Vol. 36, No. 3 THE CLUTTERED CROSS

Vol. 36, No. 3  March 2012

         THE CLUTTERED CROSS
              By Dr. George Mills

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Cor.1:18-22).
Paul asked three questions. I believe that all of the opposition against the simplicity of the Cross springs from the questions Paul addresses. In this message I pray for wisdom from God to answer Paul’s questions…

WHERE IS THE WISE?
“bring on your earthly, worldly wisdom. Let us see if it can compare with the wisdom of God. This question deals with the MIND of man.

WHERE IS THE SCRIBE?  Addressed to the writers. Bring on your books, commentaries,
Lexicons, versions. Is there by chance with the millions of books by authors of different persuasions that these authors can compare with the wisdom of God?This question deals with the PEN or WRITINGS of men.

WHERE IS THE DISPUTER OF THIS WORLD? Bring on the debater. Bring on the eloquent speaker. Some have the ability to charm their listeners and have them believe anything he or she says. This question deals with the VOICE of men.

The Cross of Jesus Christ stands above and all alone in it’s Majestic design by God, our Maker and Redeemer. In the same manner that God would meet Israel only at the Mercy Seat, today, in this dispensation in which we live, God will meet with man only at the Cross of redemption. Our part is to preach the message of the Cross, and to keep the message clear, plain and simple. God has made Salvation so simple that a child can understand and be saved. We do not have to seek after the wisdom of this world in order to understand. God by-passed the wisdom of this world in His plan of redemption. Jesus said that in the same manner that Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, (Nu. 21:5-9) that He too must be lifted up high upon the Cross and that whosoever would look to His Cross in faith, believing, would be saved from the penalty and power of sin. The world looks at the Cross and it’s simplicity and says, “That’s too simple.” And so many things have been added to the message of the Cross. Actually, the Cross has become CLUTTERED with all of the religious debris. I mention the following only in the sense of an illustration and nothing more…

Some time ago I was in a certain city, in a certain church. I will not mention the city or the
 church by name. If you think that you know this city or church you are probably wrong. Anyway, as I arrived at this church, I had to say that some planning went into the building of this church. The parking lot was nice and adequate. The grounds were well maintained. This was not a large church, but it is doing a good work there. As I entered the building I was impressed with a nice lobby. Nothing lavish, just very nice. The auditorium too was nice. The padded pews and matching carpet were in good taste. The painting on the baptistry wall added to the simple beauty of the church. You would be impressed with the planning that went into the building. Nothing extravagant, but quite nice. The pulpit too was nice. It was made of wood and made in the shape of a Cross. Some time and planning went into the carpentry and building of this pulpit that was built in the shape of a Cross. This was, as it should have been placed in the center of the platform, thus indicating to all that the message of the Cross  is preached in that place from behind that pulpit. It seemed to me that the
planners of that building did not waste any money on unnecessary things, but tried to maintain a simple beauty with that Cross as the center piece of the building. Yes, I was impressed, but there was something that I noticed that took away everything that was meant to accent the the plan and purpose of the church. That Cross was CLUTTERED, I mean in such a way that it looked more like a trash can. On the right arm of that cross was a couple of song books, several small drinking cups, and a napkin hanging over the front. The left arm of the cross was likewise. A bible was placed there, some more small drinking cups and other debris. There in all of the loveliness of that place, in the very center. For every eye to see was a CLUTTERED CROSS. This robbed that place of it’s glory and beauty. Yes, in the center stage, there it stood, THE CLUTTERED CROSS. Now, I only use this as an illustration to make my point. That church, as far as I know, is a good church, doing a good work in that city. As I saw that CLUTTERED CROSS I thought that this is really a picture of the religious world today. God, the Master Builder, in His Great Plan of Redemption for lost man-kind has placed the Cross of Christ in the center of the world, High on a hill for all to see. All of the sin of the ages was paid for, in full there at the Cross of Christ. God’s wonderful plan of Salvation is “LOOK and LIVE.” In the same way the Israelites looked on the brazen serpent when they were bitten by a serpent, (Nu. 21:5-9) man is to look to the Cross in faith, believing and is saved from the penalty and power of sin. But man, in his wisdom has CLUTTERED THE CROSS with all kinds of things like philosophy, humanism, reasoning, education and the thoughts and ideas of man so that the beauty and glory of the Cross has been covered and hidden. Today, let’s see some of the things that man has come up with that simply CLUTTER THE CROSS.

