The Cross is now an Embarrassment
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But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
The greatest mode of deception is to openly profess to believe something, and then so change its focus, direction, and essence as to render your belief as meaningless, and more insidious, as unbelief itself. You will notice that Rob Bell seems to be part of some theatrical troupe as he presents his view of what God did and is doing through the resurrection. All this nebulous and upbeat “God has not given up on the world” rhetoric is energizing to the flesh but void of any Biblical message. But let us zero in on something very obvious but mostly missed. There is, as usual, no cross.
The cross of Golgotha has become like an embarrassing wierd uncle who we admit is related to us but are very uncomfortable speaking about him. These new streams of Christian teachings including the differing branches of the emergent movement have one thing in common: They all have hidden the cross of Christ. One such believer told me that the resurrection was more important than the cross, as if they could be untethered and assessed separately.
But there is nothing so central and core to the Christian faith than the cross. It was there that redemption was purchased through the sufferings of the Incarnate Savior. Assuredly, it can never be fully explored and never fully exalted to the place of eternal prominence it so richly deserves. The most profound and expressive words from the pen of Charles Spurgeon fall pitifully short when it comes to completely glorifying that crimson tree of eternal life. Of course the resurrection substantiated and authenticated that cross and the identity of the One who adorned its Roman planks, but it was upon that hill of death where the Eternal Word suffered, bled, and died for the sins of the world. God’s heart was there exposed and His sacrifice was openly exhibited for the angels of heaven to wonder.
These new and modern movements are many and varied with all sorts of intellectual titillations that excite the flesh and create a false sense of spiritual elevation, but in the end they are nothing more than attacks on the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is a stumblingblock and a scandalon to the fallen mind. It does not meet the expectations of the modern, sophisticated taste. The ancient landmarks have been removed and the lure of post modern sirens are drawing millions away from that old, rugged tree.
This is not about methodology or even ecclesiology; this is about Christianity itself. The same words are used and the name of Jesus is sprinkled just enough as to be recognized, but this is not the Christian faith. These “messages” cannot save and without the cross all we have is a new start and turning over some new leaf exhorted by some esoteric words that connect with the carnal intellect. Men like Bell will continue to be more and more prolific, and their mystique will grow exponentially as spirituality increases at the expense of truth. The message of comprehensive redemption of the universe through the resurrection is one of the most insidious deceptions of this new age.
To downplay, and even discount, the necessity of personal redemption through faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is to preach another gospel and another Jesus. And make no mistake about it, the cross has become an embarrassment to the church both doctrinally, publicly, and as a lifestyle. And this teaching that exalts a new life while circumventing the cross is nothing but legalism and the works of the law.
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
The cross is God’s glory, and the church is making a mockery in the way we soft peddle it, minimize it, and even ignore it. How many would be invited on Larry King to discuss the cross of Jesus Christ? And yet all sorts of professing believers are invited to discuss all sorts of issues. And most of the time confusion and error reign in those forums.
We desire resurrection’s glory without Calvary’s suffering and shame. We are living in the last days and at the heart of these evil days is the rejection of the cross of Jesus Christ. Church signs are full of upcoming series about the family, finances, sex, politics, and all kinds of interesting topics. But if you see a church advertising a series on the cross I would suggest you wander in and listen expectedly.
Who would have suspected that the place where God gave His Son to the unspeakable torture of human redemption would one day fall out of vogue in the evangelical community? The cross has become an embarrassment to most of the western church, and most of the western church has become an embarrassment to God.