The Word Of The Cross
By Al Whittinghill
The Word of God clearly tells us that "before the foundation of the world" it was in the heart of God that Jesus Christ would come into the yet uncreated world and reveal Himself as "the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world." He would give Himself in sacrificial love for the purchasing of precious souls who would become His very own children. In the words of the hymn writer " 'Tis mystery all, the Immortal dies, who can explain His strange design." Oh, the glory and the majesty of God’s great eternal purpose, that the cross was in the heart of God before sin was ever in the heart of man!
Then, when time began at the creation in Genesis and going right on through the last book of Malachi, the Word of God sets forth in crystal clear revelation that God would give Himself, coming to earth as a spotless Lamb to die for the sins of the world. The glorious cross! All that is written in what we call the Old Testament foretold His coming in immaculate detail. No one can refute this! Everything in the Old Testament pointed to His coming to "give His Life a ransom for many." All the offerings, all the feasts, all the ceremonies...everything pointed to the Coming One who would be called "Jesus." He would save His own from sin! The Bible says that "all the prophets spoke of Him and foretold of His coming to suffer." Jesus Himself made this clear in Luke 24 as He opened the Scriptures to His disciples; He told them, and us, that the Old Testament was written all about HIM! There was no reason except unbelief that He was not recognized and worshiped as the prophesied and promised Redeemer who was foretold from the beginning.
When Jesus died on the cross for the glory of His Father and the salvation of men it was the central event in time and eternity. At the cross God revealed Himself and His character. Sin was dealt with completely. Eternal Holiness was satisfied. Love was revealed. The devil was utterly defeated. Salvation was secured for those who believe. That is why "the Word of the Cross" is the message that the New Testament sets before us as "the Gospel"...good news! It was the soul of the preaching of all who proclaimed the Gospel in the pages of Scripture. When Father God raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead it was His ratification that all that Jesus accomplished on the cross was complete, and a finished work. Forever it is settled in heaven! And now, at this very moment around the very throne of God, it is the Risen Lamb who is the object of the worship of the saints in Light. The most enlightened worshipers in the universe are singing in astonished awe and gratitude about "the Lamb that was slain" and the atonement that was accomplished on Calvary! And soon it will be the theme of our worship as well, as all the saints of all the ages are gathered around the throne of God to be forever with Him.
Before time, during time, and after time is over, it is the message of the Cross of Jesus Christ that transcends all. The Word of God makes it clear: the preaching that saves is "the Word of the Cross." It is the unfolding and expounding from the Scriptures the amazing Eternal Truth of who Jesus is and the glory of what He accomplished on Calvary that God has chosen to use to transform lives. We proclaim the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and lordship of the Eternal Son of God. The passion and purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ as clarified in Philippians 2:5-11 must be "set forth" in power by the anointed preaching of God’s Word.
The Word of the Cross believed and received sets us free from our old life of sin and opens the door for Holy God to enter into our very being and have wonderful fellowship with us. As we surrender to this glorious Truth we will experience His Life in true Revival. All of it is thanks to Calvary!
It seems very obvious to any alert soul that the world has entered into another major crisis time, perhaps the most potentially volatile time in the history of man on the planet! People are growing more alarmed at the obvious inability of man to answer the troubles of our perilous times. Our Lord Jesus told us "let not your hearts be troubled" (John 14:1). There is peace for those who truly know Him. We were born for this hour, and He wants to use us to impact this generation for His glory with the Word of God. It seems very likely that we have entered those days spoken of in the book of Hebrews when it says that God will shake everything that can be shaken, so that that which cannot be shaken will be made manifest. God is bringing the counsels and devices of men to nothing so that His kingdom will be seen as it is: immovable, unchanging, and eternal (Heb. 12:25-29).
Paul said it clearly in 1 Corinthians. "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1:20). "Christ sent me...to preach the Gospel: not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1:17). He went on to say "We preach Christ crucified" (1:23) and that the cross was his singular message. Paul preached "the Word of the Cross" faithfully and he could say "God forbid that I should place confidence in anything, except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." The cross was his confidence in all of his missionary efforts, and was his daily passion in his life. And he said he was a model for all believers who would come after him.
May each of us examine our hearts and ask our Lord to place within us an unshakable commitment to proclaiming and preaching "the Word of the Cross." It is a great privilege for us to be called by God to make known "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8) in this day of spiritual poverty and widespread uncertainty (1 Thes. 2:4). The days ahead will test us all, and we will learn much about our own hearts as well as God’s faithfulness to honor the preaching of the cross. Oh, what glorious days are just ahead of us as God’s plan for the kingdom of His Son unfolds before the eyes of an unbelieving world.
Many ministries, unfortunately, are moving away from their focus on the message of the cross. What a grievous thing this is! To tell men and women that God loves them and that He has "a wonderful plan for their life" is not really being honest if we fail to remind them also that they are hopelessly lost in sin and will remain so unless they come to the cross to deal with their sin, and then that they must give up their whole lives to the Lord. It is very troubling that North America is the only continent on the earth where the church is NOT growing. In fact seventy-five percent of American churches are in decline. Could the reason for the decline and disaster in the American churches be that we have neglected the preaching of Christ, and Him crucified, and placed our confidence in other ways of ministry that seem more effective to us? If the cross is discarded the message of the Church will be discredited. All we will be left with is a form of godliness without any real power to save and transform.
When Jesus said, "If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32), He was not just speaking of our lifting Him up in worship or speaking of Him in an honoring way. He was saying that the lifting up of the Son of God on the cross as a sacrifice for sin and the proclamation and "setting forth" of that message was what the Father would use to draw the hearts of men and women to God.
It is my prayer that those who read these few and simple lines will renew their commitment to making known "the Word of the Cross." May God have mercy on His beloved Church and prepare us for the awesome days that are just before us. The preaching of the cross is God’s key to "Revival in the church, evangelism through the church, and training for the church." This must become, and remain, the fervent and motivating passion of God’s people!
– Used by permission.