Scripture Texts: Galatians 6:14; I Corinthians 1:18; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:20;2:14
Today, I want to bring before you a subject which is repulsive to some people, but to those who are redeemed; to those who are "saved", or "born again"; it is a subject which has endeared itself to our hearts and souls. And of course, the subject to which I refer is the cross of Calvary, upon which God's only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered, bled, and died. Yes, and I'm sure that many true Christians, reading this message today, have been thrilled listening to that most beautiful hymn entitled, "The Old Rugged Cross".
It begins like this, "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I shall cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown." Ah yes, it thrills the heart of every blood-bought child of God just to hear this wonderful song. Why? Because it reminds us of the great price that was paid for our soul's redemption. It reminds us of the precious blood that flowed for our sins. Yes, it reminds us of the One Who loved us unto death, even the death of the cross.
In our first scripture text, Galatians 6:14, the Apostle Paul declares, "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." Here he is expressing a practical truth that is known experimentally by every "born again" individual. Yes, we know that we have nothing that would commend us to God, apart from our faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that we've all sinned and come short of the glory of God. And we know, as we're told in Titus 3:5, that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us."
Sinner friend, we who are saved are no better than anyone else, because if we were given what we deserve, we'd all be banished from the presence of a Holy God, forever. But thank God, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. No, we Christians can boast of nothing apart from the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Another song which we sing at the Lord's table goes like this, "When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died; my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the cross of Christ my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet; sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all."
Now in our second scripture text, I Corinthians 1:18, we're reminded, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." Then in verse 21, we're told that "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Yes, and how true that is!
I was saved on June 2, 1952, while serving as Chairman of the Engineering Graphics Division at Carnegie Institute of Technology, (now Carnegie-Mellon University), in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I immediately began to hold meetings on campus in my spare time, and God saved quite a number of the students who came to those meetings, or to my office, to hear the Gospel. Many of these students completed their education and have been serving the Lord in various locations throughout the U.S.A., and also in foreign lands.
On one occasion, as I was entering the Administration Building where my office was located, the students in one of the classrooms facing the outdoors, let out an audible roar. Later on that day, an unsaved Jewish student came to my office and told me what had happened. He said that the professor in their classroom saw me approaching the building, so he stopped teaching and pointed me out as that "foolish Professor Hawk who goes downtown with "born again" students to pass out Gospel papers, and to speak to the people passing by."
And friend, he was telling the truth. On occasion, I did take students down to the business district at lunch time to pass out tracts and to witness for their Lord. And what was the response of those passersby to whom we gave the printed matter and personal testimonies? With few exceptions, the people just smiled at us as though we were demented. Some assumed that we were "Jehovah Witnesses". And others, to whom we offered tracts, just pulled away from us as though we were lepers who were trying to brand their hands with a hot iron. Yes, "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness." But I thank God that we were "fools for Christ's sake!" Tell me friend, whose fool are you?
When I was much younger, and while working for NASA, I often preached the Gospel on the street corners of cities throughout the United States and abroad. I've preached just off Broadway in New York City; in Hyde Park, London, England; in St. George's Square in Glasgow, and Princess Street in Edinburgh, Scotland; in front of the City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland; at many seaside resorts from New Jersey to Florida; in prisons, and on many University campuses throughout the United States. Why would I be so "foolish"? Because, even though "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; BUT UNTO US WHICH ARE SAVED IT IS THE POWER OF GOD."
Friend, many of those people who heard me preaching concerning the crosswork of the Lord Jesus Christ, admittedly never heard the true Gospel before. And I'm happy to say that some of those who listened to the "preaching of the cross" in the open air, or in prisons, many years ago, have been saved, and they, in turn, have been "preaching the cross" to others. Personally, I don't see how anyone who has been saved, born again, and delivered from eternal wrath through faith in the sacrificial death of God's Son at Calvary's Cross, can keep their mouth shut when they have an opportunity to tell others about Him. Afterall, if someone hadn't told me what happened to God's Son at Calvary's Cross, I'd still be on my way to a deserving Hell, or perhaps already there. One of the main reasons why God lets the Christian live, after they have been saved, is so that we can tell others how they can be saved, too. Otherwise, God could have taken us home to Heaven the moment we accepted His Son as our Saviour and Lord.
