Glory Only in the Cross

by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB)

Martin Luther is considered the “Lighting rod of the Protestant Reformation.” It was through his battle with the Roman Catholic Church that the doctrine of salvation through Justification by Grace through Faith alone was recovered and from that, many Christian martyrs went to their deaths refusing to compromise their faith by denying the truth of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified based not upon the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. So much of the pressure being brought to bear upon Christians in our time is to not be so precise in our theology, but be more willing to “compromise” along doctrinal grounds for the sake of “unity.” The “mega-church” model is based precisely upon never offending anyone, but being non-threatening and willing to be all things to all people in order to attract everyone, but to what?

Those of us who understand God’s Doctrine of Salvation to be centered upon his glory and based entirely within his sovereignty also understand that those in Christ are there because of God’s Sovereign election, his drawing us to Christ, regenerating us unto a living faith and then justifying us by his grace through that faith which is his gift to all those Christ bought with his blood at the Atonement at the Cross. We deserved nothing. We did nothing to earn this. We do nothing to deserve or keep it. However, according to Ephesians 2:10 we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Also, in Philippians 2:12 we are commanded to be obedient to all of Christ’s commands as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Then in Romans 12:1,2 we are commanded to be living sacrifices, to be living our lives in spiritual worship, to be transformed through the renewal of our minds. This is our sanctification.

We were 100% justified at that moment when we believed the Gospel and turned to Christ as Lord and Saviour. That means that the Father imputed Christ’s Righteousness to our account along with his perfect keeping of the Law, which is his active obedience. That means we are not required to keep the Law to “earn” our salvation. Christ did all this for us. Remember, on the Cross, our sins, our unrighteousness, were both imputed to Christ and his death paid the penalty for us. He paid the penalty that we could never pay. Our Salvation, then, is our Justification, but it is also our Sanctification, (Glorification awaits Romans 8:28-30) but this is an ongoing process. It is God’s work, via the Holy Spirit, in us in this life until he takes us home. This is that part about us working out our own salvation with fear and trembling and being a living sacrifice and becoming transformed through the renewing of our minds.

11 Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. 12 Ὅσοι θέλουσιν εὐπροσωπῆσαι ἐν σαρκί, οὗτοι ἀναγκάζουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι, μόνον ἵνα τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ διώκωνται. 13 οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ περιτεμνόμενοι αὐτοὶ νόμον φυλάσσουσιν ἀλλὰ θέλουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι, ἵνα ἐν τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ σαρκὶ καυχήσωνται. 14 Ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, δι᾽ οὗ ἐμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ. 15 οὔτε γὰρ περιτομή τί ἐστιν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις. 16 καὶ ὅσοι τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχήσουσιν, εἰρήνη ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ. (Galatians 6:11-16 NA27)

11 See with what large letter I wrote to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised, simply so they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire you to be circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But to me, may it not be to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision is anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:11-16 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was corrective. He was dealing with a heresy that was creeping into the Galatian churches in which Judiazers were teaching the people that salvation was not simply according to Justification by Grace through Faith alone as Paul had taught them, but the keeping the Law was also necessary and that began with circumcision. The Galatians were Greeks, that is, Gentiles. This Epistle deals specifically with the heresy of adding works to grace for salvation. By the time we get to chapter 6, Paul is winding down his arguments and we are in the closing section.

His statement in v11 should be taken that Paul is explaining the reason for the style of the “large lettering” was due to him writing the letter himself instead of dictating it to a scribe.

Notice also the pressure being brought to bear on the brethren in these churches to be circumcised. Why was it happening? It was motivated by religious pride and those doing it wanted to impress others with their external piety. The pressure to have everyone do it was to avoid persecution rather than to hold to correct doctrine. Does that sound familiar?  By adhering more to the Mosaic law than to the gospel of Jesus, they hoped to avoid social and financial ostracism from other Jews and maintain their protected status as Jews with the Roman Empire.

On the other hand, Paul makes it clear that for the Christian there is only one answer that is acceptable to this nonsense. All that pietistic stuff is of the flesh no matter what the motivation. We are to “boast” in nothing except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to us and us to the world. The word “boast” used here is an expression of praise, unlike the English word, which necessarily includes the aspect of pride. Christians are to glory and rejoice in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The world Paul talks about in v14 is the evil, satanic system. This world is spiritually dead to real believers, and they are dead to it.

As I translated v14 I was reminded of Matthew 16:24-26.

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NASB)

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “Glory Only in the Cross

  1. But Mike – the Apostle Paul was so unloving. He hurt the feelings of the Galatians and of the first pope. How do these actions line up with our Roman-Greco view of love? Our fleshly desire for mush-love rather than biblical love is offended by Truth.

    Keep on pressing God’s Truth, my brother :-)

  2. You nailed it Manfred. That little tell-tale little, yeah-but is glaring evidence of those whose “theology” is flesh driven and, therefore, pietistic rather thean truth driven as was the Apostle Paul’s. Seeking to be man-pleasers is deadly to the truth and is, therefore, not of God. The world and the simply religious hear or read the message of deny self, take up your Cross and follow Jesus and that means die to the world, that is, the flesh gets no place, and they aren’t going to listen to it or take it. Well there is always those few whose hearts are opened by the Holy Spirit to hear and believe and are drawn by the Father to the Son, but hey, the rest want it their own way…

  3. Similar problem with the way most churches teach evangelism. They coach people to tell a personal tale of how their lives were changed, because nobody con refute that. And – without the gospel – nobody gets saved. But people on both ends feel good!

