The Necessity Of The Cross

April, 2011 The Evangelist

by Jimmy Swaggart

“Paul’s Message basically consisted of the fact of the reality of God. In that Message he mentioned the Resurrection of Christ.”

Paul in his first Epistle to the Church at Corinth said to them:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom (means that he depended not on oratorical abilities, nor did he delve into philosophy, which was all the rage of that particular day), declaring unto you the Testimony of God (which is Christ and Him Crucified). “For I determined not to know anything among you (with purpose and design, Paul did not resort to the knowledge or philosophy of the world regarding the preaching of the Gospel), save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified (that and that alone is the Message which will save the sinner, set the captive free, and give the Believer perpetual Victory)”.

JSM Expositors Study Bible (I Cor. 2:1-2)

Now, we must note carefully what the great Apostle said to us.

The word “determine” in the Greek is “krino,” and means, “to distinguish, to decide mentally or judicially.” The word is so powerful that it also means that one would sue at the law in order to maintain one’s position. In other words, the position is no longer in question. Why was Paul so certain, so sure at this stage, of the Message of the Cross?

THE MESSAGE AT MARS’ HILL

When Paul first came to Corinth, he came from the great city of Athens. He had remained there for a period of time, actually preaching the Gospel in the marketplace of that great city. Even though his Message was, by and large, rejected, still, it carried enough weight that he was called upon to minister to the Supreme Court of Athens, which constituted some of the wisest men of that city.

While Athens had long since lost the glory of previous years, still, even though living off of past reputation, it still carried weight. The Seventeenth Chapter of Acts carries the account of this meeting.

Those to whom Paul preached that day had no knowledge of the Lord whatsoever. They lived in heathenistic darkness despite their professed wisdom. Paul’s Message basically consisted of the fact of the reality of God. In that Message he mentioned the Resurrection of Christ.

The Scripture says concerning this:

“And when they heard of the Resurrection of the Dead, some mocked (the ‘mocking’ was caused by sheer unbelief): and others said, We will hear you again of this matter (many were touched by Paul’s Message, but regrettably procrastinated). “So Paul departed from among them (they ascertained that he had broken none of their laws, so he was free to go, which he did!)” .

JSM Expositors Study Bible (Acts 17:32-33)

CORINTH

The Scripture says:

“After these things Paul departed from Athens (seems to imply that he departed alone, with Silas and Timothy joining him later at Corinth), and came to Corinth (one of the great cities of the Roman Empire)”.

JSM Expositors Study Bible (Acts 18:1)

Obviously, the Lord called Paul from Athens to the city of Corinth. The city was, in fact, one of the most jaded in the world. It had scores of temples dedicated to heathen gods, occupied by hundreds of temple prostitutes, both men and women. In fact, Corinth was so jaded that if individuals gave in to the excesses of Corinth, they were said to be “Corinthianized.” This means that they had thrown aside all convention, giving themselves wholly to their evil passions. It was one of the most wicked cities in the world of its day.

“There is some indication that Paul at that time was a troubled man. He had not met with the success for which he had hoped at Athens.”

Coupled with “vice” was the twin evil of heathenistic philosophy. In fact, Corinth had produced some of the most noted philosophers in the world of that day. So, Satan had employed in that city his two most powerful attractions, “vice and philosophy.”

Paul probably went to Corinth by boat, which would have docked at Cenchrea, which was the port for Corinth. It was several miles from the heart of the great city.

After leaving the ship at Cenchrea, the great Apostle, more than likely, would have walked the distance of several miles to the heart of the city.

There is some indication that Paul at that time was a troubled man. He had not met with the success for which he had hoped at Athens. In fact, when he mentioned the Resurrection as he ministered on Mars’ Hill, the crowd, which assembled there to hear him, actually booed him down. In other words, he didn’t really finish the Message. While a few accepted Christ, still, I think the great Apostle was troubled at the turn of events.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

Knowing that the Lord had sent him to Corinth, and possibly disillusioned somewhat with the results at Athens, he must have wondered as to how he could break through the twin vices of the city of Corinth. He was possibly chagrined about Athens, and this certainly did not help his feelings as he came into the most wicked city of the Roman Empire. How could he penetrate these two vices of immorality and heathenistic philosophy?

How do we know that these thoughts could have plagued the great Apostle?

We know it from his statement, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).

“Paul was one of the most educated men to be used by the Lord to pen the Holy Scriptures. In fact, he wrote almost half of the New Testament.”

The word “determined” speaks of a great struggle that had gone on in his heart, and that he had made a conscious decision to go in a certain direction. That direction would be the Cross of Christ. As he came from Cenchrea to Corinth, walking the several miles, he had plenty of time to think. No doubt, he was praying all the while. Considering Athens and what must have looked like failure to him, I’m sure he reasoned as to how in the world he could penetrate the powers of darkness in Corinth. At a given point in time, the Holy Spirit may have whispered to him, “Preach the Cross!”

And, the Holy Spirit might have continued, “If the Cross works at Corinth, it will work anywhere!” 

So, Paul would tell the Corinthians, incidentally, where a great Church would be built, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified.

It worked in Corinth, and to be sure, it has worked in untold other places as well. In fact, there is no power of darkness that can stand against the Message of the Cross.

PAUL AND PHILOSOPHY

Paul was one of the most educated men to be used by the Lord to pen the Holy Scriptures. In fact, he wrote almost half of the New Testament. He had studied for years under the great Law scholar Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

Before Paul was converted on the Road to Damascus, he was being groomed to take the place of Gamaliel as the leading voice of the Pharisees. So, as it regarded the Law of Moses, there was no scholar in Israel more knowledgeable concerning this subject than Paul.

As well, it is believed by some modern scholars that Paul, due to some of the things he said, attended the great university in his home town of Tarsus. If so, he would have been highly educated not only in Mosaic Law but, as well, in the philosophy of the Greeks, which was the noted rage of that time. So, he had the capacity to stand toe-to-toe, so to speak, with the most educated of his day.

No doubt, the temptation was great to deal with these subjects in his preaching; however, he fought down that temptation, knowing that, while it may sound clever, it would not set anyone free. He found that the Message of the Cross alone would set the captive free, and we are speaking of Salvation for the sinner and Sanctification for the Saint. So, he determined in his mind and spirit not to go in these other directions but to preach the Cross.

“Is modern man facing problems not addressed in the Word of God? Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had something to say about that.”

He found that it worked exactly as the Holy Spirit said that it would work.

THE MODERN CHURCH

The church of this present day should take a lesson from Paul. While the expanse of time noted is nearly two thousand years, still, the problem is the same, and it is sin. As well, the solution is the same, and it is the Cross of Christ. It doesn’t matter what the nationality of the people might be; it doesn’t matter their culture; it doesn’t matter their educational background; and, it doesn’t matter about their state, their place, or their position.

The problem is sin, and the solution is the Cross of Christ. Paul found that out, and the modern church needs to find this same truth as well!

MODERN RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY

One particular psychologist in a major Pentecostal Denomination made the foolish statement that modern man was facing problems not addressed in the Bible. Accordingly, or so he gathered, both the Bible and psychology are needed to address these particular problems. How foolish can we get! Is what he said correct? Is modern man facing problems not addressed in the Word of God?

Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had something to say about that.

Attend carefully to his words.

SIMON PETER

“Simon Peter, a servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ (the position of ‘servant’ is placed first; if one cannot be a true servant for the Lord, then one cannot be an Apostle; the Lord guides the Church by the Office of the Apostle through the particular Message given to the individual, which will always coincide directly with the Word of God; Apostles aren’t elected, they are called of
God), to them who have obtained like Precious Faith with us (proclaims the Faith that Gentiles can now be Saved exactly as Jews, in fact, all coming the same way) through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (this Righteousness is obtained by the Believer exhibiting Faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross):”

JSM Expositors Study Bible

ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS

“Grace and Peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord (this is both Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Peace, all made available by the Cross), “According as His Divine Power has given unto us all things (the Lord with large-handed generosity has given us all things) that pertain unto life and godliness (pertains to the fact that the Lord Jesus has given us everything we need regarding life and living), through the knowledge of Him Who has called us to Glory and Virtue (the ‘knowledge’ addressed here speaks of what Christ did at the Cross, which alone can provide ‘Glory and Virtue’):”

JSM Expositors Study Bible

THE DIVINE NATURE

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and Precious Promises (pertains to the Word of God, which alone holds the answer to every life problem): that by these (Promises) you might be partakers of the Divine Nature (the Divine Nature implanted in the inner being of the believing sinner becomes the source of our new life and actions; it comes to everyone at the moment of being ‘Born-Again’), having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (This presents the Salvation experience of the sinner, and the Sanctification experience of the Saint)” (II Pet. 1:1-4).

JSM Expositors Study Bible

“As it regards life and living, the Holy Spirit lists eight attributes given to us by the Lord or, at least, made available. They, to be sure, will answer all situations.”

THE PROVISIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Now, the Holy Spirit through Peter will give us that which is provided to the Believer, and which addresses every phase of life and living.

They are:

“And beside this (Salvation), giving all diligence (refers to the responsibility we as Believers must show regarding the Christian life), add to your Faith Virtue (this is Faith in the Cross, which will bring ‘Virtue’; the type of ‘Virtue’ mentioned here is ‘energy’ and ‘power’); and to Virtue knowledge (this is the type of knowledge, which keeps expanding); “And to knowledge temperance (self-control); and to temperance patience (our conduct must honor God at all times, even in the midst of trials and testing); and to patience godliness (being like God); “And to godliness brotherly kindness (carries the idea of treating everyone as if they were our own flesh and blood ‘brother’ or ‘sister’); and to brotherly kindness charity (love).”

JSM Expositors Study Bible

THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“For if these things be in you, and abound (continue to expand), they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Once again, this ‘knowledge’ refers to what Christ did at the Cross, all on our behalf.“But he who lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off (the reason one may lack these things is he is spiritually blind; in other words, such a one has made something other than the Cross the Object of his Faith), and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (Such a Believer is once again being ruled by the ‘sin nature’ exactly as he was before conversion, which is always the end result of ignoring the Cross.)”

