The Way Of The Cross
Before we get into this message, I would like you to ask yourself one very important question. In fact, this is the most important question any person can ask themselves, because how we respond to this question can determine our eternal destinies.
THE QUESTION IS:
If you do not know The Way of the Cross and God’s saving grace, or, if you once knew His saving grace and for whatever reasons, you have wandered away from His grace and light and have lost relationship with Him, where would you go if God called your name today? What would your eternal destiny look like if your life ended today and you had to give account for your life? Do you know God as a Saviour? Have you accepted His gift of life and if not; where do you think you would go If God called your name today and your time on earth was suddenly over?
For those of us who have not yet asked for and accepted God’s offer of mercy for breaking His holy laws, how can we discover and know God in a personal way as Father and child, as Saviour and redeemed sons and daughters? How can we receive His forgiveness, cleansing and His free gift of eternal life?
It is not a difficult thing or any big mystery, and is not something that is hard to understand. In fact, to come to God and discover ‘The Way of The Cross’; all that is required of us is to pray a very simple and heart felt prayer;
But; before we come to God, first we need to know and understand why we need to come to Him. We need to realise that God is our creator; that the creation is not above its creator; and that as a creation, we are designed by our creator to fulfil the functions and purposes for which we were created. We need to realise that we have strayed from the intended purpose for which we were created and in doing so; we have violated God’s purpose for our lives. We need to understand we have wandered and strayed from our creator, and have disregarded His instructions for our life as set out in our operating manual (The Holy Bible)
Before we come to God, we need to realise we have broken God’s holy laws, that we are guilty as charged and we deserve to receive God’s justice and judgement, just as we would be liable to receive man’s judgement and justice under human law if we broke the statutes and laws of state and government.
What Is Law?
The law is a set of guiding rules and principles based on and in justice; that enables mankind to live in harmony and peace with one another. Laws are necessary, inescapable, for the good of all, and moderate or govern all aspects of human life and behaviour. Law is a vital controlling influence, it is all around us, and is even evidenced in Nature.
A perfect example of the Law of Nature is gravity, and who can escape from this natural law? No matter how much a person may want to defy the law of gravity, we are all prisoners to its forces and power. No matter how much we might try and convince ourselves we are not subject to this law; that this law doesn’t apply to us, that we are somehow above this law, we will be very sorry if we try to defy it. Example: If we foolishly jump from an aircraft at altitude without the safety of a parachute strapped to our backs because of some mistaken notion we can fly and will not fall, there will be consequences; Immediately after the splat sound as we dead bounce off the landscape.
Ignoring the law like gravity in the belief that it does not apply to us; does not exempt us from the consequences of breaking this law.
There are a number of laws that exist including; Scientific laws (Physical Law), but there are three categories of law that are inescapable:
The Three Inescapable Laws:
THE LAW OF NATURE: Natural Law.
Science includes many principles once thought to be laws of nature: Newton's law of gravitation, his three laws of motion, the ideal gas laws, Mendel’s laws, the laws of supply and demand, and so on.
We have demonstrated that we cannot defy laws of nature like gravity, but must work with them or risk being destroyed by them. From inside the earths atmosphere and gravitational pull, we may overcome the force of gravity or lessen it’s impact on us by using external means such as; parachutes, gliders, powered aircraft and rocket power, but lose the motive power for the aircraft, and gravity is always there to bring us back to earth with a rude jolt and the reality of its power over us.
THE LAW OF GOVERNMENT: Man’s Law.
Man’s law provides the rules and guidelines for life, and a system of justice and social responsibility that enables people to live in harmony with each other when they obey these laws. If we break man’s law, we must be prepared to pay the consequences of doing so.
GOD’S LAWS: Divine law.
God’s laws are the highest laws of all: They are the laws that set the moral standards by which we must live to please God, and are the very same standards by which God Himself lives by. God’s Laws are given to mankind as the guiding principles we must abide and live by to please Him, and to live up to God’s standards of holiness, purity, righteousness, respect for self and others, justice and love.
Where man’s laws in most democratic countries are based on many aspects and principles of God’s Laws in the Ten Commandments, mankind having taken on the fallen nature of Satan do not establish all of their laws in accordance with God’s holy standards. For example; man’s laws make it lawful in many countries to murder the unborn child by acts of abortion, thereby breaking His sixth commandment, “You shall not commit murder”. Man’s law allows same sex marriages in some countries or states of the world, even though the act of homosexuality is against the laws of nature and God, and is an abomination in His sight as stated many times in His Word. Man’s laws also say it is OK to commit adultery in most countries, thereby breaking His seventh commandment “You shall not commit adultery”.
