The Cross Splits the World

Book Cover for The Cross Splits the World by a c cuddy

Last week, I released my second book, The Cross Splits the World; The Protest, The Price and The Power of The Cross of Jesus Christ”.  This book born out of events that occurred as I witnessed the Cross of Jesus Christ consciously being removed from its once prominent place into the dark recesses of a Church. In this book, I considered three thoughts about the Cross of Jesus Christ in the world in which we live.

 

The Protest of The Cross of Jesus Christ

So just what is it that the mere sight of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the faith behind it so objectionable? What is it about the Cross that causes such turmoil among brothers that friendships and family ties are forever broken? I believe it is because of what the Cross of Christ represents; the recognition of the totality of our wickedness and the impossibility of eternity with God in Heaven without the confession of the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24 (emphasis mine)

While so many refuse to acknowledge it, the fact is we do recognize that it is our sinful, wicked behaviors, and actions that make it impossible to share eternity with God in Heaven. That is a fact that cannot be changed or altered to fit the narrative of our life or society in general. It is an eternal TRUTH. And those that are perishing choose to be offended at that TRUTH.

For thousands of years, the Cross of Jesus Christ has stood as a reminder that no ability, no talent, no strength, no skill, no amount of good works or good intentions, no amount of money given, nothing we can do, buy, accomplish, bring about, achieve… nothing can save us from eternal separation from God our Father except the redemptive work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

Acts 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” And that name is Jesus.

To the non-believer, that scripture verse brings rage, contempt, and even hatred toward the speaker. In their eyes, that single sentence is egotistical, exclusive, and elitist. It strikes the ears of the non-believing listener with such shock and awe, raising the hackles among them that their only retort is resentment, wrath, and anger.
They will cry out in protest until their last breath with the justification of their choices, and they will work tirelessly to bring shame and humiliation to anyone speaking the TRUTH. But TRUTH is TRUTH. You cannot change the TRUTH because it causes you offense. It is only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the Cross that you can be saved.

There are many reasons why someone would make a conscious choice to refuse to believe or choose to turn their back on Our Heavenly Father. Being a believer is just that; it is a choice. Either you believe or you don’t. It is your choice of where you will spend eternity. It is your choice to ask for, and in-turn receive forgiveness. It is your choice to see the Cross of Jesus Christ as a blessing or a curse. There are many reasons why someone may choose to believe or not, but yes, it is their choice not to believe. Protest as you wish, but as a Christian, I choose to believe with my entire being – heart, mind, and soul – in the TRUTH of God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

The Price of The Cross of Jesus

No one can or should remove the ugly events that surround the Cross – the betrayal, violence, blood, death, sin, hatred, rage, and fury – to make it easier to acknowledge, more pleasing, more agreeable, and more palatable to our tender sensibilities. We cannot merely gloss over the hard spots, the hard TRUTHS. All of it, the good the bad and the ugly, must be acknowledged and preached for just what it is – TRUTH.

The TRUTH is that Jesus Christ willingly lay down on that Cross to take the penalty for my sin, your sin. It is only through that selfless act that He provided the singular path to salvation and eternal life in Heaven with God Almighty; that path is only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6

Jesus came to offer salvation and eternal life to every wretched sinner. He offers Himself as our salvation from sin, satan, and eternal separation from God, our Father – an eternity in Hell. Jesus came to save us from the wrath of God Himself! We mere humans cannot begin to fathom the magnitude of grace revealed when He separated Himself from His Father, emptied Himself of His glory, and stepped into the dying and condemned family of Adam. But Jesus came. He came to take our sins and to be the final sacrifice once and for all.  He came for our salvation and our eternity.

Jesus did not die on the Cross from the cruel, beatings, scourging, the thorns driven into His skull, nails pounded through His hands and feet, the flesh ripped from His back or the spear driven into His lung… no, He died because we put Him there; our sins put Him there. Ponder this for just a minute, Jesus died my death; He died your death. He died for every person who has ever been, who is now, or who will ever be. For what? For your eternity in unity with God, our Father in Heaven and not eternal separation and eternity in Hell.

The Power of the Cross of Jesus

Sin wearies the flesh and causes weakness and sickness in our soul. Bit by bit, our sinful actions destroy all that is, or was, good within us and causes our hearts to harden. These acts ruin our peace, causing guilt, sorrow, and shame. Sin consumes the mind and thoughts – weakening and darkening our soul. It brings fear, causes scandals, breaks up families, destroying childhoods, and leads to death – maybe not physical death, though that is entirely possible, but certainly emotional and spiritual death. By our choice, unrepentant sin in our lives shuts down the hope of a relationship with God, our Father.

Many years ago, I met an incredibly humble and dedicated Christian woman named Tanya; she ministered to death row inmates. Over coffee one afternoon, she asked me to look at “mug-shots” of the men taken at the time of their arrest. She asked me to concentrate on their eyes. I was taken aback at the lack of light reflecting from those eyes. It seems that death had already taken place. Any life that might have been in them was extinguished long ago. Those faces displayed the magnitude of their life choices.

In the eyes of these death row men, I saw nothing. There was no light within them. There was no joy, no peace, and no hope; all had vanished. What did reflect back was darkness, desperation, apathy, indifference, and weariness. It was an afternoon I never forgot.

But Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV

Jesus Christ was “lifted up” before the world as the great and final sacrifice for our sins. God looked down on the sin-sick world of His creation bound by sin, filled with fear and dread and desperation without peace or hope or rest; groping in darkness and confusion – and He sent His own Son to walk this earth and become our sin-sacrifice. It is in this sacrifice that we find rest. “And I will give you rest…” That is the invitation from Jesus. “Come to me…” That is the invitation to the Cross. That is the power of the Cross.

