Program Air Date - 12-22-02



Good Morning and Happy Holidays! We welcome each of you to the Living Word Program. As always, we will be privileged this morning to give this time to God. We hope and pray that our songs of praise and our study, will be acceptable in His sight, on this magnificent Lord's Day. May we not only glorify God, but may we all learn and be encouraged through the things we do together this morning. Now, let's begin with a prayer!


This time of the year there are plenty of sweets and candies around to make us all fat. Oh, how most of us like the sweet stuff in this life, no matter how bad it may be for us. This morning we want to begin with a song that reminds us of something far sweeter than these holiday delights. Won't you join in at this time as we together sing, "Sweeter Than All."

(SONG # 1)


Here it is December 22nd, only 3 days until Santa comes to see all of us. I hope you have not been naughty, but nice and I hope he comes down your chimney and brings you just what you asked for. I know my kids are about to lose their minds waiting for this special day. How precious it is to see their excitement and enthusiasm for this special time of the year.

Also, think what an exciting time this is, as everyone has holiday parties and as we share special times with family, brethren, loved ones and friends. I think that just about everyone loves this time of the year, because of the festive things surrounding this holiday season. I hope this holiday season brings you all the joy and happiness you deserve, as you strive to live your life for Christ!

Think for a moment about the wonderful secular stories surrounding this holiday. Santa Claus, Flying reindeer, Red nosed reindeer, a sleigh - full of toys for all the children of the world, elves who make the toys. How the faces of little ones light up as they hear the story of the night before Christmas. What a privilege it is to celebrate this time of good, clean fun - which promotes love, family and giving.

On the other hand, let's also remember how this holiday began. From a religious standpoint many celebrate this day as the date our Lord was born around 2000 years ago. Great emphasis is placed on the birth of our Lord and it's significance to this world. Let me say, Amen, as far as the importance of Christ Jesus coming into this world, so that He later could become a sacrifice for our sins and purchase His church.

However, isn't it also important to clarify the facts and show our knowledge concerning the things of Christ and His Word? Isn't it true that no man knows the exact hour, day, or even year that our Lord Jesus was born in that manger? No matter how important or significant the event is, does this give us the right to set up and bind a religious day or a religious feast and celebrate it? Is it within our authority to bind days and feasts on God's people that He, Himself is silent about in the scriptures?

Let's also consider from the religious standpoint, where this holiday comes from? Around 300 A. D., the Catholic church began to promote the idea of this religious holiday. The only problem was that the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox Greek Catholic church could not agree on a common date to hold the holiday. Finally, the first time this holiday was officially celebrated was in Rome on December 25, 325 A. D.

I think it is important to note that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ began around 33 A. D. and it was not until 300 years later that this holiday was established. So let me ask you, what does this tell you about this holiday, again from a religious standpoint? Well it tells me that, it is man-made: established by man, appointed by man and set up by man! If the Bible is silent about it and the first church established by our Lord, for 300 years did not practice it; I think we must be very careful about celebrating it as something of God or approved of by God.

Let me make one final point! What event in the life of Christ bears the greatest significance to the follower of Christ? You and I know that it is His death. Why then don't we have a yearly feast for it? I will tell you why, God hasn't commanded it, authorized it or sanctioned it. Notice what Paul said in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

So, let's enjoy this season and it's secular parts as we use this time for showing others how much we care about and love them. Furthermore, let's make it our duty to show God the homage and reverence due to Him when He has asked us to in His Word - every first day of the week. Not once a century, not once a year, not once a month, but once a week, just as He has commanded! How important is your God to you?

Please stay with us, because after our next song I will return with the lesson from God's Word. This morning we will again focus on the "Cross of Jesus," and our specific lesson will deal with the "Power of the Cross!" But before we dive in to this important discussion of the day, let's sing our next song together. Won't you join in the hymn, "To Christ Be True!"

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us as we now are able to go again to God's Word and look at another lesson on the cross of Jesus. We've had a really good series together. We've looked so far at many issues in relationship to the cross, such as the great significance that the blood has always played throughout scripture. We've been able to look together also at the concept of the picture of Calvary and all of those things that began and really lead up to it and then after Calvary. After that, we were able to also consider the great attitude of Jesus Christ and what that attitude means to us and what a fine example that it is for us. We've also been able to talk about the gospel, the heart of that gospel being that death, burial and the resurrection, but really how that we as Christians in responding to the gospel must understand and believe far more from scripture, that really the gospel does encompass the doctrines and the teachings of our God and Father in heaven.