  4. I think we need to give Christians a break about evangelism. The assumption seems to be that because we are not seeing more conversions that christians are not sharing their faith, or not doing so effectively. Could it be though that the reason is not a failure of true Christians, but another evidence that our nation is under God’s judgment? I for one give out tracts and share my faith regularly, not with giving people the ten commandments or telling stories but by giving them the gospel – that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. So many today are immersed in Churchianity; they “prayed the prayer” 25 years ago or they have heard a ton of churchy sermons full of fluff and are seemingly innoculated against the truth. Lastly people are calling just about anything Christian these days, from Oprah to Osteen to Tony Campolo to the pope. In that case, who needs the gospel?

  5. I’ve seen that very thing too Julie. Actually, that hardest person to evangalize is someone immersed in churchiaity. Those people who grew up in church, went to summmer camp or vacation bible-school and were lead in that prayer with a bunch of other kids and were baptized with their friends when they got back think that was it. They did it and that’s all they need to do so why should I listen to all this gospel stuff now? Yep, I’ve seen a lot of that and I think those responsible for creating that farce are going to be quite sorry when they stand before the Lord…

  6. As someone put it “I’d rather offend someone all the way to heaven than to flatter someone all the way to hell”

    I see it like this. I can tell the truth in love and they may disagree with me but God can take what scripture and truth’s I’ve shared and make his word grow in their hearts and I can pray for them–what joy I have regardless of their reaction…
    Like you said Mike the hardest people to reach are those who are steeped in Churchianity or believe in their reasoning to get to heaven and not God’s word. One man I shared with was in AA and finally in Church claiming to be a Christian. He expressed his disapproval at me sharing the GOSPEL with people. He kept trying to correct me by saying I was not sharing properly and that I was supposed to just share by steps by letting people seek “a higher power”. I’m like no, these people need to know the truth that they are sinners and that we cannot SEEK God.. I recon he thought we could just “reason” our way to heaven. I’d share the word of God and he’d accuse me of being trapped in God’s word. Well, what better place to be that’s all truth?

    Me I stick with the TRUTH. For it is the truth that set me free and there’s no greater joy.. Let people be offended-leave the consequences in God’s hands. God will work it all out…

    I praise GOD and my heart leaps for JOY in the LORD every single time I think about the ONLY reason I get to come before His throne of grace and that is solely because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The ONLY righteousness acceptable to God..

  7. Amen to all of the above! I am reminded of Phillipians 3:14… “I PRESS toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. The dictionary defines PRESS as…to act upon with steadily applied weight or force.
    2.to move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position
    3.to compress or squeeze, as to alter in shape or size
    4.to weigh heavily upon; subject to pressure.
    5.to hold closely, as in an embrace; clasp: He pressed her in his arms.

    SO when the world appears to be ‘pressing in on us’ with all its sinful corruptness, I LOVE this verse, and how this words definition is so multi-faceted!

  8. The reason we aren’t seeing sinners truly saved in this nation is because the Gospel they hear is tainted, accursed. Works have been added to Christ’s finished work, i.e., pray a prayer, invite Jesus into your heart, make your decision. What we are seeing is an astronomical number of false converts who deem themselves saved based on their own doing.
    There is a push to see ‘results’ when proclaiming the Gospel instead of leaving it up to the One who is sovereign. There is a different Gospel, as Paul states in Galatians, permeating the land and it is indeed accursed. There is no power in this Gospel because it puts man in the equation and removes grace completely. Those who preach such a gospel should be ex-communicated, instead, they are embraced for the sake of ‘unity’ and the herd of goats continues to grow.
    You are so right Mike, these are the hardest people to reach with truth, they do not want to hear it because they’ve made up their mind, they’re already saved. We MUST get back to the doctrines of grace if we are to see sinners saved. We must proclaim truth and not coerce sinners into some superficial state of false conversion. Christ died for sinners; repent and believe in the Gospel! Whether or not they do is not our work, it is the Lord’s.

    Lyn

  9. I had lunch today with a man who was referred to me by a counselor from a local Bible church. The man I met with has a besetting sin – looking for an answer that Celebrate Recovery and accountability with similar men couldn’t provide. The counselor told him not to worry about whether or not he was saved! When I asked this man if there was any fruit in his life that indicated he was a new creature in Christ, he said no. He was confused, because he had asked Jesus into his heart and had been told that was all it took.

    We walked through part of Galatians 5 and 6 and Romans 9 & 10. We prayed together, asking the Lord to reveal the true condition of his soul to him and give him repentance and faith. I hope to hear more from him – another victim of the stuff Lyn mentioned.

  10. Manfred, I do pray that that fellow will be drawn (I believe he already has) into the light of our Lord’s truth. What a testimony this could be against “that stuff!”

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