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There has come a very destructive teaching into the church in the past century, a teaching that basically says this: "the gospel is 'the salvation message.' It is for unbelievers to 'get saved, and then we move on to deeper teachings.'" As if to say that the gospel is just some spiritual kindergarten through which we pass, tipping our hats to the cross, on our way to the deeper teachings of the Bible. This is destructive because it implies that once we know the gospel, we're good to go, we can move beyond that now, we're saved.
But you see this is a half-truth. It is true that the gospel is a salvation message, it is "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). But it is also a sanctification message, in other words, that which sets believers apart from our sins. In Galatians 3 Paul is talking to believers who were trying to set themselves apart from sin by their own efforts at keeping the Law, and what he says to them in verse 1 is amazing. He says, "you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified." In other words, the cross is the message that will separate us from our sins. The cross is not merely a salvation message, it is also a sanctification message. It's for believers.
But, it is not only a salvation message, it is not only a sanctification message, it is also a stabilization message. You know, an airplane has what's called a "horizontal stabilizer", it's on the back of the plane, its basically the tail of the airplane. Now what would happen if that stabilizer was gone? Well let's just say you wouldn't want to be in the airplane. Just so, what would happen if the gospel was gone from the church? Let's just say, you wouldn't want to be in it.
Want to know how to become stabilized in life, how to have a firm foundation, how to become rooted and grounded, how to be constant and steady and firmly planted, unshakeable? Paul says it is "by my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ."
And I have not even mentioned the most important part of the cross. It is not only a salvation, sanctification, stabilization message, it is also a glorification message. This is the most important part. After Paul explains the gospel in all its fullness to the Romans in chapter 15 he tells them why,
The message of the cross is that which glorifies God, indeed, brings out praise and rejoicing to God. It exalts God to be Christ-centered and to love the gospel.
This study was written as a follow-up course to all courses currently available at Setting Captives Free as well as for anyone who wishes to take a look at the many aspects of the cross of Jesus Christ as it applies not only to salvation, but also to our daily walk. It seeks to not be a shallow portrayal of the unfathomable riches of Christ, but rather to dig deep into the meaning, and reveal the divine power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
It was also written for those who do not believe, or for any who wish to understand the distinctive difference between Christianity and every other religion. Say to a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, "Fear God, hate sin, repent" and he will agree with you. Only the Christian religion tells of a Substitute who died in our place to save us from our sins. Only the Christian religion declares that we gain heaven not by our own works but by the death of Another, Jesus Christ, Who purchased our eternal life when He died in our place. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, Lord and Master, but would like to examine the evidence and consider the distinctive teaching within Christianity, we invite you to enroll in this free course.
This study was written by Mike Cleveland, founder and president of Setting Captives Free.
To read an article entitled "Hermeneutics 101" by Mike Cleveland, click here
To read an article entitled "The Gospel as a Mystery" by Mike Cleveland, click here
To read an article entitled Important Theology on the Cross, United with Christ by George Smeaton, click here
To view the lesson titles and summaries, click here