BAPTISMAL REGENERATION CLUTTERS THE CROSS. This is man’s idea. This comes from his MIND, and not from the Bible (KJB) rightly divided. Now, I do not make light of Baptism. This is our public identification with Jesus Christ. I believe that after we have believed, or received the message of the Cross, (John 1:12-13) the most important next step on our journey to forever is to follow our Lord in Believer’s Baptism. That is, by immersion, in water, in the Name of the Father, and Of the Son, and of the holy Ghost, (Mt. 28:19-20). This does not make us any “more saved” this makes us obedient children of God. But man has made Baptism essential to Salvation. Some say that we must be baptized by a certain group, or by a certain preacher, or in a certain mode of baptism. Man has come up with so many Modes of baptism, one would have to guess as which one would be the right one. Some say that we are to be baptized face down, and others say face up. Some say that we are to be baptized three times. Once in the Name of the Father, then a second time in the Name of the Son, and a third time in the Name of the holy Ghost. The “modes of baptism seem to be endless. This is a work of man that CLUTTERS THE CROSS. Paul said in our text, “Christ sent me NOT to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” This would have been an ideal place in the Scriptures for him to emphasize baptism, but it’s not there. Nor is it in John 3:1-21. or John 5:24, or John 6:37 or Romans 10:9-13, nor is it in any of the great passages about God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation. Some say sprinkle, some say dunk, some say dip, and some say dive. Baptism is a work of man. The flesh cannot produce the Spiritual, (John 3:6) A doctrine that makes water baptism essential to Salvation does nothing but CLUTTER THE CROSS.

DENOMINATIONALISM CLUTTERS THE CROSS. Again, man’s idea.
There are so many that teach their denomination is the “right one.” They say that if you are not part of their “group” you are not right with God, and you will not make it to Heaven. Have you ever been told that?  I think that most of us have been told that in one way or another. But where is the Cross in a statement like that? Denominationalism is not new. Please take a few moments and read all of the first chapter of the Book of First Corinthians. Paul rebuked the church. “Now this I say that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1Cor 1:12-13). Here in the very beginning man started his denominational program. Paul says, “Get your eyes off man, and the things of man. Keep your eyes on Christ and his Cross.” Now, I belong to an independent Baptist Church. But I was a christian before I became an independent Baptist. I plan to continue being a part of an independent Baptist Church, but if the independent Baptist Church does not stay on the right road (and some have not)  then I will no longer be an independent Baptist, but I will still be saved. No denomination determines my Salvation. My faith is in the finished work of the Cross. DENOMINATIONALISM ONLY CLUTTERS THE CROSS.

WHERE IS THE WISE? HUMAN WISDOM, HUMANISM CLUTTERS
“God has made foolish the wisdom of this world.” Man wants to bring along his wisdom. He adopts the sayings of Plato, and Socrates, or Confucius, and depend on humans efforts. Man in all of his wisdom cannot see Christ and His Cross, and His wondrous Work of Redemption. Christ’s Cross makes wisdom vain. But we still want to cling to our education, our learning, our philosophy. “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(2 Tim. 3:7). The great problem is that man brings in human wisdom, and trusts in human wisdom, and cannot see the Cross of Christ. HUMAN WISDOM CLUTTERS THE CROSS. And so the Cross becomes more and more cluttered and obscure. But there is so much more. I cannot but begin to call our attention to all the clutter. Man has become so used to THE CLUTTER he cannot see The CROSS. The message of the Cross is not for the intellectual. He cannot see beyond himself, therefore the Cross is foolishness to him.