Friend, it seems like the world today has time for just about anything and everything but "the preaching of the cross". Even the so-called "clergy" can spend valuable time standing in their pulpits expounding on such secular subjects as politics, economics, environment, education, entertainment, finances, terrorism, and various other social facets of our daily lives. They can also invite certain well-known individuals to take part in their programs, even though these same individuals are often living lives diametrically opposed to what these clergymen profess to advocate.
Yes, we're living in a day when the truth is either hidden, or compromised, for the sake of keeping harmony, or keeping church attendees who couldn't care less about "the preaching of the cross". Worldliness, and various other forms of secularism have taken over the center stage in many churches where, in years gone by, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and "the preaching of the cross", was the theme of practically every meeting. These days, some church attendees even dress as though they were going to some "rock and roll" concert. WHY? Because they are! And during the week they'll be back for "Bingo", "Dancing", or the "Card Party". What goes on in some churches these days must bring a stench to the nostrils of God! Well friend, I'm sure that you'll be shocked if you die unsaved and go to Hell, but the biggest shock will be to see your clergyman, or clergywoman, down there and suffering with you! Yes, and you'll remember me telling you, that you would remember!
I think of still another song with a message which we sometimes sing, "Have you any room for Jesus, He Who bore your load of sin, as He knocks and asks admission, sinner will you let Him in? Room for business, room for pleasure, but for Christ the crucified, not a place that He can enter, in the heart for which He died." Well sinner friend, you may consider the preaching of the cross to be foolish today, but if you die tonight, you'll realize then that the preaching of the cross WAS NOT foolishness, but it truly WAS the power of God for your soul's salvation, but it is TOO LATE NOW !
Now then, let's take a look at our third scripture text, Philippians 2:8. There we read concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and how "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Friend, I thank God for the fact that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in perfect harmony with the will of His Father, God. In John 6:38 He said, "I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." Yes, and on more than one occasion, God from Heaven declared, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased." Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ was the obedient Son of a loving Father. And even when the Lord Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, He was looking forward to the suffering on the cross. And what did He say to His Father, God? "not My will, but Thine, be done."
Many of you have read what the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:19, "For as by one man's disobedience(meaning Adam)many were made sinners, so by the OBEDIENCE of One(meaning the Lord Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous."
Sinner friend, the Lord Jesus Christ was so obedient, that when He stood before both Governor Pilate and King Herod, it is prophetically recorded of Him, in Isaiah 53:7, "He is brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." We also read the Lord's prophetic utterance in Isaiah 50:6, "I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting." Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." In Hebrews 12:2 we're told that He " endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." And it won't be long till He leaves that throne above to claim from the world, His own. He's coming again, perhaps today! If not today, perhaps tonight!
Friend, the Holy, spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made sin for us, so that you and I could be made the righteousness of God in Him. He was baring our sins in His own body on the cross. By His death at Calvary's cross, He was restoring the relationship which mankind once had before our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. And now, because of Calvary, and our faith in the shedding of His precious blood on the cross, there is a new and living way made possible into the very presence of God.
I would also hasten to remind you that this blood-bought salvation is the only way into God's Heaven. Many people have been led to believe that eternity in Heaven can be attained by so-called "good works", or religious rituals such as baptism, confirmation, or dedication, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, or even being a church "pastor". Others believe that if they try to keep the 10 Commandments, and try to live a life of high morals, obeying the "golden rule", or being a good neighbor and community-minded, surely this will assure them an eternity in Heaven. Friend, there isn't one verse in the Bible to substantiate such beliefs. Looking at it logically, as well as scripturally, if we could do anything to merit eternity in God's Heaven, then why did the Lord Jesus Christ suffer that ignominious and cursed death of the cross?
Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ, God's only Son, is also the ONLY SAVIOUR for all mankind. No, it's not Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, nor any other religious leader of the past or present, but it is Jesus Christ ALONE, Who can save the souls of mankind. Today, these other leaders are dead and dust, but the Lord Jesus Christ is alive and able to save to the uttermost, those that come unto God by Him. God's Son tells us in John 14:6, "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, BUT BY ME." Again He declares in John 10:9, "I am THE DOOR: BY ME if any man enter in, HE SHALL BE SAVED." Then we're told by the Apostle Peter in Acts 4:12, "NEITHER IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER: FOR THERE IS NONE OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED." That's good enough for me!
Friend, our soul's salvation is not dependent upon anything we can do, but rather upon what a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already done for us at Calvary's cross. He died, so that we might live. He took the place of distance, so that we might be reconciled and brought back to a new and proper relationship with our Creator, God. Yes, He was forsaken by God at Calvary's cross, so that we might not be forsaken by God.
