“Though” and “through” differ only by one small letter—the letter “r.” In American Sign Language, “r” is made by crossing the middle finger over the index finger. But crossed fingers have a history as sign language that far predates ASL. In the first centuries of the Church, when Christianity was illegal and Christians were vigorously persecuted, believers found ways to communicate their faith in subtle ways. Accompanying a greeting or farewell, crossed fingers were a code sign, identifying Christians to one another as “people of the cross.” The crossed fingers were a mute symbol for the cross of Christ and the redemption Christ’s death on that cross brought to all people. Today, crossed fingers mean something very different. When placed behind one’s back, they mean that one does not mean what one is saying. When held in one’s lap, they mean one is hoping something will or will not happen. Russ Chiodo, Director of Emergency Services for Beaver County, PA, was the person in charge of picking up the body parts from the 132 people who died on the ill-fated USAir Flight 427 that crashed on its way from Chicago to Pittsburgh. When asked what it was like to bag body parts with no human faces left, Chiodo confessed to the sight that affected him the most. “The thing I’m not going to be able to forget for a long time is finding a hand with its fingers crossed—as if for luck.”
Isn't it ironic that the gesture of crossed fingers, first instituted by the early church as a symbol of the Cross of Christ and a certainty of the promises of God in Jesus, has digressed to represent the exact opposite...mere luck. In the completed work of Christ on our behalf we have the 100% absolute assurance of our salvation and the absolute guarantee of an inheritance "incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for us” (1 Peter 1:4). Luck has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.
The Cross in Genesis 1-11
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:9-18 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is the Word of God. He has been in the world since He created it. Yet the world did not know Him. But all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the power and authority to become children of God. The Word became flesh, and we beheld His Glory. As we read last week, His Glory began at the Cross. At the Cross we see the Word of God full of Grace and truth. Because of the Cross we receive grace upon grace.
In 1 Corinthians 1, the Cross is described as a dividing point, a stumbling block, and a point of folly. So too is the Word of God.
Hebrews 4:11-13 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword. It reveals the thoughts and intents of our wicked and deceitful hearts. No one can be hidden from the Word, for it exposes us to the one to whom we must give account.
Just as the Cross was lifted up above this world, so the Word of God is lifted up above mankind, and the Word of God will be our judge. The Word of God will judge believers and unbelievers alike.
The Word of God separates unbelieving men from God. The Word of God separates unbelieving Christians from resting in God. That is why Christians are encouraged to strive to enter the rest of God through the Word of God, because it is living and active, able to cut away the dross of the world and leave that which is pure before God.
A.W. Tozer: "Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, and fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God's face, that vision which has been the light of the earth and will be the completeness of heaven."
The Word of God has this power the same way that Jesus Christ had the power to bring sinful men to Holy God, through the Cross! In fact, it is because of the Cross that we have the Word of God! As W. A. Criswell famously said, throughout the Bible there runs a Scarlet Thread of Redemption!
Because of the Cross…We Have the Word
As we look at all we have “Because of the Cross,” we need to remember three Principles of the Cross:
1. The Cross is the Wisdom & Power of God.
The Cross reveals the Heart of God, His delight in mercy, justice and righteousness.
2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of man.
The cross requires humility. The cross strips man of all rights and powers. The Cross reveals the foolishness of man’s attempts at standing and self-righteousness.
A.W. Tozer: "The man who is crucified is facing only one direction... He [cannot] look back. The crucified man on the cross is looking only one direction and that is the direction of God, and Christ and the Holy Ghost... The man on the cross... has no further plans of his own... Somebody else made his plans for him, and when they nailed him up there all his plans disappeared... When you go out to die on the cross, you bid good-bye--you are not going back!
We want to be saved but we insist Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility."
3. The Cross is the Perfect Blood Sacrifice required by God
God declared that life is in the blood. To bring life to dead in sin mankind, a perfect blood sacrifice had to be made.
A.W. Tozer: "The old cross is a symbol of death. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again in newness of life. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It always stands at the far side of the cross."