LORDSHIP SALVATION CLUTTERS THE CROSS. Most certainly this fits within the questions Paul asked. This is in reality “another gospel.”  Lordship salvation says that “you cannot receive Jesus as your Saviour, you must also make Him your Lord.” May I say that you cannot make Jesus anything, and for certain, He already is Lord. He was, He is, and always will be Lord. Now, we are saved by Grace alone through Faith alone in the finished work of the Cross. The Gospel is the power of God to everyone that believeth.” Those who teach lordship salvation say that if Christ is not in complete control of your life since the moment you made profession of faith, then you are not saved. Even their teachers cannot pass this test. This frustrates some, seeing that all of us who profess Christ have not reached that level of perfection. This teaching adds to the work of the Cross. These Corinthians in our text would not be called Christians according to the lordship theory. But the Bible says that they were “Sanctified in Christ, and called to be saints,” (v2). These Corinthian believers were not acting like Christians should act, but they were saved. Read the entire text; “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. (v6). Paul called them “Babes in Christ.” (3:1). These believers had much to learn. They had been saved out of a godless society. They had much to learn about their new faith. Again some are frustrated at this teaching. They find that they stumble and fall spiritually from time to time and come to the conclusion that they are not saved. When I was saved over 50 years ago, I started on my journey of faith as a newborn baby. I knew very little about Christ. I know that in one Sunday morning I called upon Him to save me. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” I did that. From that moment I had much to learn about Christ. I heard someone speak about the Trinity. “Jesus is God,” he said. “How can that be?” was my reply. I had much to learn. And then I heard someone say, “Jesus made the worlds,” Again, “How can that be?” And someone said “Jesus and God are the same,” I had much to learn. In my learning about His Lordship, I’m just a baby. The more I learn, the more I want to be committed to Him. I believe that my experience is the experience of every new convert in some ways. Today, let each of us surrender to His lordship and become everything He wants us to be. But let us NOT make this a requirement for salvation. I’m still learning. This only CLUTTERS THE CROSS. This comes from the MIND and WISDOM of man.

PREDESTINATION CLUTTERS THE CROSS. Predestination teaches that some are predestined for salvation and some are not. “If you are one of the chosen, then you will be saved, but if you are not one of the chosen you will not be saved.” Many teach this doctrine. This is diametrically opposed to the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS, that “Christ died for ALL,” and that “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the lord shall be saved.” Paul was “called to be an Apostle.” But he had to answer that call. Paul had the freedom of choice. These Corinthian believers were called, (v2) but they had to answer that call. They could have said “yes” to Christ, or, they could have said “no.” They had the right of choice. The Gospel message is extended to all mankind everywhere. We are called by the Gospel. We can receive, or reject Christ. The choice is ours. Some preach about the “foreknowledge of God saying that God knows who will be saved. He knows the end from the beginning.”  May I say that God knows everything, but He did not pre-plan every single thing. He just knows everything. God knew about Hitler and Stalin, but He did not foreordain them to their end. Those men were free moral agents and could have chosen another path in life, but they were not foreordained. God does not foreordain certain people for Heaven. God in His infinite wisdom preordained a plan for fallen man, that we might be redeemed. God’s plan is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Whoever will defy HUMAN REASONING and look, by faith to that Cross and the finished work there is saved from the penalty and power of sin. Whosoever means “whosoever.”  God placed the Cross high on a hill in order that ALL MEN might see. The message of the Cross is simple; “LOOK and LIVE.” This is a look of faith, a believing with the heart and not with the head. The CROSS came from the HEART of God. Predestination came from the MIND of man. “WHERE IS THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD?
As you carefully read the Book of First Corinthians, you will see many things that man has come up with, things that just CLUTTER THE CROSS. Today, man has piled up so much “religious garbage” that one can barely see the Cross clearly any more. But the Cross is still there, standing with outstretched arms welcoming the repentant sinner to the family of God. And you, my dear friend, has the world of religion confused you with it’s messages of baptisms, philosophies, works, etc.? Try to lay theses things aside and take God at His Word; “But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.” Our part in God’s Salvation is to receive Christ. You may ask, “How do I receive Him?” Just tell Him that you receive Him. He is there, wherever you are. Tell Him, “Lord, in the best way I know how, I now, by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I accept His finished work on the Cross as the only payment for my sin.” God always hears the cry from the heart.
At the Cross, begin TODAY to live FOREVER!

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        I WILL GLORY IN THE CROSS
               By Pastor George Mills

“But 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)

The Cross of Christ, God’s Gift of Grace,
   There His Glory is displayed.
The Cross where God meets Adam’s race,
    There the enemy is dismayed.

The Cross of Christ, God’s Gift of Love,
   From the Goodness of His Heart.
Sent down to man from His Throne above,
    And there, His Great Love impart.

The Cross of Christ, God’s Gift of Rest,
    From the labors of the fight.
There a haven for all the oppressed,
    A Rest through the long, long night.

The Cross of Christ, God’s Gift of Peace,
    From the battle raged by sin.
Where Christ does offer sweet release,
    And brings Joy and Peace within.

