The Power of God and The Cross of Christ
The cross of Christ is the supernatural place of victory where God’s life and light defeated the powers of hell, death and darkness 2000 years ago. Today, the cross of Christ is where we come when we are born again. It is a powerful place of miracles and transformation. It is the holy place of God where judgment and mercy come to decide all things. The cross of Christ is the place of the great exchange, where our sin, fear and death are exchanged for God’s holy love and life, (Romans 6:3-11). For those who follow Christ their lives are far more than changed, they are exchanged. The place of this supernatural exchange takes place at the cross of Christ, His life for ours, our sin for his Holy Spirit. In the entire history of the world there is no way to measure the fairness of this trade, except for the grace of God alone.
Jesus Christ cannot be truly known except through His cross made real in our own lives. The way of a Christ follower is the way of the cross, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). To follow Christ is to no longer go the way of the world. This is in our first step, when we confess that; “I am not God”, I live in a broken and fallen world filled with broken imperfect people of which I am one.
At the cross of Christ, (to experience full recovery) we leave everything behind even ourselves with all the selfishness, fear, anger, and sin. We thank God for having a place to leave everything that would pollute our spirits or distract us from God’s pure and holy love. How can we become one with Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven with all our garbage? The apostle Paul said, “The word of the cross … Is the power of God. Christ crucified is foolishness to the world … But to us who are being saved it is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23-24). The cross answers that question and if we are fearlessly honest (come Holy Spirit and make it so), we will confess all our selfishness and excuses, and lay them all down at the cross. We know we cannot change ourselves. We’ve tried many times. We need more than earthly sentimental love for change, we need a surgical operation. This is the work of the cross. Christ makes a place for God’s Holy presence in us where self is no longer our life center. Jesus paid the price for us, and shows us the heavenly way. The place of exchange is at the cross—our slavery, sin and shame for His freedom and riches—riches that only a child of God can truly know.
The work of the cross is not just a negative place, a place to be emptied but a space to be joyfully and abundantly filled, filled with a love that is eternal and true, a love with all the creative and life giving genius that only God can ever give. We cannot be truly filled with the Holy Spirit unless we’re emptied first. We cannot know resurrection life unless we’ve first experienced death. One cannot happen without the other. The cross of Jesus Christ makes a supernatural place for God in our hearts where the seed of the Holy Spirit is planted and has room to grow. It is God’s good pleasure to give us the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the cross. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:24-26). Heaven’s seed is planted in our heart, that is in the very center of our being. Only through the brokenness of the husk of the seed (that is our outer man) can the Holy Spirit be released and grow—otherwise it remains locked inside, alone and fruitless. It is God’s good pleasure to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit through the cross – It is our challenge to receive it and act upon it, “if anyone wishes to come after me” (Matthew 16:24). The life of abundance and fruitfulness comes through those who know the work and the way of the cross.
The great question of the cross is this: “is my salvation and deliverance in God alone or God plus other things?” Our intimate passions can be our worst dictators. Beware of looking back on what you once were when God wants you to be something completely different. “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). The more things we demand to be in control of, the less serenity we will have. May we come to know God as He truly is and not as we would have him to be. In the back of our minds may we always remember God is good and “your heavenly Father already knows what you need before you even ask” (Matthew 6:8).
The Holy Spirit
The work of the Holy Spirit goes hand in hand with the finished work of the cross of Christ. (Acts 2:32-33) The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a direct result of Christ’s sinless life and finished victorious work on the cross. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ happened during the celebration of Passover. This is a holiday the Jewish people celebrate of their liberation from slavery in Egypt. At that time when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed, Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. Three days later He was, by the glory of God resurrected from the dead.
