of you to write on your notes page 3 things that you talk about most … that bring you the most joy … that cause you to rejoice and glory … that bring out the most anger when you fail to get them.

After you get your list … ask yourself about the focus of your list. Is it designed like the false teachers of Galatians 6 to make you socially acceptable? It keeps enough of your life in the world that the world loves you.

This is a lesson I am still learning. I wish I was free of this, but I know I am not. I have to fight it.

Galatians 6 is hitting us where we live and where we establish our kingdoms and where we glory. Thankfully, there is something better.

II. Glory in the Cross of Christ

What we need to work toward is the attitude of v. 14. Paul’s glory, excitement, and rejoicing comes in the cross of Jesus Christ. That is what Paul wants to talk about, that is what Paul wants to think about, that is what gives him joy and satisfaction.

When he discusses his accomplishments he says this …

Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ

He spoke of his family upbringing, his educational experiences, his rise to the leadership in Judaism. In light of all that, he counts them as trash so that he might gain Christ.

The question one might ask is why would Paul do that? Why would he count his accomplishments as trash to gain Christ?

A.     Because it brought about a new way of thinking, evaluating, and living

Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

He describes a new orientation. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was different than the crosses of other criminals. They suffered death due to their crimes. Their death had no bearing on me. They were brutalized and ill-treated, but that had no consequence for me.

Philippians 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

We are preaching this series because (1) we want people to hear the message of the cross of Christ.

If you are here this morning and you have never acknowledged your sin. You have never acknowledged that your sin separated you from a holy God and was worthy of eternal punishment in hell, then this message is for you.

We are urging you. As Pastor Viars rightly said last week, the gospel is something to be believed, but it is also something to be obeyed.

2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9a the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction

If you have never repented of your sin and trusted Christ as your Lord and savior we urge you to do that today. If you want to talk further, then we would be happy to answer your questions.

There is a second reason for this series … (2) that you who have trusted Christ would grow in your appreciation of all that Christ did for you with the intent that you would live more faithful lives.

What Christ did was give us new life in Christ, a new way of thinking about life, and a new way of judging situations. That is why the text says the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. I had to ponder that phrase this week. What is God telling us.

One commentator’s words really caught my attention. The world system with all its allurements, fleshly displays, and religions of human effort was cast aside by Paul. He looked at the world as if it were on a cross—and the world looked at Paul as though he were on a cross (Donald K. Campbell, “Galatians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 611).

What? That is powerful. The way I judge, evaluation, think is that the world (with all its attractions) is on the cross. It is being crucified.

But when the world, with its system of evaluation and thought looks at me. I am being crucified.

One of the reasons that I glory, rejoice, exalt, and see life through the cross of Christ is because the cross of Christ has totally reoriented my life. I have new life. I have a new system of evaluation. I have a new system of thinking.

The cross of Christ has created a new value system which is worth glorying in and rejoicing about. A second reason why Paul would trash his worldly accomplishment for the cross of Christ is …

B.      Because it brings life in the present and in the future

Galatians 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

His point is that many of the things that relieve good pressure (circumcision then … the other issues today) are not of eternal significance. The things that give us superiority are not of eternal significance.

What he values is the new creation available only through the cross of Christ. Without the cross of Christ there is no salvation. Without the cross of Christ Christianity collapses like a house of cards.

But this new creation … that is a reason to be excited, that is a reason to rejoice, that is a reason to speak, that is a reason to glory.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come

What is happening is that being a new creature in Christ means that I have a future home in heaven. We are the only people who have an answer for death. I also have a current life today that is radically different.

I was once a slave to sin. Now I am dead to sin and alive to God (repeat that). I am not bound by those constraints.

While the Christian life does not mean that everything is easy, it does mean that God walks with me, his grace is available every step of the journey, and that he loves me even when I am not experiencing much love from others.

Praise God for the new creation we are because of the cross of Christ. That is a reason to speak about, to rejoice in, to exalt, and to glory in the cross of Christ. One more reason in the text …

C.      Because it brings peace and mercy

Galatians 6:16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

What “rule” is he talking about? It is the message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone which is the focus of the entire book of Galatians.

When you live/walk by this rule … what do you experience? Peace and Mercy. That was true for gentile believers and Jewish believers.

These false teachers had no peace. Please listen to this … if you spend your life trying to figure out how to avoid pressure and how to gain superiority you will not be a peace. Those are never ending quests!

To say it another way if you are trying to build your own kingdom you will exhaust yourself and the people around you. Peace and mercy do not come to those who seek to build their own little kingdoms. They come to those who choose to embrace a different one – the kingdom of God.

This is so important on this Palm Sunday that I want to highlight a few specific take aways.

Take Aways

  1. Ensure that you are a genuine believer

It would be awful to leave this morning with doubts in your mind about whether you just like being with church people or whether you are a genuine follower of Christ.

  1. Grow in the amount of time you talk about and express excitement about how God is working in your life and in the lives of those around you

Our son Joe sets up a family bracket each year for the NCAA tournament. It is getting a bit ridiculous. Mackenzie won for like the 5th time in 6 years. This year she crushed us. She not only had it won like a week ago … but since she picked Virginia she scored in the top 3% of all 16 million brackets worldwide. I am glad for that. But frankly that is not of eternal significance.

We can celebrate her win … again … but put our focus and excitement on what the Lord is doing. This can happen at work and at home.

  1. Invite others to the passion play

We are giving out a lot of tickets … We assume that means that many people are excited. Let’s keep that momentum going and remember that we have 4,800 seats at the Long Center between the 4 presentations.

The reason we are inviting is because there is nothing more important to think about, to talk about, to rejoice in, or to glory in than the cross of Christ.

  1. Embrace the pressure as an opportunity to grow in your faith

If being a “Jesus freak” as they used to say results in a little pressure then embrace it knowing that it is good for your faith to undergo a little testing. It is good for your faith to experience a little hardship.

  1. Repent of the ways you are building your own kingdom of superiority and embrace the kingdom of Christ where he is the king

The Lord wants us to build his kingdom and seek his righteousness rather than develop our own. When we build his we enjoy peace and mercy and when we build our own we experience fear of losing our power and control and anger because we are not acknowledged as the king.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Dr. Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry, Chair of the MABC program, and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.