The Stumbling Block of the Cross

“Sinners Hate It . . . “

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.

Gal. 6:14 (NKJV)

We all do it. We all fall back into it. We try to earn God’s acceptance and approval by our good performance (Gal. 3:1-3). We think if we will be a good little boys or girls, then God will be obligated and have to bless us. God will see our sincerity, our best efforts, and our decent morals and accept us, forgive us, and honor us. Our goodness will earn for us freedom from suffering and hardship–true salvation. We grow secure in our own goodness by our own efforts.

However, the Cross of Christ rejects our self-sufficiency. The Cross declares our efforts null and void (Rom. 3:10-12). The Cross shouts from Golgotha, our best efforts are morally corrupt, intrinsically selfish, and ultimately self-deceiving (Gal. 3:13). In our face, the Cross declares our need for a savior. The Cross is our most precious treasure for it frees us from ourselves (2 Cor. 5:15). The notion that we can save ourselves is destroyed. We see that our best efforts for salvation are absurd and ridiculous.

We look upon our suffering Savior and recognize that our sin and selfishness put him there. That ultimately, Jesus is bearing on the Cross our just punishment for our sins. Our own selfishness, our desire to be first and foremost, our self-absorption, self-concern, and self-conceit put Jesus there (Rom. 4:25).

The Cross breaks us of our pride as we witness God’s love poured out in Christ. We see that our best efforts are nothing. Our choice: accept God’s grace in Christ or continue to flounder, waver, harden our hearts, and be destroyed by our pride and selfishness (1 Cor. 15:10).

The Cross does not have to be a stumbling block!

How do I explain it? The Cross is mine and your most precious treasure. The love of God is displayed in all its glory there.

The ‘stumbling block of the cross’ remains. Sinners hate it because it tells them that they cannot save themselves. Preachers are tempted to avoid it because of its offensiveness to the proud. It is easier to preach man’s merits than Christ’s, because men greatly prefer it that way.

John Stott, Our Guilty Silence (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1967), 40.

According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.

John Stott, The Message of Romans (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 115.

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