It has fallen my lot to be in charge of my family reunions. I have conducted three of them now. Every five years we have one. And I do that because we have a lot of members of our family that originated in Indiana that do not attend church anymore. They have lost their hold on Jesus, and my cousin and I have been working to try to get them back. And you know, you have a burden for you family. I wrote my first book, 140 page book. I gave a copy to each person there, as a memento. Something to tie our family together. I think that Jesus gives us something, a symbol of our family. And I think that symbol is the cross.
I would like to speak to you about the cross. On our way up to the family reunion, we went up on. And up in Kentucky I saw one of the adult-only establishments. I hate those places. I have even prayed that God would burn them all up in one day. I guess he will someday, but I wish that day was today. Just burn them all up the same day. I hate those places. But I noticed this one in Kentucky, along the side of I-75. And I noticed something very different. Right beside that evil place was a cross made out of metal. Probably standing 75 feet high. Huge! And I thought, you know, that is the symbol of Jesus. Christians put that there, as close as they could get it, to remind people that you they'd better focus on Jesus in their life, and not on something else. And I admire the courage these Christians in doing that. I think that is wonderful. Trying to uplift Jesus. That is our goal here at McDonald Road, is to uplift Jesus in an evil and sinful world. That is our goal. And I uphold to you today Jesus Christ and His cross. Look at Hebrews 12 in your Bible, the second verse: Letus fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him. You know, we ought to behold Jesus. Consider Jesus. We ought to focus on Jesus. And if we did, the evils of this life might not be such an attraction. Jesus Christ.
It is impossible for us to find our way to heaven without Jesus and His cross. And what is His cross? The cross is sort of like the receipt, the payment for our sins. You know, when you get your car paid for, you actually get the title. The title comes to you. That green piece of paper. The title to your car. And when you get your house paid for, and you finally accomplish that, you get the deed. The very copy of the deed, it is yours. And you don't want to loose that. You put thatin a safe place, right? And that is what that cross is. It is the title, the symbol of our salvation. It is the symbol of what Jesus did, and what happened there on that cross is vital to our salvation. We could not be saved without the death of Jesus. And I think we need to come to the foot of the cross.
What does the cross mean? It means we have been rescued. Jesus rescued you. You have been delivered. Deliverance has been provided. You see, we are all doomed. We are all sinners under the sentence to death. Look over at Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. You see, we all deserve death because of our sins, but thanks be to God, Hehas given us eternal life. And eternal life is a gift. You can'y earn it. It was provided because Jesus did earn eternal life. He died the death that you don't want to die, that you may have the life that only He can provide for you.
A new teacher said to his new class, which was made up mainly of boys, a multi-grade class with some big and some small. He told the class,"We need some rules for our classroom. You are going to help me make them. We will write them on the blackboard." Well, one boy raised his hand and said, "There ought to be no stealing!" So he wrote the rule down. Several others suggested rules. Finally the teacher said, "What shall the punishment be? One of the older boys jumped up and shouted, "Ten good strokes across the back with no coat on." they all agreed.
About a week later one of the big boys'lunch was stolen. It was found that little 10 year old Jimmy was the thief. He was a poor boy whose frail body revealed a lack of proper food at home. He trembled at the thought of hard punishment. "Please don't take my coat off," he sobbed. But the rule must be followed. So he took off his coat. Then the truth was out. Jimmy had no shirt on under his coat. His poor mother was at home washing the only shirt he owned. His back was so thin, his ribs were sticking out.
The new teacher raised his hand to administer the beating. It was hard to do. But the rules must be followed. Just then the bigger boy jumped out of his seat, "Let me take Jimmy's beating for him. I know he was hungry but I don't mind if he ate my food." All the students agreed. The bigger boy took the beating. You know, that is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ took our beating. He died on the old rugged cross so that you can have eternal life. And He gave that to you. He exchanged places. He took the death that we deserved. And since we have all sinned, technically we are all scheduled to die. And the minimum wage in the vocation of sin is death. And each sinner must pay for his own death with his own life. But fortunately God has provided a mechanism for escape, whereby if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have an "older-boy" who is going to take the beating for you. And that is what it means. That is what Jesus did. The cross is the old rugged cross, like we sang about in our opening hymn. It is sort of like a tree. It is probably the only true Christmas tree that there can be, because underneath that tree is a gift for you. At the foot of the cross is the gift eternal life. But you have got to come. You have to accept it, apply it to your life.
So the first part of our sermon today is that you have to come to the cross. You need to come to the cross of Jesus. Each human has two choices: You can either pay for your own sins or you can let Jesus Christ pay for your sins. Which would you rather do? Have somebody else pay your bills? Of course you would! But how many people choose that? Actually, they don't. You can't deal with the devil. A sign on a tombstone read: "I've made many deals in my life, but I sure went into the hole with this one!"
Every birthday brings us one step closer to the edge of a deep and dark chasm called Eternal Death. And the only way out of the grave is through the cross of Jesus Christ. That salvation that was paid for by Jesus' blood. some folk hate the Cross. Some Christian churches will not have a cross in their church.
Look at Philippians 3:18-21. ...many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. That is what Jesus is willing to do. We don't want to be an enemy of the cross. If you are an enemy of the cross, you had better make friends with the cross.
Some will never come to the foot of the cross because they love the world too much. The things of the world are too attractive. So they leave the package of eternal life unopened, unclaimed at the foot of the cross. It has their name on it, yet they do not receive it, they do not claim it. The cross is our only hope. Jesus gave all that He had on the cross.
