Friday, April 2, 2010

The CROSS, The KINGDOM and The CROWN


1 COR 1:17-18
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
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 COR 1:21, 23
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;


2 TIM 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.


1 PET 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.


REV 3:11
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.


REV 4:4

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.


The above references deal with the cross of Jesus Christ, and some passages about crowns received by the faithful servants of the LORD.
This is a message about the cross in the lives of believers, and how it effects their service in the kingdom of God, and as a result of that service, crowns granted based on faithfulness to the calling of God in our lives.

As already cited, the cross as well as the preaching of the same, is seen as foolishness to the world, even a stumbling block (particularly to Jews who don't recognized the LORD Jesus as the Messiah, much less His atonement on the cross). Yet to us, it is the power of salvation.
For more than a century now, in ever growing numbers, beginning with the Modernist Movement, and into such current Movements as seen in today's world, the cross and its Divine blood stains are disparaged and denied as being barbaric and unnecessary.

Others see the cross as a symbol of suffering servanthood, but don't recognize its central message of salvation as preached in the biblical gospel.
Here today, in this article, you're gunna hear some preachin'! It's some of that 'old-time' gospel, which I will proclaim in today's entry!
It's that compelling power of the cross of Christ Jesus that will draw all ("whosoever will") to Him (JOHN 12:32).

Without the cross, there is no hope for sinful mankind; without the cross there is no cure for an incurable heart prone to rebellion against the King of the Eternal Kingdom; without the cross the entire human race falls under the condemning Judgment of the Holy God Who not only will not tolerate sin (which is an actual form of spiritual treason against His Holy Majesty, the LORD God) but must judge sin because of His intrinsically Holy Nature.

God cannot merely overlook, or excuse sin; 
God is a Judge of the Holiest integrity and will insist that Justice is carried out (Look through the Psalms and you'll find ample references to God as a Judge: so for all of you New Agers and members of what's known today as "the New Spirituality", sorry but God IS a Judge!) And He's read the evidence against us in light of His Ten Commandments and arrived at a verdict which He has pronounced over all humanity: GUILTY as charged!

Yet God is unwilling that ANY should perish:

2 PET 3:9
The Lord is . . . longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


God is a Judge, but He is also a God of compassion and longs to have a relationship with all of us sinners as a loving Father to His beloved children. How did God rectify this seeming dichotomy?

The CROSS! The Cross of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (JOHN 1:29)!

At the Cross of Jesus, where the LAMB of God took upon Himself our own sins, from the first man (Adam) to those last souls (whoever they may be) that will enter this world before the LORD's Return, all and every individual sin ever committed by the rebellious sea of humanity, crushed Him in their infernal waves of iniquity. Above this inconceivable wash of misery, He also took upon Himself the full brunt of God's fury against this sum total of sin!

The physical agony of the cross, as excruciating as that was (beyond imagining) I believe, utterly pales before the greater spiritual agony that our LORD endured while hanging between the heaven and the earth, in those six hours in which He stepped into a pocket of eternity and endured this Passion. A Passion of such depth, breadth and height as to go far beyond the greatest of human mind's grasp of understanding.


All of this was done on our behalf. All done by His Supreme, Undying love for you. For me (and I find myself tearing up once again, as I think on how our beloved, gentle, tender-hearted LORD meekly accepted this horrendous mission without a moments hesitation - until that fateful moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, but in that moment of Truth, He marched from there and laid down His life - of His own accord!).

The LORD Jesus said that there would be (relatively) few who would be saved; that the vast majority of humanity would go down that broad way, rather than the narrow way that leads to life, and down into destruction (MATT.7:13).

Yet on those who received the salvation of the LORD Jesus Christ, as a result of confessing and repenting of their sins, and committing their lives to Him in new life (forsaking the old life and its sinful tendencies out of a Divinely-infused love for our LORD), consider the preciousness of these in the eyes of the Father, who spent the very blood of His own dearly beloved and only begotten Son, the LORD Jesus! How incredible is His LOVE for us; doubly precious for, one: the price that was paid; and two: the few of us that have accepted the LORDSHIP of JESUS by receiving Him as our KING, and thus granted authoritative passage into His Kingdom!