There are many things that are permitted and allowed under man’s laws, which are in direct disobedience to God’s laws. These include:
Producing, dispersing and looking at pornographic material; Matthew 5:28
Taking the Lords name in vain; 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain; Exodus 20:7
Not honouring parents. 12 “ Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you; Exodus 20:12
There are also things that are not permitted under man’s laws; which are in direct disobedience to God’s laws. Example:
Laws that prevent parents from correcting their children with a smack when necessary, to teach them right from wrong when other methods of discipline would not work.
24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24
18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death; Prov 19:18
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Prov 22:15
14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death; Prov 23:14
15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother; Prov 29:15
What this demonstrates to us is, if at any time we are put in the position of either obeying man’s law or God’s law, we must follow God’s law which is the highest law, even if man’s law threatens to punish us for doing so. The word of God tells us to obey, respect and follow man’s laws at all times; except where man’s law contravenes God’s higher laws.
When the Word of God speaks of chastising or beating a child, it is not used in the sense of unnecessary excessive force that would cause injury. It is in the sense of dispensing only the necessary level of force to instil into a child the danger of disobedience, because a loving parent does not smack their child using excessive force or for no good reason. We as parents only discipline our children in this way to protect them from repeating behaviour that would cause them or someone else harm.
A perfect example of neglecting what the bible refers to as the rod of correction is: The sad case of a family whose child kept running on the road and would not stop doing so. His parents told him repeatedly; don’t run on the road son, it’s dangerous, as if a young child has a strong understanding of what dangerous means. There was no rod of correction or suitable physical discipline used here, like a good smack on the backside to cement the idea into his head that; “This behaviour of mine causes me pain”, I don’t really know what dangerous means, but I do understand the pain in my backside and I don’t like it; therefore, I will stop doing this thing because I got the message when my backside got smacked.
Unfortunately in this case, the child took no notice of his parents warnings, because instead of a receiving a good smack when it was required, all he got was the modern form of discipline which is; Just keep telling him or her they are naughty, threaten them with “TIME OUT” which is Oh so scary, and ask them not to do it again forty-eleven times until eventually they listen and obey, maybe, hopefully.
The tragedy here is; that the rod of correction would almost certainly have prevented this child from being killed by a car when one day he ran onto the road one time too many. This is a true story, and I am sure it has been repeated thousands of times in equally tragic circumstances around the world.
HOW HIGH ARE GOD’S LAWS AND STANDARDS?
God’s standards are so high; He considers hatred to be as murder; 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him; 1 John 3:15
He considers looking with lust upon another person who is not your spouse to be as adultery. (Spoken by Jesus) 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
He considers rebellion to be as witchcraft. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:23
He considers covetousness and envy to be the same as idolatry. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
He considers all lies to be lies, no matter how large or small. There are no white lies, or grey lies; there are just lies. When we tell lies, it makes us a liar and if any man or woman says they have never lied, they are liars. It is so very tempting and easy to tell a small so called (white lie) to excuse ourselves for some failing with fabricated excuses like; I had a flat tyre, or, my grandmother died, (again). We have all told lies of to get ourselves out of trouble at some time in our lives, or, for convenience sake to get out of something we do not want to do, or, to excuse ourselves for lateness and/or letting someone down. If we can speak or write, we have all lied. We have all broken God’s law, and we are all guilty as charged.
There are no degrees of theft in God’s eyes. Stealing one cent is the same as stealing one million dollars. Both are theft and break God’s law (The 8th commandment) which says; “You shall not steal”. Theft is sin, and sin separates us from God.
If children disobey their parents; they dishonour them and are breaking God’s law, (The 5th Commandment) which commands us to “Honour your father and mother”. When we disobey parents we are not only rebelling against their authority, we are rebelling against God’s commandments, and rebellion is as witchcraft in God’s eyes.
God does not see degrees of sin as we do. We humans grade sin and say, Oh, that wasn’t so bad, and we try to justify ourselves. In God’s eyes, the smallest sin has the same affect as the largest sin. Both are sin and both separate us from God, because God is Holy and He cannot look upon sin.
