Sunday, November 29, 2015 • 01:22

The Message of the Cross

January 31, 2014
In the book of Romans Paul wrote, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8.

This passage addresses the "Message of the Cross," which is of course, God's limitless and indescribable love that He has toward us. It comprises His "unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15. There are many ideas worthy of thought contained in this beautiful text in Romans, the first of which is that Jesus came to save, not good people, but sinners.

The most famous verse in the Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. What we need to realize is that the word "world," especially as used in the book of John, means the ungodly; it's referring to the lost; the unlovely.

The same author also wrote, "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation (sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." I John 2:1, 2. That's the message of the cross!

With scorn in their voices and disdain on their faces the Pharisees ridiculed Him saying, "This Man receives sinners," as if that were proof that He wasn't the Messiah. Luke 15:2. Little did they know how much truth and how much hope there was in their accusation! "This Man receives sinners." Yes! He does! That includes me; it includes you! He died for the "ungodly," who are "without strength" to lift themselves from the pit of sin.

Paul says, "Perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die." There have been stories of those who have given their lives in a heroic manner for others. Oscar G. Chappell was such a man. He was a seaman on the merchant marine vessel the "Dixie Arrow" on March 26, 1942, a Mobil Oil tanker traveling off the east coast of the United States, which was struck by three torpedoes launched by the Nazi submarine U-71. Instantly the tanker became engulfed with flames, as did much of the surrounding waters as her cargo of flaming petroleum spread across the waters.

Chappell saw that there were crewmen aboard who were now trapped between the inferno on board and the lake of fire around them. He sped toward the pilot house where he turned the vessel in another direction, allowing his friends the opportunity to jump into a part of the Atlantic not affected by the oil spill. The lives of his friends were thereby saved, and shortly thereafter they were picked up by the Destroyer USS Tarbell.

But, by turning the ship in that direction of safety, Chappell also signed his own death warrant, for the wind now pushed the flames directly toward his position, and he was quickly consumed. A medal was struck in his honor, which is awarded each year to recognize "Outstanding Maritime Stewardship." A terrific act of bravery? Yes. A generous act of self-sacrifice? To be sure.

As courageous as it was, it didn't come close to what Jesus did when He left a throne of glory and the adoration of angels to come to this dark world and die on a cruel cross for people who didn't care, for those who hated Him. He died for His enemies. He died for the ungodly. That's the message of the cross!

Jesus died for lost sinners like you and me. In fact, God points to the cross as the proof, the prima facie evidence of His undying love. "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Praise God for that! You don't have to be a "good person" to qualify to receive His love. In fact, if you wait for that to happen, it never will. Here is the way He put it, speaking to those in His day who thought that they had achieved righteousness on their own. "Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Luke 5:31, 32.

Look to the cross, friend. It's the message of God's love written in red, the blood that He shed for you and for me. He cares deeply for us, more than we can possibly imagine. He wants to have a personal friendship with you. He's paid for every sin you and I ever committed when He died that day on Calvary. Why not accept His great provision for salvation and trust in Him to guide you safely home? "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5:10.

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