Tuesday, August 7, 2012

THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS

The sin of idolatry brought down God's awful wrath on His own people. It angered Him more than any other sin in the Old Testament, so much that He declared: "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:18).

This is God's declaration against idolatry in the Old Testament and He hates idolatry just as much today. It brings down His wrath on any generation, including this modern one.

A new idolatry is sweeping across our world right now. No, we don't see people kneeling down before carved images anymore; instead, this modern idolatry seduces multitudes by its subtlety and cleverness. Yet it angers God more than any Old Testament idolatry.

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-8).

This “other gospel” that Paul mentions is a message of salvation without the cross. The great idolatry of our day is the casting aside of the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The cross — including its demands and hopes — is the very heart of the gospel. Any worship, any fellowship, anything calling itself church is blatant idolatry if the cross is not at its center. Such worship is of another spirit entirely and God will have nothing to do with it. Without the cross, all that is left is chaff — a perverted gospel, something from the pit of hell. It is more insulting to the Lord than the idolatry of Israel.

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). This "lifting up from the earth" Jesus mentions is His crucifixion. He was lifted up before the whole world on the cross, an image of His great sacrifice for our sins.