Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Visual that Helped Me Understand the Power of the Cross

I'm a visual learner. If I see something and then am allowed to do it myself, that's the best way I grasp what's being taught. Recently, I've been challenged in this area because I'm discipling someone who's even more of a visual learner than I am. I can't remember the chapter we were studying in Romans exactly, but I'm pretty sure it was chapter 5 where Paul is explaining to the church in Rome that believers have access through faith into the peace and grace of God (5:1-2). In fact, Paul explains that we are standing in God's grace! He goes on to reiterate that we cannot out-sin grace, "where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more!" So if this is the case, should we continue to sin? Well, Paul addresses that in chapter 6 with a "By no means! How can we who died to sin still I've in it?" (6:1-2) This concept is so huge I was struggling to help her understand what sin does to a believers life. Recently this visual that I drew up quick for her has been stuck in my brain along with the beautiful song "The Power of the Cross", so I thought I'd share both with you, hoping it has the same effect on you as it did on me...

The Power of the Cross

Before the cross there was a great chasm between God and men because of sin. God is perfect, holy, and blameless and we are rotten sinners (read the first 3 chapters of Romans where Paul quotes Scripture describing us as sinful in the most grotesque way, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (bolded, underline mine) He goes on to compare our throats to open graves and our lips to venom of asps. This applies to everyone. You, your spouse, your children, your pastor... the entire human race. If you don't believe me go back to 3:11-18 where the terms "no one" or "all" or "none" or "not even one" are used over and over again.

Also, there is nothing you can do about that chasm. You cannot climb your way to the top because there is nothing you can do to ever reach God's state of perfection - because HE IS SINLESS and we are sinful. In Ephesians Paul describes our state as DEAD. "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." (2:1-3, bolded mine) That's a pretty rotten place to be - dead, children of wrath, following the sons of disobedience - the prince of the power of the air (aka Satan). Due to our passions of the flesh, we are separated from a holy, blameless and perfect God. I put "ME" (referring to all of us) underground, because, well, we're dead.

When Christ died on the cross, He did a miraculous thing. He took the chasm away! By our faith in Christ's life, death, resurrection, and promise of return according to the Scriptures we are now holy, blameless and righteous! Don't believe me? Read the next beautiful verses in Ephesians 2:4-10, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show his immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (bolded mine)

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) He knew each and every one of our sins - past, present and future and yet he died for us anyway. He died so that we could spend an eternity in heaven with a holy, blameless and righteous God. We cannot enter into His perfect presence without that same state of perfection, and Christ has given it to us. "... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Christ did all the work so that we could be on the same plane as God. We have been raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places! AND THIS IS NOT OF OUR OWN DOING! It is a gift of God! You cannot boast about how you came to God, because if you do, you take the glory away from what Christ accomplished on the cross. HE made you alive. HE did the work and because of that work you are now experiencing peace with God (read Romans 5:1 again). "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

That chasm no longer exists. You can not lose your salvation! Thank goodness, because being a believer does not mean you will no longer struggle with sin. I wake up and think horrible thoughts and I'm not having to go to my knees begging for salvation. Do I ask for forgiveness? Yes! Do I discontinue that sin? Absolutely. Do I dwell on it? NO! Remember Romans 5:8? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He has already forgiven us for that sin! Say I'm sorry, move on, and don't do it again.

So if sin does not change our salvation status, what does sin do to believers? Because this was a work of God, we CAN'T go back to our original dead state. "For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:10-11, bolded, underline mine) Christ died once and that death was sufficient for ALL TIME (read Hebrews). Instead, sin pulls us farther away from God.

The state of our salvation does not change, our relationship, however, does.

I think of it this way. I was a rotten teenager. Rebellious, hateful, spiteful and yet my dad told me time and time again, "I will always love you and you will always have a home here." Every time I sinned against my dad it did not improve my relationship with him, but did it change the state of how he loved me? Did it mean he was going to kick me out into the streets? Nope. My dad was a reflection of what Christ accomplished on the cross. I know you'll screw up, because I know your heart, but I love you, I died for you and you will always have a home with me. I will continue to work in your life and draw you back to ME. 


From the beginning of time, God has set apart a people for Himself for His Name. He wants to be glorified and He wants fellowship with His people. Without the cross neither of those would've happened. Because remember Romans 3? "No one seeks for God" and also remember that He is holy and we aren't without Christ. Without Christ, we are nothing. Without what He accomplished on the cross, we have nothing.

So give thanks and glorify HIS NAME for the work He accomplished on the cross.

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