Fifty days later another major Jewish holiday happened, a harvest celebration called Pentecost. It is a day of thanksgiving to God for all the blessings of a fruitful harvest. In faith the seed of God was planted at Passover, and now it was time to celebrate the harvest. In this ceremony the priest takes a bundle of wheat, lifts it towards heaven and waves it in gratitude before the Lord in acknowledging God’s blessing and fruitfulness. It was at this Jewish celebration that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh and the church was born. The floodgates were opened, “…in the last days God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). Now all humanity had direct access to God, not just the high priest of the temple in Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
The call of our Lord Jesus Christ is a call to reconciliation with God, to newness of life, resurrection life (Romans 8:11). At first the cross seems to be a very narrow gate, but once we enter, we come to a vast new world of imaginative, creative possibilities Jesus calls “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God”. The Holy Spirit is for those who desire to know a whole new creative life and relationship with God and His family. The reality of the kingdom of heaven was so wonderful St. Paul was no longer interested and what the world had to offer, “the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
In Jesus Christ’s call for us to know the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He is opening a whole new way of thinking. The Holy presence of God is now inside us thanks to the cross of Christ. No longer is God only “out there” in heaven, or in church, or in nature or other places that only special people have access to. The apostle Peter says, “you have been born again not of a seed that is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Christ is alive in our hearts and is central in our fellowship at La Casa de La Paz. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name so am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). At meetings as we share our stories of everyday life, we are weaving together for one another, the words the Spirit gives for encouragement, exhortation, and consolation for others to grow in Christ. Our stories are living proof that God is alive and God cares.
We know the Holy Spirit and all He says and does by knowing Jesus Christ and all He says and does. “He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, “from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. He spoke this of the Spirit…” (John 7:38-39). He is the one to whom the thirsty come to drink. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit and become drink for the thirsty and food for the hungry. To know and receive Christ is to know and receive the Holy Spirit. His every word is filled with the Holy Spirit. “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing; the words I speak are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you…” (John 14:18), is a promise of intimate fellowship with God, even after Jesus returned to heaven. “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). We believe God has a distinct voice He places in our conscience, and we as His sheep have the capacity to hear His voice. The Holy Spirit is expressly given to teach us and remind us of all Jesus says and does. “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:26-27). Any words spoken that contradict the words of Jesus are not of the Holy Spirit. God is one. Our love for God is shown through obedience to Him. In our unity with God He reveals Himself to us. “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and show Myself to him…” (John 14:21). Our relationship with God is intended to be with great joy and contentment, “these things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
In Christ we are creating a new mentality of what is normal. God is showing us what human life can be, when centered and renewed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians. 2:16) If miracles are normal in the New Testament (with all kinds of different people), then why shouldn’t they be normal with us? “The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us” (Romans 8:11). Jesus invites us to know the power of God in the Holy Spirit even as He does. “Whoever believes in Me, the works I do he will do also; and greater works than these He will do, because I go to the Father…. if you ask Me anything in My name I will do it so that the Father is glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name I will do it” (John 14:12-14). In the words and promises of Jesus, may the miracles of God become a normal part of our thinking and living. “Be imitators of God as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
A central part of our discipline is to start each day with the prayer our Lord taught us to pray. Part of that prayer is “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). For us prayer is an act of worship but also an act of humility. We recognize our limitations and confess our needs for God’s wisdom and power this day. As the Old Testament manna from heaven was good only for one day, we cannot depend on the grace of God we had for yesterday. We need a specific new supply of grace and faith for today. Jesus challenges us to not be satisfied with yesterday’s portion of the Holy Spirit, but in faith to expect even greater things for today. “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of your fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11: 9-13).
The Cross of Christ at the End of Time
At the time of what the Jews call Passover and Christians now call the first Easter, the Lamb of God prophesied and said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). Clearly God’s judgment is on the world a second time. The Holy Spirit says, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven. This expression, Yet once more, denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Let the love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 12:26-13:1).
