The Cross: God’s Way Of Redemption
Sermon delivered at The Moody Church by Rev. Carey S. Thomas of Philadelphia, PA.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God”—1 Corinthians 1:18.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has not lost its power. It is still the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Somehow, we never tire of preaching the Cross of Christ, a crucified Christ. The Gospel of the saving grace works today and it is the only thing that does work. It is the only dynamic of God, that changes and transforms human life, that can raise the dead and give them life.
There is no false Christ here. No vain babblings of lost men here. There is no mental speculations of darkened minds here. This is the power of God unto salvation. It is the greatest thing in all the world. Never let us forget the Gospel of the grace of God is the greatest thing under the stars tonight. It is a wonderful privilege to preach it, and may we preach it in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Here we find light to dispel our darkness. Assurance to dispel doubt, and the reflection of the wisdom of God, which often reveals the utter foolishness of man.
“In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
“When the woes of life oe’r-take me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me;
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.”
We stand in the midst of the wrecked world, and the only hope of this world is the Cross of Christ. The Cross of Jesus Christ stands supreme and quiet, the only place of refuge and safety, towering o’er the wrecks of time.
The Cross Our Hope
We may be down into political confusion as we try one form of government after another. We may cry out, When shall we have a form of Government that will assure to every man a just distribution of the products of his toil? We may behold social chaos all around us and wonder when we are to be relieved of the filth of social impurity and men and women are to come to some standard of righteousness. The Cross of Jesus Christ stands untouched amid it all. It towers o’er the wrecks of time. How many of us have said:
“Beneath the Cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty Rock
Within a weary land.
“A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.”
May we all come to the Cross and say:
“I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face.”
Why, in these days of culture, do we lift our voice in preaching the Cross of Christ, which is mere foolishness? There are compelling reasons. There is the need of the Cross, and there is the message of the Cross. These two reason are compelling us to lift up the Cross of Christ constantly to a world that is indifferent and cold and sinking in trespasses and in sin. To tell the world that there is life for a look at the crucified One, and they can have a new life at the Cross, a new nature at the Cross, and that Jesus Christ alone can save them from sin unto righteousness and unto God.
The need of the Cross. I shall not soon forget the joy that came to my heart one day when a man whom I have known for over twenty years, turned back to the Old Testament and showed to us the foreshadowing of the Cross. He brought to our attention this foreshadowing of the Cross, as portrayed in the 14th chapter of 2 Samuel.
I shall try to tell you the story briefly. In the chapter preceding, the 13th chapter, we find that Amnon commits a crime. He wrongs a sister of Absalom. Absalom vows vengeance, and he causes Amnon to be slain. The knowledge came to the king that all his sons had been slain but one. Absalom, who cause the murder, fled from the presence of the king, his father, David, and he was away for three years. In the 14th chapter we find that Joab concocts a scheme whereby he can bring to the attention of the king, Absalom’s banishment, and if possible, make a way for his return.
He gets a woman from Tekoah, and her final word to David gives me my text. “For we must needs die and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person; yet doth he devise means that His banished be not expelled from Him.”
My friends, God does devise means whereby his banished may not be expelled from Him. The result is the king discovered that Joab is back of the scheme, and he asks the woman, and she says, Yes, Joab is back of it. You can go and get the banished, and he can return. When he comes the king says, Cause him to turn aside.
God Banishes Sin
Now, will you notice, God has devised a means whereby His banished may return. So David devises a means whereby Absalom may return. Absalom bore a two-fold relationship to the king, and the king to Absalom. David was Absalom’s king, and David was also Absalom’s father. As a king it devolved upon David to banish sin and to banish Absalom, the sinner, but as Absalom was his son, he was to safeguard his son. Now the truth is, he did neither. He failed in both obligations.
God is sovereign and as Sovereign, He is under obligation to banish sin, for God cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. But He is also a God of love, and is also obligated to safeguard me. Where David failed, God succeeded. David only half-heartedly forgave his son. God has devised a means whereby the banished by sin may return. It brings joy to the heart to know that while I am a sinner, God has devised a means whereby I may return, and what is true of the preacher is true of everyone here tonight.
What is the means that God hath devised? It is the Cross of Christ and it is the only means that God has devised whereby a man that is banished by sin may return. Here is the outshining of the wisdom of God. Here is the Sovereign punishing my sin, but here is the outshining of the grace of God. God, at the Cross, is just. He condemns sin and metes out its penalty. But He is also a Justifier, for He acquits the man who believes in Jesus Christ. At the Cross we have law vindicated and love manifested. You need not be banished by sin. If you continue to reject the means God has devised for your salvation it will mean separation from God forever. That is the God-ward side of it.
