The Old Rugged Cross #4

Monday, April 11, 2016

“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” (Galatians 6:14 KJV).

The chorus of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.”

Fellow saints, considering where we were—dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1)—and where we are now—dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11), we have every reason to cherish (value) the “old rugged cross.” Once dead in sin, we are now dead to sin; sin is not who we are anymore. We are a “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our translation from Satan’s domain into God’s kingdom was accomplished by Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary (cf. today’s Scripture).

Our new identity in Christ now qualifies us to participate in the greatest plan in the universe. We already started when we trusted Christ as our personal Saviour and it will span the endless ages of the future. But, until our Dispensation of Grace closes, the Body of Christ must remain on Earth. When it is time for God to return to Israel’s program, we (corporately) will be relocated to the Heavenly Places. We see a glimpse of this in the closing verses of Philippians chapter 3: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

All of our “glory” (boasting, value) is in Christ and what He did, not in our measly “good works.” There is still so much more He must do in and through us on Earth before we get to Philippians 3:21, but Him working in and through us in the Heavenly Places (cf. Colossians 1:16-20) will also be made possible through the “old rugged cross!” 🙂

The Old Rugged Cross #3

Sunday, April 10, 2016

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19 KJV).

The third and final verse of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.

“In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.”

“For he [God the Father] hath made him [His Son, Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (verse 21). The wood of Calvary’s cross was ordinary wood, but it was stained with extraordinary blood. It was the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4 KJV). Peter wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just [righteous] for the unjust [unrighteous], that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). “…[T]he Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28 KJV). Modern versions omit the correlation here, but our King James Bible says God’s own blood was shed at Calvary!

How could God have blood? Why, God became a Man, and as a Man, He had blood (Hebrews 2:8-18). Because it was God’s blood, it was sinless, divine, able to cover the sins. Had it been regular human blood, it would have been linked to Adam. Jesus was much more than a “good man;” He was the visible manifestation of the invisible God (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). Had He been anything less than fully God and fully man, He could not mediate between both parties!

Many people in history have died for their religion. But, Jesus Christ did not die as a “martyr.” He gave up His life, to “pardon and sanctify” those who would accept His payment for their sins. That blood was shed to impart spiritual life to those who would believe in it. It was shed to set apart a group of people whom Father God would use through the ages of eternity future to glorify His Son, the Person who died on the “old rugged cross.” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What swallowed Jonah—a fish or a whale?

The Old Rugged Cross #2

Saturday, April 9, 2016

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV).

The second verse of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.

“Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.”

Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary means nothing to most. The religious crowd believes they can “be nice” and “do good” and score points to “make God happy with them” as much as He was happy with Christ on Calvary. Salvation by grace through faith without works, us relying on Someone else to get us to Heaven, Someone who lived 2,000 years ago, and us not making an effort to “do right,” my, they think it absurdity to the extreme. (If they think their “good deeds” will make up for all their sins, that is absurdity to the extreme!)

Intellectuals—willfully ignorant, of course—may (notice I said “may!”) acknowledge the historicity of Jesus but most would never dare discuss the merits of Calvary. It would make them appear “bigoted” and “intolerant” of the world’s religions that place no emphasis (or outright deny) Calvary’s efficaciousness. Rather than becoming the laughingstock of “scholarship,” they ask, “How can a dead Jew help me?” Indeed, we agree that a “dead Jew” can help no one. But, our “dead Jew” did not remain dead!

The message of Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, the hell-bound lost world considers it “foolishness” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). But, the flipside, we who are saved, we recognize that Gospel of the Grace of God is “the power of God.” The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the price of redemption, our rescuing from sin and Satan. Jesus Christ left the glories of Heaven, His worship and praise in Heaven, to come to this wretched world of worthless sinners, to be mistreated by them, mocked by them, and finally, murdered by them. Christ left Heaven, came to Earth, that we may one day leave Earth, and go to Heaven. Yes, Calvary “has a wondrous attraction for me!” 🙂

The Old Rugged Cross #1

Friday, April 8, 2016

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8 KJV).

The first verse of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.

“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame,
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.”

According to Scripture, Abraham offered his only begotten son Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis chapter 22). How Abraham “loved” Isaac (verse 2)—“love” first appears in our King James Bible! But, he was willing to part with him if it was God’s will. Some 2,000 years later, in the same general area, another Father gave up His beloved, only-begotten Son. How that Father loved that Son, more than human words could express, but His will had to be fulfilled, and so He was ready to part with Him!

While the God of the Bible is so maligned and railed against, it is as a brother in Christ said, “Our God is a good God.” He held nothing back to save us “lost sinners.” Indeed, as the hymn-writer wrote, Father God gave the “Dearest and Best.” Literally, everything that He valued, everything that He loved, it was in His Son, Jesus Christ. For Him to part with Him, we can never begin to fathom.

Jesus Christ appeared weak on the cross. Satan thought he had finally won! God’s Son was being tortured and slowly dying (“rugged cross” meaning “jagged, rough wood”). Calvary was a place of ever so much suffering that a special term was invented to describe the pain of crucifixion—“excruciating.” Christ Jesus was put to shame, but He “despising the shame,” endured the cross because He knew the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Certainly, we do not worship the wood of Calvary, but rather we worship the eternal Son of God offered on that wooden altar. It was there that God’s love toward us was manifested. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 🙂