The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 207th Edition, November 21th, 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 5 in Living and Growing in the Gospel study is now live and can be found here.

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Teaching

This week we studied through 1 Corinthians 3, and in this chapter, Paul admonished the Corinthians to grow up. He described them as "mere infants" in Christ, who had to be fed "milk" and "not solid food" because they were "living in the flesh" as they quarreled with one another and followed mere men.

Paul uses three descriptive word pictures to teach the Corinthians and us how to live and grow in the gospel. 

First, the Corinthians were God's field, and all God's farmers work together; some plant, some water, but only God makes them grow. Jesus was the Greatest Farmer who sowed Himself into the ground to raise us out of sin and seat us in heavenly places with Him.

Second, the Corinthians were God's building. All God's builders work together for them; some laid the foundation, others built on that foundation, but all were necessary to erect the structure and beautify it with gold, silver, and precious gems.

Third, the Corinthians (the local church) is the Temple of God where He lives by His Spirit. By their immaturity and living in the flesh, they were weakening and destroying the temple. God issued one of the most severe warnings in all of Scripture: "God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple." God died for the church; God treasures the church, God protects the church, and God will keep the church. It's as if He says, "Hands off, or I will destroy you!" 

Then Paul ends this chapter with a powerful statement:

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (NLT) So don't boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you—22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

How would you live your life if you truly believed "everything belongs to you!?" Would it move you to stop grasping for things and people in this world since you know all things are yours already? Would it motivate you towards loving all people, even your enemies, since you have an endless supply of love to give? Would it move you to be as generous as God who gave His Son to you, knowing all things in the world - in life, death, present, and future - are yours? Would it free you from habitual sin, knowing that you already own everything of value and have need of nothing else? You have it all, friend.

And let's remember that the reason we have it all is that Jesus gave it all! He impoverished Himself to enrich you. He died to forgive you. He was buried to remove your sin from you. And He rose to fill you with the hope of eternal life, assuring you that death is not the end; it's the beginning of our incorruptible life. 

Question 1.  How does understanding that "everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ" grow you up in your faith and change your life? 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

Manuel writes, "Many changes have taken place in my life, during the Purity Bootcamp and especially during the Purity Follow-Up course.

First, I gained a new, better, and deeper understanding of the gospel. Before this course, I always understood the gospel as a finite thing - me giving my life to Jesus, and then I am on the safe side. But through the principles of washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, and warring against the flesh, I learned that salvation and sanctification are ongoing, so it is necessary to come daily to the cross to wash off the worldly dirt. As a result of this washing at the cross, I am capable and willing to walk in joy with the Spirit and to crucify the demands of my flesh.

This study brought me into a much deeper, intimate, and loving relationship with my wonderful Savior than ever before.

Previously, I always tried to escape out of the grip of sexual sin by my own efforts. I read books, counted days, kept a diary, feasted, meditated, tried by willpower, and more. I don't say that all these things are bad. But by none of these methods was I ultimately freed of this pestilence (sexual immorality). I could resist porn and self-gratification for a maximum of about 2-3 weeks between falls, and that's not freedom.

Thank God that he brought me to this course and worked so powerfully in my heart and life! I learned that I am weak, fighting on my own, isolated from Christ; I'm wholly dependent on Him and His fulfilled work on the cross.

My thoughts, desires, and character have changed completely! I no longer see myself as a sinner because Jesus paid the full price of all my past, present, and future transgressions; now, I see myself with a new identity, and the gospel set me free to live in it. And probably the most amazing thing is that I don't have to make any more effort, because now it is no more me (my old nature) who is living, but God's Spirit in and through me! Human words are too limited to describe how wonderful this is!

I had Gabriel as a mentor and appreciated his help very much. Every morning I opened with joy his feedbacks in my mailbox, which gave me so much motivation!

I recommend this course with the utmost conviction because it is the first and only time I feel free after decades of suffering in sexual sin. The study is so cross-centered, which is needed to break and stay free from any thought or sin struggle."

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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