The cross was necessary from God’s standpoint. God had to devise a means whereby the sinner would be saved. It came from God and not from man. It is not religion. We do not need religion, for the earth is cursed already with religion. Religion came up from beneath, but we have a revelation which came down from above the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has saved millions, and will, as long as the door swings open. From the Godward side we see the means whereby the sinner may be saved. The man-ward side is indicated to us in leprosy the type of sin. That is the Old Testament type of sin, and how true it is to life. We can’t get rid of sin. It is loathsome, it is fatal. Sin banishes from God. Sin brings universal guilt and condemnation. It is your sin that separates you from God. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The Cross a Remedy for Sin
We are living in a tolerant age. We are living in an age that accounts for sin. They tell us that sin is necessary, that it is temperamental. It is an incident in man’s upward climb toward God. That is the way we account for sin today. Revelations of the moral apostasy of the souls of men, are scattered broadcast to defile the minds and hearts of the pure. The character of advertisements and placards, the suggestive pictures on our billboards, the demoralizing modern fashions of women’s dress, and the filthy and lascivious dances that are permitted even in private homes—this is the tolerant age and these things go unchallenged. You let some man stand up and challenge these things and immediately the protestant is laughed to scorn and the panderers of vice and immorality leap upon him.
This is a tolerant age of sin, but nevertheless it cannot remedy sin. The leprosy is there. They can’t get rid of it. The awful carnage of sin today from the man-ward side, makes the Cross necessary. Sin brings bondage. Sin brings blindness, and the great question of my heart is, Where can I find a remedy for the leprosy of sin? Is there escape from the penalty? Is there light for my blind eyes? Yes, there is. God has devised a means and that means is the Cross whereon the Prince of Glory died.
Then the message of the Cross. What is the message that comes to our hearts tonight? Here we see the outshining love of God. Here God reaches out His hands and bids me come. Here I find a remedy for the leprosy of sin. The difficult problem of how God can forgive sin is solved at the Cross. The penalty of sin is in force in death. The wisdom and justice of God outshined at the Cross, and the gulf that is made by sin is bridged.
Acts 13:38, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”
2 Corinthians 5:18-21, “And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself, by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry and reconciliation.
“That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
There is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, the just shall live by faith. Man is not saved by his morality, by his self-righteousness, by the fact that he is a good citizen, by his church membership, by the fact that he was baptized. No! But he is saved by faith; justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:14, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross.”
The law is hostile to the law-breaker. The love of God which I have been preaching therefore is hostile to the sinner. The Cross puts away the hostility of the law, for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. He has stayed the iron hand of the violated law. He took unto Himself the condemnation of my sin. Him that knew no sin was made sin for you and for me.
The Message of the Cross
The Cross of Christ. What is its message? Its message is a message of deliverance. It is a message of forgiveness for those whose sins rise high as mountains. It is a message of new life for those who have made a failure because of sin. We must have something done in us as well as something done for us. It is not love for God to forgive us our sin. The Cross insured to us more than that. There is not only forgiveness of sin but there must be a new character, a new life, and that is what Jesus Christ offers us by His sacrifice on the Cross.
Oh, beloved, when you come to Jesus Christ He not only blots out your sin, removes it as far as the East in from the West, but He gives you a new life, a new nature, new love, new desires, new ambition, a new destiny. That is what happens when you come to Christ. If you are here tonight saying, If I would become a Christian I could not hold out, that is none of your business. Thank God, we are kept by the power of God through faith. When He does forgive us our sins He gives us His own life, so that the life we now live in the flesh, we live in the Son of God.
The most potent factor under the stars tonight is the Cross of Christ. By the power of the Cross men turn from godlessness to godliness. Oh, that Christians would get a vision of the Cross, by which the world is crucified unto them and they unto the world.
A Vision of the Cross
What an awful rebuke in that charge that has been made that if Jesus Christ is the kind of a Man we Christians represent Him to be, then He deserved to be crucified. We Christian folks ought, by a holy life, by a constant Christian walk separated from the world unto God, constantly show forth His power and His virtue and His grace. There is a tremendous responsibility resting upon every Christian man and woman here tonight. You cannot go out of this church as you came in. You cannot be the same kind of a man tomorrow as you are tonight. Oh, God! give us a vision of the Cross. Anoint our eyes that we may see Him, and open our hearts to Him and coming in in all His power, He may live through us to the glory of His name. Christ has bridged the gulf between you and God, that sin has made. Jesus still stands before us and says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
I ask you tonight, Will you take that bridge that God has laid, the Cross of Christ, and come over into the glorious liberty of the sons of God?
We are all traveling one of two ways. We are either going with out back towards heaven and our face toward hell, or with our faces toward heaven and our backs toward hell. Rich and poor, high and low, are traveling either one of those two ways tonight. There are folks here who know they are traveling with their faces toward Heaven, but it may be there are some who are traveling in the opposite direction. God hath devised a means whereby you may return.
Jesus Christ has reached over the chasm that has been made by Satan and touched this old world of ours, and He cries out to those who are lost and undone, “Come unto Me.” Creep over, as it were, the dying body of Jesus Christ to safety, and you can tonight come from the position of sin and its condemnation over you, over into this position of Jesus Christ, where you are a son of God. Will you come tonight?
Never is the Cross of Jesus Christ lifted up or the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached but it places upon men and women the responsibility to do something with the claims of Christ, and the Spirit of the living God is pressing home to your mind and to your heart the claims of Jesus Christ tonight. What are you going to do with them? Will you take the means that God has devised? Will you take your place at the Cross? If you will you will go out of this church rejoicing in salvation through Jesus Christ.
Paul says, “If though shalt confess with thine mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved.” Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sin? Do you believe that He was raised again for your justification, that you might be acquitted? If you do, will you now confess with the mouth, the Lord Jesus.