Another song we sometimes sing, goes like this, "The Cross! The Cross! The wondrous Cross, twas there the Saviour died; I gaze upon that thorn-clad brow, that pierced and bleeding side! Then the chorus, "At the Cross! At the Cross! Where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day." Friend, the happiest people on earth today are not those who have vast amounts of wealth or property; but the happiest people are those who, though they may have little of this world's goods, nevertheless, they have God's salvation through their faith in the sacrificial death of God's Son at Calvary's Cross. The Lord reminds us in Mark 8:36,37, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Now in our fourth scripture text, Colossians 1:20, we're told about the work of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary's Cross as being one of reconciliation. We're told how He "made peace by the blood of His cross". Here again, we see the value and virtue attached to the blood which flowed from the body of God's Son, as He hung on that cross; yes, a cross made from a tree which He, Himself, had created. Unsaved friend, whether you realize it or not, you are at enmity with God, the One Who holds your every breath in His hands. And the only way that you can be reconciled to God, and have peace with Him, is for you to accept the truth relative to the precious blood which was shed by the Lord Jesus Christ at that cross. The Apostle Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesians 2:12,13, that even though at one time they were "without Christ,..without hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
In I John 1:7 we read, "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Yes, the only thing that can give us peace with God, and make us fit for Heaven, is the precious blood of His Son, which He shed at Calvary's Cross. And if we don't appreciate that fact, then the alternative is an eternity in the place that Jesus Christ called "Hell". In Romans 5:8,9, we're told how "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Then in verse 10 we read "when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son".
Several years ago, the governing board of one of our largest Protestant denominations, did something which has brought nothing but spiritual havoc, and a series of degenerative ecumenical compromises ever since. They decided to remove all references to "blood" from their church hymnals. They felt that it was too offensive to those whom they were seeking to proselyte as future members. Since then, that denomination has lost a large percentage of their membership, and it is getting smaller every day, and deservedly so.
The Apostle Paul reminds those who are saved, in Romans 5:1, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now friend, I must confess that I don't understand how God could love me so much that He would allow His Son to die that agonizing death on Calvary's Cross. But I'm glad that He did, because now I not only have "peace with God", but I also read in Philippians 4:7, that the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Friend, you can have that same peace today, if you will take God at His word, repent of your sins, and trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your own and personal Saviour. In Job 22:21 we read, "Acquaint NOW thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee."
In our final scripture, Colossians 2:14, we're told that when the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary's Cross, He was "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." The Apostle Paul is telling us that trying to keep the Ten Commandments and other ceremonial laws, have been done away with by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary's Cross. These ordinances were mere shadows of the Substance, the Person and work of God's Son on the cross. The Mosaic laws said, "Do this, or you'll die!" The grace of God says, "Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins at Calvary's Cross, and you'll live, FOREVER." What a contrast we have between law and grace.
Friend, I sure do thank God that salvation is not obtained by our trying to keep the Ten Commandments and other ceremonial laws, or ordinances. If it were, then none of us could be saved. We're told in John 1:17 that "the law was given by Moses, BUT grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Again we read in Hebrews 7:19, "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of another hope did; by the which we draw nigh to God." If we could be saved, or made righteous, by trying to keep the religious laws and ceremonies then, as we're told in Galatians 2:21, "Christ is dead in vain." We read in Galatians 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Friend, when the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary's Cross, He was nailing the charges of the law to His cross. Yes, He paid a debt He didn't owe, for those of us who owed a debt we couldn't pay.
In conclusion, I'd like to ask everyone reading this Gospel message today, a very important question. If today's date were to appear on your tombstone as the date of your death, where would your soul be, Heaven or Hell? Let's be honest now; you can fool me, and I can fool you, but we can't fool God! If you're really saved, you know when, where, and how it happened. You don't get saved in your sleep. You may forget the date, but you'll never forget the experience of passing from spiritual death unto spiritual life. It is the most important decisive experience in anyone's lifetime.
Well friend, you can be sure of being in Heaven for all eternity if you'll just acknowledge that you're a sinner, and we're all sinners; then be honest and admit that you can't do anything to save your own soul; repent of your sins; then, by faith alone, look to Calvary's Cross and see the Lord Jesus Christ dying for your sins. Yes, just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour, because if you do, according to God's word, which cannot lie, you'll be saved for time, and thank God, you'll be saved for all eternity. AND REMEMBER, MY FRIEND, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY !
Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk