The early church and all the great awakenings and revivals in history have had one thing in common. The message was one of faith, repentance and surrender at the foot of the Cross of Christ.
As we move closer to the Passion Week, and the crucifixion of Jesus on what we call Good Friday, may we refocus on the single message that can actually change lives — the message of the Cross.
The symbol of the cross was hated and despised in the days of the early church. But their message was one that delivered men and women from spiritual death to new life.
Today, the symbol of the cross has evolved into a beautiful piece of jewelry that is worn around the necks of saints and sinners alike, but the message has been replaced.
Manmade ideas, programs and growth clinics have too often taken the place of the message of the Cross — The Son of God suspended between heaven and earth dying in our place.
Jesus, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Paul said in 1 Cor. 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness. But to us who are saved, it is the power of God.”
I realize that the church must present a great balanced meal (spiritually speaking). There are many wonderful subjects, doctrines and such to make up the overall teaching and ministry of the local body.
However, there is still just ONE message that Paul instructs which contains the power of God to salvation: the message of the Cross; it is still the Cross.
Dr. Billy Graham, perhaps the most beloved evangelist in modern history, had the wonderful ability to preach on hundreds of topics and somehow always wind up at the foot of the Cross.
Hundreds of thousands have made their way to the foot of that Cross as they sang, “Just as I am.”
I am no Paul, I am no Billy Graham, but I am determined that as long as I have breath, as long as I can stand at the pulpit, I will preach the Cross — for it is the power of God.
The church doesn’t need to be ‘reinvented’; it needs to be revived.
We make a mockery of the sacrifice and death of Jesus when we wear a cross around our necks, but won’t repent of our sin which placed Him there!
As we prepare to honor His death on the cross, and then rejoice at His resurrection, may we determine as Paul who said, “I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I Cor. 2:2
The Cross must prevail, or the church will fail.
The Rev. John Abbey is pastor of Bethel Church in Killeen.