Author: Martin Holdt
This is a continuation of a series of sermons, transcribed, preached by Martin Holdt, “The Cross”. Read further, for part 2 of the message “Glorying in the cross of Jesus Christ”.
There is nowhere else where you will so see the love of God as in the cross. No wonder Paul finds glory in that. I want to drink deep of the fountain of God’s love. So I will make it a daily exercise to stop to pause and to think about that love. Incidently, please don’t think that you have got to get a necklace with a little superstitious cross or a bracelet. No. You ponder and you think about what happened there. God at work. His love and of course His mercy. Is there a God as forgiving as that? You know, it seems to me that this last generation of Christians has all but forgotten what forgiveness is all about. I am not talking about divine forgiveness, that too, yes, but interpersonal forgiveness. The way we harbour bitterness against fellow believers. Go back to God, go back to the cross. Look at the offences there, against the righteous, glorious God. What does the cross tell you? God is merciful, very merciful, o so merciful.
Romans chapter 3, verse 23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus that God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement, by His blood to be received by faith.” Mercy. What about His power? You might ask, power when He didn’t spare His Son but fairly gave Him up for us all? Couldn’t He have prevented that? Couldn’t He have provided another way? At less cost to Himself and to His Son? The answer is that was not His plan. The power of God displayed. I mean, from chapter 18, it is displayed in the garden. They come towards Jesus and before, He allows them to do it. He says “whom are you looking for?” Jesus of Nazareth. “I am”, He says as He makes that assertion. I am, which God the Lord made that I am.
You remembered what happened? They fell back and fell to the ground. God simply proving through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not at His beck and call. He has the first word and the last word. What Jesus had said, “no man takes this life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself”. That’s power, in the face of death, if ever you saw power. Who but God could endure such a contradiction of sinners and effect such a redemption? You know, it would be enough to make the mightiest angel buckle under the weight of the burden. But the Lord Jesus endured. God’s power at Calvary.
And what about His justice? Sin is not swept under the carpet. It is dealt with by God, by Christ, and dealt with so effectively that a sinner may be cleared of guilt and sin and may sing with joy.
Psalm 32 ought to be one of the theme songs of our lives, against the background of the mighty cross of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one whose transgressions is forgiven, whose sin has covered, blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, in whose spirit there is no deceit.
God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
Fifthly and finally, when understood, it is the solution to acute problems. So then what did Paul mean when he said that he would know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified? You know, the Cross deals with sin.
Let me just touch on a couple of things. I could, on a number. What about marriage relationships? I am thankful for the books I got on counselling, but one thing surprises me and that is there is not much on the cross. Take the great apostle Paul. He is talking about marriage. So what does he say to the husbands? You will not find the words there husband’s love you wives. Period. If that had been the case, brothers and sisters, we would have had so many more divorces. Haven’t pastors and ministers heard it? They come to you. “Am I expected to love a nag like that?” You’ve seen what I have seen. They come and they talk to you about their marriage problems. You know, I sometimes feel like I am sitting between two people with AK47’s firing at each other. But I go for the husband first. Sometimes I say, “tell me all the bad things that you want to tell me about your wife”. Then I say “can you tell me about some of the bad things about you”. If you can’t, then he is a wretched hypocrite.
Then I say to him, “listen carefully to me. I say to him, “husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it”. And when Christ gave Himself for you, if you are a believer, all your sins for which He gave Himself for, are as nothing compared to the things which cause you to complain about your wife. So stop it and go to the cross”. I have never known a marriage where the cross is understood by husband and wife and dwelt upon which is unhappy and I dare you to find me one if you can. You won’t. Does the cross feature in counselling? I mean, will a man who understands this, forsake his wife? When Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Just look at what He did. Think of the way He handled those disciples. Three years of it. For some of us they would have been a pain in the neck. He loved them to the end. Read 3 John chapter 13 and see how He loved them all the way. What about you?
What about church problems. There are far too many of them. One of the saddest things about the Evangelical church, forget about the liberal churches, it is a synagogue of Satan, as far as I am concerned, but the Evangelical Church today. Are the rifts and the divisions. What’s wrong?
A few years ago I flew to Canada to speak at a family conference and was met at the airport by Roger Fellows. On the way to the centre he told me about the sensitivities between some of the people there and a good and godly and faithful pastor. You put up with it, you’re a guest. From there I flew to Malaysia to speak at a Reformed minister’s conference. In a country which is predominantly Moslem (80%). Pastors cannot happily live together. You ask: “Where are such and such?” “No, they say, no. We don’t want anything to do with each other.” On my way back I have a five hour lay over in Singapore. I am contacted by Singapore pastors, good men, godly men. They take me to a restaurant, and I ask: “Where were you?” Well, we are not on speaking terms.” Is that the cross? Is that the life of the cross. Is it?
Philippians 2, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself nothing.”
As Kenneth Wurst, a Greek scholar has so aptly said, “T only One who had any rights waived them.” Isn’t it time we learnt to do that? And then it goes on to talk about the cross. Obedient to the death of the cross. How can you fail to be drawn to your fellow believer in the sight of such sacrifice and love? My brothers and sisters; we need to repent.
It has been such a joy for me to be in correspondence with a couple. Where there was hurt and I could say mutual hurt; but back and forth, back and forth, emails. We can do it so quickly. To say to them: we can’t live like this. The cross. Jesus. Let’s put it behind us. What a happy response, when the last letter I had, it was said, yes, let’s put it behind us.
I do want to say, in conclusion, my beloved brothers and sisters: I hope that I have just given you just a little bit of understanding of why we should glory in the cross. Glory in the cross because you learn more about God in the cross than in creation. It is beautiful what God has made. The heavens declare the glory of God. Ah, but the cross says it better. Creation speaks about God’s eternal wisdom and power. The cross does it much better. Glory in the cross because the only reason why you are at a conference like this is because Somebody took up your case, and suffered, bled and died that you might live now and live forever, and look forward to being with Christ, which is far better. Glory in the cross, because while you are sitting here there are millions in hell, weeping and gnashing their teeth, non stop. You deserve to be there too. But you are here and you are in Christ, because of the cross.
Dear, Isaac Watts, what a wonderful writer of hymns and just one verse from him: “Blood has a voice to pierce the skies, revenge the blood of Abel cries.
But the dear stream when Christ was slain speaks peace as loud from every vein. Isn’t that superb. Blessed be God, blessed be Christ. May God give all of us grace today, more than ever before, into the future, to glory in the cross. Every day. When Richard Baxter suggested to his congregation that they should spend half an hour a day thinking of eternity…no wonder his book The Saints Everlasting Vest… Yes do it. We don’t think enough of that, but beloved, you won’t get there if it isn’t for the cross. Then why not spend time every day, pausing in your daily activities, thinking, the cross and lifting up your heart and voice to Him who suffered, bled and died that you might belong to Him for time and for eternity. God bless you all today and every day.
I am going to ask you to do something and quietly in your heart commune with God as you respond to this truth. Father, open our eyes, we confess the sin of having neglected the cross far too frequently. We want to do better. Please help us and be glorified. Amen.