Did you scan the barcode? If so, were you surprised that it actually worked? We have to be careful not to let our pre-conceived ideas keep us from missing out—especially on something as important as Heaven!
The way to Heaven is through the cross of Jesus Christ, because it is only there that we find an answer to our sin. Sin must be paid for: there are no shortcuts around that vital fact. Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth and became a man so He could lay down His life as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Because His offering was totally acceptable to God, He was raised from the dead and now stands ready to forgive the sin of all who come to God through Him.
Keep reading for an excellent message about the preaching of the cross by Harry A. Ironside.
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17,18).
The apostle Paul’s great business was proclaiming the cross. When he presented the doctrine of the cross, he did not want to hide it with beautiful verbiage; he would not obscure the message with human eloquence, or weaken or dilute the message in any way with charming rhetoric. He did not desire people to listen to him with admiration and go away exclaiming, “What a brilliant preacher, what a splendid orator!” instead of saying, “What guilty sinners we are and how amazing is the love of God that sent His Son to die for us and bear the shame of the cross for our redemption!”
Since it is possible to spoil the message by dependence on that which simply appeals to the human mind, the apostle tried not to preach Christ with words of wisdom—that is, this world’s wisdom— “lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” With eloquence, oratory, or rhetoric, a preacher can win the appreciation of even the most utterly godless man, but it is not the will of God that any of His servants should tickle the ears of their hearers. His will is that they should grapple with the consciences of those to whom they are speaking.
The thought of souls going to Hell had gripped the apostle Paul. He knew that men were lost without Christ, that there was no hope for them except in the cross, so he said in effect, “I do not want to say anything that will hide the cross. I do not want to decorate or hide the cross, and make people lose sight of what it really is.” The cross is the declaration of man’s utter depravity and the demonstration of God’s infinite love. This word of the cross, compared with the world’s word of wisdom, “is to them that perish foolishness.”
What do we mean when we speak of the cross? I wonder sometimes if we have any conception in our day of what the cross meant when Paul wrote about it. Cicero said, “The cross, it speaks of that which is so shameful, so horrible, it should never be mentioned in polite society.” Yet Paul exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). What does it mean? It means that man’s heart was so wicked, so sinful, that there was no way for him to be saved unless the eternal Son of God became man and suffered the most ignominious death for his redemption.
The cross also means that man’s heart has been completely exposed, for when God thus sent His Son, man cried, “Away with Him! Crucify Him! crucify Him!” There at the cross man told out the very worst of his nature while God told out the infinite love of His heart. Peter said to the men of his day, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). If you want to know how wicked you are by nature, if you want to get an understanding of the awfulness of the sins of which your heart is capable, stand in faith before that cross and contemplate again God’s holy, spotless Son hanging on that tree suffering unspeakable anguish. That anguish is the very expression of man’s attitude to God; it is the word of the cross.
It was not merely the physical suffering that men heaped upon Jesus that made atonement for sin, for we read in Isaiah 53:10, “Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (italics added). God made Him to be the great sin- offering. And so the word of the cross is the story of God’s infinite love for guilty men. Righteousness demanded that sin be punished, and there on the cross it was punished to the full in the person of our blessed substitute. Now the word of the cross goes out to all the world, and since man at last is going to be judged by his attitude toward that cross, the word of the cross “is to them that perish foolishness.”
If the Christ of that cross is not yet your Savior, you are lost. If you get into your car and drive off, you drive off as a lost man or a lost woman; and if there is a crash and you are suddenly ushered into eternity, you go into eternity lost, to be lost forever.
People do not think of these things; they do not face these facts. They say, “I do not understand it at all. The very idea that a man, no matter how good He was, could be nailed to the cross and there make atonement for my sins, is foolish. The idea is repugnant to me.” My response is, “Very well, the Bible says, ‘If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.’“ That is why people do not understand; they do not understand because they are lost. What a terrible condition to be in!
Now let’s go back to 1 Corinthians and look at the other side: “But unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Of whom was Paul speaking? He was speaking of people who once were lost but are now saved. Someone might object, “I do not get that. Don’t you mean they they are in the process of being saved? Nobody can be sure of his final salvation until the day of judgment when at last he stands before God and the question is there definitely decided.” But that is not what the Book teaches; it speaks of people already lost and people already saved. Remember, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There are just the two classes of people: those who are lost; and “us which are saved”—that is, those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. These have faced their sins in the presence of God and have seen in the work of the cross that which has satisfied God and that in which their hearts can rest. They are saved right here and now.
If you are not sure you are saved, you can lift your heart to God right now and trust the One who died on the cross for you; you can trust Him as your Savior. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). We cannot save people; we cannot give men peace with God. Here is what happens: a poor, troubled, anxious soul does not know what to do or where to go; suddenly the Spirit of God presents the cross, the fact that on the cross “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3); then faith leaps up in the heart, and the soul says, “Thank God, He died for me!” In a moment that soul passes from death to life. The word of the cross is the power of God.