Well this morning we want to continue by looking at the power of the cross. Really the great significance of the things that we've talked about thus far, but really the great power, the great thrust behind it. Why is it such a strong motivational factor? Why is it that it affects us in so many ways and really provokes us in a good, godly way to do the things that we must do for the glory of God? Well we want to look to God's Word to find the answers to that question this morning as we truly consider the great power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I want to begin with some powerful words with Peter as we read in the book of Acts, Acts chapter 3. We find this man that is an evangelist, this minister of God, disciple, an apostle, one that really stood out among all the others and was one that really was known to be bold in his presentation as we do see on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. But in Acts chapter 3, we see the same thing taking place as he really discussed with them there and really designed a lesson again to really prick the hearts of the hearers in relationship to what they had done to the very son of God. If you'll read with me from Acts 3, verses 14 & following, it says this. "But you deny the holy one and the just and ask for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the prince of life whom God raised from the dead of which we are witnesses and His name through faith, in His name, has made this man strong whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given Him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."

Now as he was speaking to those rulers and those here again who really were of this belief and would not accept who Jesus was and that He was the son of God. Here again, straightforth tells them that they had chosen again a murderer there. They could've released Christ but they chose Barabbus, and they instead chose to murder and kill the very son of God, the just one, the holy one, the very son Himself. And in doing this act, this motivation again, according to all the prophecies that we've already looked at that came to fruition in the cross, that again brings about such great might and great power for you and I. You see at first it might seem an act of weakness. At first, it might seem an act to say, "Well, how could the son of God be able to be put in such a situation or how could He be caused to be put on the cross with all of the power and glory if He truly be the son of God?" Isn't that the concept that the people at the cross there, on the one side had asked? On the other hand, according to the plan of God, you and I know from the Old and throughout the New Testaments, we see the significance again, the great significance of the act, the event of their Christ dying, being buried and rising again the third day. Why? So that not only He could shed His blood for us but so He could show Himself to be the author and to be the finisher of our faith, the one to complete all things according to the revelation that had been given, according to the plan and the prophecies of the Father in heaven. And furthermore, that He could be able to fulfill that which God had set in motion from before the foundation of the world. Oh how wonderful and powerful it is to know that God had chosen something before the world even was created that would affect you and I today in such a glorious and wondrous way and what meaning it would have in our lives, how it would affect us in such a tremendous way because truly our Lord and Savior did come. He did live. He did die. He did rise again from the dead as He was there able to give that great crushing blow to Satan and overcome even death, through life. We see the great essence of Jesus and truly that He was the son of God, and that He was Deity in the events that transpired there at the cross.

With these things in mind then, I want to look at several factors that I believe again really show the great significance, the power of the cross, that really just reach out and grab us to remind us of why it was and what it means to us and why it has had such a great effect of you and me as we strive to follow God.

Well the first point then would be that the power is there enough to reveal sin. The cross was able to really move away the scales from our eyes, to show us that sin in this world that we live is a reality, and not just a reality in our day and time, but really from the beginning has been a reality. Even there in the garden of Eden they chose to transgress or do those things contrary, to sin against, if you will, the things of God, that which He had commanded them in relationship to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Now keeping that in mind, then we move on throughout the Old Testament, we come to Isaiah, and we find again that Isaiah emphasizes for us the very same point, that at some point in time, at some event as it transpired in the future, that something would come about and that event would really again give us the ability to be cleansed. What was that great powerful motivational even that would not only acknowledge sin, but would be the destruction of sin through the blood of Christ? Again, that great event was the cross. How do we know that? I want you to look with me in Isaiah 53 and we want to read together beginning in verse 4 and we'll read through verse 6. There Isaiah, the great prophet, said, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted, but He was wounded for our transgression and He was bruised for our iniquities, our sins, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We are turned everyone to His own way and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity or sin of us all." You see there a great prophecy, a prophecy talking about the coming of Jesus, that great sacrifice, the shedding of blood that would do what? That would cause an outpouring of blood, the blood of the very son, the perfect son of God in order that it might cleanse us as we are mentioned here as the transgressors, the sinners, those who were without hope in many ways. But because of the blood of Christ, we see that truly we have been brought nigh.

A few chapters over in Isaiah 59 and verse 2, we find the very same idea that it is that sin again that separates us from God, so there had to have been an agent, a powerful agent, strong enough to bring us back to God after sin has separated us. What is that great powerful thing? Again, it is the cross of Jesus Christ. So as we talk about the cross of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that yes, it is able to convince us that sin is a reality and that sin and God are opposites and that we cannot choose to serve God and sin. Therefore, as we make the choice, we must put away sin through the blood of Christ.

