What is so significant about the cross? The typical response would have something to do about the death of Jesus. However, if we were to be more detailed we may say that its not just the death of Jesus but the fact that Jesus reigned victorious over death by defeating sin and raising again on the third day. So, the cross has become an object for many that is a sign of the victory of Christ in a particular point in history. Our culture has embraced the cross as a symbol that can sell on t-shirts, in the form of jewelry, and other retail objects.
What if we are missing the point or purpose of the cross? What if our view of the cross is short sighted in both width and depth? What if we are asking all the wrong questions about the cross? So, I want to pose a different questions:
What is the purpose of the cross? When I think about the cross here are three things that come to mind:
Ephesians six brings us to the conclusion that the work of reconciliation that was made possible in and through Christ alone has tremendous impact in both a spiritual and physical sense. The cosmic reconciliation of mankind through the power of the Gospel of Jesus invades every aspect of our present life and should be transformative in every relationship. The presence of the Gospel and how it transforms families should be seen within the context of marriage, extending further into parental relationships with children. An interesting note in Ephesians 6 is that this is the first time when children are directed to honor their parents where there is also a promise attached to it. In fact, Paul is taking a command from the Old Testament (Ex 20) that was specific to the children of Israel and now communicates that same message and command to the children of Christians and universalizes the promise by saying that it would “go well for them and result in a long life”. However, it’s important to note that Paul views this as a two way road with a special message for fathers to not provoke their children, rather; to raise them up in the LORD. The emphasis that Paul is making for parents is not so much for children to learn moralistic behaviorism which is predicated on good works. Rather, obedience should come from a heart that is aware of the great grace that was given and in response to the beauty of the Gospel.
Ephesians 3 may be one of the most important passages in scripture for all of us who are not of Jewish descent. In these verses the Apostle Paul finally makes known the “mystery” that had been hidden from the time of the Old Testament covenant until the time of Christ. Paul clearly states that the gift of the Gospel was for all people including Gentiles. In fact, elsewhere Paul brilliantly shows us that this mystery is not something new that came as an addition, rather God had been working his purpose for Gentile inclusion into the family of God throughout the entirety of scripture beginning with Abraham.
The setting of 2nd Sam 15:30 takes place under the harshest of conditions as King David begins to see his kingdom crumble in front of him. Absolom has successfully “Stolen the hearts of the men of Israel” (2nd Sam 15:6b). In fact, it seems that the waywardness of the men of Israel plays a significant role in Absalom’s rising power and strength as this phrase is repeated as a messenger comes to tell David “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom” (2nd Sam 15:13). Within this story we are reminded of the larger story – One where the people of God are continually wayward in their love and affections toward God and are prone to stray and allow their hearts to be captivated by others. In light of these events David sees that his situation and place in the Kingdom is uncertain, and therefore needs to retreat and escape.
2nd Samuel 12:13
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
We find David in what may be the beginning of some dark and troubling days for one of the greatest Kings in Israelite history. As we will see later through these chapters, even kings that have a deep devotion to God are susceptible to wavering and pursuing the desires of their heart. King David was no different. Through chapter 12 we see the consequence of David’s sin and the interaction that he has with the prophet Nathan. Its interesting to see that almost a year has passed with David in sin before Nathan approaches him. Further, we find the prophet Nathan utilize very specific language to describe the sin of David. David himself murdered Uriah and took his wife. Even worse, David used the enemy of God, the Ammonites, as the means by which he would murder Uriah. David was in every way complicit and active in this treachery.
My wife Brittany (AlmostIndianWife.com) got me into this #PeriscopeWithPurpose challenge. I’ll admit, I wasn’t real sure about it. I really didn’t feel like I had the time but after seeing how easy it was and how much fun my wife was having I decided to give it a try. I had no clue that this challenge opened up a channel for me to communicate my faith journey, challenges as a traveling dad, and also meet some pretty cool people. Today, the challenge dealt with giving 3 tips. One of the benefits I have of traveling to christian conferences around the world is the ability to glean and learn from some of the best theological minds out there. So I decided to share some of the most practical and important Bible Study tips that I’ve learned.
In the midst of tragedy, the faithfulness of God can be incredibly difficult to believe in. Through chaos often times we find ourselves distrusting the goodness of God which results in humanity trying to take matters in their own hands. Simeon and Levi are guilty of this in Genesis 34. Further, Jacob is seemingly silent and unaware of what is taking place in his own household. As he realizes what has happened and the implications that this will bring onto his family, he finds himself in great need once again of great rescue. Then, “God speaks”. God leads Jacob out of his tragedy and shows his faithfulness in spite of Jacobs faithlessness.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me to preach for him as he was out of the country. Their church has been going through the entire book of Genesis, so I was asked to pick up in Genesis 35. Throughout my research, study, and preparation I was encouraged in so many ways. The most important thing that stuck out to me was the importance of remembrance in the life of the believer. Genesis 35 helps us to develop this theology of remembrance which has such great implications for us today. I’ll break this up into three part’s which reflect my sermon.