Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Glory in Nothing but the Cross

Paul gave this warning, and we would like to repeat it.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).

In the Lord’s message to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), He says, “But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Both of these statements say that there is a “first love”—“a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” that must not be abandoned or left behind.

This first love was a responsive love.

“We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

His love for us meant His death upon the Cross for our sins. His resurrection meant our justification in the sight of God, God’s seal of approval on the death of His Son as providing salvation from sin and eternal life to all who will believe. We must never cease loving Him for His mercy and love toward us. Therefore, we must never cease to dwell on His love shown at the Cross, for it is this that keeps our love for Him warm and alive.

There are many ways to be led astray, and we all know the immoral ways. There are a few ways that are cunning and deceitful and do not seem immoral. They may seem legitimate because they are taught in Scripture: promises of a deeper spiritual life centering on the gifts of the Spirit, the need of separation from the world, a special doctrine. These legitimate teachings must always be tested by the gospel, never divorced from the gospel.

Many false cults are based on Scriptural tangents, overemphasis of one truth to the exclusion of others. Much of the New Testament is written to counteract false emphases, e.g. the Thessalonian letters were written in part to keep the believers from letting the belief in the return of Christ keep them from daily work. The Colossian letter was written to combat Gnosticism: people claiming “deeper knowledge” but, as Paul wrote in Colossians 2:19, “not holding fast to the Head.” It was to the very gifted church at Corinth that Paul had to write his most devastating comment, “For you are still of the flesh” (I Corinthians 2:3).

Christians do not like to believe they can be led astray. It is a sobering fact that Satan opposes the believer not only as a “roaring lion” (I Peter 5:8) but also as an “angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). In this same chapter, Paul warns:

“For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough” (II Corinthians 11:4).

And even more strongly in Galatians 1:6-9:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”

Let’s join Paul in saying, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

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