Monday, October 12, 2009

Living Above the Line Sermon Series

Living Above the Line

Two Sides of the Cross Part One 1 Cor. 15:3

A very large majority of Christians only know about one side of the cross. Much of modern preaching is nothing more than a steady diet of Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins. Week after week preachers deliver this message and already saved Christians are perfectly happy hearing it again and again and again… The problem is that most audiences in churches on Sunday morning are already saved; their sins are already forgiven. And if and when another message is offered it is typically having to do with some external compliance or keeping some commandment.

Much of my life I heard these messages and thought that there has got to be more. This is not getting me any further along than I already am. It was like a rehearsal Sunday after Sunday, but never any performance. Lots of effort but no action, no growing, defiantly no growth spiritually.

Why? Why is there no growth? Because only one side of the cross is being preached; the local church is being feed a steady diet of only half of the cross. The church is being sustained on only one half of Gods daily requirement of nutrition. Now one side of the cross has a strong enough nutritional value to sustain life but that’s all. It sustains life but does not provide growth. And where there is no growth the body’s development becomes stunted. So what we have is a body with an Identity problem as we saw last week, but also a problem in its development.

Let me take you back two thousand years.You are in Jerusalem for vacation. It is Passover week and you can not believe you did not read up on the travel brochures and find out never to come during one of the local peoples religious festivals. But all the talk is see the Holy Land. You’re out shopping and you hear that there is to be a crucifixion that day. Two local thieves and some man accused of being a political extremist, an enemy of Caesar. ….Your disappointed in the place, the food is bad, the climate is hot, public transportation stinks, so you say to your wife lets go to the crucifixion and see what that’s all about. …That is what we see in the seen and temporary realm.

So you go out in the middle of the afternoon, and they nail the man in the middle to a cross and He dies.

Being Americans, nothing holds our attention for any length of time, so we immediately ask, What else is going on.

But then, a very strange thing happens. A voice within says, this was no political extremist. This is My Son. I AM God the Father. This is God the Son. And He died for your sins. If you will receive this, your sins will be forgiven.

We hear this and respond yes, I will receive that from Him. …

All of us who have believed, had faith in, who have trusted into Christ, have had this experience. It is not important that you know the date, or the time, but that you know it happened, so that you can say MY SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN! That is a revelation from the Holy Spirit. Nothing from the seen and temporary realm, below the line, tells you that your sins are forgiven. It is a truth from the unseen, eternal realm above the line.

This is the first side of the cross. Christ died for you. 1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins. And this message is spread throughout the New Testament. (Eph. 1:7-8, Col. 1:14, Col. 2:13, 1 John 2:2)

And it is a thrilling thing to have your sins forgiven. Just knowing that we are forgiven and now have a right standing with God is usually enough to carry even the weakest of Christian for at least a few months, as we marvel at God’s amazing grace toward us. And that is all most preachers preach, a steady diet of Christ died for your sin’s, a constant diet of Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me and Are Washed in the Blood fully trusting His Grace this hour. You know, week after week, are washed in the blood, are your garments clean, are they white as snow, and we scream yes, yes, yes, …hallelujah…

But very soon, and in some case very, very soon, we encounter a problem. Why, because there is only one lesson that the Holy Spirit can teach us from this event in Jerusalem of Christ dying for us: Your Sin’s Are Forgiven. That is the basic truth this event contains. But once we are forgiven, Jesus said its time to start living. … and so we ask, how in the world do I live this thing out. How on earth do I get my act together? How am I going to keep from sinning?

And we discover the truth that we are forgiven, does not tell us one thing about how to live the life. It only addresses the question, what do I do about my sins.” It has nothing to do with living the life. Forgiveness is the only inner revelation we have so far from the Holy Spirit. We do not have any revelation on how to live the life. So we take this one single revelation, that our sins are forgiven, and we try to stretch it out to somehow cover how to live the life.

And how do we do it? We go out and try to live the Christian life, but we just can not quite pull it off. Instead, we sin a little bit, or a lot, and then we get forgiven before we go to bed at night. Or we get forgiven on Sunday at church. Preachers take their congregation through this week after week after week.

They say, this is what we have done wrong; now let’s ask God to forgive us. Then let’s do out best to make it until next Sunday. The People say, Thank you preacher, you made me feel twice as bad as last week, and I’m twice as glad I’m forgiven this week, oops, now its 12:00 o’clock time to pass the potato salad, got to go.

And that’s the way it is for far too many, either at church, or in their individual lives. And there is no way out, because we do not have anything from the Lord yet on how to live the life. So we become preoccupied with whom? With ourselves and on our sin’s.