We will see the Principle of the Cross throughout the Old Testament. The Principle that death leads to resurrection. The principle of “death with a view to increase” that characterizes the Gospel.
First death, then life. Death [leads to] resurrection. When we consent to death, then the life of Jesus can flow unhindered from us. It is never the other way. We cannot claim resurrection life first, and then by means of that put the flesh to death. We must first bow to the cross, and then God will effect the resurrection. (Ray Steadman)
With these three Principles in mind, let us see that “Because of the Cross…we have the Word of God!
In the Garden
Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Something happened to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God. Their eyes were opened and they could see their shame. Therefore, in their wisdom, they made some clothing out of fig leaves sewn together.
This is what I think happened. Psalm 104 1-2 says that God is clothed in splendor and majesty, covering himself with light as a garment. Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, were clothed in light. When they sinned, the light was gone, and they felt the shame of their sin. They attempted to cover up their shame. This is man’s wisdom. No repentance, simply cover it up, cope with it, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on.
Here is where we see the Cross first lifted up.
God calls out to Adam and says, “where are you?”
Genesis 3:10-13 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Sin has entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Instead of open fellowship with God, they feared Him and even hid from Him. Instead of repentance and return to God, they blame someone else.
God’s response is to place a curse upon man and woman and even the serpent.
But God’s solution to sin was the Principle of the Cross.
Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Here we see the first sacrifice for sin. Adam and Eve had to watch as God took one of those peaceful animals that they cared for, and kill it. They had to watch blood flow for the first time. Can you imagine how they felt? An innocent animal had to die because they disobeyed. They had to wear that animal’s skin. It was a constant reminder of God’s plan. Sin is always answered with sacrifice. Moreover, Sacrifice always results in Grace.
God covered them in Grace. (His provision allowed them to live)
God expelled them in Grace. (He did not want them to live in sin forever)
God must have instructed them in the Way of the Cross and the need for blood sacrifice to keep their relationship with God.
When they had children, they taught them about the need for an acceptable sacrifice unto God.
In Genesis 4, Cain, the oldest, brought a sacrifice from the fruit of the ground. He decided there was no need for a blood sacrifice.
Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. God accepted Abel’s offering, but disregarded Cain’s. Cain became angry.
Genesis 4:6-7 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
The purport of the divine rebuke to Cain was this, "Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and retained the honors of thy birthright." This language implies that previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel offered through faith (Heb 11:4).
Therefore, Cain, instead of humbling himself to God and offering a sacrifice for his sin, reacted in pride and offered what he thought was appropriate. He used his wisdom instead of God’s instruction. God rejected the sacrifice, for there was no provision for sin.
God would have accepted his offering if it had been accompanied with a blood sacrifice. But without blood, there is no remission of sins. Without the cross, we have no standing before God. God disregards us because of our sin.
Cain’s pride led to greater anger. Instead of offering a blood sacrifice to God, he shed the innocent blood of his brother. The Bible says, “Cain rose up against his brother.”
Instead of humbling himself before God in the shadow of the Cross, Cain rose up in pride and arrogance and murdered his righteous brother. Pride is always the enemy of the Cross.
Jude speaks of people that follow the “way of Cain”
Jude 1:10-11 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
The way of Cain applies to all those who approach God in man’s wisdom and man’s pride. The way of Cain denies the mercy of God found through blood atonement.
We can see this in the lineage of Cain-for it is the glorification of the flesh and all that man can do.
Look at the ability and pride of Cain:
Genesis 4:17, he is a builder of cities.
Genesis 4:21, he is the father of music.
Genesis 4:22, he is the father of craftsmen in brass and in iron.
As W. A. CRISWELL says:
Civilization without God is the line and the seed of Cain. It is the story of Sodom; it is the story of Gomorrah; it is the story of Babylon; it is the story of every great city and every great civilization that leaves God out of it. That is the story of Cain. It is the glorification of what man can do apart from God.
Therefore, Cain continued to multiply the kingdom of man.
Finally, after 130 years, Seth was born to Adam, a son in his own likeness, a son that God had appointed. Seth had a son Enosh, and at that time people began to call upon the Name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26)
Perhaps the Kingdom of God could be built now. But no, sin was at work.