JSM Expositors Study Bible

MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE

“Wherefore the rather, Brethren, give diligence to make your Calling and Election sure (this is what Jesus was speaking of when He told us to deny ourselves and take up the Cross daily and follow Him [see Lk. 9:23]; every day the Believer must make certain his Faith is anchored in the Cross and the Cross alone; only then can we realize the tremendous benefits afforded by the Sacrifice of Christ): for if you do these things, you shall never fall (presents the key to Eternal Security, but with the Promise being conditional): “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (The entrance into the Kingdom is solely on the basis of Faith evidenced in Christ and the Cross [see Eph. 2:13-18; see Jn. 3:16])”.

JSM Expositors Study Bible (II Pet. 1:5-11 KJV)

EIGHT ATTRIBUTES FOR LIFE AND LIVING

As it regards life and living, the Holy Spirit lists eight attributes given to us by the Lord or, at least, made available. They, to be sure, will answer all situations. 

They are:

1. FAITH: This always pertains to Faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross. In other words, the Cross of Christ must ever be the Object of our Faith (Rom. 6:3-5; I Cor. 1:17-18, 23). This is the Faith, and this alone is the Faith, that God will recognize.

2. VIRTUE: The Greek word for “Virtue” is “arête,” and means, “manliness,” or, as stated, “energy and power.” Upon the individual being Saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit, power becomes a part of their persona (Acts 1:8).

3. KNOWLEDGE: The Greek word for “knowledge” is “gnosis,” and means, “to be aware of, to know, to perceive, to be sure, to understand.” All true knowledge comes from the Word of God and the Word of God alone!

4. TEMPERANCE: The Greek word for “temperance” is “egkrateia,” and means, “self-control.” This can be done only by the Believer placing his Faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross, which then gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within his life, which gives him Victory over the passions of the flesh (Rom. 8:1-2).

5. PATIENCE: The Greek word for “patience” is “hupo-mone,” and means, “to stay under, to endure, to cheerfully wait” (James 5:11).

“With our Faith properly placed, the Holy Spirit, Who works exclusively within the parameters of the Finished Work of Christ, will then grandly help us to be what we ought to be .”

(Rom. 8:1-2, 11)

6. GODLINESS: The Greek word for “godliness” is “eusebeia,” and means, “Holiness.” As Believers, we have no personal holiness; however, a perfect, pure, spotless Holiness is supplied to every Child of INSERT 6 God, all made possible by the Cross (Heb. 12:10).

7. BROTHERLY KINDNESS: The Greek word for brotherly kindness is “philadelphia,” and means, “love of the Brethren” (I Jn. 3:11).

8. CHARITY: The Greek word for “charity” is “agape,” and means, “the God kind of love” (Jn. 3:16). If all of these attributes are properly understood, we should know and realize that everything we need to live this life, and to live it abundantly so, even in this modern age, is found in these attributes. So, for someone to say that modern man is facing problems not addressed in the Bible is, in effect, saying that God, the Holy Spirit, is lacking in knowledge. Such a statement is stupid, even if I have to be blunt!

THE SOURCE AND THE MEANS

Please allow me to repeat myself:

• Jesus Christ is the Source of all things that we receive from God (Jn. 14:6).

• The Cross of Christ is the Means by which these things come to us (Rom. 6:3-5; I Cor. 1:17-18, 23; 2:2).

• The Cross of Christ must at all times be the Object of our Faith (Gal. 6:14).

• With our Faith properly placed, the Holy Spirit, Who works exclusively within the parameters of the Finished Work of Christ, will then grandly help us to be what we ought to be (Rom. 8:1-2, 11).

“One with You, Thou Son eternal,
“Joined by Faith in spirit one,
“Share we in Your Death inclusive,
“And Your Life, O God the Son.”

“One with You, Thou Son Beloved,
“Part of You become through Grace,
“Heirs with You of our one Father,
“We’re Your Spirit’s dwelling place.”

“One with You, Thou Son incarnate,
“Born with You, the Man of worth,
“We, the members of Your Body,
“Sojourn with You here on Earth.”

“One with You, Thou Son anointed,
“Sharing too the Spirit’s Power,
“We in full cooperation,
“Labor with You hour by hour.”

“One with You, Thou Son forsaken,
“Judgment and the curse we’ve passed;
“We to sin are dead forever,
“Hell beneath our feet is cast.”

“One with You in Resurrection,
“Death can never us oppress,
“Live we in Your New Creation,
“Bearing Fruits of Righteousness.”

“One with You, Thou Son ascended,
“Seated with You on the Throne,
“Your Authority we share and,
“Rule with You, Your Rank we own.”

“One with You, Thou Son returning,
“Glorified with You we’ll be,
“E’er to manifest Your Beauty,
“One with You eternally.”

(The material on the subject of The Cross was taken from the book, “BROTHER SWAGGART, HOW DO I LIVE A VICTORIOUS LIFE”. It is a hard cover, over 250 pages.)

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