Sunday, March 8, 2020

 Logos of the Cross:
                   WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
       By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D. 
    Saul of Tarsus, the Jewish enforcer met Jesus in a blinding light on the Damascus Road. He was on his way to kidnap believers in Jesus Christ from the synagogue in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem for chastisement or stoning!
     Lying in the dust and blinded by a great Light, he heard a voice calling, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” He answered, “Who art Thou Lord?”  The Lord said: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…” Immediately, Saul asked: “What wilt thou have me to do?”  
     The Plan of God was executed perfectly. The Church’s premier enemy at that time was Saul of Tarsus. Through Christ’s direct intervention, Saul was soundly converted and called to be the leading force to reach the Gentile world with the Gospel. 
     It became the model for believers to follow. If God could save an enemy like Saul, He can save anyone! If Jesus Christ in His great love and compassion desired a blasphemer and murderer to carry His name to a lost world, it proves the power of Redemption. And it reveals the amazing wisdom and grace of God!
   Saul became a trail blazer with a keen mind and amazing compassion for lost souls. He was a special gift that Jesus gave to the church.  With intense desire to undo some of the evil he had done and an undying love for Jesus Christ, he worked tirelessly to win souls for his Lord!
     He was taken up into Paradise where he, “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Cor. 12: 2-4). Here is the Mystery which God revealed to him for the church: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and dispensations, but now is made manifest to His saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the Hope of Glory.” (Colossians 1: 26,27)
                     GOD’S WAYS ARE GREATER!
    The Bible says: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher that the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
     “So shall My Word be that goeth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void. But it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing hereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55: 7,8,11)
    Saul of Tarsus heard the VOICE of Jesus. His blinded eyes were restored. He was converted, filled with the Holy Spirit and called to preach Christ's Gospel. He established Christ's Church in the Gentile world! He preached Christ crucified, buried and risen from the dead, for the rest of his life. He suffered more than anyone yet did not quit. St. Paul died as a Martyr for Christ after having seen God's power to save, heal and deliver multitudes. He is now in Heaven rejoicing with Christ!
      He wrote: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:10,14).
      The great Apostle declared in no uncertain terms his agenda. His real reason for living was to bring glory, honour and praise to Jesus Christ the only Saviour of the world, and to bring His love, mercy and grace to everyone!
   People have asked what my agenda is. The word 'agenda' means 'things to be done'. It can be categorized as a plan or list of matters to be acted upon.
   “My only agenda is to follow Jesus Christ and allow Him to lead me as He sees fit. And that I may be a blessing to all I am in contact with and to bring each loved one before the throne of God daily, in Jesus' precious and holy Name.”
     For 2,000 years, the Christian Church has presented the claims of Jesus Christ to save lost souls, heal the sick and liberate the suffering and wounded. Our ability to declare the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name to all who repent and confess Him as Lord and Saviour is based upon His shed blood, vicarious death and glorious resurrection!
                     THE LOGOS OF THE CROSS!
    In the book, The Cruciality of the CrossDr. Henry Mabie writes: “The Greek word used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18 is Logos...not preaching but “the subject matter of the preaching; with the very essence of that which was to be preached; with the Logos of the Cross, which constitutes a rationale, its Divine Reason which ...he declares to be the Wisdom of God.
    “This Logos of the Cross is conceived by Paul to be the key which unlocks the riddle of the universe, solves all mysteries and reconciles all things.” 
    It is a subject so magnanimous and so incomprehensible that mortal man can only stand in holy awe at its immensity, enormity and grandiose love, that we are left speechless! The blood of Jesus Christ which He freely gave for sinful, rebellious and guilty hell-bound sinners, purges our conscience from all guilt, delivers us from the power of sin and liberates us from Satan and his evil kingdom for time and eternity.
    As Dr. Henry Mabie states, “The Logos of the Cross is conceived by Paul to be the KEY which unlocks the riddle of the universe, solves all mysteries and reconciles all things.
   Jesus Christ created the universe – no riddle there. The One who hung on the cross made the universe. He understands everything about the universe because He keeps it functioning perfectly according to His Word!
   The Holy Bible declares: “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the world. Who being the brightness of His Person and upholding all things by the Word of His power when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.” (Hebrews 1: 2,3)
     He solved all Mysteries: He knows where we came from, being our Creator. He knows why we are here since He made us and placed us on the earth. He knows our ability to change the world through our faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of His Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
     He solved the mystery of who Satan is, why he sinned and was cast out of Heaven and what his eternal destiny will be! Christ's vicarious death on the cross and glorious resurrection has fully destroyed Satan's power over humanity. All who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour are made free from sin and its consequences.
