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LESSON 1 –DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1 – THE DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS
In his second epistle the apostle John refers to “the doctrine of Christ,” and he says further “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11).
A few hours only after the crucifixion Cleopas said to Christ as he walked with Him on the road to Emmaus, but not knowing he was speaking to the risen Lord: “the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death and have crucified Him” (Luke 24:20). To this Christ replied ‘Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Verse 26). Then later the Lord said “Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations” (v.v. 46, 47).
The apostle Paul taught that the gospel of Christ is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; . . . He was buried and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Paul also pronounced a curse on any man who preaches any other gospel. He says “let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:9).
The central truth of “the doctrine of Christ” is that Christ was crucified. “According to the Scriptures,” the death He died was by crucifixion, and Paul pin-points the central truth of the gospel when he says to the Corinthians “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2).
There is a gospel today, however, which preaches Christ, and which preaches the death of Christ, but which in purpose and effect does not preach the CROSS of Christ — not Christ crucified.
There are those who blatantly preach this gospel which is not the gospel, and many religious organizations make use of the new methods which the new gospel employs.
The shame of it is that thousands of genuine well-meaning servants of God have been snared to become involved in the setting forth of this gospel. They really believe the true gospel, but they have become involved without realizing it, in the presentation of another gospel.
Let us illustrate the problem in relation to a certain coffee-bar undertaking and have regard also to the Modern Evangelism campaigns. Let us review and ponder the Doctrine of the Cross and consider the implication of this teaching in the light of what is going on around us that we may consider carefully what part we should take in relation thereto.
In a recent issue of a New Zealand youth magazine called “Today” there is the account of a new Church enterprise called “Drift Inn.” The back hall of a local Church is given up as a Sunday evening “coffee-bar” and they have what the magazine calls a Christian “pop song̓̓ thus:
Christ is the Lord
..................Of the coffee bar .
Christ is the Lord of all . . .
The article in “Today” states: “Every Sunday afternoon an amazing transformation takes place with scrim sacking, bamboo poles, pot plants, latticed string ceiling, dim lights and a wall-to-wall mural. A huge cart wheel is rolled up to the entrance, the platform studded with multi-coloured bulbs is put in place and the ordinary youth hail becomes ‘Drift Inn.
“About 8.30 Sunday evening the hall is filled with teenagers. Some in Sunday best have obviously just arrived from their evening services, others in leather jackets and boots, miniskirts or jeans, have obviously not. Outside, old bombs and motor bikes are parked all round. Inside, the singing starts, accompanied by two pianos, Hammond organ, three guitars, trumpet and drums. This part of the programmed is very similar to a camp sing-song and is certainly no more boisterous. Interspersed with the singing are items, testimonies, announcements and a prayer.”
Then after a short gospel address, an invitation is given and to quote from “Today” on the meeting reported, “Three girls wended their way through the dimly-lit, densely-packed hall to stand before the platform. Christ is the Lord of all.”
So says “Today”; but is Christ the Lord of all?
It is proper to call a magazine “Today” which approves and sponsors such a form of gospel preaching, for today this form of preaching is being fostered on every side, and it differs fundamentally from the Church’s preaching in every day of the Church’s history, other than today.
This is preaching which undertakes to show that the gospel does not take an unpopular position but that it is a chief competitor in the array of interesting and entertaining glamour fields of the times — only, of course, it is super, and must be a clear winner in the competition for the more discerning.
This is the “all things to all men” evangelical philosophy of coffee-bar gospels generally, of the Youth-for-Christ gospels, and in a good measure of the mass media gospels of the Modern Evangelism, of television gospels and a host of others today.
Paul did say he was a Jew to the Jews and that he became weak that he might gain the weak. But that does not mean he would be sinful to gain the sinners, or immoral to win the immoral, or a liar to win the liars, or a worldling to win the worldly. The Bible must be read with the understanding and a verse not taken out of its context and made the basis for a wrong course of action. A hundred Scriptures show that Paul did not intend this passage to be used as a basis for a gospel philosophy like the one in vogue today. On the contrary, this very passage concludes with the right and intended philosophy for gospel workers thus:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we are incorruptible. I therefore so run. Not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
That is, the over-riding consideration in gospel work should be to see that it is done in a way which will “obtain” the Lord’s approval and acceptance.