One day there was a Chinese farmer who lived up on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. One day he felt a heavy earthquake. He saw the water receded from the shore. He knew that a tidal wave would soon follow. He looked down at the village below. His neighbors were unaware of the danger and would soon be killed. He thought, "I have to do something right away." And so quickly, without even thinking, he lit his barns on fire. They were full of dry fodder. He rang the fire gong. His plan worked. His neighbors saw the flames and smoke and came running up the hill in great haste. The whole town came to help. There, from the safety of the hilltop, they watched the deadly tidal wave destroy everything below. They were saved. Years later, on the farmer's tombstone it was written: "He gave us all he had, and did it gladly."
What did Jesus do when He knew we were in jeopardy? Without a second thought, instantly, He chose to die to pay for our sins. He didn't give it a second thought. He did that for you, knowing your name 2,000 years in advance.
Brothers and sisters, when this world is on fire, won't you be glad that you chose Jesus? Could it be that the troubles we are having in this old world are wake-up calls? We need to be awake. The world is dying. The world is sliding down the slippery slope to destruction. Get off of that wide, broad way and get on the way that leads to eternal life.
Point number two is that we should not only come to the cross, but we need to die at the cross. When Jesus came to the cross what did He do? He died. That is just what we should do. Look at Romans 6:6,7. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Are you still having a problem with sin in your life? You see, if you are still having trouble with sin in your life, it is because you have not died. That is the problem. Have you ever seen a dead person that was having problems with overeating? Have you ever seen a dead man having trouble with drugs? Or a bad temper? Or swearing? No! Why not? Because he is dead. Have you ever seen a Christian that has died to self having problems with those things? No, because he has died to the old way. You will have problems with sin as long as you live. So just stop living to that. Die to that. Give your life to Jesus. Surrender your life to Him. You will have no trouble with drinking, or secret sins. Your eyes will be dead to sin and alert to good things, if you will come to the cross and slay the old man. That is what the Bible talks about. That is one of the keys to eternal life. And only then will you get victory.
Look at Galatians 6:14. I am going to read this from the New Living Translation, As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world's interest in me is also long dead. That is how you get the victory over sin. By dying to the old way. By coming to the cross and dying. The old ways stop when you put the old man to death. So we must come to the cross, die at the cross.
Jesus Christ died for sin. The Christian dies to sin. The unbeliever dies in sin. And you don't want to do that. Jesus paid dearly for our sins. He gave his whole life for our sins.
Something happened during the Vietnam War in 1967. Doug Dickey of Roseburg, Ohio was with five other American soldiers on the firing line when the enemy opened up with heavy fire. The six men dived for a large foxhole. Suddenly, someone yelled "Grenade!" There it lay on the ground in the middle of the men. There was not time to reach down and throw it out. Instantly, Doug leaped upon the grenade and covered it with his body. It exploded as he landed. The blast ended his life, but instead of six men dying, one died. He gave his life for the other five. That is what Christ did for you and for me on the cross. He gave one life for many. You see, you are one of those 'many.' He gave His life for you.
Sin is expensive. The debt has to be paid. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, God bought you with a high price. (NLT)
Point number three is receive life at the cross. There is a gift there for you.
Look at Galatians 2:20 NASB. I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. There is life at the cross. New life. Life for you. A life of victory waiting there for you at the cross!
People say that life really begins at 40. I will tell you when life really begins. Life really begins only after death. Die to the old ways and you will get new life. When self dies and Christ sits on the throne, that is when life begins. Because He lives we have life. And our new life comes as a complimentary gift of the cross. It is a gift certificate. You have got to go get it, sign it and use it.
Remember the Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan? The weary pilgrim carried a heavy burden of sin to the cross. There, it fell from his shoulders. There, he lost his burden of sins and found real life.
Point number four is to take up your cross and follow Him. Look at Mathew 16:24. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."
Take up that cross. What does that mean? It doesn't mean to carry a piece of wood around. It means we should continue the work Jesus, continue the same life that Jesus lived. Do the work of Jesus. Follow the example of Jesus.
Let me tell you a short story before we close. There was a band of pioneers, taking their covered wagons slowly across the endless prairie. One day they noticed on the western horizon a line of smoke as wide as the eye could see. Fear griped them as they saw the prairie fire advancing toward them. Soon the flames would burn them up. They were doomed. But their leader commanded them to set fire to the grass behind them. The wind drove the flames east. Now they were between two fires. The whole group then moved back upon the ground that they had just burned. There they stood. As the main fire advanced from the east a little girl cried out in terror, "We are all going to die. We are going to be burned up." But the leader said, "My child, the flames cannot reach us here for we are standing where the fire has already been."
The day of wrath is just over the horizon. It is coming. You can see the troubles coming. I don't know what is happening in the future, but we believe we are in the last days. Trouble is coming. The whole world will be on fire. We are sinners and deserve to be burned up. But thanks be to God, if you stand where death has already been, at the foot of the cross, you will be safe.
That is the only safe place. And I invite you to come to the foot of the cross. If you have never been baptized, I invite you to make the decision today.
Hymn of Praise: #159, The Old Rugged Cross Scripture: Philippians 3:18-21 Hymn of Response: #312, Near the Cross
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last updated 28/06/05 by Bob Beckett and Eric Koester.