The Cross: Our Eternal and Exceeding Joy

Last night, I finished a personal study on the centrality of the gospel as defined in Scripture. I want to be able to more clearly express to my old friends the importance of the cross-centered life. When I started coming to the New Members class at CCK, I know I didn’t understand it at all. I remember hearing one of the guys at the pink house make a reference to the centrality of the gospel and thinking to myself, “What in the world does that mean?”

So, my study was very fruitful. Below are some things I learned/rediscovered/was reminded of:

  • We are to constantly remind ourselves about Jesus Christ. How? By studying the gospel. “Remember Jesus Christ…according to [the] gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8).
  • Because the gospel is the “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16), we preach it to unbelievers, but it is also something in which the believer currently stands as well (see 1 Corinthians 15:1). God saves unbelievers through the gospel and strengthens believers through the gospel. “God…is able to strengthen you according to [the] gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (Romans 16:25, NRSV).
  • Peter explains that those who lack fruit in their lives have forgotten what the gospel has done for them. “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (1 Peter 1:9).
  • Paul calls the Ephesians to remember their condition before conversion (the “bad news”)—that they were hopeless and without God. Why? So they might be more amazed by the good news: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Elsewhere, Paul prays for the Philippian believers—“for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:5). Their fellowship isn’t just initially centered on the gospel—it is continually centered on the gospel; it remains “from the first day until now” focused on the cross.
  • We are to continue steadfast and grounded in the faith. How? By not being “moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Colossians 1:23). Similarly, the writer of Hebrews instructs us to fix our eyes on Christ and meditate on the gospel lest we become weary and lose heart. “[Look] unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, [thinking nothing of] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
  • The cross will not lose its importance even in heaven. Though there are many today who think all memory of earthly events will be erased, the saints in heaven will be very much aware of why they are there. In Revelation 5:9, the four living creatures who surround the throne of God and the twenty-four elders sing a “new song” to the Lamb: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” Then, in verse twelve, thousands upon thousands of heaven’s citizens cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…!” The cross will forever be the centerpiece of history.

I’ve been working on some new radio spots called “drops” (short segments of songs currently being played on the air) and one of them is “Only Grace” by Matthew West. Not a lot of songs in Christian radio are doctrinally sound and gospel-centered, but this is one of them. After meditating on the cross, listening to this song today has been a great encouragement to me. By His grace, God has used it to replenish my joy in Him as I ponder anew the mercy I have received at Christ’s expense. You can hear the song in its entirety at Matthew West’s web site under the “Music” section.

May the grace of God overwhelm you this day—this very minute—as it flows from the inexhaustible fountain of Calvary.