Upon the Cross the Lamb did bear,
    The debt of sin’s great cost.
Where Christ did win the victory there,
    And bought that which was lost.

Upon the Cross, God’s Sacrifice,
    Christ suffered for our loss.
Now justified, He paid the price,
    And I will Glory in His Cross.

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THINK ABOUT IT..God’s crowning work is not the creation of the world, nor the creation of man. His crowning work was the Cross. The Cross was in His plan before there was anything. “Who (Christ) verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1Pet. 1:20).

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WHY I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD.

Of course, by this time, I trust that all are aware that when I mention “Bible” I am referring to the Authorized King James Bible. You know, the Bible our parents, and grandparents used. I believe that it is complete, that it lacks nothing. I listen to some preachers as they refer to the “originals.” There are no originals! Some insist that we check the “Greek.” I am not interested in what the Greek says, I am interested in what the English says. God gave us the English Bible. It has been sufficient, and will be sufficient.

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE IT CLAIMS TO BE.  Some 2500 times in various ways and phrases the Bible says “Thus saith the Lord.” Our Lord Jesus confirmed the inspiration of the scriptures on the Emmaus  road as He walked with two disciples. He took these disciples on a long journey through the scriptures. “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which was written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.”

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE OF IT’S UNITY.
66 books, yet one Book. Written in three languages, yet one Book. Over 1600 years from Moses to John, yet one Book. Over 30 Authors, yet one Book. Every Book tells the same story. Each new author takes up where the last one left off. Human philosophers disagree. The philosophers of today disagree with those of a hundred years ago, and they disagreed with those of a hundred years before them, and so on. But the writers of the Bible, over 1600 years in three languages, wrote about the same thing without contradiction. Amazing!

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE OF IT’S UNIVERSAL APPEAL.
The Bible appeals to all classes, to all people, to all nations, to all tongues. It appeals to some in Russia and to some in China, to the uttermost part of the earth. To the rich and poor. To anyone who will trust the Christ of the Bible

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE OF IT’S INFLUENCE.
No other book has so influenced the world. No other book has touched the lives of so many with such transforming power. Trust it’s teachings and you will know the truth, and that Truth will set you free.

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE OF IT’S MANY PROPHECIES FULFILLED.
There are too many to mention. Prophecies about the Birth, Life, death, resurrection of Christ. Prophecies concerning Israel, the nations, world conditions. In the Book of Daniel God said that there will be four kingdoms, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Four world empires, not five, or six, but four. Man has tried to conquer the world, but failed. God said that there would be four, only four world empires.

I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD BECAUSE IT OFFERS THE ONLY WORKABLE REMEDY FOR SIN. The Bible declares that “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Man did not write that. Man would have left that part out. The Bible declares that man is a sinner. The Bible declares that Salvation is the Free Gift of God to anyone who will trust the Christ of the Bible.

 The dozens upon dozens of new versions, paraphrases, etc, cannot make the claims that Your old Bible can make. These new ones came waltzing on the scene, untested in these last years They did not come from the same text your old Bible came from. The Bible says that there would be a famine of hearing the Word of God. Another prophesy has come true: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11).

“Every Word of God is Pure” Just know what and where the pure Word of God is.

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              FROM MY HEART
                  By Mildred Mills

                    NOW WHAT?

At times we find ourselves in trying situations and we do everything we can to make the situation better, but nothing is working, nothing seems to do the job. Sickness comes and we can’t find the problem. One Doctor sends us to another Doctor, and that Doctor sends us to another Doctor, and so it goes but we still have the problem, “NOW WHAT?” The loved one or friend that we have been praying for did not get better, they went to be with the Lord, “NOW WHAT?” That precious child grew up and went away from God, “NOW WHAT?” Financial problems arise and folks are losing their homes and their jobs, “NOW WHAT?” Troubles and trying times come into each of our lives and I could go on and on about troubles and sorrows because I too have said many times, “NOW WHAT?” The answers to the “NOW WHATS” are found in God’s Word. When we get to the “NOW WHATS” Just keep on praying and trusting Don’t give up! Our Lord is listening to our every prayer and He understands what we are going through. His ears are open unto our prayers and His eyes are on us at all times. He knows what our problems are. The Doctor may not know, but God knows. God knows best in every situation and is merciful in all His ways. We have to trust in Him and know that He loves us, He will never leave us and He has us in the palm of His hand. We don’t understand the pain and troubles but God does and He will take care of the problem is His time.  Just keep on praying and trusting Him.