We still see ourselves externally, based on our performance. And this is like being on a roller caster, because our performance goes up and down and we never measure up. So we are very unhappy, but we smile, a fake smile, sometimes. We go to church and say IM fine when asked. We think IM actually miserable, but it is Sunday, I can not say IM miserable in here because everyone is so happy. I mean Happy happy. So we say where’s the coffee? I need more spirit. More caffeine please, turn up the music.

See, after you get over the thrill of being saved, you’re stuck on this treadmill. And It is worse than being lost. And by that, I don’t mean it is really worse than being lost, but I mean it feels worse than being lost. … Why, because when you were lost you were comfortable being lost. You do not have to do anything to be lost. Have you ever seen a book on how to be lost? Lost people are good at being lost. …It is easy to walk on two feet, it gets difficult when you have to drop to your knees and spend the day crawling. It is against our nature to crawl. We are comfortable being lost because it once was our nature.

And it is easier being lost than being saved and trying to live off of only “IM forgiven,” trying with all your might to be a good Christian. Because that is simply only one side of the cross; it is only half of the Gospel Jesus proclaimed. And it will give you only a partial, fragmented view of salvation. With only half the Gospel, we go back to the old way, into our independent self-effort, trying to make the rest of it happen on our own.

And we can not make it happen. But, there is a reason why, this is actually part of the way God programmed us. God programmed us so that if we try to make the Christian walk work on our own we will fail. He designed you in a way that that kind of living would bring you nothing but heartbreak, and despair and disappointment. He designed us that this kind of life would bring nothing but condemnation.

And so many simply preach or decide that this must be how the Christian life is supposed to be. That victorious living on this side of Heaven, below the line is impossible, that this is the Christian life, this side of eternity, and it is never more than a struggle in which you will suffer defeat after defeat after defeat. That is a far cry from what my Lord Jesus promised as “Abundant Life.”

So why the disparity? ….Because the first side of the cross only deals with the issue of sin’s. S-I-N-S. Plural. Jesus Christ died on the cross, our S-I-N-S are forgiven. God has wiped the slate clean of all the offenses we have or ever will commit against Him.

But, getting our sins forgiven does not deal with the question of sin. S-I-N. Singular. Sins are the product of something that the Bible says dwells within us-which is sin. (Rom 7:17)

Sin is a power, or a force, that is in rebellion against God and produces sins as its fruit. We inherited sin through Adam, from whom sin was passed to every subsequent generation (Rom 5:12). As long as sin dwells in the center of our being, it will produce sins. So most Christians are on this sort of treadmill: we sin, we get forgiven; we sin, we get forgiven. Over and over and over.

But, we read our Bible and think praise God, it says one day that sin will not dog us anymore, causing us to do what we don’t want to do. We read God’s promises of abundant life, and how we have victory over sin. But because we don’t experience that victory over sin, in the here and now, below the line, we conclude that some event is yet to take place before we can experience them. And that is exactly right.

That event is that WE MUST DIE. But we even have that all wrong.

See, we tell ourselves that once we physically die we are going to move into the unseen and eternal realm above the line. Then we are going to have everything that we have anticipated. So we push all of God’s promises off into the eternal future, and we say, Thank You God that this great big struggle will end when I die. When I die, IM going to join the unseen and eternal realm above the line, and everything is going to be great!

And there is a tremendous truth to this thinking. … I know, I lived that life; But there came a moment in my life when I realized that none of those words in the Bible applied to the future. Every single one of them applied to my life now. Remember the word I said best described the eternal, unseen realm, it was simply “Now.” 2 Cor. 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. Not will find their yes, not will be yes, but find, are yes, in Him. God did not intend me to relegate them to the divine realm. He meant for Greg to experience them now.

But we have one thing right. The only way to experience these promises is to die. When we die, we finally will be free from ourselves. That is an absolute truth. We all must die to enter into these unseen, eternal realities, above the line. So I say, you do have to die, but the issue is when you die? You know what God showed me, 27 years after I became a Christian, I had already died, and it was a whole lot earlier than I ever imagined. Here I was walking along waiting on something to happen that in the unseen, eternal realm above the line had already happened. I had already died. ….