If we say; Well, I don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t covet or envy other peoples stuff, don’t dishonour my parents, don’t break the law, so what would stop me going to Heaven? I am a good person, I help those in need, I get involved in community initiatives to help other people, I give to charity, I am an example of someone who God should welcome into His Heaven when I die with open arms!
Yes, it is good to do all of these things, and, the world would be a wonderful place if we all lived our lives in this way, but even after doing all of these good things and obeying these laws of God and man; have we taken the time, and given ourselves to keeping the highest commandment of all, The 1st Commandment.
The Greatest Commandment:
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 ”Jesus replied”: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."; Matthew 22:34-39
So, if we have by some miracle managed to keep all of God’s Laws and commandments except this one most important commandment, we have broken and neglected the most important law of all, and we are guilty and worthy of God’s judgement. Why is it so important to love God in this way? Because this is how God loves us and what He created us for; to love us with an infinite love, and to be loved and revered by us in return.
At what point in history or time did the creation ever become higher than, or have power over the creator; and, at what time did it become OK for the creation to say to the creator? Hey! I don’t agree with the purpose you created me for, so I am going to do my own thing! You created me as a car, but I don’t want to be a car, I want to be a boat. I’m going to do what I want to do regardless of what you say. I am going to drive across that bay, across the top of that water to the other side, you just watch me go and see who knows best!!! We can see right here how this story is going to end can’t we? The rebellious misguided car heads down the beach, full of pride and self belief, then sinks like a stone as it hits the water. Forever compromised by the contaminating corrosive effects of salt water on steel and electronics, the car is now damaged beyond repair, so it’s off to the car crusher to be crushed and melted down.
No matter how good we think we are, or how bad and corrupted by sin we may be, without God’s cleansing and forgiveness, all of our own self righteousness or badness; is all as filthy rags before our Holy God. 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; Romans 3:20-30
Isaiah 64:4-9 (New International Version) 4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has received, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.
8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people.
Sin is a contaminant that pollutes us. It renders us unfit to stand in the sight of God, and renders us unfit to enter into His holy kingdom of heaven, because God is holy and He cannot allow any corruption to enter into His presence or into Heaven.
What happens when we defy and break the natural laws of nature like gravity? We get broken, or die, or both
What happens when we break man’s law, “The Law of Government”? We are charged, judged by a judge and/or a jury of our peers then when we are found guilty, we are sentenced and given punishment to fit the crime. Some examples of man’s punishments are: A fine, community service, or a custodial jail sentence. In some jurisdictions if the crime is bad enough like premeditated first degree murder or drug trafficking, a person may receive a death sentence (capital punishment).
We all see this as justice at work, and we understand that law promotes and provides a safer society. It prevents chaos and anarchy, it provides justice for those offended against, and it delivers justice to those who offend against others or the law.
No law abiding citizen would argue that this justice is not right, that it is not fair, or that it is not necessary. No offender could expect to come before the judge after being found guilty, and then appeal to them by saying; I am so sorry, I won’t do it again, I can see you are a fair and just person, so please let me off this time and I promise to be good! This argument would not work for the very reason that the judge is fair and just. Because the judge is fair and just, he or she must deliver fair justice.
As the saying goes; "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." – A quote by Gordon Hewart, in Rex v. Sussex Justices ex parte McCarthy (1924) This system of law and justice is for the protection of decent law abiding people, to provide punishment that fits the crime, to discourage others from committing crime, and to protect society from lawless people.
There is another saying also that can be applied to both man’s laws and God’s laws. “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” – This is an expression of the 1960's-70's; that advises you not to do something risky unless you are willing and able to accept the full weight of the consequences.
As we know, under God’s law He has provided mankind with ten basic laws or rules for life, “The Ten Commandments” which were given to Moses on Mt Sinai directly from the Hand of God.
Just as breaking the laws of man has consequences, so also does breaking God’s laws which are just and holy. The Word of God tells us that the punishment for breaking God’s laws is permanent separation from God; but Why?
We need to understand that because God is holy, because He is just, because we have broken His laws, even though it breaks the Father heart of God to punish us, those who have broken His higher laws deserve to be punished. Why? – Because His laws have been violated and broken, a crime committed, and justice should prevail. God does not want to punish us, but the price for sin must be paid.
Under man’s law; we would all be up the creek without a paddle. We would be sentenced to pay the price for our crimes by requiring that we either do the time, or pay a fine.
