Monday, June 29, 2009

Resting in the Word of the Cross

What follows is adapted from an e-mail I sent my father, explaining why I asked him to read John Piper's "Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die." I thought I'd take that e-mail and expand a bit on it and make that a blog post. So here goes.

As Paul wrote to the Corinthian church (I Cor. 1:18):

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


and (I Cor. 2:2-5)

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The word of the cross is the preaching of Christ's atoning work on the cross. Not only has belief in this gospel saved us [past tense --justification], it saves us [present tense -- our sanctification], in that it continually works grace in our lives, grounding our hope more and more in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ as we "are being transformed into the same image [of Christ] from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Our faith rests not on the earthly wisdom of any kind but in the power of God. What is the power of God? It is the message of the cross, that is, Christ and Him crucified to ransom us from captivity to sin and reconcile us to God.

While our walk of faith can feel like a fight and indeed often is a fight of wrestling to subject all thoughts captive to the knowledge of Christ, Scripture teaches us that in its truest sense, faith is a fundamentally restful posture.

Faith is a restful reliance on the finished work of Christ, and it comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

Our faith rests not "in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." So it does rest, by virtue of "wholly lean[ing] on Jesus' Name." In Christ we enter the true Sabbath day rest of the people of God (Heb. 4:9-12). His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). It is He who has borne the sins of the heavy-laden sinners who by faith in Him are justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9).

How joyful is our task to rest in God's grace!

Praise God for the blessing of rest in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ!

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