The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 206th Edition, November 14th, 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:

Bill Miller is a board member with Setting Captives Free and has written an excellent book on The Fruit of the Spirit. So much of the time, the fruit of the Spirit is taught from a Law perspective: "Be loving! Be joyful! Be patient!" This book by Bill Miller is a radical departure from that method, showing the gospel root that produces spiritual fruit. Pick up either a printed copy or an e-version here

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The audio version of this newsletter can be found here.
 
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Lesson 4 in Living and Growing in the Gospel study is now live and can be found here.

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Teaching

Welcome, brothers and sisters; it's good to be studying God's Word together. In this lesson, we studied 1 Corinthians 2, and let's now summarize what we learned.

Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wonder what church would be like if it had the same emphasis as Paul, who said, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2)? How would that look?

Good news! We don't have to wonder, because Paul continued his explanation: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power."

Focusing on Christ crucified for sins brings the experience of God's power. Power that raises people from the dead. Power that frees people from the chains of sin. Power that fills hearts with the knowledge-surpassing love of God. Power! Power! Power!

But not just power, remember what Paul said next? 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NIV) "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."

Not only power but also wisdom! The message of the cross, this hidden mystery, brings God's wisdom. The message of Christ crucified makes us wise for salvation and gives us ongoing wisdom to avoid sin, discern right from wrong, and live in love with one another. 

Yes, spiritual power and godly wisdom are two inevitable outcomes of the decision to focus like a laser on the death of Jesus for sins. 

Paul ends chapter 2 with this thought: 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

We must have the Spirit of God to discern the things that come from God, namely to understand the message of the cross. The person without the Spirit thinks that message is foolish. “You mean to tell me that God came to earth to die on a tree? And that’s supposed to save me, and give me power and make me wise? How utterly ridiculous!”

By contrast, the person with the Spirit understands that the God-man hanging on the cross is their complete salvation, wisdom, sanctification, redemption, and righteousness. They begin to find life in Jesus’ death. 

Oh, friend, we can know we’re maturing spiritually when the cross of Christ captures our focus, and we see and share it as our only hope, our complete salvation, our eternal redemption, and our power and wisdom for living.

Question for this week: have you experienced, personally, the power of God and the wisdom of God by looking at the cross of Christ? Please share.

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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

Gail writes, "In the Fruit of the Spirit course, I appreciated the explanation of what each fruit word meant, the Old Testament illustrations, how Jesus illustrated each one in His life, death and resurrection, and how He calls me to display them in my life to bring glory to Him.

When I come to the cross daily and wash in His life-giving blood, I know I am saved. When I walk with the Spirit, the fruit has a chance to grow in me by His power. I can fight against my flesh so that I will not sin. I have been given all the tools I need to be walking according to God's will for my life and not my own.

I have learned in such great detail about the fruits of the Spirit and how they should look in my daily living. This course has helped me stay true to what God wants for my life. It has encouraged me greatly to keep washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, and fighting my flesh.

I encourage others to take this course. I have been a Christian most of my life and wanted more insight into the Fruit of the Spirit. This course gave me that understanding."

Matthew writes, "The Purity Bootcamp course has been a powerful tool in implementing the power of the Cross over habitual sin. Having been someone who has struggled with various addictions, including pornography, for over 20 years, I was feeling hopeless, full of shame, and despair. Having been a professing believer in Christ for over a decade, I had experienced life change in some areas, but not in the area of sexual sin.

My ongoing sin struggle left me questioning my call to sonship and wondering if something was wrong with me.  Am I not good enough? Is this just the proverbial thorn in my side, my burden to bear? This sort of inward focus leads to a vicious cycle that perpetuates sin, takes us deeper down the hole, and offers no escape. This course helped me gain a clear and biblical perception of my sin, turning my inward focus outward towards the Cross of Jesus. My focus is no longer on past failures, mistakes, and shortcomings; but instead, it is on seeing and savoring God's completed redemptive plan through Jesus.

Washing at the Cross, Walking by the Spirit, and Warring against the flesh are the three key principles that have become pillars of hope and a roadmap to daily freedom in my walk with the Lord. I've learned to remind myself daily of God's love for me through Christ; while we were still sinners, Christ endured incomprehensible wrath, the wrath meant for me. We are either walking by the Spirit or by the flesh; there is no middle ground. I war against my flesh by looking to God and pleading for a battle plan against all strongholds, against anything, and believing he will work on my behalf. There have been some battles lost, but ultimately God has already won the war. I am very thankful that the Lord has made provision for this ministry.

My mentor Eric has been extremely helpful and supportive of me.

I recommend this course to every believer on earth. This course has helped me to understand the Gospel in a very practical and honest way. The three principles for freedom are sound and Biblical. I will continue to use these principles daily."

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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