Genesis 6:1-4 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
The sons of God (Seth’s line) started marrying the daughters of man. (No-angels cannot reproduce).The line of Seth intermarried with the line of Cain. They produced mighty men, men whose pride and abilities knew no bounds. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Instead of humility and offering before God, the way of Cain was inbred into mankind. The pride and arrogance of man was opposed to humility and sacrifice before God.
Therefore, God was grieved, for He was not able to practice mercy, justice and righteousness because of the sinfulness of man. But “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah alone was following the principle of the Cross. (Gen 6:8)
Noah and his family alone survived the worldwide flood that God sent upon sinful man. Through the flood, God reformed His creation, and brought forth a family that would follow the principle of the Cross.
1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
Noah preached the principle of the Cross, but man in his wisdom refused the message of the Cross.
He preached through Noah "when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah." For 120 years, Noah had preached the Word of God. He saved his family but no one else. It was the Spirit of Christ who spoke through Noah in Noah's day. In Christ's day, those who rejected Noah's message were in prison. The thought is that Christ's death meant nothing to them just as it means nothing to a great many people today who, as a result, will also come into judgment.
After the flood is over and the ground has dried, God opens the Ark and Noah and his family walks upon the cleansed Earth. Noah immediately builds an altar and offers sacrifices of all the clean animals and birds on the ark. This is the first time the word "altar " is used in the Bible—Genesis 8:20.
3mizbēaḥ: A masculine noun meaning the altar, the place of sacrifice. It is a noun formed from the verb zāb̠aḥ, which means to slaughter an animal, usually for a sacrifice.
This is the principle of the Cross. It is the picture of redemption. The blood is poured out upon the altar and the animal is consumed in a fire unto the Lord.
Genesis 8:21-22 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
God’s creation was restored through the principle of the Cross. The wisdom of God had prevailed over the wisdom of man. Man had survived the flood through the provision of God. Man was now offering the right offering to God in humility and praise. The burnt offering signified that this was a complete offering to God!
Now it does not take long to see man’s pride rear its ugly head in God’s renewed creation.
Genesis 10:8-10 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore, it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Nimrod’s Kingdom was not built on the principle of the Cross, but on rebellion and pride. In fact, the idea that Nimrod was not a mighty hunter before the Lord, but rather a mighty hunter AGAINST the Lord.
(Adam Clarke) His name Nimrod comes from מרד, marad, “he rebelled”; and the Targum, on 1 Chronicles 1:10, says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: "He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod." The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word ציד tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth
Nimrod was building a kingdom opposed to the Lord, opposed to the principles of the Cross. This kingdom was all about man, and what man could do. It was a kingdom built on the foundation of Cain, a Kingdom that did not need God, did not need to sacrifice to Him.
Genesis 11:4-6 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
God saw that man could do anything and the wisdom of man was united against the wisdom of God. Therefore, God did a “BLAH” thing. People started speaking “blah blah blah.” Once again God had displayed His power and wisdom to man. Once again, man ignored Him.
As we continue with the next phase of God’s redemptive plan, we will see a man called out of idolatry and man-worship. We will see a man whose very life was lived in the shadow of the cross.
The principle of the Cross is the thread that runs throughout the Bible.
1. The Cross is the Wisdom and Power of God
2. The Cross is opposed to the wisdom and power of Man
3. The Cross is the perfect Blood Sacrifice
We have seen that God’s plan for this world and for us His creation has always been fellowship and life. Yet that must be done in humility and holiness. When sin entered this world, it made us men that rebel against God’s ways. We are inclined to stray, to be independent, to seek our own welfare. Humility, dependence, repentance are foreign to our nature. Therefore, we rebel against the Cross. We refuse to sacrifice to God in His way. We want to maintain control. Therefore, we deny the power and wisdom of God.
Our lives are a sequence of "blah blah blah" to God. We are ants scrambling over the excrement of our pride and arrogance. All this can be changed by submitting to the Cross.
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