Now let’s go back to our Holy Land trip 2000 years ago. Remember we were standing just outside of Jerusalem observing a crucifixion. There the Holy Spirit told us that the man in the center was God’s Son, and He died for the forgiveness of our sins. But now the illustration changes. Suddenly quite beyond our understanding we are transported off the ground and up into that body. The body of Jesus Christ Himself. And we are no longer observers of something He is doing for us. We are participating with Him in the event. We are being crucified with Him. And when He dies, we die with Him.m

Look at Romans 6 Romans 6:3-6 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him …

I used to read that passage all wrong. Being a Baptist, and not reading Greek back then, I came along the word baptize and all I saw was a pool of water. But the Greek word Baptizo does not mean what baptize means to us. We are victims of the fact that King James was a Catholic. Rather than translate into the proper English word immerse, the translators decided to keep their heads, I mean literally keep their heads, and just turned the Greek word into an English word. Baptizo became baptize. And whenever someone says baptize we think of water and a religious ceremony of some sort.

But we get a much more accurate meaning when we translate it directly into the corresponding English word. Do you not know that all of us who have been immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death? There is no water here, because Paul is saying that we were immersed into Christ. We went into Him. He swallowed us up.

All of us who have been immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death!

Why? Because He died. And whatever happened to Jesus on the cross happened to whomever was immersed in Him. We were all immersed into Him. We were in Him on that cross, experiencing what He experienced. So when He died, we died. When He was raised, we were raised with Him. And to emphasize the point, Paul said that we were “buried with Him.” And when we bury someone it can only mean one thing. At least it better. They are dead! The human life is over. Whatever they were is gone.

So there is a great big question confronting every one of us today. What died with Christ? It certainly does not seem like we died with Him. Here we are, still alive, still breathing, and alive. Jesus died 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. How could we have possibly died with Him.

The answer can be found in Romans 6:6 We know, or knowing this, that our old self, (the one we inherited from Adam, cut off from God but alive to the power of sin) was crucified with Him, Christ. …..Look at Ephes. 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

The source of that life had to die. You can not put an I Love Jesus Band-Aid over it. It had to die. It had to be cut off. Cut Loose. The root must be killed. You can not just scrape off the sin and cover it up. God had to cut the old man out of you at the root or he would continue to produce his sinful fruit. So God crucified you with Christ.

The old man is indwelt and enslaved by sin. But God crucified that old man and gave us a new spirit, created in righteousness and holiness, (Eph. 4:24). Hundreds of years before Christ, Ezekiel prophesized that God would perform this heart transplant under the New Covenant: Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you,

We were dead in trespasses and sins. But we are no longer. We were sons of disobedience. But we are no longer. We were expressing desires of our spiritual father, Satan. But he is our father no longer. We were children of wrath. But we are no longer.

How could we have been crucified with Christ 2000 years ago? Because we were not crucified physically, in the seen and temporary realm below the line, we were crucified in the sprit realm, the unseen, eternal realm above the line. In the realm in which time has no meaning; because everything is now!

This is why Jesus is the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. In the seen and temporary world below the line, He was slain 2000 years ago. In the unseen and eternal world above the line, He has always been the slain lamb. In the seen and temporary world, you and I live physically right now. In the unseen and eternal realm, you and I were crucified on the cross with Christ. Our old man, inherited from Adam, dead and separated from God, died wit

h Christ!

This is just one side of the cross. There are two sides. The first is the blood side. That is where Christ dies for us. He shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sin’s. The second side is the body side. We were united with Him on the cross, participants with Him in death, burred, and resurrected. Our old man was crucified with Him. Our new man, righteous and holy, was resurrected with Him.

On one side of the Cross is the Blood, Christ died for us, on the other side is the body; we died & were raised with Christ.

This should not be so unfamiliar to us. Every time we take communion we eat the bread, we drink the cup. The problem, most Christians do not have a clue what the bread represents. What representing the body really means.

It means that we were united with Him, and that when He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He was raised, we were raised. The heart of Paul’s theology is built on the Lord’s Supper; the blood and the body of Christ. Christ died for us; we died with Him.

We do not feel dead. We do not look dead. We do not act dead. But at some point the Holy Spirit pulls back the certain and shows us that in the deepest part of us, our spirit, which is who we truly are, a death has occurred that has forever changed us. We are going to look the same, feel the same, and think the same on many, many days. But…. we will know this, we are not the same. 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. If this has happened to you, you are ruined for the ordinary.

My friends in the unseen and eternal realm, above the line an exchange has taken place; I call it the great exchange, a change in our spirit that once we know it, produces a quality of life that is different from anything else the world has ever seen. It is light in darkness. It is God’s love in place of a world of self love. It is desirable above all else. And it is in us.

1 comment:

mi familia said...

He swallowed us up... Good word hermano.