sermon in Rich Text Format
1 Corinthians 15:3-4;
Anger and violence in the home and in the work
place are becoming the nation’s number one concern. USA Today said this
about our society: “Leading social scientists say the nation is in the
middle of an anger epidemic that, in its mildest forms, is unsettling
and, at its worst, turns deadly. The epidemic rattles both those who
study social trends and parents who fear the country is at a culture
We seem to be losing our cohesiveness as
anger is being displayed in very destructive ways. Anger seems
to dominate our world. Have you noticed how anger is used to manipulate
You see anger at work when NBA games
become a brawl. We observe players bulling other players and
fans alike. It is compounded when the coaches get into a fistfight. An
angry young man walks into a Radio Shack store killing two employees,
and pitifully maiming another. The third one may yet die. In the last
few days a husband and father stabs his wife, daughter and himself.
Another husband shoots his wife, and takes his three children on a
vehicle rampage, which ends in him shooting himself in front of his
children. A deer hunter goes on a shooting rampage killing six other
deer hunters and wounding two others.
Have you noticed how anger is motivating
the political agendas of our world? Anger is a powerful motive
used to get people out to the poles to vote. Half of the people are
convinced they are going to get what’s coming to them, while the other
half are convinced they are going to loose what they have. We have our
red states and our blue states. If you get 120,000,000 million persons
to the voting poles out of anger you can rest assured that almost half
of them are going to go home angry. Then you can compound their anger by
blaming their anger on those who won.
Satan is convincing us to buy into to
the hype that our anger is the result of something that lies outside of
self. We want society at large to manage anger. Society seeks to
manage anger by taking away guns. If we take this route we will probably
lose our cars to prevent road rage. All of our meat and vegetables will
come pre-cut because our knives will be taken away.
Christ and Him Crucified
Anger is the result of a self-centered life. Paul describes this kind of
life for those living in the last days.
3:1 But mark
this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be
lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love,
unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the
good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than
lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have
nothing to do with them. NIV
The cross of Christ is the cure for selfishness; its message is designed
to take our eyes off of ourselves.
into the church office this week with a tee shirt that had a picture of
the White House on it. It read: “Regime change begins at home!!!” The
message really hits home. However, it gets even more personal: Regime
change begins in my heart!!!
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me,
everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him
'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that
makes him 'unclean.'"
17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples
asked him about this parable. 18 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you
see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him
'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and
then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods
20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21
For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness,
envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside
and make a man 'unclean.'" NIV
My wife and I have been married for many
years. She has never made me mad over anything she has ever
done. I have chosen to get angry over some things, but she doesn’t have
the capability to make me get angry. Anger is a personal choice that
comes from within.
4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your
desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don't get it.
You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and
fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you
do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend
what you get on your pleasures. NIV
The essential message of the cross is aimed at cleaning up the inside.
Every heart must
experience Christ’s rule. It’s the only way the world can experience the
peaceful reign of the kingdom of God. The message of the cross
seeks to place Christ in the heart of every believer. Christ living in
us is our only hope of revealing a new way of living to a lost world.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ
lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of
God, who loved me and gave himself for me. NIV
Placing Christ in the center of every
heart is the world’s only hope of true reconciliation. The
answers to the world’s problems lie in the rule of Christ. The kingdom
of Christ exists for the sole purpose of bringing reconciliation to a
A Cross-less Gospel
I read a magazine article this week titled “Beware of the ‘Cross-less’
Gospel.” It raises
the question: “When we talk about our faith, do we remember the heart of
the matter.” The article suggests that churches have lost sight of the
Christ is rarely mentioned when people seek to give a testimony. People
say God changed my life. God gave me a purpose for living. God gave me
peace. However, what Christ did on the cross is rarely mentioned. It is
no longer the central message of the gospel.
The article suggests that persons are led to find a new way of living
without bringing them to the realization they are sinners.
