for I made the decision to know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection]. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (AMPLIFIED)
The above-mentioned Scripture was Paul’s remark when he left the city of Athens (the intellectual capital of the then known world) for Corinth while on a missionary journey. He had presented an intellectual discourse to the inhabitants of Athens in his attempt to preach the gospel. And in order to sound intellectual, he even went as far as quoting one of their poets: “for we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).
Acts 17:28 (KJV)
….as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
But he soon found out that the result of his “intellectual preaching” was meagre in terms of the genuine conversion of souls. So immediately he arrived at Corinth, ‘the immoral capital” of the then known world, he knew that if the immoral and sinful inhabitants of the city were going to experience any real, genuine conversions, then he must not present an intellectual discourse or message but the message of the CROSS!
The Holy Scriptures reveal that the apostle Paul is the pattern apostle and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is because he lived to please the Father and walk faithfully and accurately before Him. Hence, he’s a pattern of true apostleship and Christian ministry (1 Timothy 1:16).
1 Timothy 1:16 (AMPLIFIED)
Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example or pattern for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
So, if the apostle Paul is the pattern apostle and preacher, then the Church should take a cue from him in regard to accurately prosecuting ministry in order to effectively reach the culture and produce transformational impacts.
To be sure, after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God remarked that salvation, redemption and deliverance from sin will come through the seed of the woman as He bruises the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
Genesis 3:15 (AMPLIFIED)
And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”
Hence, God set in motion the process of man’s salvation and redemption with “the call” of the patriarch; Abraham. Although the process started with Abraham, the CORE of the process is the CROSS and the goal of the process is the KINGDOM! So what we today know as the gospel which means “good news” began with the father Abraham when God called him out of the Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 12:1-3).
Genesis 12:1-3 (KJV)
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Additionally, the core and central message of the “gospel, the good news” is the CROSS! The Greek word “eugelion” which is the English word translated to mean “evangel, good news” is the core message of the gospel. And it centers on the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (KJV)
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:
But the gospel does not end at the cross because the goal of the whole process is the KINGDOM! And this is the climax of the Christian life and experience! The kingdom involves pressing into God’s destiny for your life which is “conformity to the image of Jesus Christ” and becoming like Christ here on earth in this dark, evil and adversarial world. (Romans 8:29).
Romans 8:29 (AMPLIFIED)
For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.
But it is through much tribulation that we press into real kingdom life here on earth, and we will ultimately transition into the celestial city; heaven when we pass out of time into eternity (Acts 14:22).
Acts 14:22 (New American Standard Bible, 1995)
strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Interestingly, in the Latin language, the word “crux” is the English word ‘cross”. Hence, translating the word “crux” into the English language quickly evokes in every discerning mind the fact that “the cross” is the “crux” of the gospel. This means that the “cross of Jesus Christ” is the single, decisive and most important point and subject in the Christian life and experience. And any attempt to present a gospel that avoids the cross and is devoid of the cross is tantamount to preaching “another gospel” which is satanic! (Galatians 1:6).
Galatians 1:6 (KJV)
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
What then is the Cross?
The cross is the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, and the consequences and benefits of that sacrifice in your life as an individual. Additionally, the cross is the place where your will and God’s will cross, and it is the place where you die to the ‘ soul-life or self-life”. The soul comprises the mind, will and emotions, and their cravings are “I think or I know”, “I want” and “I feel’ respectively in opposition to the will of God in the life of an individual.
It is crucial to note that taking up your cross is an essential requirement for you to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ! And it involves you going through varying degrees of self denial, carrying the sentence of death in your body daily, and then following Jesus wherever He leads you (Matthew 16:24-25).
Matthew 16:24-25 (AMPLIFIED )
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].
Sadly, in our contemporary culture, the message of the cross at best has been relegated to the background, and at worst, it has been expunged from the lexicon of the Church. Hence, the Church has found herself in a direstrait of a sort with abounding sin, iniquity, worldliness, Satanic oppression, and powerlessness as it is evident in large sections of the Church. But in order to salvage her from this dire situation, the message of the cross must return to the front burner of the operations of the Church and Christian ministry in our culture!
Bringing back the message of the cross to the front burner of the operations of the Church is crucial because “the cross is the place where Satan suffered total, irreversible, eternal and permanent defeat”. The cross is the basis of God’s total provision for fallen man, and every believer in Christ to access the benefits of Jesus’ sacrificial work at Calvary. The cross is also the instrument that God uses to put to death the fallen, carnal nature of man so as to shape his character and make him conform to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. And herein lies the power to live a victorious Christian life over Satan, the flesh, the world and sin (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 24).
1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 24 (KJV)
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Additionally, if the Church really desires to see true revival, genuine conversion of souls, real pentecostal power, live in victory over sin, Satan, the flesh and the world, produce true Christian character in the believers as well as impact the culture, there’s an urgent need for her to return to the message of “the cross”. This is the “crux of the gospel” (Romans 1:16).
Romans 1:16 (KJV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Furthermore, if you really want to live in victory over sin, the flesh, the world, Satan and experience true pentecostal power, you must make the cross central in your life on a daily basis! Therein lies the power of true and victorious Christian living, and that is why Satan hates the message of the cross!