The Power of the Cross: 174th Edition, March 28, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 174th Edition, March 28, 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.




Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 173






Justification by Faith

How does a person become right with God? How does one deal with this problem of sin that we all have? Is it by our own efforts to be better? Is it by working programs and stepping steps? Is it by obedience to God’s Law? How?

The answers to these questions are found in this week’s study of Galatians 2:15-16:

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

Paul taught the Galatians this truth because the false teachers were telling them they needed to keep the Law in addition to believing the gospel. This teaching is the doctrine of “justification by faith,” which started an entire reformation within the church in the 1500s. 

Now, this passage deals only with justification, or how to be right with God, whereas the next chapter deals with sanctification or how to be free from sin. So, Paul is dealing with the foundational doctrine in this chapter, and in the next, he will teach us how to build on the foundation of justification by faith.

The word “justification” is a legal term; its opposite is “condemnation.” In a courtroom setting, it’s either justification or condemnation for the accused. If you were to stand before a judge and receive condemnation, you would have been found guilty and have to pay the price that he, or the Law, would determine. Or, if you were to receive justification, it would mean that you would not be held liable for any charges against you and would be acquitted of those charges and released into freedom.

What are the charges brought against you and me in God’s heavenly courtroom? Well, our situation is more serious than bad behavior, or even of having a sinful heart; the charges against you and I are of complete alienation from God, the total depravity of heart and mind. The charges against us are revealed in the Law of God, and God attests to our guilt through our own conscience that condemns us and by the very lives that we have lived.

Innately everyone knows they've done wrong, so we all feel guilty. When we read God's Word, we understand more fully of this righteous decree against us, of the guilt on us. Many of us have tried various methods to free ourselves from our guilt and shame. We've tried to work our way out of the problem by doing good, reading the Bible day and night, attempting to keep God's Law, doing good works, etc. We have sought to be justified by our own efforts but quickly discovered we could never be good enough, and so we were never free from the plaguing undertow of guilt that would sweep us back out into the ocean of sin.

But then, one day, or over a period of time, we heard the message of good news. The message was that God made His Son to be our sin that we might go free! On the cross, Jesus was alienated from His own Father, that we might be joined together with God forever! Jesus was condemned instead of us and died to pay for our sins, that we might be justified before a holy God. His death for our life. His condemnation for our justification. 

And what is the only requirement on our part? It is to believe this glorious, exceedingly good message! We accepted and put our trust in Jesus' blood shed for us, and we were justified, exonerated of all charges, and set free from sin's penalty. "So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ" (Galatians 2:16). In other words, by faith in the good news, your rap sheet has been purged, wiped clean, and you have been found "Not Guilty" (Romans 8:1-2) before a most Holy God, all because of the sacrifice His Son made for you.

You who are reading these words today, have you seen the sacrifice Jesus made for you and put faith in it as your all-sufficient atonement for your sins, the complete payment for your wrongs? Or are you hoping that something you do might add to what He did? 

Illustration: Let’s close with a short illustration. 

In the year 640 AD in China, there was an area of land owned by rich people who had built luxurious homes; but right next to this section of wealthy homes, the poor lived in mud huts. 

In that year, the river Yangtze flooded. The rich believed their homes were a safe haven, so when the report came that the river was flooding, they all ran to the safety of their homes and went up on their roofs to wait it out. 

But the river flooded higher than ever before, and the rushing waters wiped out every home in the town. All of the rich people who trusted in the safety of the homes they had built were swept away in the floodwaters.

On the other hand, the poor knew that their mud huts would provide no protection, so upon hearing the news of the flood, they immediately ran to the hills, escaped the flood, and lived. 

Question: In your life, are you trusting in something you built, your efforts, your ministry, the life that you made? Or do you see your life, your righteousness is nothing but a mud hut that could never withstand the flood of God’s wrath, and so you have run to the hill of Calvary and put faith in what Jesus did there for you? Please share.


Setting Captives Free has free, interactive Marco Polo studies that correspond to the teachings in this newsletter. If you’d like to join the discussion, click one of the following links on your smartphone: 

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Ivan writes, "In the Purity Bootcamp course, I learned that walking in the Spirit & warring against the flesh are by-products of washing at the cross which I never get enough of and is fresh and new every day.


The cross of Jesus used to be a story that I'd heard 1,000 times. But now, the cross has become the tree of life for me. I now see the message of the gospel and know and live in its truth.


The cross of Jesus is not just a story now. I come to the cross daily, and I listen to bible teachers preaching the truth about the gospel. I was tired of listening to naysayers, and Christ chose to reveal Himself to me. Not by my works but by His Grace. I was His enemy when He put Himself on that cross. I was Not deserving that He should die for me..."at the cross at the cross where I first saw the light." I AM BORN AGAIN!!! His great love has broken me several times. There are no words!!!!


I would recommend this course to anyone in trouble and anyone who thinks he knows the gospel. I thought I knew till the scales fell from my eyes. I pray that all men take this course. We ALL need it...notwithstanding the high percentage of sexual impurity among men nowadays. Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer. And it's at the cross where we meet Him."

Daniel writes, "I grew up in the church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at a young age, but throughout my high school and university years, I struggled immensely with anxiety and depression. As a result, I turned to all kinds of things to cope: over-sleeping and not sleeping, over-eating and not eating, over-working, meditation, immense exercise, gratitude journaling, pornography, excessive alcohol, serving in church, praying, studying the Bible, praise & worship, and the list goes on. Nothing really worked because even with the things that I turned to that were considered good, I was not coming from the right mindset and heart.


But after finding the Depression course on Setting Captives Free, I began learning about the gospel of Jesus' finished work on the cross and how I am saved through grace - through His work and not mine. And after going through this course, I can say with gratitude and joy that my depression has completely lifted because of the revelation of Christ's love for me. I will admit that I still struggle with anxiety and worry, but I'm learning to give it all to God daily and to turn to the cross continually.


Thank you, Jesus, for saving me, and thank you, Setting Captives Free, for pointing me in the right direction."


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 consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. Thank you in advance. 


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free