     Jesus said: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
    “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved...In My name shall they cast out devils; They shall speak with new tongues... they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover.” (Mark 16: 15-20)
   He reconciles all things: By the cross, we are reconciled to God and one to another. His blood cleanses us from all sin and His blood purges our conscience. The pure and perfect Word of God and the Holy Spirit fills us with the Life of Jesus Christ.!
    The Bible says: “And He (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: 2; 4:10). The word propitiation means the satisfaction, the mercy seat, covering and the expiation. (Heb. 9:5; Rom.3:25)
    God was satisfied with the blood of His Son to atone for the sins of the entire world, past, present and future. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant we are able also to forgive one another! His shed blood reconciles us to Himself, and our lives are so changed that we are reconciled to one another!
     The Holy Scripture states: “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sins.” (Heb.2:22); "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11); “...and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all our sins.” (1 John 1: 7).
     As the Jewish High Priest carried the blood of the paschal lamb into the Holy of Holies and offered it before the holy altar and the mercy seat, when Jesus arose from the dead, He carried His own blood into the Holy of Holies in Heaven, where it abides eternally!
                 JESUS' PRECIOUS BLOOD!
   ANDREW MURRAY wrote: "Reconciliation and deliverance from Guilt become the blessed entrance for us into a life in which the Blood, as it was transported into Heaven and abides there will be truly the power of divine abiding life in us."The Blood of the Cross
   Dr. DEHANN wrote: “The blood of Jesus is sinless blood, and since it is incorruptible, for sin brings corruption and where no sin is, there is no corruption. Every drop of blood which flowed in Jesus’ body is still in existence, and is just as fresh as it was when it flowed from His broken skin in Gethsemane, the blood that was smeared about His back when the cruel weighted tongs cut through His flesh as the flagellator scourged Him, the blood that oozed out under the thorny crown and flowed from His hands, His head, His feet was never destroyed for it was  incorruptible blood.
    “David, in speaking of Him in the 16th Psalm, while Peter quotes in Acts 2, says, “Thou wilt not leave His soul in Hades, nether wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Although the body of the Lord Jesus lay in the tomb in death for three days and nights with no corruption in it for that body contained incorruptible blood.”
      MARTIN LUTHER stated: "First, the blood of Christ remains the same blood of Christ. For we believe and hold that the blood of Christ that is now at the Right Hand of God, was shed for us only ONCE."Church & Ministry, Luther's Works, vol. 40, p. 215
     ST. PAUL states: "But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchanging priesthood. Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
     "For such an High Priest became us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens: Who needeth not daily, as those high priests to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this He did ONCE, when He offered up Himself. 
      "For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity, but the word of the OATH, which was since the law, maketh the SON, Who is consecrated forevermore." (Heb.7:24-28)
St. Paul declared: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own Blood He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For Christ is not entered into the Holy Place made with hands but into Heaven itself, now appear in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9: 12,24)
    Professor Alfred Edersheim (converted Jew) wrote: “And still the 'Cry of the Synagogue' comes to us through these many centuries of past unbelief and ignorance: 'Let One innocent come and make Atonement for the guilty', to which no other response can be made then that of the Apostle: “Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the Heavens.” (Hebrews 7: 26)
     Year after year, the cry for an INNOCENT ONE to step forth and declare himself, had gone out with no credible response. From time immemorial the Jews had waited because all their rituals provided only temporary relief from their guilt and condemnation!
     The GUILT of sinfulness with no recourse or forgiveness lies heavy on human hearts. The Jewish prophets had promised that a Deliverer would bring peace to their hearts. Through Jesus, God's only begotten Son, the Lord would satisfy the righteous demands of Divine Justice. Jesus would offer Himself as God's Pascal Lamb to redeem us all.
    The Prophet wrote: “Surely He hath borne our sicknesses (makob) and carried our pains (nasa): 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 53: 4,5)
                    GOD'S SON WAS INCARNATED!
   This Righteous One had to be innocent, pure and sinless. Almighty God had promised to send such a Saviour to bring Redemption to mankind, because of Adam's high treason and rebellion against the Almighty! He would give His only begotten Son to suffer, bleed and die and be raised from the dead on the third day to Redeem the human race!
    The Word of God stated: “The soul that sinneth it shall die”. (Ezek.18: 4). Their regular offerings in the Temple, together with the yearly Day of Atonement did not suffice to produce a permanent solution. They kept waiting and continued to wait, and then one day it happened!
    John the Baptist stood forth with the crystal clear message of Hope and Freedom. Pointing to Jesus of Nazareth, he cried: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).
     When He did come, they rejected Him accusing him of sorcery and turned Him over to the Roman Authorities to be scourged and crucified publicly on Golgotha, outside Jerusalem's city walls!
