Monday, February 1, 2010

Living the Cross-Centered Life by Jan Darnell

C.J Mahaney writes in his book, Living the Cross Centered Life, that all Christians everywhere should study the gospel of God fervently. 

He suggests that too often we consider the “good news” to be only for the lost rather than the central truth that forms, sustains, and animates the Church. This news distinguishes the Church from the world, defines her mission and protects her against Satan’s evil schemes and the deceptive harbors of sin. He further asserts that the gospel is absolutely vital to the formation of a vibrant, persevering Christian and that we should seek to be saturated by the message in order to be a healthy Church member. What do you think?

And what do the Scriptures have to say about the premise of Living the Cross Centered Life? Well, think about it. The entire Word of God revolves around the gospel message. Genesis delivers it and Revelation seals it with a new heaven and earth rejoicing over the effects of the cross forever. Why would that be?

From the very beginning, God created us to be fruitful and provides us with bountiful provisions to enjoy (Gen. 1-2). He formed male and female in His own image so that we could fellowship with Him in His Spirit. His will was that we possess the earth for His glory, ruling as sons and daughters in righteousness. But all of these privileges and intentions were lost when Adam sinned. Adam and Eve incurred severe consequences, the earth was cursed and Satan eternally condemned for his murderous role (Gen. 3). You and I were separated from all that we were created for…dead in a lifeless sinful state, a far cry from Garden paradise.

So God in His mercy, and I mean mercy because we can do absolutely nothing to merit His grace, sends His Son to submit to the grave and resurrect us. Jesus humbly comes as the sacrificial Lamb for our salvation and His Father’s glory. Now, stop for a minute. Please stop. This is why C.J. Mahaney says we should saturate ourselves in the study of the gospel message and let it permeate our lives. If we don’t grasp God’s sacrifice on our behalf to be a breathtaking, sacrificial miracle, then the gospel message has not dug deep into our soul. That is his point.

In Psalm 19:1, David wrote “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” 

This is an eternal declaration. Certainly, if the heavens are proclaiming His glory, then the rulers of the earth should too. But how can we proclaim His glory unless we are fully devoted to understanding it!

Do you understand what God has done for you? Does the cost that He incurred for your sin cause you to be aware of your poverty? There is a huge danger lurking in the Church today, comprised of solicitations that focus more on the greatness of man than the greatness of God. This is a deceptive distraction because man is blessed only by the greatness of God, never his own.

In Exodus 34:1, God commanded Moses to cut out new stones for His laws. After receiving God’s laws the first time and coming down from Mt. Sinai to deliver them, Moses found Israel “corrupt” with idolatry (Ex. 32:7) and threw them down in anger. For 40 days, he had been in the presence of a holy God who governs and judges according to righteous laws. You see, God’s Kingdom rules from a throne of righteousness or the right ways of God Himself (Ps. 89:14). We cannot change that. Sin solicits the wrath of righteousness. So Moses had to cut new stones for the laws of God to be written for Israel and he did (Ex. 34).

The purpose of the laws given by God in Exodus and Leviticus is to make us aware of His righteousness and our depravity as sinners. They are beacons of light that teach us how far off the mark we are as sinners (Ro. 3:23, 6:23). To study God’s Word is to study the gospel message of grace that covers our inability as sinners to keep His laws. It is a wonderful strand of “good news” declared throughout, offering up forgiveness to all recipients.

David sang, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:7-8).

God’s Word opens our eyes to receive the Christ.

Consider a statement by Martin Luther King Jr., “I live as if Christ died yesterday, rose today and is coming tomorrow.” It seems that this man understood Living the Cross Centered Life.

Jan has been a Bible student and teacher for 30 years, married since 1982 and raised seven children with her husband, Barry Darnell a nuclear engineer at Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her Biblical training has been primarily though the inductive Bible studies of Precept Ministries International, working alongside Kay Arthur in research and writing.

Originally posted: Week 6: February 7-13,Scripture Reading: Exodus 34-39; Leviticus 1-13; Psalm 19-22, Key passage for this devotion: Psalm 19

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