Tag Archives: cross of Christ

The Difference Between 1st and 21st Century Christianity

The difference between 1st and 21st Century Christianity is vast. The God worshiped is the same, of course. But it is a question of focus.

The central point of the early church teachings was to introduce to both the followers of Judaism and to the pagan masses the Savior and His Passion. Neither of the two audiences believed the story of the Savior and His death, burial, and resurrection upon first hearing.

In the early disciples’ writings preserved for us in the New Testament, we find the “apostles’ doctrine,” which is the teachings of Christ concerning His kingdom and our place in it. To the Jews they taught that Christ was the Messiah prophesied of old and that He is the Son of Yahweh of the Old Testament writings. To the Gentiles they taught that Christ is the true God and Savior of the whole world. They were powerful advocates with His Spirit confirming with many signs and wonders.

The Difference

The early church was starting at ground zero. Most Jews rejected the Messiah, and the pagan masses clung to their false gods. So they told them about Jesus Christ of Nazareth and His love for them. This was a message that they had not heard before.

But today it is different. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of professing Christians reside all over this planet. It’s like that commercial: Q: Did you know that Christ is the Savior of the world?  A: Yes. Everyone knows that.

Today billions of Christians don’t need to be introduced to Christ and Him dying for us. What we need to know are the spiritual intricacies of what His death, burial, and resurrection mean in our own lives and how that ties into the greater plan and purpose of God reproducing Himself–in us! We need to know how His plan and purpose will come to pass since we as Christians are smack dab in it; we are, after all “the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Oh, we do need to know how to get from being puny and powerless little babes in Christ to being the “fulness of Him.” In other words, to be like Christ.

And the early apostles planted the seeds on how to get there in our spiritual growth. But man’s religious Christian leaders have been stuck in the First Century, continually teaching their flocks today about Christ, seldom mentioning how to ignite the power of the Spirit in a believer’s heart and how to grow to become part of the “manifested sons of the living God.”

Why are the pastors and priests today still preaching sermons about Christ and not about how to become like Christ? Most don’t know, for they were never taught by their mentors. And if they do find out, they become afraid of their jobs, for most are hirelings, and they did not “count the cost” to fully follow Him. They are purveyors of weak pablum, for they have not “purged out the old leaven” of hypocrisy and falseness.

And yet, the early apostles sowed seeds for our growth as Christians in the 21st Century. They told us what would thwart our attempts to grow spiritually. Yes, they gave us the timeless truths of His salvation, but they also warned us of the treacherous times to come. They warned us of the blasphemy of some in the last days who would be selfish, ungrateful, unholy, hateful, and be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” They warned of evil seducers and how it would get worse and worse in their deceiving of Christians (II Tim. 3: 1-13). They called them “false prophets” and “false teachers” that will definitely “bring in damnable heresies” into the church congregations (2 Pet. 2; Jude 3-12).

And this is the tough one to swallow; they warned us that these deceivers would come to us as Christian pastors and teachers. Even in Paul’s day, the heresy had already begun. “False apostles and deceitful workers” were already “transforming themselves into the apostles of light. And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11: 13-15). I believe that many pastors today are sincere and have been deceived through the false teachings that started way back in the day.

And so these old leaven teachings are passed on down from generation to generation. That is why the deeper things are not taught. Our adversary does not want them taught; he does not desire God’s plan for His body to come to fruition. Satan does not want us to grow. He does not want us to dig deep and grow up into Him.

Some Deeper Things

We all know that through His great love for us, Christ offered up Himself on the cross unto death. However, it is not enough to believe that He died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. We must believe that our old sinful nature died with Christ on the cross. When He died, all the sins of every human being died, also. When He gave up the ghost, our old heart, old spirit, and old nature died along with Him. Then we are buried with Him, and then we are “raised to walk in a newness of life.” It is all right there in Romans 6.

“He that is dead is freed from sin.” When we truly believe in His resurrection, we are believing in our own resurrection. For at the moment of Christ’s death, He took on Himself the sin of us all. He died as a sinner. He was our scapegoat offering for sin. That was us up there on the cross. That’s why the apostle Paul tells us, “You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3: 3).

But this message is not preached very often. Not many anymore want to be told that they have to “reckon themselves dead” on the cross and let their old sinful selves die, and then by faith in Christ’s resurrection, be risen with Him (Col. 2: 12). Not a popular message. Most would rather hear about Christ dying, not them dying.

Now when we really believe this, astounding things happen. The hand that stole, steals no more. The eye that lusted and coveted no longer yearns for things it cannot have. Cursing vanishes. Joy replaces bitterness and despair. We become new creatures in Christ.