                       ONLY IN CHRIST JESUS!
    By the grace of God alone we have received Eternal Life and become the children of God. And only through the vicarious death of Jesus Christ and His holy, pure and life-giving blood have we been redeemed from the world, the flesh and the devil.
    The Bible declares: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
    “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
    The Holy Bible states: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor.8: 9); “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15)
   In His great mercy and by His grace, “God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.” (1 Cor. 1:27). St. Paul wrote: “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1: 30)
                   ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED!
    Only by the grace of God have we been chosen to become partakers of Christ's nature, thereby making us children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. In His great mercy, kindness and love, “He has made us accepted in the Beloved”. (Eph. 1:6)
     Not only has He saved us from Satan's evil power and our carnal and sinful ways, but He has given us through the Lord Jesus Christ, His wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
     He has taken the foolish things of this world, like us, and made us His very own sons. His blood redeemed us from the curse of the law, when Jesus became a curse for us. (Gal. 3: 13). The underlying purpose was that no flesh should glory in is presence! Redeemed and sanctified, by His precious blood alone!
    “Why did Almighty God do all this for us? What was the purpose of Christ's incarnation, miraculous Ministry, His meritorious, vicarious death on the cross and His glorious resurrection from the Grave?”
    It was the out flowing of our Father's great mercy, love, grace and goodness toward lost humanity! His great heart of love planned and executed it all, before the worlds were created. He would have a Church, a people and family to love and cherish and to use as the expression of His mercy and grace!
     We cannot comprehend His greatness and the magnitude of His grace. It is beyond our human power to assimilate or even imagine. He wanted us. He called us. He forgave us! He saved us from our sins, our filthiness, pride and unrighteousness. He lifted us from the muck and mire to sit with His Son Jesus Christ at His Heavenly Throne.
    No wonder St. Paul says: “...that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor. 1:29). We have nothing to gloat about! It was all His plan, His work and His goodness that gave us all this!
    Where would I be? Where we would all be without His MERCY? Lost in our sins, bound by chains of lust, greed and pride; doomed forever in a lost eternity, filled with fear, agony, pain and torments!
    O' what a Saviour! O' what blessedness in Christ our Lord? To Him be all the honour, glory and praise forever and ever. World without end. Amen.
     Jesus said: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the VINE and ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.'' (John 15:4, 5)
     St. Paul wrote: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2: 8-10)
    I firmly believe that the reason the Saul of Tarsus was called by Jesus Christ on the Road to Damascus to be the founder of the Christian Church among the Gentiles, was his great humility and total love and commitment to our Saviour!
   He never deviated from the very trying and dangerous situations he found himself in, throughout his entire Ministry. He never waffled or wavered. He simply obeyed and believed that God was with him and in him and working through him, and it was so!
    Nobody ever suffered like he did as he preached and ministered the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the Jews and among the Gentiles; hungry, cold, imprisoned, beaten, scourged, stoned to death, and finally beheaded in Rome, giving his life freely for our Lord.
    The Bible records St. Paul's great faith in Jesus Christ: “And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart. For I am ready not only to be bound only, but also to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21: 12-14)
    When we read of the great devotion the Early Church had for Christ and His Gospel it shames us to see the anemic condition of His Church today. As we consider how near we are to the 'Coming of the Lord', we must stir and awaken the sleeping Church to become a soul winning Church!
    William Booth and his wife Catherine founded the Salvation Army in 1865. They chose as their slogan, ‘Blood and Fire’, referring to Jesus Christ’s Blood shed for the remission of sins and the Fire referring to the FIRE of the Holy Spirit.      
    He stated: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart. Anyone who has tended a fireplace knows that it needs to be stirred up occasionally.”
                                 WHEN THE SPIRIT CAME!
  In his book ‘When the Spirit Came’ (1928), Moravian Evangelist Rev. John Greenfield wrote: “Of the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem a certain writer has said: 
   ‘Before thirty years had elapsed from the death of Christ, His followers had spread from Palestine throughout Syria; throughout almost all the districts of Asia Minor; through Greece and the Islands of the Aegean sea, the coast of Africa, and even into Italy and Rome’
   “And at the close of the First Century JUSTIN MARTYR could truly testify: ‘There is not a nation either Greek or Barbarian or of any other name, even those who wander in tribes or live in tents, among whom prayers and thanksgivings are not offered to the Father and Creator of the Universe in the name of the Crucified Jesus.”
    What has happened to the Christian Church? Let us examine ourselves to see whether we are still in the Faith of Jesus! I have been jolted again by the Holy Spirit, telling me that it is not too late.     
     Pray with me that He will lead us to reach our nation for our Saviour while it is still time to do so! Write me with your thoughts about this very important subject! Amen.