In God’s Law; the penalty for breaking His law is eternal separation from God, meaning eternal imprisonment and confinement. There is no parole here, the sentence is for eternity, forever. The difference between God’s law and man’s law is, that God in His mercy offers us a way to escape the consequences of our law breaking.
Under man’s law; we imprison criminals to punish the offender, to make an example of them, and to protect society from their corrupting influence and criminal behaviour.
Under Gods Law; those that have not found pardon for their sins will spend eternity in confinement for much for the same reasons:
WHAT IS HELL?
It is a place of eternal confinement and separation from God. It is a place of absolute darkness, despair and hopelessness. Why is it a place of complete darkness? Because it is a place that is totally removed from the presence of God; and God is the source of all light; 5This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all; 1 John 1:5; Hell is therefore a place of complete and absolute darkness because of the absence of God.
What is it that defines darkness? Darkness by definition ‘is’ the complete absence of light.
God takes no delight in sending anyone to hell, only a sense of deep sorrow because God’s love for His greatest creation (mankind); is beyond measure and beyond our understanding. In fact, God does not choose to send people to hell; people go there by choice. They go there from their own free will when they deliberately reject God, when they wilfully break His laws without any care or apparent fear of the consequences, when they deliberately disobey their God given in-built conscience (spirit) when it tells them something they are about to do is wrong, and when they wilfully reject God’s free offer of grace, mercy and His promise of eternal life in Heaven.
To the human mind the idea of sending someone to such a place may seem harsh but the reality is, that God must separate lawless corrupting influences from His presence and from Heaven to prevent them spreading their corruption; and, for reasons of Divine justice for violating His holy and just laws.
Most of us will have heard the quote; one bad apple spoils the barrel, and that proverb was written as an analogy for people, where one bad person can corrupt a group or society.
Bad apples, a history and examples: A bad apple is a bad individual among many good ones, especially one that spoils the group. For example; Jack is creating a problem in the office! He is the one rotten apple of the bunch; a bad influence who is causing problems in the office. This expression is a shortening of the proverb; “A rotten apple spoils the barrel”, coming from a 14th-century Latin proverb translated as "The rotten apple injures its neighbours." The allusion in this idiom is to the spread of mould or other diseases from one apple to the rest. In English language the first recorded use was in Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack (1736).
Let’s put it this way! If we are polluted and corrupted by sin, we cannot be allowed to spread our corrupt influence in God’s home; The Kingdom of Heaven. He cannot allow our corrupting influence and nature to corrupt the other inhabitants of the land; so these influences must be removed, separated, and put in a place of confinement. In computer terms, think of them as viruses that are confined to the virus vault to prevent the entire system being corrupted.
This might cause you to say; Well then, I really don’t have any chance of going to Heaven because no matter what I do, I cannot help myself from breaking God’s laws and even if I could, I am still guilty of breaking His laws in the past.
THE GREAT NEWS IS;
Because God loves us so much, He has made a way out for us so that we don’t have to pay the price for our past lawlessness and sin. God does not want to punish anyone; He loves us and only wants the best for us. He understands that we are weak and that we screw up every day, because we were born contaminated by the sins of our parents. We didn’t have a chance to avoid this contamination, because it was passed down from parents to children right back to the first man and woman ‘Adam and Eve’. When they disobeyed God, they took on the fallen nature of Satan who convinced them to sin and in doing so; they passed on their fallen sinful nature to all future generations.
God loves us with such intensity, He made a way back for us by making the most incredible sacrifice imaginable. He sent His only Son to humble Himself and take on the form of a man, to stand in our place by taking our punishment upon Himself, and to die the cruellest and most agonising death imaginable. A sentence of death and punishment where He not only gave His life for us; He was beaten unmercifully, whipped, mocked, spat upon, He was nailed to a wooden Cross through the hands and feet, and finally, He was speared through the side to shed His innocent blood as a cleansing stream to wash mankind clean from all sin. He did this for you and me; and for every living person who will call upon and come to the Father for forgiveness and remission of sins; in the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
He, The Son of the Most High God who formed the worlds in all their glory and majesty, humbled himself by allowing mere mortals to mock, beat and kill Him and in doing so, He took upon Himself all of the punishment and the sentence of death for a lost and ungrateful world; so that we who call upon His name might have eternal life in Him.
This is a story of Love, Mercy and Grace that is unparalleled.