JOHN 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power
(authority, right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:


JOHN 10:9-10
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.


Now that we've become the children of God, via the new birth through Jesus Christ and the atoning blood shed for our sins, we have a kingdom in which we have a role or calling to fulfill. There isn't a saint anywhere in this kingdom that is exempt from at least ONE calling that I know of! That is the call to holiness.

1 PET 1:16
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.


(This is written throughout the book of Leviticus)

The LORD's love for us isn't limited to merely saving us from sin, death and hell (though that would be enough in our minds!), but He loves us so, that He longs to see us clothed in His holiness which is so potent that it manifests itself plainly in our every day lives - - or so it should.

I recall an old expression: "Christians aren't sinless, but they should sin less!" (and less and less as we mature in Christ).

MATT 18:23-27 

Now that parable goes on to say that the servant who was forgiven that debt refused to forgive the debts that others owed him. Its a parable to illustrate how that since God has forgiven us our debts, how much more so are we to forgive others.

I want to divert from that aspect and use the former part in a different illustration. Suppose that servant, now totally forgiven the debt, was also sickly, dressed in rags, lived in a hovel of a shack, and while now debt-less, hasn't a penny in his pocket. What would a compassionate and generous lord do for such a one?

We know what our JESUS would do, and what He does all the time!
He enriches our lives not with mere gifts delivered FROM His hand, but with the supreme enrichment of HIMSELF, His glorious nature of holiness, love, grace, peace, joy, patience, mercy, and on and on.

He so blesses us with the rich robes of righteousness and all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies (EPH 1:3) that if we were to fathom the quality of them all, we would be overwhelmed by them! Yet do we accept these treasures?
Do we put on such robes, do we receive these blessings for daily use?

Or are we content, now that we have salvation as our "get out of hell free" card, to go our merry way and be like the world, live like the world, and for all appearance look no different at all than the world?!

It is true that we have an qualified position in Christ regarding our righteousness, that is, our positional righteousness. Its been said before, that the Father sees us through 'Jesus-colored glasses', so that its Him and His perfection that the Father sees, and not myself.

However there is also the practical form of righteousness that is manifested to one degree or another in the lives of Christians. This is where we are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (PHIL 2:12)"
and that deals with sanctification (To learn more about this, may I suggest you read the following article(s) -

The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation – Phase II The Sanctifier is the Saint's Fire )

In this fallen world of sin, full of wickedness, depravity, injustice, and all that the absence of God's Spirit represents, there is one flesh and blood source found on this planet of grace and love, peace, mercy and truth - that is the true church of the LORD Jesus Christ, Who Himself indwells them!

To the degree that each saint lives a sanctified, consecrated life, to that same degree is JESUS manifested to this world, and in one peculiar sense the kingdom of God is revealed. I'm not at all suggesting that this is all that the Kingdom of God entails, for one blessed Day, the King Himself shall return and set up His Messianic Kingdom just as the LORD God promised to King David (2 SAM 7). Nor am I suggesting that Jesus is limited in His revelation of grace and peace and love only to the church! He reveals Himself directly to individuals in such a manner all the time! He did to me nearly 30 years ago! What I am saying is that you can 'be' Jesus to this world by allowing His Spirit to reign through your consecrated life!

Yet how is this practical sanctification to take place? Once again - -
The CROSS!

ROM 6:6,11-14
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Saint of God, there is a war going on right now, a battle for your mind: on the one side you have Satan and your sinful nature, desiring to lure you into fleshly desires and lusts that will lead to sin, and from sin to death (destruction of various means and methods); on the other side is the LORD Jesus and your Divinely born nature (when you received the Spirit of Christ into your heart) that will lead you into holiness and abundant life.

Which kingdom will you serve? The kingdom of darkness or the Kingdom of Light? Which nature will you manifest, and who will you honor by your conduct - the LORD God who purchased you with His blood, or Satan your old master and the god of this world?

