THE POWER OF THE CROSS
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:10-19
Sunday 6th April 2014
I like to share with you today a message that I have titled 'The Power of the Cross – the Hidden Mysteries of the Cross'. You would have expected that this message will be more appropriate on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. I am convinced however that the message of the cross is timeless and relevant to us every day and every time, and this message will indeed be a blessing to you today.
The cross is translated from the Greek word 'Stauros' and it is defined as an 'upright stake, especially a pointed one'. It is a well-known instrument of cruel and shameful punishment; of capital punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians. The cross connotes two biblical doctrines: Firstly, the atonement of Christ – His crucifixion (Romans 5:11) and secondly, our self-denial, in other words, 'crucifying the flesh' in response to the finished work of Christ on the cross (Galatians 5:24).
Nowadays, we've accepted the cross as a part of our daily lives, but we've simply relegated it to a religious symbol, hence denying the power it carries. We see the cross everywhere we go; in chapels, church buildings, engraved on the lectern of most churches, in homes and cars and sometimes we even wear it, as an ornament. But if all we make of the cross is its use as a religious symbol, then we have missed the whole message.
From our foundation scripture in 1 Corinthians 1:10-19, Apostle Paul admonished the church in Corinth to put aside their differences and look beyond the embrace the message of the cross. 'God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center — Christ on the Cross — be trivialized into mere words. The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hell-bent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18 MSG).
Apostle Paul's message to the church in Corinth is still relevant to us today - The message of the cross is the message of what Jesus did for us and in order to experience the power of God, we must embrace the message of the cross, because we've not been called to live a powerless Christian life. It must be stated that Christianity without God's power is simply mere religion. Apostle Paul understood this profound truth, so much that he lived each day demonstrating and experiencing the power of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:17, 23). Nowadays, we focus more on gathering a following around a cause or an individual, rather than on Christ. Inadvertently, we've despised the power of the cross. It is time to refocus on the Christ and the power of the Christ.
We must realise that the work of Christ on the cross is a finished work; nothing could be added to it as the price was paid in full. Much of the defeats, challenges and frustrations that we face is simply as a result of the fact that we've wandered away from the cross.
Let's take a journey and read through some scriptures that would assist us in understanding what the cross is all about. In Genesis 3:1-5, we read the story of the fall of man, which began when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit. Man lost dominion and authority as a result of the fall. God pronounced Judgment and declared that the Seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). The 'Seed of the woman' in this passage refers to Jesus Christ our Lord; through Him, we have victory over the devil and all his works.
In Numbers 21, we read the story of the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness, and arrived at Mount Hor. The next phase of their journey was travelling via the land of Edom, and at this point, the congregation got discouraged and soon began to complain against God and Moses. In response, 'the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died' (V6 NLT). The multitude soon realised their folly, and came to Moses begging for forgiveness and his intervention. Moses prayed to God and he was given a remedy. 'Then the LORD told him, "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!" So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! (Numbers 21:8-9. In other words, the very thing that bit them was the very thing God used in restoring them.
We read a reference to this scripture in the New Testament in John 3:13-16. Verse 14 and 15 reads: 'And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life'(NLT). Christ was made sin for us, so that we could inherit his righteousness as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus took our place on the cross and as he hung on the cross, sin which he carried was also hanging on that cross. Unless Christ became sin, it would have been impossible for him to deliver us from the power of sin. And as we look at him on the cross, we receive deliverance from every sin that has enslaved us.
Satan, knowing fully well the impending victory that Jesus was to assert on the cross on our behalf, did everything possible to ensure that Christ did not arrive at the cross. The flogging which Christ endured for us was so severe that it deformed him and was within an inch of his life. Despite this, Jesus made it to the cross. And on the cross, as Jesus hung there, so was our shame, defeat, hopelessness, struggles and pain. Now that Jesus has paid the full price for our victory, healing and deliverance, we must now walk in this reality – as conquerors and as people free from sin, sickness and defeat (Romans 8:37, 1 Peter 2:24).
In order to live by the power of the cross, here are three points to bear in mind:
(a) Recognise that the price for your redemption has been paid in full: Despite your challenges, live in the consciousness of the fully paid work of Christ.
(b) Have faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross: You need to realise that you cannot add to the work already done. Your responsibility is to believe that all has already been finished by Jesus.
(c) Recognise that your role is not to earn or finish the work: Stand in your role to establish with your actions what has already been finished.
In 2 Kings 6:1-6 we read the story of the group of prophets and Elisha. As they built a new abode close to the Jordan River, with Prophet Elisha's permission, the axe which one of the prophets was using in cutting down a tree fell into water. Elisha was soon called to the spot to help retrieve the axe. Elisha threw a stick (a foreshadow of the cross) into the water, and sure enough the iron axe floated to the surface. The power of the cross brought about restoration.
I declare that the power of the cross will restore whatever has been taken away from you. I declare wholeness and wellbeing, fulfilment and satisfaction in every area of your life in Jesus name (Amen).
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