The Power of the Cross: 176th Edition, April 11, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 176th Edition, April 11, 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 175

Teaching:

This week we have a special teaching by a dear friend and brother of mine, and I know you’ll be greatly blessed by it as I was:

The Transforming Power of Regarding Jesus
by ‘Anonymous Bob’

 

Regarding Jesus is the title of a book I wrote anonymously. I’ll tell you about it in a moment, but first, let me share a related personal discovery that is changing my life. It is grounded in this verse:

 

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
                                                                     —2 Corinthians 3:18

 

This verse applies to everyone whose ‘face’ is ‘unveiled.’ When this supernatural work occurs, we ‘behold the glory of the Lord.’ But who exactly is this Lord? In context (see 4:4, 6), we see that He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Seeing the glory of Christ is both the end and the means of the Christian life. And those who behold Him through the eyes of faith undergo a process of TRANSFORMATION! And not just any kind of transformation! We are transformed—changed—into the image of Christ. We become like Jesus!

 

Do you want to change? Then focus, no rivet your attention, your regard, onto the glory of Jesus Christ. He is revealed in the Word of God from cover to cover. So continuously open the Bible and seek to see Jesus. And diligently pray that the Holy Spirit will enable the process—for ‘this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’ In other words, we need the Spirit of God to illuminate the Word of God so that we can behold the glory of the Son of God and be transformed into His likeness, from one degree of glory to another.

 

What a beautiful and simple principle for battling our sins—including our addictions! Instead of relying on our ever-failing white-knuckle willpower, we take our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus, and nowhere is this more powerful than when we behold Him at the cross. As we behold Jesus there, we become like Him—we die to sin. And when we become like Him in His death, we also become like Him in His resurrection—we are raised to newness of life!

 

And it doesn’t end there. Through God’s Word, we can behold the ascended Jesus where He is right now at the right hand of the Majesty on High—the most glorious position in the universe. There He continuously serves His people as their all-sufficient great high priest, advocate, mediator, and intercessor. He reigns as Lord and King. When we see Him there, everything else looks small by comparison—including our ‘stuff.’

 

Our beholding Jesus is a life-long process. And while it is simple, it does not come naturally. That’s why the Bible tells us to:

 

lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 

LOOKING TO JESUS

 

the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
                                                                                 —Hebrews 12:1–3

 

+++++++

 

As I endeavored to write the book, Regarding Jesus, my research focused on scholarly writings like The Glory of Christ by 17th-century theologian John Owen. And the amazing Caledonian Creed from the 5th century. But my challenge was to write Regarding Jesus at a 9th-grade reading level.

 

In the end, after spending 4,000+ hours over five years, Regarding Jesus consisted of 177 pages of text on the Person of Jesus Christ covering a timeless timeline that ‘began’ before the Dawn of Time, unfolded throughout human history up to today, and advances into the future where it ‘ends’ with His Eternal Reign. I also went to great lengths to show the extent to which Jesus is personally present with us. When it all came together happily discovered that the Endnotes contained over 1,000 Scripture citations that were positioned to reveal the biblical Jesus.

 

As I buttoned up the digital manuscript, I became exhausted. And I began to notice something unexpected happening deep inside: I became acutely and painfully aware of sins that I had consistently tolerated. They were not the types of sins other people could detect. Instead, they were sins that went on inside my head, mostly consisting of fears and anxieties and lustful mental images in the middle of the night—leftovers from decades of porn addiction. These clearly were sins because they disregarded the glory of Christ and met the very definition of sin because they did not proceed from faith in Him (see Romans 14:23). I panicked—how could someone who could write this book be so sinful?

 

I knew the answer—in the light of His holy presence, I was seeing myself as I really am. But instead of beholding the glory of the Lord, I had begun looking down, turning my eyes away from Him, beholding my pathetic self instead. And I began to experience what people refer to as a depression.

 

Thankfully, through the help of some wise counselors, including Setting Captives Free’s Mike Cleveland, I was reminded to turn my focus away from myself and to steadfastly re-focus on our glorious Savior AT THE CROSS. Gradually the gloom lifted, and the joy of my blood-bought salvation returned. I once again basked in the righteousness of Christ (see Philippians 3:19), realizing that I will not become personally sinless until I see Jesus face-to-face in His resurrected, glorified body.

 

Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
                                                                     —1 John 3:2

 

Make no mistake—this does not mean I dismiss my sins or take them lightly. Instead, it means that as I continue to regard Jesus, sin will continue to lose its grip on me, and I will sin less.
+++++++

 

I hope you will join me on this journey—keeping the glory of Christ ever in sight—finding Him to be awesome, sovereign, ultra-compelling, mind-boggling, incomparable, majestic, gentle, kind, absolutely delightful, supremely satisfying, and holy, holy, holy.

 

I suppose the book can help—you can find it at Regarding-Jesus.com

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free