The Stranglehold of Sin

Sin is a rigid taskmaster. It will own you and demand all of you – your thoughts, money, joy, peace, physical health, mental health, relationships, integrity, character, and your reputation. It grabs hold and will keep you bound in an ever-spiraling vortex of confusion and lies as you wonder if there is ever a way out. There is, and it comes through the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The power of the Cross is a call to every sin-sick soul wanting an escape.

Jesus is calling out to every person that is weary with binding shackles of sin pulling them ever downward, with powerful addictions and behaviors that have so invaded their life it feels as though there is no hope or freedom. Jesus laid down on that Cross for every liar, cheater, adulterer, rage-filled, swindler, and dishonest sinner. He laid down for all who are weary of dragging the chains that entangle every waking moment and assault their sleepless nights.

As for those men on Death Row, after seeing the haunting pictures of their cold dead eyes, she then showed me pictures that she had taken years later. The difference in the eyes of these men was remarkable. Their eyes were clear and bright and, yes, inviting. I asked why she told me that they had come to know Jesus, He had forgiven their sins, they were unburdened from their sins, and they were new men in Him. That is the power of the Cross of Jesus. Their future on this earth did not change; they were still on death row, and many were executed for the crimes they committed.

What did change was their eternal future, an eternity in the House of The Lord. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23. So if “the wages of sin is death”, then how do we find life? How do we find freedom from the penalty and power of our sin? That freedom comes through acknowledging Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross as payment for our sin. When we submit to Christ, sin loses its power, its grip, and its unrelenting stranglehold on our life. It is at the moment we submit to Christ that His power takes over, and sin loses its power. There is power in the name of Jesus.

When we choose to trust and follow Jesus, our sinful lifestyle, thoughts, practices, and attitudes lose their power. All guilt disappears, and peace dominates your life. Godly behaviors and habits become the norm. That’s freedom — true freedom.

I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus came to offer salvation and eternal life to every wretched sinner. He offers Himself as our salvation from sin, satan, and eternal separation from God, our Father – an eternity in Hell. Jesus came to save us from the wrath of God Himself!

Preaching about the Cross is not about congratulating people for being good humans. In every religion, philosophy, belief system, or faith that I can think of, everyone is called to be a good human. It is about confronting and recognizing ourselves as sinful reprehensible human beings, admitting that we cannot save ourselves from eternal separation and total damnation, but that we are, in fact, entirely in need of forgiveness from the only One that can offer that… Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Only then with a repentant, contrite and renewed heart, forgiven and free from condemnation and eternal separation, can we step in and embrace our new life in Christ as an adopted child of God, our Most High King.

Speaking the TRUTH

The TRUTH of the resurrection of Jesus has been under unrelenting attack since the days of the Apostles. Why? Because it is the fundamental evidence of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God, and the definitive sign of His completed work of atonement, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ separates Christianity from all other religions. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:14)[i]

We live in a complex world where anybody with a keyboard can opine on the outrage of the minute, hour, or day. With just a few keystrokes, anyone can angrily write, post, tweet, pin, blog, snap, link, ping, share, and tag about somehow or other they have been personally triggered by an alleged transgression. And that some person, or entity, has been caused pain and suffering to such an unimaginable level that they must now take action, either by retreating to a “safe space” or venting around the globe in the blink of an eye.

The reality of it is that while you’re reading this article, somebody somewhere is being offended by someone or something. And if the particular transgression garners the attention of the right celebrity or news person, the media grabs hold and blasts that particular offense out to the four corners of the globe in a nanosecond; spinning it and pumping life into the “offense” for as many news cycles that will support just one more “pseudo” authority on the transgression of the day or hour or the minute.

I often wonder as I put pen to paper, or speak out through our YouTube channel or Podcast who I am going to offend next. It seems there are fewer names on my Christmas list each year, while those that have no choice, either by birth or by blood, quietly go silent or ignore. And, I’m okay with that as well.

Speaking The Truth

There are TRUTHS about which I cannot and will not stay silent. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, The Cross, Sin, Forgiveness, Redemption, Eternity, Heaven, Hell, The Rapture – on those topics, I cannot stay silent. I will undoubtedly offend some, and most likely lose another friend or have another family member go silent.

Living in this world as an outspoken Christian woman, I must make a choice. Am I willing to be labeled intolerant, small-minded, and prejudiced, knowing that I have been tagged as “too holy” or that I am entirely out of step with the realities of this world? Yes, I am.  I make no excuses for who I am, what I believe, and what I say, nor do I answer to this world; I will be called to answer at the Throne of God at the final judgment. With Jesus at my side, I will answer for every word I have ever spoken or written. We will all answer for our words.

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

I will not and cannot compromise the TRUTH nor will I will not edit my words to make them more palatable. I will not air-brush the TRUTHS of the Bible or God or Jesus or Holy Spirit, or turn down the volume to tickle the ears of the hearer.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

In my opinion, fail to preach, teach, speak or write on Biblical TRUTHS or moderate our words, and you have voided the reason for Jesus Christ’s death at the Cross.

Fail to teach the TRUTH, or preach the TRUTH, and you have successfully turned the finished work of the Cross into utter foolishness and the God-man that hung on that Cross of Salvation… the fool.


 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is taken from the NIV. Used by permission – THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Graphics copyright acsullivan2019

[i] https://www.bartleby.com/essay/The-Cornerstone-of-Christian-Faith-the-Resurrection

 

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