home > Pastor’s Desk > 2023 > April 28th > THE RESULTS OF CHRIST’S CROSS

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
¶ For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
First Corinthians 1:17-18

The cross of Christ is the greatest ever public display of God’s wisdom and power. The Greco-Roman world knew that the penalty of death on a cross was the ultimate humiliation. Rome made sure that any who defied it would be made an example of through crucifixion. For example, when the Romans put down the Spartan revolt of 71BC they wanted to send a chilling warning to anyone else who thought they could defy Rome. Six-thousand conquered Spartan soldiers were crucified on Roman crosses and displayed along the Appian Way (the main road leading into Rome).

It was the practice of the Romans that those condemned to die by crucifixion were stripped naked and forced to carry their patibulum (the heavy cross beam of the cross) which was put across their shoulders and tied to their wrists as they were publicly paraded and forcibly marched to where they would be nailed to the patibulum and fixed to the vertical post of the cross. Unlike the deaths of the two criminals and Christ on that original Good Friday, the death of those being crucified would result – not from the crucifixion itself – but from their long exposure to the elements and the attacks of wild birds of prey which pecked repeatedly at their flesh. GOD indeed chose this most humiliating means of punishment and execution to bring about the greatest and most glorious triumph in the history of the universe! The humiliating death of Christ became the means by which GOD in Christ would humiliate His enemies!

He [Christ] disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame,
by triumphing over them in him [by the cross].
Colossians 2:15

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God,
which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
First Corinthians 2:7-8

No wonder the apostle Paul told the Corinthians that the cross was folly to those who were perishing, but the power of God to those who were being saved.

 

THE JOURNEY TO THE CROSS

When the New Testament refers to “the cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17) it is also referring to His journey to the cross (known as His ‘passion’). This journey (Christ’s passion) began on earth with His incarnation in the womb of the virgin Mary. While the incarnation of the Word was the greatest miracle, His work on the cross was the greatest public miracle. It is also true that the death of Christ on the cross has now provided the means by which any repentant sinner can be forgiven of their sins and made right with God. But it is also true that the death of Christ on the cross means not just this, and, much more than this. This also involves understanding that not only does the New Testament use the expression the cross or the cross of Christ to include the events leading up to the cross, it also encompasses the events proceeding after the cross – including Christ’s resurrection, ascension and glorification.   

This journey to the Cross led to Jesus revealing the Father

Athanasius wrote, On The Incarnation of the Word, and asked the question about the point of Christ’s ministry and teaching at all – especially in light of God’s mission for Christ to die for the sins of the world. After all, why could Christ just be incarnated, and then die privately as the atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins? Athanasius answers his question by discussing the need for Christ to reveal the Father publicly (Jn. 14:9), fulfil His role as Israel’s promised Messiah (Jn. 1:41), fulfil the role of being the Second/Last Adam (1Cor. 15:45) by sinlessly exhibiting the perfect image of God (2Cor. 4:4), doing battle with the forces of darkness in the midst of their territory by sinless conquest without yielding to their temptations (Matt. 4:1-11), and establishing the Church (Matt. 16:18).  

The journey to the Cross leading to Him taking the sins of all mankind into the realm of the dead where He also “preached to those who were dead.

When Christ died, His body would have gone into rigor mortis very quickly (refer to the recent expert comments about this phenomena by Dr. Joseph Bergeron, M.D.). During the 3-day period of His physical death Christ went to the place of the dead and announced the gospel to the righteous dead who were awaiting their release from this Old Covenant holding place for the dead which would take place when the Old Covenant was finally done away with when the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 (note Heb. 8:13 written about AD 63 which states that the Old Covenant “was about to be done away with“). 

For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead,
that though judged in the flesh the way people are,
they might live in the spirit the way God does.
First Peter 4:6

Thus, in the Revelation 6:9-10 we can hear the martyrs from the Neronic persecution of AD 64-68 cry out (if I might paraphrase it) When will You avenge our martyrdom and how much longer will we have to remain here? Thus, even during the three days that Christ’s body was in the tomb, Christ was still working on our behalf. When He went into the realm of eternity He carried our sin, guilt, and shame there, which ensure that even the sins of mankind not yet committed would be atoned for! We can be sure that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross was sufficient to atone for all the sins of mankind and that there is no need for any human efforts to supplement what Christ has achieved for us! Rest now and forever in His saving grace!

The journey to the Cross resulted in His resurrection from the dead as the “firstfruits” which now enables the resurrection of all the redeemed.

When Christ had completed the atoning sacrifice of His life as the True Lamb of God, He rose from the dead by the same Power that enabled Him to originally be incarnated (Rom 1:4).

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:11

His resurrection from the dead is referred to as “the firstfruits” which means there are more resurrections to come!

¶ But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ.
First Corinthians 15:20, 23

Thus, the grave is not the end for anyone. All people will be resurrected – some to eternal life, and (for those who reject God’s Son) some to eternal condemnation.

¶ “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.
John 5:28-29 NET

Christ’s resurrection announced that He had conquered the forces of evil (who schemed to put Him to death) and had overcome sin and death (Rom. 6:9; 1Cor. 15:26, 54-55; Heb. 6:14).