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their Prayers.” (1Peter 3:12).

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Prov. 3:5).

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THINK ABOUT IT…He who sees the great eagle also sees the small sparrow.

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           TEEN TALKS THAT MATTER
                    By Ashley Stevens

           MAKING WISER DECISIONS

It’s your life! What kind of a person are you going to be? It is often said that your true personality comes out when we believe no one is watching you. Well I have news for you! If you are trying to set a Christian example in this world, then everybody is going to be watching you. Each day the choices you make say what you are and who you serve. Can people tell from your actions and how you live that your are living for Christ? We, as Christians, should be leading by example. How we walk, talk, and dress should reflect our relationship with God. Would God be pleased with you if He showed up at the places you visited, the websites you viewed, or the people you hang out with? If God was in the passenger seat of your car what would your present radio stations say about you and who you serve? Would you have to think twice before a cuss word slips out after someone cuts you off in traffic? What about if He showed up with you at school and asked your friends about you? What would they say? Before you take any actions, and before you take any steps you should ask yourself, “Is this pleasing to God?” I think that if we do that before we make each decision, we would think differently about a lot of our decisions. Now, If you find yourself between losing a friend or making a decision  not to follow what the world says is “cool” what decision are you going to make? Choose to walk by faith and make the right decision. I’m telling you now, it may be very hard at the time to make the right decision, but trust me, you can never go wrong by doing right. By making the right decision, God will be very pleased with you, and will bless your life. Put God first in your life and make the right decisions and everything will fall into place. Let me challenge you this month to do so, and I am sure you will see major changes in your life.
Until next time, may God Bless you each and every day.
                                      Ashley Stevens.

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          THE DEVICES OF SATAN

“Lest Satan should get advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of His devices.” (2Cor. 2:11).

Satan has power, but he is not all powerful. Our Faith, Hope, and Trust is in the all powerful, Victorious Christ. Satan does have his tricks and traps to catch the unprepared child of God off guard and rob a testimony, or, at the least, discourage the believer. Note the two ways that Satan attacks…

He comes against us as a roaring lion. The Apostle Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (1Pet. 5:8). This pictures his open persecution against the Church. Satan hates the Church. He attacks the Church. He seeks to destroy the work and witness of the Church.

He comes against us as a slithering serpent. “That old serpent which is called the devil.” (Rev. 12:9). As a serpent he spews his poison, which is false doctrine. This is where he spends his time today. Here in our homeland there is not much outward persecution against the Church. I know that there is some persecution, and that it is growing, and will grow more and more. But Satan does more damage with false doctrine than he ever did with persecution. Somehow, outward persecution strengthens us, but false doctrine weakens. Every Bible believing Church should be ever on guard concerning our doctrine. Sound doctrine never changes. We should ever keep before us what we believe, and why we believe it. Very seldom does false doctrine walk boldly through the front door. We must keep the Bible (KJB) as our one and only textbook. Today we must guard carefully any and all literature. And our musical program, well, we MUST ever be on the alert. Let’s note some things that each of us should check in our lives…

Be SURE that you are saved. Peter again warns, “Make your calling and election sure.” (2Peter 1:10).Be sure that you have asked Christ into your life as your personal Saviour.

Be sure to grow in faith. “Desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby.” (1Pet. 2:2). Sincere milk of the Word, meaning, the genuine, the unadulterated, the pure. Don’t be misled by the dozens of modern “versions” that are forever changing. Truth never changes.

RESIST THE DEVIL. (1Pet. 5:9)

 We resist with the Word.
“Whom resist steadfast in the faith.” As Christ resisted Satan in the wilderness with the Word of God, let us mind that same rule. Satan came against Him quoting scripture. Three times the Lord said, “It is written.” Our Lord answered Satan three times with the Word, rightly divided. And Satan had to leave.
 Now, don’t believe for a minute that satanic forces are not behind the publishing of these new “versions.” Make sure you have the “Word.” (KJB).

We resist through Prayer. Have a meaningful devotional life. Christ warned His disciples at Gethsemane, “PRAY.”

Grow in faith. Read Second Peter 1:1:1-9 and make sure that you are adding these Graces in your life every day.

Our enemy is strong and powerful. Our Saviour is stronger and more powerful. Stay close to Him. Get to know Him better every day. “Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world..” (1Jn. 4:4).