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The Power of the Cross: 118th Edition, February 16th, 2020


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 118th Edition, February 16th, 2020



Greetings friends,


Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.


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Teaching:


The cross of Jesus Christ sets us free from sin, both the penalty of it and the power of it. In previous newsletters, we've considered Luke 24 and saw that the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' dead body were "looking for the living among the dead" (Luke 24:5), and the reason was that they had forgotten the gospel. They forgot what Jesus said, that He would be handed over to sinful men, crucified, and then raised on the third day.


We saw that we, too, can find ourselves looking for life among dead things (overeating food, involved with sexual impurity, drunkenness, drugs, or any kind of fleshly living) when we forget the gospel. To live in freedom, we must remember that Jesus suffered for our sins, died our death, and rose in victory. It's of first importance:


"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)


Today, we want to finish our study of Luke 24, seeing that there is a method of interpreting the Bible, which would have prevented the disciples of Jesus from becoming discouraged, overwhelmed, and confused. Likewise, this method of interpreting the Bible keeps us from sinful bondage, overwhelming discouragement, and confusion about things that happen in our lives.


Let's see it together:


In Luke 24, two disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus, and Jesus comes up to walk alongside them. But they don't recognize Him, in fact, "their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (Luke 24:16).


Jesus asks what they are discussing, and they explain their confusion and discouragement about Jesus, who they thought was going to redeem Israel, but was instead, crucified on a cross. In response, Jesus refers them back to the Scriptures, asks an important question, and then teaches them how to study their Bibles:


"Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:26-27 (ESV)


Had these two disciples understood the gospel, that Jesus “had to suffer these things" (the cross) and "then enter His glory" (resurrection and ascension), they would not have been confused and discouraged. They would have understood that Jesus, through death, was indeed redeeming them - purchasing their freedom from sin, and then rising to conquer death and the grave for them.


Now notice what had to happen for these two disciples to understand Scripture correctly.


"When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight." Luke 24:30-31 (ESV)


For us, or anyone, to understand the Bible rightly, we must have our eyes opened to recognize Jesus in all of Scripture, and specifically, His sufferings and glories (His death and resurrection).


To help them (and us) understand, Jesus gave them an object lesson. They were walking along, looking right at Jesus, but they didn't recognize Him. This was a picture of how they had been reading their Bibles. They were looking right at the pages of Scripture, but not seeing Jesus in all their reading, not recognizing the message of most importance: the death of Jesus for sins, His resurrection in power. And consequently, they were discouraged, overwhelmed, and confused.


Oh friend, let's learn the lesson! Let's ask God to open our minds to understand the Scriptures rightly, that is, to see Jesus and His suffering on our behalf, to see Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, and to rejoice in that message so much that our hearts burn with love for Him.


"They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke 24:32 (ESV)


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Testimonies:


Annette writes, "The principles in the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course are useful in ALL areas of my life, not just weight loss. This course has been a great blessing to me. I have lost 12 pounds so far, and I know that the rest of my excessive weight will eventually melt away. I don't think that I will ever see food the same way again. Now, I desire to listen to my body. My hunger pangs will help me determine when to eat. I will NO longer be enslaved to food. What a great feeling! Thank you, Jesus!"


Ann writes, "I started the Purity courses at Setting Captives Free because they were recommended to me for a family member that is bound by pornography and because I work with the youth in my church. I thought I was going through the courses for others, instead of myself, but praise God, He had a different plan, a plan to show me again the complete forgiveness I have in Him.


I have been married and divorced twice. My first marriage ended because I was living for myself and looking for happiness in others instead of Jesus. I expected my husband to fulfill me, and when he didn't, I sought another. The second marriage was worse than the first; I lived with the consequences of my sin for 20 years until that marriage too ended in divorce.


I trusted Jesus when I was a child, and I am convinced that even in my sins and failures, He never abandoned me, but I was stuck in the shame and regret of my past - my unfaithfulness not only to my first husband but also to my Lord Jesus. I knew I was forgiven but felt like a second class citizen in the Kingdom of God because of my failures.


Washing at the cross and seeing the completeness of Christ's death and burial, which covers and takes away all my sin has been transformational for me. His Resurrection power to give me a new life in Him has been sealed in my heart as I continue to walk daily by His Spirit. The joy of my salvation has been restored, and I long to share Jesus with others. I now look for opportunities to tell others about Him instead of shrinking back because of my own 'stained" testimony.


Praise God for this Bible study and God's mighty redemptive plan. I realized the unfathomable grace of Christ Jesus in saving me at seven years old, and His faithful love that kept me all through my years of rebellion and hypocrisy. His overwhelming love fills my heart and continues to work change in my heart, my mind. I still struggle and fall short, but this I now know - forgetting what lies behind I press on toward the prize of the upward call of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is my Rock, my Deliverer, my Redeemer, my best Friend. He provides all my needs according to His riches in glory, and He makes me whole. What a Savior! Hallelujah! I know what I deserved, but Jesus paid the price for me, and I now am Free Indeed!!!


The principles of washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit and warring against the flesh are something that every person lost or saved needs to hear. Jesus is the Way of freedom through His shed blood on the cross. His death took away all our sins, and His Resurrection power gives us the new life, the power to overcome sin moving forward in Him. These principles are precious and powerful for all people.


Stay the course! If you want freedom from your old way of life, come see Jesus for who He is through this teaching through His word and be set Free!"


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Friend, if you find you are in agreement 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 also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland