The Power of the Cross: 193rd Edition, August 15, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 193rd Edition, August 15, 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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Teaching:

One biblical way to view Christianity is as a race. How well are you running the Christian race?

Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." As you know, Paul said at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7)". 

When thinking of our lives as a race, we want to run "light" (stripped down, unhindered), not carrying around heavy bags of sin, and we want to run with endurance, because this is a marathon; it's for the rest of our lives.

We not only run light, and run with endurance, but we must run focused, so Hebrews 12:2 tells us, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame."

To run well, we need two healthy and strong legs. In the Christian life, our two "legs" are 1) faith and 2) a good conscience. We need to keep believing the good news of Jesus' death to remove our sins and wash at the cross often to keep a good conscience. Paul told Timothy:

"Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked" (1 Timothy 1:19). 

This "running a race" analogy brings us to our passage in Galatians for this week, chapter 5 verse 7, "You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from obeying the truth?" And I want to note two points:

First, Paul says they "were running the race so well." As long as they were hearing and seeing, and believing the message of the cross, they were running well! 

Oh, behold the power of the cross! 

When we see Jesus as the Lamb of God taking away our sin (John 1:29), we are encouraged in our faith! When we see Jesus as our Scapegoat bearing our sins into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:20-22), we feel lighter because He has released us from the power of the sins that hinder us. As we see Jesus our Substitute suffering under God's wrath that we deserve, bleeding to atone for our wickedness, dying to remove our guilt, we are empowered to move forward! As we see our old selves hanging on the cross dead to sin (Romans 6:7) and our new selves rising from the dead with Jesus, we run! We run and don't grow weary (Isaiah 40:31); we run in the path of God's commands (Psalm 119:32), happily obeying Him out of a loved-filled heart. 

Last week in our Setting Captives Free Marco Polo group four, David said these very words: 

“This God who made Himself a servant, this God who became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, though righteous and blameless, gave it all up for me. Man, where’s my neighbor, let me go serve them. Jesus, I don’t care if they kick my teeth in, I just want to wash their feet to show them what you’ve done for us. I just want to grab the next person on the street and say, “do you know that Jesus died for ALL your sins?” 

Now, this is running. It’s running well. It’s what happens when someone focuses squarely on the cross/resurrection of Jesus. When you look at the cross with eyes of faith, you want to build a hospital, start a church, make a non-profit, feed orphans and care for widows, give your life away in sacrifice and service to others. That’s running. Paul says to the Galatians, while they were looking at the cross he painted for them (Galatians 3:1), “you were running well.” Behold the power of the cross!

Secondly, When you turn to the Law, you become disobedient. What? That sounds wrong, but notice how Paul says, "who has held you back from obeying the truth?" When the Galatians were looking at the cross, they were running so well; but when they turned to the Law to perfect themselves, they became disobedient to the gospel, disobedient to the faith, disobedient to God's revealed plan and will. How ironic is that: to turn to the Law is to disobey the truth. Wow!

Question for you to consider this week: according to Galatians 5:7, how do you run the Christian life well, and how do you become disobedient? 

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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

Amy writes, "Since taking the Weight Loss Bootcamp course, I have started looking to Jesus and have grown in my understanding of His grace and mercy.

 

I have lost 12 inches, and my cholesterol has improved. I am not getting on the scale to weigh myself, which is awesome. But I know I have lost weight because I am wearing clothes that were previously too tight.

 

I recommend this course because it is totally different in that it is life-changing, not just weight changing.”

Solly writes, "Taking this journey came at the opportune time when I needed it the most. My wife had tested positive for COVID-19, and we were isolating from each other for two weeks. Being alone most of the time, I knew I was vulnerable. Starting the Setting Captives Free Purity Bootcamp course was like finding water in a desert.

 

Learning about the cross helped me focus on and appreciate what Jesus has done for me on the cross.   The Bible says that we need to fix our eyes on Jesus; this was practical and real for me.

 

The cross helps to remind me of where I come from, what Jesus has done for me, and the price he paid. I need the Spirit in my life to walk side by side with me, daily transform me and get me back to the path when I veer off by the temptation to gratify the flesh.

 

The lesson that impacted me the most is praying God's word back to Him. That was powerful and has stayed with me. The battle plan helped me to review and refine my boundaries. I feel very much alive (spiritually) and looking forward to the Purity follow-up course.

 

I've encouraged others to take the course; they have all found it valuable. Purity Bootcamp is a life-changing course as it helps us reflect on who we are, where we are, and centers us on Christ daily.

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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 would you consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount?  www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 

 

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Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free