It is a huge thing for someone to willingly give their life for someone they love, or, to risk their life for some complete stranger by coming to their defence in a moment of crisis, but it is beyond human reason or thinking for someone to give their life for someone who deliberately ignores them, despises them, curses and blasphemes them by taking their name in vain, and hates them. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus did for us when He willingly laid down His life for mankind who treat Him in this way. It demonstrates a level of love and sacrifice that is beyond human comprehension or understanding. It should evoke a depth of heart felt emotion, tears of gratitude and a sense of deep shame that overwhelms us when we think of what He did for us, even though we have rejected Him and the gift of life He has purchased for us with His life.
If this message has spoken to you, if you can now see what an amazing and loving God we have, how we have rejected Him and broken His holy commandments, how He is calling you by name, ‘Now’ - ‘Today’, to come to Him and receive His free gift of salvation; I encourage you to come to Him now and receive His gift of grace and life.
All that we need to do to come to receive complete pardon for our sins and experience the full life, joy and peace that God has planned for us, is to accept the free gift of salvation, forgiveness and eternal life that God has purchased for us through the death and sacrifice of His Son.
It is a free gift, but one that we must take up and accept if we are to avoid the punishment we deserve for falling short of God’s holy standards.
”How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him”. Hebrews 2:3 (New International Version)
15As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15
HOW DO WE RECEIVE GOD’S OFFER OF REDEMPTION AND GRACE?
All it takes for us to accept and receive God’s free gift of salvation, grace and mercy, is for us to come before the Father in a prayer of heartfelt repentance.
If you would like to receive this amazing gift of love, I would now like to invite you to follow me in this prayer:
Loving Heavenly Father;
I am sorry for breaking Your holy laws, and for all of the sins I have committed against you and my fellow man. I ask you to come into my life now and cleanse me from all sin by washing me in the precious blood of Your Son Jesus
I understand that to receive your forgiveness, I need to freely forgive every person who has ever offended or sinned against me, and I do this now, just as Your Word says that if we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness in Jesus name, you will freely forgive us for every sin we have ever committed against you. I ask now that you will come into my life and reveal yourself to me as my Heavenly Father, that you will reveal Your Son to me as my Saviour, and send your Holy Spirit to live within me and be my guide.
I pray that You will help me to live a life that is truly pleasing to You, to reveal your plans for my life, and have Your Way in my life from this time on. I ask this in the name of your Son, our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
What next? If you have just prayed this prayer which is the most important prayer any person can pray in their lifetime, it is important to find a great spiritual home / church where we can learn what it takes to walk with and grow in God. The importance of finding a good Christian home / Church is, because it is a place dedicated to worshiping God, learning about God, and fellowship with other Christians where we stand with each other to build each other up and uphold each other in hard times.
The sinner’s prayer of repentance is the first and most important step in coming to God, because this act of obedience and faith allows God to wipe away all of our past failings as if they never happened, never to be remembered again or held against us. At this point we are now saved by the grace of God, and have taken on the righteousness of Christ as a covering for our sins. At this point we are now forgiven and are perfectly clean in God’s sight, but we have a lifetime of baggage and rubbish to clear out and get rid of. This process does not happen in a day, or in one week, or by the flick of a switch.
Walking with God is a life long journey where as we open ourselves up to Him to work in and through our lives, He transforms us over time as we get to know Him and love Him. It happens as we start to daily spend time reading and feeding on God’s Holy Word, which is a source of incredible food and power in our lives to overcome in areas of weakness, addictions, bad habits and sin. It happens as we spend time in prayer and get to know God as a person and as a Father. It happens as we talk to God and as we allow Him to talk to us through His Holy Spirit. It happens bit by bit, day by day, until one day we will look back six months, or a year or so, and we will not even recognise the person we once were. It happens as we start to put others first instead of ourselves, and as we allow God to slowly change us from the inside out until our lives become a true reflection of Christ living within us. It is a process that brings an undeniable assurance of God’s love for us and of peace and joy in our lives, even in the hard times. In fact; especially in the hard times, because God’s word tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. When we give ourselves to God, we will still continue to face the same trials in life as everyone else; The big difference is, that in times of trial, hardship and personal grief, God gently holds us in the palms of His hands, uplifts and comforts us, and He gives us the strength and peace to face whatever life can throw at us.
To see one mans amazing true life and death experience entitled ‘A Glimpse Of Eternity’, Click the link below to view the remarkable video re-enactment of the experience of Ian McCormack. See Ian’s story at: www.seektofindgod.com
Also see (Dying Testimonies) in this website.