They don’t understand the purpose of Christ dying on the cross was to
remove their personal sin (1 John 3:5). We need reminded of this,
otherwise we may seek to give peace, joy, happiness, purpose for living,
and an example to follow without an understanding why Christ died on the
There is another message I am hearing that is focused on things other
than the cross. We
speak of traditional or non-traditional worship services. This message
emphasizes doing things different for the sake of doing things
different. Freedom in Christ for many only means the freedom to do
things different. Over the past couple of decades the church has
centered its message on issues that divide rather than the cross. The
issues are different for every congregation but they have become the
focal point of churches.
The message of the
cross is about Jesus freeing us from the bondage of sin for the purpose
of striving to live above sin.
The Cross of Christ
Paul placed the cross as of first importance in the gospel message.
3 For what I
received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for
our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was
raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he
appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. NIV
The central message of the cross is that Christ absorbed the anger of
God for us. Some
think it strange that God’s anger against sin must be assuaged by the
cross. The very knowledge that there is right and wrong instills a need
for justice. The Bible recognizes wrong doing as sin. Justice demands
the punishment of wrong doers.
Christ died to assuage the anger of God against sin.
The cross is the
only means of truly understanding God’s anger against sin. God’s wrath
against sin was taken out upon his Son on the cross. He allowed him to
suffer the angry assault of Satan on that cross. The cross absorbed
hell’s fury for each of us.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. NIV
Christ died for the sins of the whole world.
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,
spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is
better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he
prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only
for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring
them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to
take his life. NIV
1 Timothy 2:5-6
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony
given in its proper time. NIV
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now
crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the
grace of God he might taste death for everyone. NIV
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! NIV
The message of the gospel becomes a cross-less message when it stops at
merely discovering salvation.
Many focus on what
Christ did for them on the cross. They accept the salvation, but make no
attempt to take up their cross and follow Christ.
The message of the cross is robbed of its power when we fail to realize
the cross we carry for Christ is also designed to absorb the anger of an
angry world—the sin of those who sin against us.
Anger seeks to
retaliate; the cross absorbed God’s anger. Every person’s cross is
designed to absorb the anger and misdeeds of others while seeking to
love them with the love of Christ.
Living for Christ is paramount to living for others.
Paul teaches us that Christ died for all so that those who live in
Christ should no longer live for themselves but for him who died
for them and was raised again
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15). This is the message that must penetrate an
angry world. Living for others takes our focus off of what we have been
deprived. The cross is God’s answer for an angry world.
Paul chose to spend his resources on God’s people.
2 Corinthians 12:15-16
15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend
myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? NIV
Taking up our crosses in an evil world today is just as painful as it
was for our Lord.
However, the impact upon our world is just as powerful.
friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain
from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good
lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they
may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. NIV
1 Peter 4:19
19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit
themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. NIV
God’s means of salvaging our world is
through those crucified for Christ.
7 To them God
has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this
mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. NIV
The Lord can do wonders with a crucified life for this is where he makes
his righteousness shine.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. NIV
The righteousness of the saints is the
drawing power of the gospel. It’s the only way to draw others to
The cross is the central message of
6:1 What shall
we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no
means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you
know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into
death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have
been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be
united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was
crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that
we should no longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died has
been freed from sin. NIV
Baptism focuses hearts on the cross. The
last command Christ gave on earth was concerning baptism.
16 Then the
eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told
them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on
earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the
15 He said to
them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not
believe will be condemned. NIV
It is no accident the first gospel message after Christ’s ascension to
heaven culminated in 3,000 baptisms.
Taking up Christ’s
cross is where the Christian walk begins and it ends with death to self.
When Jesus took up his cross he turned the other cheek. He went the
second mile. In his oppression and affliction he offered no defense. He
met the anger of the mob crucifying him pleading God to forgive them. He
refused to retaliate. He gave up all things to become one of us, and
yet, he demanded nothing in return.