We are simply called to hold fast to what is unshakeable, that is what is good in Christ and His royal law (James 2:8). But what is shakable? Scripture speaks of the “mystery of evil”. Some can see right and wrong for what they are, and yet still rebel. They refuse to be transformed by the power of their creator’s love. They traffic in darkness, worshipping a creation of their own invention rather than the Creator, even the One who created them and everything around them. They are presumptuous, giving themselves the false impression of having the power and privilege of ruling, even ruling over God. They worship only themselves, and in their presumption and self-pity give themselves the right to judge the world by their own standard, and invite others to do the same, the blind leading the blind. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light for fear his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
Jesus refers to God’s judgment many times in the gospels, and yet He says on His part, He judges no one. “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me… If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive my sayings, has One who judges him…” (John 12:44-48). At the cross Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). His appeal to His Heavenly Father is for mercy. God’s perfect sacrifice of unconditional love, is showing the path Jesus has called us to follow. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). What does God say about judging? Don’t do it! Which one of us would say on that last day, “God, I want you to judge me exactly the way I have judged others?” Let the wrath of God to be left to God alone. This is God’s realm, not ours. Until that day comes what we can do is remind others that in the love of a Holy God there is justice. The day is coming when all the inhabitants of earth, who now are or ever were, will stand accountable before God. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation to all who will listen, that peace and reconciliation with God may be found while there is still time. “Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Let God sort things out. (Matthew 13:24-30 Reference). This is the law of liberty and the path to our heart’s peace and freedom. “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12-13).
Remember forgiving that person does not validate their behavior or make an excuse for sin. Forgiveness empowers us to let that other person go so they no longer may have power over us, yet God remains judge. Jesus who judges no one specifically points out child abusers as under the judgment of God. (Luke 17:2 Reference) The law of love releases us from the temptation of being a judge or a victim, as neither is helpful or healthy. Forgiveness releases us from our past and makes room for the peace God desires us to walk in the present. We don’t forget the past; rather we learn from it and celebrate the fact that the past is truly the past. “It is finished.” It used to be our shame, now it’s a part of our celebration of recovery. Justice will be served in God’s time and in God’s way. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21, NASB).
Abiding in Christ
If we embrace the cross the way Christ has called us to, we will begin to see the world more and more from God’s point of view and less from our own. “He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6, NASB). In teaching His disciples how to pray, our Lord said “…your heavenly Father knows what you need before you even ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). If this is true then why do we pray? The reason for prayer goes far beyond getting things. Our heavenly Father yearns that we would be in active fellowship with Himself. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to eater; So will my word be which goes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:8-12, NASB). God’s promises are a call to our destiny, a destiny we can only understand as we grow in fellowship with our heavenly Father. Our future contains a far greater destiny than we can even begin to imagine. (Reference Revelation 21-22).
In reflecting on the words of Christ, we heighten our personal understanding and relationship with our loving heavenly Father God. The seed of our heavenly Father is the Holy Spirit. It is the most powerful force in the universe yet He comes to us the size of a mustard seed. (Luke 13:18-19) Even though the seed is very small it will grow quickly in the hearts of those who have the right soil. (Luke 8:4-15) As we magnify the powerful faith filled words of God in our thinking and act on them in faith, hope and love, our web or complex of fears and all the worries and cares of the world will begin to shrink back and lose their power over us. “As a man thinks in his heart so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). The following are just a few of God’s promises of peace and faith for us to meditate, act and grow in:
“Christ himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
“Peace be with you, even as the Father has sent me so I send you” (John 20:21).
“Your faith has healed you; go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
“The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
St. Paul reminds us to keep our focus on Christ alone. He is the one who guards our hearts and our minds, so let us not be tempted or distracted or try to fight the battle ourselves. The battle is the Lord’s. “I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Romans 16:19-20). When impulsive thoughts come knocking at the door of our heart – recognize them instantly for who they are and ask Jesus to answer the door. The word of God declares, “We battle not against and blood but against powers and principalities against the rules of the darkness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). These spirits, impulses or imps as they are called are thousands of years old and are called for distracting, wounding, tormenting and destroying the souls of men. When the tempter or the accuser comes calling, remember Jesus as your champion and defender. The imps have no power over our Lord Jesus Christ, so they have no power over us as we abide in Him. May we be humble in Christ and keep our faith simple and in Him alone. Remember the battle is the Lord´s so be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
Here are more words of faith, hope and love, God’s true promises to help equip and empower us and others.
“We take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
“We battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, NASB).
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-38).
“How may the lord of peace grant you peace in every circumstance” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).