The Christian worker should also bear in mind James words: “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” and “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
What has happened is that in their enthusiasm and eagerness to obtain converts, the modern workers have been veiling the cross from view. They probably have not done this intentionally and no doubt most of these workers do not appreciate what they are doing. To obtain a presentation of the gospel which will appeal to the crowds, the cross must be veiled from view and in these works it is veiled from view for the cross always carries an offence and is unpopular. Wherever the cross is shown and revealed and preached it brings death to self, and it either makes the sinner riot against it, or it bows him down in conviction and penitence.
The new gospel presentation of today does not concern itself too much about sin or the sinner as such, but Christ is presented as a chum of the motor bike boys and mini skirt girls who only needs to be understood better, and He would be accepted as one of themselves. The emphasis is on the good enjoyment there is in Christian fellowship, the bright attractiveness of it all, leading up to the obvious implication — “so why not join up old chap?”
The story of Christ is told, and it is made clear that He died to save all, so all that is needed is “to accept Him.” Where some impression of conviction or concern for sin is seen, the preacher pacifies this quickly, or the “Counsellors” get a card signed and the conventions and socialites of the organisation and occasion ensure that conviction does not develop too deeply.
The human race is lifted up as respectable, and every person is shown to have inviolable “human rights,” including salvation. On deciding for Christ, Homo Sapiens loses nothing, but has new rights and pleasures without necessarily losing anything he has had before. He does not give up anything or die to anything, or change about from any previous course, but life just expands pleasantly with kindness and good friends and a new Church association.
The preaching that achieves this result is the wisdom of man which obtains converts by pandering to current moods and to modern tastes and flavours.
The old cross, the true cross, however, slays the sinner. The real cross is too grim for a coffee-bar setting. The decision cards are not needed at the stark horror of the cross of Christ. The cross is death to self; it is ruthless, terrible, and ugly. The cross is God’s estimate of the depravity of the human race. The cross is death---- blood judgment of sin — and this in the person of the Holy One of God who suffered for the sinner and His death is only of value to the sinner as lie realizes that Christ died for him because of his sin and sinfulness, and he can only receive the blessing of the cross if he leaves the old life there and turns and moves with Christ in newness of life on a completely different course, forsaking all else. This is the Bible doctrine of the cross. Let us consider it in its various aspects.
It is perfectly true that Modern Evangelism’s gospel, and “Drift Inn” gospel, and modern “Youth for Christ” and other such “coffee-bar” gospels attract the crowds and “appeal” to the people of the world.
But where the gospel of the cross is preached, this is foolishness to the world. “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 Cor. 1: 18). Then Paul says “But we preach Christ crucified unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (v.v. 23, 24).
The world and the crowds will listen to anyone who will tell them that God loved them so much that His Son died for them. It panders to human pride and to the grace of life, that Deity should die for man, and in as far as this is the gospel, it is acceptable in every coffee-bar and at every mass rally.
But Paul’s gospel was that Christ’s death was a death by crucifixion bearing sin at the place of judgment for all sin and unholiness and uncleanness; for all wickedness, doctrinal and moral;
revealing man’s loathsomeness and vileness; offering grace for repentance. It does not pander to pride but it pricks the bubble of man’s importance. It reveals the depravity of man, and God’s abhorrence of sin. The preaching of the cross brings cleansing for those who will turn from that which brought Christ to the cross. But if there is no turning, then the cross achieves nothing and appears as foolishness to those who will not receive it.
The cross is that which makes Isaiah’s cry effectual “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” (Isa. 55:7).
Now let us see what the cross does, and in what way it divides between God and man, between preachers who preach Christ crucified and those who do not, and between right and wrong; good and bad; sweet and bitter; saved and unsaved; saint and apostate.
TEST – LESSON 1- DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS
Mark an X for your answers to True or False
1. The cross should be the centre of the gospel T__ F___.
2. We ought to make the gospel popular T___F .
3. The cross means death to our self life T__ F___
4. Signing a car is an easy way to be saved T__ F___
5. The modern gospel does not speak of sin too much T___F ___.
Please fill in the blanks with CAPITAL LETTERS
6. ______not Christ to ______these______.
7. ________is a ______-to the world is the ______of God.
8. ____the ______forsake ______ _______.
9. The ________of the ______ is to _______that perish_______.
10. The _____ is God’s ______of the ________ of man
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