The Rugged Way
“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee,
cut them off, and cast them from thee”
The soft and sentimental invitations of the gospel today do not resemble the Call of Christ. The prosperity message, the feel-good teachings, and the leniency of men interpreting scripture have removed the necessity of the Cross. It has robbed the church of the raw power of Christ to shine brightly in our day.
“But we preach Christ crucified…”
1 Corinthians 1:23
Paul preached “Christ crucified” because he was aware of his co-crucification in Christ. He did not pamper a wounded self. He did not make allowances for the unjust things he experienced in his desire to make Christ known. He was captured by the ONE who gave His life for him personally. It was not an abstract teaching or simply a historical incident in the story of fallen humanity.
The Cross of Christ is the source of the LIFE of Christ.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It is the profound truth upon which our salvation is formed. The way of the true believer is a rugged way; a way filled with tears, repentance, and surrender. It is a path marked with the forsaking of ourselves as we follow the crucified ONE. His joy over us is the fruit of those who follow Him in this rugged way. The result of this severity of the cross is a growing sweetness of His Spirit. The loss of our selfishness is our gain of Christ.
Forgiveness flows from those who know in some measure the Cross of Christ. Humility is the fruit of the selfless love of Him. Purity is the atmosphere of a heart free of selfish motives. We can only touch the truth of Him to the extent of our identification with Him.
The fellowship of the Body of Christ can only be as deep, pure, and as powerful as our apprehension of His truth, personally and corporately.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship one with another…”
1 John 1:7
If there is no radical ongoing change in our lives it is because we have ceased to follow Him. Stagnation, the love of comfort, and friendship with those who have a “form of godliness” but lack the “power” of it has been the death of many a disciple. Paul warns Timothy to remove himself from such.
“…having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it;
even turn away from these”
2 Timothy 3:5
Many may consider one who radically holds to the Way of Christ as legalistic and misguided, but the growing life of Christ within is compensation enough for the true disciple. Only in bearing my own cross am I able to faintly comprehend what HE went through to secure my salvation. I cannot know Him with any sense of intimacy apart from the Cross. All the books, sermons, and resources avail nothing apart from the cross.
The Rugged Way
No wonder Paul declared he “preached Christ crucified”. The only way for us to know Him is to follow Him. The true salvation HE offers is full freedom from self, not just forgiveness from the acts of our malignant self!
“He that loveth his life shall lose it,
and he that hateth his life in this world
shall keep it unto life eternal.”
We have replaced the testimony of Jesus with a message of “just believe” that reduces the working of the cross to a teaching rather than the means to His resurrection. The belief that Jesus spoke of is one of the “rivers” of life flowing from us, a life of growing in righteousness, and speaking words that impact the world around us. The carefully crafted gospel of today carries little weight, little glory, and lacks the fire and passion of God.
“Whoever believes into me, as the Scripture has said,
‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
John 7:38 (LITV)
Many receive His Word as revealed to us in the Parable of the Sower however we would do well to consider His interpretation so that we may give heed to our walk with Him.
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
It is the honest heart that intrinsically knows its utter need for the cross. Self is not to be cradled or pampered. There can be no excuses (past or present) for our crookedness. In this day of inner healing, counseling, and sympathetic listeners all seeking to console one another, often the true victory over self is found in the rugged Way of the Cross.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 (LITV)
Who are the perishing? Those who refuse the word and the work of the Cross. How many times do we seek to save ourselves from the cost of following Him? How many live isolated lives, spending their days with those of like mind, never venturing into the sick, broken and needy world around them? The path to compromise begins innocently but ends in spiritual decay and death. The cross is a daily attitude of heart to safeguard us for eternity.
The rugged way is the way of life and “few are those who are finding* it”.
“For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life,
and few are the ones finding* it.”
Matthew 7:14 (LITV)
“If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.”
*NOTE: Another instance of the actual Greek inferring the “ing” speaking of an ongoing daily process. While many translations use the word “find”. The true disciple is ever discovering ongoing and new dimensions of His Life and purposes.
Related Post: The Cross of Christ