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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 7, Chapter 2

Meaning of the Cross

Chapter Illustration

Page 1 of 2
Study Questions

In order to understand how this applies to our lives individually and corporately more clearly, we need to understand more clearly the meaning of the cross. When we think of the cross, we think about the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and that because we have repented of our sins and individually put our trust in what Jesus did on the cross, we are now free from true guilt and the penalty of sin. We can now lift our heads up high with a smile on our faces because Jesus is Lord of our lives and we are forgiven because we have received Him as Savior and Lord.

This is part of the meaning of the cross, but there is a deeper meaning. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." (John 10:10). Jesus said that he came to give us an abundant life. What does this mean? This means that Jesus has a plan for our lives. Jesus created us for a reason. The Apostle Paul states in the Epistle of Ephesians, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10). Paul is telling us that we were created to be an expression of Jesusí heart, to express a certain facet of who Jesus is. These facets include all areas and walks of life: business, medicine, teaching, philosophy, art, theology, sports, etcetera. Jesus is infinite and we are finite, so therefore this expression of Jesus through our lives is only a certain facet or facets of who Jesus is, not a complete expression.33

We glorify Jesus by finding out what this facet or facets of Himself are that He wants to express through our lives individually and then surrendering ourselves to Him in those areas to let Him develop them in our lives. This is the other half of the meaning of the cross that we want to talk about here. Jesus did not just die to free us from the penalty of sin so we could have relationship with Him and be freed of our guilt, He also died so that we could be freed from ourselves and our self-concern so that we could focus on His Lordship over our lives and why it is that He created us so that we can fulfill our purpose for being created.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." What does this mean? This means just what it says. When we come to Jesus at salvation and receive Him as Savior and surrender the Lordship of our lives to Him, the surrender of the Lordship of our lives must mean all that is in our lives. It means abandonment to all concern concerning our material and spiritual needs, and looking to Jesus and Jesus alone to supply those needs in the way that He chooses. Jesus put it this way in another passage, "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luke 14:33). When Jesus says giving up all our own possessions, He is not meaning that He will not give us possessions,34 but rather the focus of the pursuit of those possessions. He is saying that we must look to Him and to Him alone and trust Him alone to provide for these needs. Jesus put it this way in another passage,

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." (Matt 6:25-26).

"Jesus, what is the job you want me to have? Iím looking to You and You alone to lead me into Your provision in this area of my need. Jesus, who is the mate you have for me in marriage? Jesus, I am trusting you to lead me to that one and that one to me when it is to my best interest and to the best interest of your kingdom in your time. Jesus, what is the Church you want me to be actively involved in and committed to? Jesus, I am believing You to make this plainly known to me and to lead me specifically to that Church you have in mind. Jesus, I am trusting You to show me what it is I need to do on my part to bring restoration in this present bad relationship I have with my brother or sister. Etcetera."

Why does Jesus want us free from the focus of our needs? As long as we are focused on our needs, our eyes are off of Jesus and His plan for our lives. Jesus said,

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My Yoke is easy, and My load is light." (Matt 11:28-30).

A little child does not worry about anything except what his or her parents tell them to be concerned about. Otherwise a child is free from concern because the child knows that mom and dad will feed him when he needs it and buy him clothes when it is necessary. This is what Jesus is literally saying in this passage, "Give your life to me and let Me be concerned about your needs. You be concerned with only what I am telling you to be concerned about."

Jesus is saying to trade our yoke of concern and take on His yoke of concern. He says that His yoke of concern is much lighter and easier than ours. This is what is meant by confessing Jesus as Lord. Confessing Jesus as Lord means I no longer have any say about what I do with my life except what Jesus tells me to be concerned about. All we need to be concerned with is obedience to Him through the dictates of the Holy Spirit to our lives and He promises to provide whatever provisions are necessary to see that obedience through.

Understand this is not an encouragement not to work. Paul plainly tells us, ". . . if anyone will not work; neither let him eat." (2 Thess 3:10). The question here is a question of priorities. What are Jesusí priorities in our work and goals, and His Lordship over our free time?

THE CURSE OF RELIGION

Jesus has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Focusing on our needs and problems distracts us from that plan.

This is the curse of religion. Religion is man trying to gain Godís forgiveness for his sins or favor from God or meet his needs through soul motivated and controlled activities. Religion does not help man because we do not gain Godís forgiveness through our works, nor do we come to know what his will and plan for our lives are through our works. Godís forgiveness for our sins repented of has already been provided for through the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ. Coming to know Godís will for our lives is a little more complicated. It is not revealed through religious strife, an activity of the soul, but through the Holy Spirit through our spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:10, "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit."

Before we come to God through the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ we cannot know his will for our lives because our spirits are dead, unable to link with the Holy Spirit to know anything about the activity of God let alone His will and plan for our lives. This is why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that to the soul motivated and controlled man that the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him as well as the activities of the Holy Spirit. This is because he is not able to discern that this is Godís will and activities because he has no means to discern it through his spirit which is dead and thus has no link with the Holy Spirit. But now that God has forgiven our sins through Jesusí death and shed blood, our spirits are reunited with Godís Holy Spirit and we can now receive and know the plan that God has for our lives.

When we are first saved, the first work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit in our lives is to free us of our religious self strife that we do out of habit and to bring us to rest in Him. He has to do this first, otherwise we would not be able to hear His will and plan for our lives because we would be too busy doing religious activities to hear him or so involved in them we are not free to carry it out. So Jesusí first priority of work in our lives is to free us from religious self strife and bring us to rest.

Jesus said about Satan, "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy. . ." Satan destroys us by getting us to focus on our problems and needs instead of Jesusí will for our lives, and by getting us to spend our lives trying to meet those needs. The end result is that we never come to know what Jesusí will for our lives are. This is why Satan is the author of religion. Satan is not against people being religious, he is against a person resting before the Lord until he finds out what His will for his life is. Once a person finds out what Godís will for his life is and proceeds to fulfill it, that person is automatically destroying Satanís kingdom. Therefore, Satan is all for any kind of activity in our lives if it will keep us so busy that we never come to know what Jesusí will and plan for our lives are.

Study Questions
Continued on Page 2
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