The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 204th Edition, October 31, 2021

Greetings friends,
 
Welcome, new subscribers! This weekly newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find it helpful and encouraging.

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Announcement:

A Setting Captives Free mentor and his wife have united their talents of photography and calligraphy to create calendars with beautiful pictures of flowers paired with Scripture verses written in calligraphy. These calendars are a beautiful and wonderful daily reminder of God’s Word. To view or purchase from their Amazon store, please click here. 

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The audio version of this newsletter can be found here.
 
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Greetings, brothers and sisters; welcome to our new study of 1 Corinthians on living and growing in the gospel. If you’re just joining us, we are studying through Living and Growing in the Gospel - A Study of 1 Corinthians, which you can find here. 

Lesson 2 is now live and available on the website.

As we reflect on this week's teaching from 1 Corinthians, it is prudent to consider what is of the utmost importance in our lives. What are you willing to commit to, take a stand on, and hold fast to in your life? 

As you know, there are professing Christians worldwide who take their stand on many different things - causes, charities, social issues, mask and vaccine mandates, abortion issues, personal rights, politics, etc. With all these concerns clamoring for attention, it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important.

Thankfully, God has told us in His Word what is of primary importance and on which we should stand as Christians. According to 1 Corinthians 15, the gospel is of first importance. The gospel is what we are to receive, hold fast to, and where we take our stand.

And because He loves us and doesn't want anyone to mislead us, God has defined the gospel for us. He has determined and declared what is of first importance to Him and should be to us. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIV) "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve."

There is a plague in the Christian church today, a pandemic of gospel confusion and misinformation. It has infected even the leadership of churches. I'm a member of an online pastor's forum, and just yesterday, I read an example of this improper use of the word gospel from a pastor. He said, "the gospel is everything God is doing in the world today." As you can see, he missed the mark. With leadership who misuse the word gospel, it is not surprising that there is such confusion about the gospel and so many powerless churches!
 
Sadly, what contributes to leaders who abandon the true definition of the gospel is that many people who hear it respond with: "Oh, I already know that gospel. I learned it in kindergarten. I hope this study goes deeper; I need to move on to something of more substance. I want the meat of the Word, not babies' milk."

And that kind of attitude comes right from Satan. We know this because 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us Satan wants to blind our minds to the gospel. Why is this his goal? Because he knows that the "message of the cross" is "the power of God for salvation" and also for us who are "being saved." (1 Corinthians 1:18) Satan can't stand us having all that power, and his goal is to keep us weak and enslaved to sin by convincing us that we don't need the message of the cross.

But if we didn't need "the message of the cross" for salvation and spiritual growth and godly living, why did God put it in every book of the Bible as the central point? If we didn't need it, why did God call it the message of first importance? 

Oh, friend, we all need to hear the good news that Almighty God became Man (John 1:1-14), Yahweh the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11) was born Jesus the Savior. “Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 1:21). And then out of love for you and I God the Son, the only Savior, died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)! May God the Holy Spirit make this message real in your own heart!

By believing the gospel again today, we will have the spiritual power to overcome sin and Satan's temptations! Belief in the gospel enables us to be victorious over our flesh that craves drunkenness, gluttony, smoking, pornography, sexual impurity, unforgiveness, bitterness, or sinful anger over unmet expectations and disappointments, and to have power over the "legal spirit" with which we are all born. Indeed, the message of the cross addresses every issue of life. We need it!

Question for this week: 1 Corinthians 15:2 says, "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you." In what ways do you hold firmly to the Word preached, and what are the results for you as you hold firmly? 

And if you want to take part in our Marco Polo groups where we will interact around the study, you can join the appropriate groups through the links below:

Join the Men's Marco Polo Discussion Group
Join the Women's Marco Polo Discussion Group.

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Testimonies

Kim writes, "The biblical principles taught in the Weight Loss courses have been helpful to me in that my focus on the cross has sharpened. My walking by the Spirit has become more consistent, and I'm more dependent upon Him and seeking His lead multiple times a day. Warring against my flesh is still ongoing, but I'm winning more wars than losing - to God be the glory!!

In this study, I've learned to seek the Lord for a daily eating plan and follow through with it, remember the cross of Christ and experience cleansing through the blood of Jesus, and to see myself in a coffin, dead, unable to respond to the temptations that surround me. I'm so thankful to be set free from diets/man's wisdom of what to eat and how often, praise the Lord I can enjoy everything as the Spirit leads!! I now get excited about putting to death the deeds of my flesh when tempted versus succumbing.

I've lost a few pounds, but I wasn't overweight at the start. Fortunately, I'm pretty healthy; I did this course to learn how to eat and exercise to the glory of God. Before these courses, I was seeking to look like what the world said I should. Now that I am no longer seeking to live according to the world's system, I am at peace knowing that I look exactly how the Lord has created me to look, which has been so freeing!

My mentor Gail was absolutely wonderful, very consistent, and quick with her responses to my lessons. Her prayers for me were beautiful!

These courses help the student to apply the power of the Gospel to one's life. It encourages us to be sanctified by the power of the Gospel. Most believers know the Gospel will save them from eternal damnation, but they miss out on the transformational power of the Gospel in this life which truly does set us free from the power of sin!"

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Friend, if you find you agree with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and would you consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount? www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free