The journey to the Cross resulted in the vanquishing of certain Principalities and Powers leading them captive into permanent captivity at Christ’s ascension.

The Jews had a belief that there had been three ‘falls’: Genesis 3, the first Man and the Woman who ate of the forbidden fruit; Genesis 6, certain Watcher angels who left their stations and sired the Nephilim (Gen. 6:4);  and, Genesis 11, when certain “sons of God” (powerful Heavenly beings also referred to as “Princes”, refer to Deut. 32:8) led some of mankind into a rebellion against God (and probably included further acts of immorality resulting in siring the more Nephilim and Rephaim) at the Tower of Babel. When the Lord intervened after the third “fall“ (Gen. 11:7-9) some of these more powerful rebellious heavenly creatures, according to Jewish tradition (note particularly the Book of First Enoch referred to in Jude 9), had some of their powers curtailed and were confined to the territory of Mount Herman (which is where Christ was transfigured in Matt. 17). The prophetic psalmist foretold of the day when the Lord would one day vanquish the evil spiritual princes who still used their manipulation powers to indirectly commit their evil schemes:

¶ O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for His abode,
yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them;
Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
Psalm 68:15-17

The apostle Paul would have known about this Jewish traditional understanding of the captivity of these principalities and powers to Mount Herman, and saw that the ascension of Christ resulted in their temporary captivity at Hermon being made a permanent captivity in Tartarus (2Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Thus Paul wrote that it was Christ at His ascension who fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 68 – 

Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high He led a host of captives,
and He gave gifts to men.”
Ephesians 4:8

At Christ’s ascension Jesus returned to His Father where His “blood” was accepted by the Father as the sufficient atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind (Heb. 9:12, 14). Because of this, every believer can now enter boldly into God the Father’s presence and present our requests to Him (Heb. 10:19).

The journey to the Cross led to the Holy Spirit being sent after Christ had returned to His Father to receive His glory enabling for the regeneration of all the redeemed.

When Christ ascended He returned to His Father and re-entered into His glory (Jn. 17:5). On the Isle of Patmos John the Apostle encountered not just the risen Jesus, but the risen glorified Jesus (Rev. 1:9-18). Jesus had told His disciples that during His earthly ministry the Holy Spirit had been with them but after He had returned to His Father the Spirit would be in them (Jn. 14:17). The day that the promised Holy Spirit was poured out revealed that each of Christ’s acts of redemption actually corresponded to the Jewish feasts described in Leviticus 23. It was on the Day of Pentecost (Lev. 23:9-14) that the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers “baptising” them with power to be Christ’s witnesses (Acts 2:1-4).

The journey to the Cross established Christ as the rightful Judge of all mankind – some to life and those who reject Him to condemnation.

As a result of Christ’s triumph on the cross, His Lordship was declared in heaven affirming that He will one day judge all mankind (Jn. 8:16). Christ’s, resurrection, ascension, and re-glorification has provided for all the redeemed our eternal salvation, our  regeneration by the Holy Spirit, our adoption by God the Father, our baptism with the Holy Spirit, our future resurrection with an imperishable body, our ultimate glorification with Christ, and, our participation in the divine nature and inviting us to rule and reign with Him as joint heirs of Christ (Rom. 8:17; 2Tim. 2:12). What glories await the believer! Our eternal destiny in the New Heaven/Earth will mean that we will forever be in union with God and partners with Him in building and administrating His eternal kingdom where there will be no possibility of sin or evil!

¶ His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Second Peter 1:3-4

These are all the result of the cross of Christ, that benefits us, the redeemed!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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PENTECOSTALISM, THE TWO SIDES OF REVIVAL

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 >June 21st > PENTECOSTALISM, THE SIDES OF REVIVAL Pentecostalism began with a move of God - a revival. This happened on a Jewish Festival called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). This was when the Holy Spirit was given and poured...

MY BIGGEST BURDENS

A burden is something that weighs on you. You could be burdened emotionally because a relationship that is weighing on you. You could be burdened psychologically because of the weight of a looming deadline. You could be burdened spiritually because of the weight of guilt you are carrying. You could be burdened physically because of your weight and depleted strength. We all carry burdens. There are seasons in our lives where some burdens a big and you do not feel that you will be able to bear up under the enormous pressure you are under. Those seasons will pass. For those in leadership there is the constant burden of the weight of responsibility that must be carried. (Have you ever noticed what this kind burden bearing does physically to a President or Prime Minister over their term in office?) In the Bible we read that GOD actually gives people burdens so that they become stronger, wealthier, happier, and more productive. These types of burdens always involve caring for others. (Have you ever considered why Jesus was sweating great drops of blood as He was praying just before He went to the Cross via His hours of humiliating pummelling, beating, scourging, hair-pulling, and mockery?) I want to share you with you why I am now carrying an enormous burden that I would consider that biggest burden I have ever had to carry. I do so in the hope that this might help you to bear your burdens with greatest expertise and joy. Yes, joy.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 22

The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.