Re: Preaching of the Cross was Central to Paul


#2 – The Cross Teaches us how much God loves us

Martin Luther called John 3:16, “a miniature Bible”. It is the central verse of the New Testament.
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
St. John, overwhelmed by God’s great love, exclaimed, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
What an enormous subject that brings up. We love Him because…There are so many reasons why we love God and St. John’s explanation is a good place to start. WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US! Then, we must ask ourselves: “Why does He love us? How does He show His love to us?”
God’s love is magnanimous, beneficent and all encompassing. It is an ocean divine reaching out in every directoon of His great universe, touching things that touch people – saving, healing, sustaining, providing and ever loving everyone unconditionally. Hallelujah!
The hymn writer, anointed by God, wrote:
“Oh love of God, so rich and pure
So measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the sky of parchment made
And every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write to love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
And could the scroll contain the whole
Would stretch from sky to sky!”
The premier reason for us to love God, is that He first reached down to us. The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
St. Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor that ye through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)
About 20 years ago while studying the dictionary, I came across the word ‘apodictic’ taken from the Greek ‘apodeiktikos’ which mean “EVIDENT BEYOND CONTRADICTIONS”. It also conveys the meaning: “incontestable because demonstrated and demonstrable; necessarily true or logically certain and proving fully.”
Immediately, I knew that that words belongs only to God, for who else can guarantee anything to be “evident beyond contradictions?
Certainly, man in his unregenerate state is unbelievable inconsistent, changeable and vulnerable to moral corruptions.
The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)
The power of God is apodictic – ‘evident beyond contradictions’. The wisdom of God, the peace of God, the joy and mercy of God is apodictic.
Who can deny that the Love of God is apodictic – evident beyond contradictions? Even the hardest sinner and cruelest skeptic and unbeliever cannot contradict God’s love, mercy, grace and compassion – CALVARY PROVES GOD’S LOVE.
Who else, but our Heavenly Father, would send His own Son to die upon a rugged cross – as a common criminal between two thieves – to rescue the world that had gone mad through unbelief, rebellion, fear and evil?
The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
St.Paul tells it like it really is! “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.” (Romans 8:32)
The world was hopelessly lost in sin, degradation and death through Adam’s transgression. Then, Almighty God acted out of love, compassion and mercy to save us. He sent His one and only Son down to this earth to be incarnated (God became flesh) so that He could shed His pure and perfect blood as a ransom or penalty for our sinfulness.
This is without doubt one of the greatest scriptures in teh entire Bible because it speaks of our Saviour. Who died willingly and gladly for our sins so that we could be saved.
The Bible says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher (perfecter) of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Heb. 12:3)
God gave His best when He offered up His own Son as a ransom price for a world which needed to be redeemed from the curse of the law and the world’s greatest terrorist, Satan himself. God the Father went all the way. He spared NOTHING – but rather gave all for us!~
He delivered up His OWN SON into the hands of murderers to be verbally abused, spit upon, blasphemed, mocked, physically assaulted and finally crucified as a common criminal in order to purchase our redemption.
The prophet declared that the face (visage) of the Messiah (Jesus) would be “marred more than any man, and his form (body) more than the sons of men.” (Isaiah 52:14)
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our grief (sickness), and carried our sorrows (pains); yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”
(Isaiah 5: 3-5)
The Bible says, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sins.” (Gal. 4:4)
An old adage says: “To sin is human but to forgive is divine!” It takes the grace of God to forgive those who have wronged you, even when they repent and ask for forgiveness.
As Jesus hung on the cross under the greatest spiritual pressure, taunted and mocked by His enemies, He cried out to His Father for mercy for those who had place Him there. His prayer was, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Now is the time for reconciliation. We must forgive one another – as Jesus Christ did – and love one another. There is no time to waste. Now is the accepted time. Now is the tiem to repent and turn back to God.
The Bible says, “And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”(2 Cor. 5:18-21)
What is so amazing is that God Himself initiated the plan of salvation, which included the death of His Son. St. Paul declared that Jesus of Nazareth was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God to be crucified. (Acts 2:23)
The prophet Isaiah stated that God, “..laid upon Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
“Surely He bath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)
Almighty God – in His great love for us – SMOTE HIS OWN SON and put Him to grief in order to save us. That blows one away. I can’t understand God’s great love for a world that rejected Him. How can anyone understand such love. It is indeed, “Past finding out.”
His grace, mercy and love is holy and divine and too wonderful for me to comprehend. Martin Luther stated that it will take all eternity for us to understand such things as… “grace and gospel..”
The Bible says, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His (Jesus Christ) soul an offering for sin…” (Isaiah 53:10)
The Romans didn’t kill Jesus. It wasn’t the Jews who put him to death. It was God Almighty – our Heavenly Father – who freely offered his own Son for the sins of the world. No one will ever be able to understand God’s love. All we have to do is accept His offer of mercy to us, and receive His pardon and forgiveness, and thankfulness.