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The Power of the Cross: 163rd Edition, January 10, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 163rd Edition, January 10, 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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Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 163, 10 de enero de 2021

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Teaching: First Study in Galatians

Galatians is the Book of Freedom. If you want to find freedom from habitual sin, you'll want to read, study, and learn this book! A summary of the book is: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). 

Paul gives us the key to his letter to the Galatians right upfront. In verse 1, he says Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and in verse 4, Jesus "gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age."

Paul describes the cross as a "rescue." Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us. Now this tells us that Christianity is not mainly instruction; it's a rescue. A firefighter doesn't go into a burning building and teach a class; no, his role is to rescue the people.

The word "rescue" means to deliver, to pluck out, to remove from something. See if you can see an illustration of the word rescue in this passage: "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" (Zechariah 3:1-2). 

Paul wants the Galatians, and you and I, to know that Christianity is first and foremost a rescue, where we were "plucked out" or "snatched from the fire." But a rescue from what? Jesus gave Himself "for our sins" to rescue us "from the present evil age." Maybe we have been enslaved to lust and impurity, or captive to alcohol or drugs, or in bondage to food; this is why Jesus came, to rescue us.

But you know what the greatest rescue needed was? It is to be rescued from our old self. The truth is, we're all in bondage to ourselves from birth, and Galatians tells us the cross is a rescue that crucifies my old self with Christ and raises me to a new life (Galatians 2:20). Jesus came to rescue us.

What Jesus did for us on the cross is similar to when Lot was taken captive by five kings, and Abraham went to rescue Lot and set him free (Genesis 14). Or when the Amalekites took David's family captive, including Abigail, his wife, and David went and rescued them all; the Bible says, "Nothing was missing: David brought everything back." (1 Samuel 30) That's a rescue! Or when Peter was sinking in the waves, and Jesus pulled him out, rescuing him from sure drowning!

Friend, you and I were taken captive by sin, Satan, and self; we were sinking in the waves of self-love, self-idolatry, drowning in self-focus. And Jesus came to this earth to rescue us from ourselves.

But Jesus' rescue of us was different than Abraham and David. Abraham didn't die to rescue Lot, and David didn't give Himself to save his wife. But Jesus gave Himself, that is, He gave His body, His blood, and His Spirit to rescue you.

As Jesus hung on the cross, He rescued you from sin's penalty (Romans 6:23). He rescued you from guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1). He rescued you from the grave and hell (John 3:16). And (this Paul's point in Galatians), He rescued you from sin's power

Some people today believe that Jesus only rescued you from sin's penalty, but to be free from sin's power, well, the gospel doesn't address that, so we made a program for that. They might say something like, "The gospel is only to make you right with God, but if you want to stop drinking or live in purity, or lose weight, etc., then we'll help you with that with these rules, etc." But that is a flat out denial of the gospel, a rejection of the cross. Paul wanted the Galatians, and us, to know right up front that Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the penalty and the power of it. 

Just look with me at the cross right now, and what you'll see is your sin hanging there (2 Corinthians 5:21). Look at how the life is draining right out of your sin. Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), and the blood is draining out. Your sin is bleeding out, and finally gasps, "It is finished!" In other words, "you are rescued!"  Now, that’s good news! 

Question 1: Do you see the cross not merely as forgiveness and pardon from sin, but as a rescue from your old self?

Question 2: From what has Jesus rescued you?

Setting Captives Free has free, interactive Marco Polo studies that correspond to the teachings in this newsletter. If you’d like to join, click one of the following links: 
To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/KbWmNaRtHIh4/3-scf-mens-group 
To join the female (only) group, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Zv8WlxPaMZuu/scf-womens-group-1 

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Testimonies

After completing the Purity Bootcamp course, Andrew writes: The Cross cast into the bitter waters of impurity has cleansed me from sexual impurity. I now drink the pure, clean water of Christ. I desire to know Christ and the Power of His Resurrection and share in the sufferings of His death on the Cross by dying to my flesh. I have been crucified with Christ. I am determined to War against my flesh. To know the daily plan of God and to let Christ impart His strength and power to me. He is my total answer for living in purity. Amen.

 

I am learning to draw near to the Cross of Jesus for ongoing cleansing. God has given me a battle plan. I long to know more and more of an intimate walk with Jesus. I have a longing to daily walk in the Spirit, to walk in the resurrection life of Jesus. I want to grow stronger and stronger in purity and resist all the strategies the devil tries to use - shutting every door in Jesus’ Name. 

 

I am righteous in Christ. He is my Rock, and His Water of Life flows to me, and He is my complete satisfaction. I no longer want what the devil has because it is putrid and disgusting to me. Jesus is beautiful, and He has cleansed and healed me. I am settled inside, and the anger and rage are dissipating. Stress, anxiety, and depression are broken. The chains of darkness have been dispelled, and the Light of Jesus is shining. I love Jesus so much. Thank you, Lord.

 

I have already suggested to a friend I am mentoring on Covenant Eyes Challenge to take The Purity Boot Camp course. I would have no hesitation as it is based on the Cross of Jesus.”

Shante shared this testimony when she completed the A United Front course:

"Before starting the A United Front course, I was paralyzed with fears and anxieties as a spouse whose husband would succumb to sexual impurities. I didn't view my husband through the lens of the Gospel; in my mind, I just wanted the sin to stop, and I often felt my husband was a lost cause. But God, with His mercy and grace, His goodness and kindness shined His face upon me when he prompted my husband to ask me if I would take this course.

Like many others, I felt my husband alone was the cause of our marriage woes, but I was wrong. I never saw my sin for what it was. This course constantly pointed me to Christ, and His love and compassion for us even when we didn't deserve it. I am so humbled to recognize what Jesus Christ did for my husband and for me too. I needed forgiveness and to stop minimizing my sins of ungodly anger, harsh words, and a bitter heart. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and that includes me.

It was so humbling to realize how self-righteous I was; the Gospel caused me to repent and ask my husband for his forgiveness for how harsh I treated him in the past. Settings Captives Free taught me that my husband and I are partners, and our perfect bond of unity is held together by the love of Christ. The prayers I received and the life-giving words (Scripture) that I received was truly life-changing. I finally desire my husband, something I have been longing for, for quite some time. I thank the Lord for all those who take the time to help others at their most vulnerable state by pointing them to Christ. May the Lord richly bless this ministry.

I recommend this course and encourage everyone who takes it to look to Christ and know that they are never alone in this war against the enemy, the world, and the flesh. We have a Helper and Comforter always, no matter how good or bad we feel, and we have our spouses who, despite their flaws and imperfections, are still a gift to us. Transforming our minds by the Word enables us to see how much of a blessing it is to live in harmony and unity with our spouses by the grace of God. Unity comes from Christ because we are brothers and sisters in Christ as well as spouses. We have each other in the body of Christ to sharpen each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other. What a blessing it is to be a part of the family of God."

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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 also 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