The Power of the Cross: 178th Edition, April 25, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 178th Edition, April 25, 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 177

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Teaching:

Question: why do Christians have wrong understandings of the Bible? And secondly, why do Christians get involved in habitual sin? Sins such as pornography and sexual impurity, drunkenness and drugs, food-related sins, unforgiveness, gossip, bitterness, or other habitual sins. The answer to both questions is the same: because they look away from the cross. 

In Galatians 3:1-5, Paul writes, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (verse 1). The word translated as “clearly portrayed” should be understood like the display of a billboard, so Paul is saying, “I displayed the cross like a billboard, you saw it clearly in every detail, and that’s how you began as a Christian. But you looked away because somebody held up a hypnotic pendulum and swung it in front of your eyes, and you got all mesmerized and bewitched by the teaching. Why is that? Because you looked away from the cross.”

False teachers were teaching the Galatians that while the gospel was necessary for salvation embracing God's Law was required for perfection - the gospel plus what you do. The Galatians, bewitched by this false teaching, looked away from the cross and began trying to earn their perfection by obedience. They were in error; they were sinning. The same thing happens to us! Forgetting our Savior's cross is the first step in our backsliding. 

“Here then was the beginning of their folly. The Galatians forgot their Saviour's cross. This was the first step in their backsliding. Had their eyes continued to be fixed on Calvary, the Legalists would have argued and cajoled in vain. Let the cross of Christ once lose its spell for us...and we are at the mercy of every wind of doctrine. We are like sailors in a dark night on a perilous coast, who have lost sight of the lighthouse beacon. Our Christianity will go to pieces. If Christ crucified should cease to be our attraction, from that moment the Church is doomed.” - The Expositor’s Bible

Yes, had these Galatians had their eyes fixed on Christ and His cross, this false teaching would have bounced right off of them, and they would not have become involved in habitual sin. They would have known that the fruits of love do not grow on the stump of the Law, but rather on the tree of Calvary!

Galatians 3:1-5 gives us three solutions for our sin problem; let’s look at them:

  1. Remember the cross. And by remember, I mean look at it.Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1b). See your King wearing a crown of thorns to remove the curse of sin from you, see His arms and feet nailed to the tree for your freedom, see Him breathing out His last breath to breathe new life into you, see Him pierced in His side where blood and water came out to forgive and cleanse you from all sin. But don’t just see His physical suffering, see Him bearing your sin to remove it from you, see Him shot through with the arrows of God’s wrath because God hates sin, see Him bleeding out and dying out of love for you to redeem and forgive you. And finally, see yourself in Him, in whom you now have redemption, the forgiveness of your sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Remember the cross and wash at it daily, and you won’t believe doctrinal error, and you’ll be free from sin’s bondage.

  1. Remember how you got the Holy Spirit.  “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2). When you heard the good news, that Christ died for your sin to rescue you, and believed that message, you received the Holy Spirit. This happened over and over in the Book of Acts: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (Acts 10:44). And again, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). It is as if Paul is saying, “do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit again today? Then come back to where you got Him, come to the cross and look up, hear the good news and believe again today.”

  1. Remember where all the supernatural power of God is - at the cross.Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:5). Paul is saying, “that man over there who was in bondage to alcohol, the Spirit worked miracles in him and set him free at the cross. The lady in bondage to food came to the cross where the Spirit worked a miracle in her life and set her free. That couple on the brink of divorce came to the cross where the Holy Spirit poured the love of God into their hearts and brought them together. Miracles happen at the cross!”

The solution for our sin problem today is stated clearly in this passage: “Remember the cross, remember how you got the Spirit, remember the miracles!” 

Question for this week: How does believing the message of the cross keep you from error?

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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: 

To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Va6HzPIPDxWU/4-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

Joel writes, "The biblical principles in Purity Bootcamp are like tools that dig or do surgery on my soul and show me the deeper hurts and sins I hold in my heart that I then bring to the Lord during Cross Washing. It's a repetitive UPWARD cycle of deliverance and healing versus a repetitive downward spiral of defeat and hopelessness.

 

The course was fantastic. I was excited to see the truths laid out so flawlessly and orderly. The lessons were brief but packed with facts I had never seen before, nor would I ever have discovered on my own. I had many successes Cross Washing in overcoming temptation and suffering and surrendering to Christ. 

The changes in my life have mostly been internal, but they have opened up a whole new way of engaging with Christianity and making it real for me. So many connections to truth in Scripture and practical applications came through this course - too many to count. I am excited to use these tools more and more and grow in my faith walk. For me, this is the birth of being a Christian.

You have to see this course! And do it. It is so well put together."

Kathy writes, "The principles of the Weight Loss Bootcamp course are absolutely vital in my walk with Him. Without Christ and going to Him in need, I will stumble and fall. Plus, I go to Him, rejoicing and praising Him for what He has done and is doing.

 

I came to this course because my blood pressure and blood sugar were both too high. I was heavier than I have ever been, and my girlfriend suggested I get my weight back to normal. I needed help. When I heard about intermittent fasting, I didn't think I could do it. We had a trip planned to Disney World, and although I cut my portions down and ate carefully, I did not fast. But when we came home, on day 15 of the course, I asked God about an eating plan. He told me to breakfast at 8 AM and have dinner at noon, and fasting after.  Who would have thought I could go without snacks (which I used to eat all the time) and an evening meal. Since then, when I have eaten when God didn't tell me, I have been uncomfortable, and I have gone to the cross and humbled myself. God has been there for me, not condemning me but lifting me back up.

 

Since I get up at 5 AM, the 8 AM breakfast was challenging. God helped me adjust to a 7:30 AM breakfast and a 12:30 Dinner (lunch). And when there is something on the schedule, like taking my granddaughter shopping at night with supper out or Easter brunch at church and dinner at my son's, God has given me a plan to handle those special events. I have never skipped breakfast before a brunch, but I am excited to do it this Sunday.  God has been right with me all along, and I so appreciate Him and love Him all the more.

 

I have lost 9 pounds since starting this course. My jeans were so baggy; I was pleased to go into the closet and find three pairs that fit. I do feel healthier. I can bend over more easily, and my balance is improved. I have more energy, plus I am stronger.  It has been so freeing.  I am so encouraged to continue walking with God in this."

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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 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