As Christians we are more or less aware of our weaknesses, and where we are prone to sin; so does Satan.

The next time you are tempted by any sin, do this:

Lay hold of that thought, or circumstances and in your heart, drag that tempting thought or situation to the Cross, there to get nailed down on the blood drenched wood. It may cry and scream with rage, it may whimper and whine and try to offer a truce or a compromise, but be determined to do this. Show no mercy, nor a moment's hesitation. With hammer and nail impale that hellish temptation to the Cross of Jesus and believe that as you do so, that this is truly dead to you, and you to it. That when Jesus died, so did you; thus in a very real, spiritual sense, believe by faith that that sin has no more power of temptation over you than it would a corpse in a casket.

That's whats known as the mortification of the flesh.

ROM 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

COL 3:5
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Now for the vivification of your spirit by the Spirit of God that indwells you; just as you nailed that thought in your mind to the Cross, now fill your mind with the power of the Spirit by the Word of God and prayer!

In prayer, surrender your mind, your thoughts, your body to Jesus and ask Him to flood you throughout your being with His Power and Might. Ask Him to reign in place of that thought, and take up His rightful residency as the LORD of your life, in that area of weakness. By doing this, you are being incrementally transformed by the RENEWING of your mind!

ROM 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(See also PHIL 2:5-16)


After having done this, Satan will not allow you to go unchallenged! He will attempt to reassert himself, and put the pressure on, step up his lure and temptations. He will take it up a notch.
So must you! Diligently, consistently, faithfully take each thought captive -

2 COR 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Consider it to be dead to you, and you to it. Your old life is OVER! Its been crucified with Christ (GAL 2:20), and you belong to NEW Ownership! You have a NEW heart, and are working on re-NEWing your mind by God's empowering grace! You have a NEW Lord and a NEW destiny!

There isn't a Christian on this planet that is practically speaking perfect; positionally we are perfect in Christ for His atoning work is complete, and we are assured of heaven because of this! However we will fail and fall into sin; we will fail to take every thought captive, we will fail the reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin. Christ Jesus has forgiven us all sin and trespasses by His shed blood. Don't allow yourself to wallow in condemnation! When you do fall, confess it, repent, get washed in the blood of the LAMB and get right back in the FIGHT!

Your LORD's Honor is at stake!

Not only that, but as you live a victorious life over sin, you will be manifesting the kingdom of God to others, both saints and sinners alike: trust me, you WILL get noticed! People are going to want what YOU have!

Not only that, but as you live a surrendered, crucified life, mortifying the flesh with all the suffering and struggle that that entails, you will have rich reward for obedience (and obedience is NOT legalistic!!) on that day when you see the LORD face to Face! He will ask you, with His own scars in full view, what you have accomplished in His Kingdom as the servant of the KING of Kings!

Then He will examine your life with His eyes of Holy Fire, and test your works, and see if they were done in the Spirit, in love for the LORD who has demonstrated repeatedly His Supreme Love for us, in unflinching obedience to His Divine will and founded with Christ as the Foundation. If such works survive the fire, these will be rewarded or if they are burned up there will be a lack of reward, yet the saint will still retain their salvation - sadly, just no rewards (See - 1 COR 3:11-16).

I know the hearts of my brothers and sisters who truly love the LORD Jesus, and how they yearn to hear on that Day: "Well done good and faithful servant"! I want to hear that too, and such a commendation is within our grasp, but are we willing to live our life at the Cross of Christ?When any visible appearance of sinful thoughts and tendencies arise, are we willing to nail it there and allow it to die, so that Christ may live more fully in us?

JESUS died so that we may live eternally in HIM! Let us now die to ourselves so that He may be eternally honored and glorified by living His omnipotent LIFE in and through us, to reach this dying world with the Life Giving power of the GOSPEL!
G
.ods O.mnipotent S.alvation P.roclaming E.ternal L.ife


May the LORD Jesus bless us all as He leads us into Life eternal by way of the Cross, through His Kingdom and to the Crowns which we will cast as HIS feet and declare "Worthy are You, LORD to receive all glory and honor and power . . . "

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