Peter also understood this in one of the books that he wrote, in 1 Peter in fact, chapter 2 and verse 24. It talks there again about Christ bearing our sins to the cross, carrying it up to bear them and to bring us there before the throne of God again pure. Why? Through the blood that was shed again at the cross, the great power to acknowledge sin. But then again the next point to show us that sin is a reality that we must be convicted of it. In other words, it's not God's fault that I sin, even though there are things of this life that are there and that He's the Creator. It is not God's fault that I choose to fall into sin, but it is my own fault. In fact, the book of James chapter 1 tells us that sin is really the results of mine own desires and my allowing my own wants to conceive and to bring forth sin even within themselves. Not God's fault. Not again God causing these things or bringing them about but because Ray or because of you choosing that these things be so.

Well we see this again in the very early stages of the church. In fact, the day it began in Acts chapter 2, we find there in verse 37 of that chapter that it talks there about how "that they were pricked." In fact, other translations say, "They were cut to the heart." To the very core of their being, they were shaken. Why? Because the great power of the sermon that day was that the blood of Jesus Christ had been shed. He had lived and they had crucified Him and put Him in the grave and now He arose again. They heard that great and mighty sermon and they were cut to the core because they were convicted of what? Because they were convicted of their of crucifying the very son of God.

You see, our lives also must be founded in a power of understanding that we are guilty of sin. Not only the fact that sin is there, but that we are guilty of such when we do that which is contrary again to the Will of God.

I want you to look in the book of 2 Corinthians with me because I think there it is given in chapter 7 one of the best definitions we have of this godly sorrow, this need for repentance because we are sinners. You see, when we know of sin and we find out about sin, it tells us there in 2 Corinthians 7 that "we must react to it." And there in verse 9 and 10 it says the following, "Now I rejoice not that you are made sorry, but that your sorrow lead to your repentance for you were made sorry in a godly manner that you might suffer loss from us in nothing, for godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world produces death." You see, a godly sorrow. What brings sorrow and causes us to desire to repent. You and I know that we can't be saved without repentance. Jesus said, "Repent or perish." So what is it that brings about that repentance? Godly sorrow. What's the power that causes us to see the need to repent, that causes us to be sorrowful? Well it's the power of the cross to convict us as sinners outside of the hope of Jesus Christ.

So again as we understand that sin truly exists and we understand as we've seen now that we are guilty ourselves of sin and no one else. Then the great other powerful thing of the cross is that it is able to cleanse or wash away sins.

The Hebrew writer said it like this, that "without the shedding of blood, there could be no and can be no forgiveness of sins, " Hebrews 9 and verse 22.

Again in Revelation 13 and 8, Christ said or was said there "to be the lamb that was slain." His blood was shed why? Again, to forgive sins. In fact, if you remember there at the Day of Pentecost when they were told what to do, one of the outcomes was the remission of sins. Remission of sin.

Ananias told Paul in Acts 22 and 16 that "he should arise and be baptized." Why? To wash away his sins. You see that agent, the blood there, the shedding at the cross is something that again gives us a cleansing, a cleansing that makes us complete, a cleansing that makes us whole, a cleansing that makes us worthy before our God.

Look also in Hebrews 9 at verse 28 and see what it says further about Christ. "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time apart from sin for salvation." Christ was offered. In fact, if you read the whole chapter there, it talks about how that He was willing to make Himself a sacrifice, a sacrifice to shed blood, the shedding of blood to forgive sins and to cleanse sins.

So yes, sin is real. We are convicted and convinced of it because of the powerful cross and what was done there for our sakes and because of sin and then we also see the great power of the cross and the forgiveness that is found there through the blood of Christ.

And finally I'll suggest that the power of the cross then is able to make Christians. What better way to end than to understand that as Jesus said there in John 3:16 that "God loved us so much that He gave His own son. He gave His own son that none would perish but that everyone would have everlasting life." You see, that's what our God has done with the power of the cross. He has given us the ability to know who He is, to make that great confession in Romans 10:9&10. He has given us the ability as we've seen to repent without perishing, to acknowledging that we are sinners and because of that godly sorrow, turn away from sin and to serve God, and He's given us that ability to arise and be baptized to also wash away our sins, there meeting the blood of Christ making us pure and holy, to make us whiter than snow and to make us presentable before the throne of God.

I hope this morning that you truly understand the great power of the cross of Jesus and what it means to you if you want to be a follower of God and if you are not a follower of God, we mentioned what it takes to become one. Why not follow God's way of salvation? To make the great confession and to repent and to be baptized? So that the Lord might add you to His church and today you might begin serving Him and to find power also in the great cross of Jesus Christ.

(SONG # 3 - "When Upon Life's Billows")


Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to worshiping God in His way!

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May we learn more every day to be more pleasing to our God by doing things His way, according to His will, as confirmed for us in the Bible!

(Program closing)