This transformation, of course, is provided by our Savior through His great love and mercy. This is wonderful, but it is only the first step in “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” But this puts us on the right track, on the way to growing up and maturing into the full grown sons and daughters of God.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under apostles' doctrine, baptism, body of Christ, church, cross, crucified with Christ, death of self, eternal purpose, false doctrines, false prophets, false teachers, kingdom of God, manifestation of the sons of God, old leaven, old self, sons and daughters of God, Spirit of God, spiritual growth, Spiritual Life Cycle

The Hidden Wisdom and the Power of God

It is hiding in plain sight, this great mystery that the apostles and prophets wrote about. It is not in man’s old nature to see and understand what it is, for this hidden wisdom of God entails attributes that are completely opposite of the old nature man is born with.

In fact, when old man Adam glimpses the hidden wisdom in operation in a human’s life, it appears as foolishness. But God has chosen the foolish, weak, base, and despised things on this planet to confound the current powers that be–those humans who think that they in their own strength and position rule their own destinies (I Cor. 1: 25-29).

So just what is this wisdom of God that is hidden from men? What is this secret mystery of God that He withholds from carnal man’s eyes? The answer is in that first letter to the church at Corinth that the apostle Paul wrote.  In it he upbraids them for their lack of spirituality, citing many instances of their carnality and lack of the Spirit.

Paul explains early on in the letter that he was not coming to them “with enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but in the Spirit and its power” (2: 4).  They were hung up on following the teachings of a man. Some were saying, “I am of Paul and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas” (1: 12).  Sounds like, I am of Luther; I am of the Pope; I am of Wesley; I am of Russell; I am of…ad infinitum. Denominationalism was already in full bloom by AD 59. “Only by pride comes contention.” And such contention as seen in the modern day churches comes in believing that they are the only ones who have the truth.

It is this vain glory that causes the divisions and schisms in the church (1: 10-17). Most denominations, distrustful of each other, labor in carnality, thus showing a lack of the wisdom of God.  We all should be “perfectly joined together.” But how? “By having the same mind.” Which mind? “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ,” which was a mind of humility, which is exemplified in the cross.

The Preaching of the Cross

The cross experience is for us to go through, not just observe in another.  Man’s wisdom looks at this as the man Christ dying on the cross for our sins.  But Paul speaks of the hidden wisdom of God as “the preaching of the cross” and what it spiritually represents.

Had the rulers of this world in Christ’s day known of this hidden wisdom of God, “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  Make no mistake of who they were.  They were the offspring of Edom who had converted to Pharisaism and by Christ’s day held most of the top posts in the religious hierarchy of Jerusalem.  They were the chief priests and religious henchmen who conspired on trumped up charges to get rid of Christ.  They goaded the people and the Romans to crucify Him, which is just what God wanted them to do. They thought in their carnal man’s wisdom that they were getting rid of Him, when they were in reality ensuring that “the cross” and the humility of God that it signified in the hearts of all mankind would ring down like joyful bells through the ages.

Of course, if the rulers at Jerusalem knew of this hidden wisdom of humility, they would not have crucified Christ.  For His cross experience put to death our old sinful nature, which was placed upon Him just before He expired on that cross.  Not only our sins died with Him that day, but also our old sinful carnal nature died as well. When He died, our old sinful self died; when He was buried, our old lives were buried with Him.  When He was resurrected, we were also “raised to walk in a newness of life.”  We are free from the bondage of having to sin,” for “he that is dead is freed from sin.” Those who believe this become “new creatures” by faith, and we receive His Spirit within and receive a new heart.

This is the preaching of the cross.  This is the hidden wisdom; this is that special knowledge of God that is hidden from carnal man and definitely hidden from the rulers of this world system, as it was hidden from the rulers of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. This act of humility–giving up our old lives–is the cross experience and is the hidden wisdom put into action in our hearts.  It is the only sacrifice that God is pleased with, for it takes faith.  It takes believing that He has done all this for us.

Those who go through this cross experience receive the resurrection power of the Spirit into their new hearts and their lives begin to change, and through proper nurturing, they will grow up into Him and He in them. But they are the desperate ones to change, and they will love much, for they will know that they have been forgiven much.  In this crucible lies the hidden wisdom and the power of God.     KWH

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“You Gotta Die Before You Live”–New Song on the Cross Experience of Christ

People talk about the cross of Christ a lot in some churches, but few teach the central truth about what that experience does in a human life.  Our old sinful self, our old heart, must die with Christ, “who was made to be sin for us.”  We identify and repent of our sinful ways by surrendering to this death on the cross.  Then we “are buried with Him” in an immersion of that old self into His death {water baptism being the type and symbol}.

Then, by believing that Christ literally rose from the dead the third day, we too can be raised from the spiritually dead, and we are then “raised to walk in a newness of life.”

HalleluYah!  This is real biblical way to repent–“by faith in the operation of God that raised up Christ.” This is what this song is about.  I wrote it back in 1975; it speaks of the  great paradox–life out of death–just like a seed buried in the ground.  This is a great mystery “kept secret from the foundations of the world,” and I am blessed to have been given it to share with the world–in a song.”  Kenneth Wayne Hancock

You can see the video and hear the song that contains these revelations here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeDb5WdFHS0

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Filed under Christ, cross, crucified with Christ, death, death of self, immortality, kingdom of God, repentance