CALVARY I


By Ray Foster

 

Scripture Reading: I Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Turn in your Bible to:

Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

Hebrews 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.

I Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Today we are going, God willing, to start the first of a three-part series. Calvary Part I, Calvary Part II, and Calvary part III. The cross of Calvary is the center of the everlasting gospel. The cross of Calvary is the center of the plan of salvation. It is my current understanding that when we enter into the experience of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, as God desires us to, and as it is our privilege to, by the grace of God, then the love of God and the power of God manifested in Jesus on Calvary will be manifested in our lives. That is what the universe is waiting to see. This demonstration of Jesus in our lives is what will enable God say again, what was said on the cross: "It is finished!"

So let us bow our heads and ask the Lord to show us Jesus on the cross on Calvary. Father, give us your spirit. Show us Jesus on the cross and let us know what we mean to Jesus and what Jesus means to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The outline of these next three studies are taken from the chapter in the book Desire of Agesentitled "Calvary". I invite you to read this chapter at home this afternoon and bring yourDesire of Ages with you to church the next two weeks to follow the quotations that are read. The first quotation comes from page 741:

"For transgression of the law of God, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. Christ, our substitute, was to suffer without the boundaries of Jerusalem. He died outside the gate, where felons and murderers were executed. Full of significance are the words, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Gal. 3:13. {DA 741.2}

Everything about the cross is designed to heal us from sin. One of our besetting sins is copying the world in thoughts, feelings, and actions. The call to the cross of Jesus is a call to come out of and away from the world. Jesus was crucified outside the camp. We are called outside Babylon. The cross of Calvary was outside Jerusalem. To follow Jesus to Calvary is to tread the road less traveled. The call to follow Jesus is a call against traffic on the broad road and against our natural inclination. It is a call to be different from the world.

One of the least talked about aspects of the plan of salvation is that there is a cross for every one to bear. Each aspect of the life and death of Jesus has a corresponding part that we are to enter into by God’s grace and to the glory of God. Jesus had a cross. The cross was put on Jesus before Jesus was put on the cross. We each have a cross to bear. The cross is put upon us. This is part of putting us on the cross. Jesus did not take the cross in order to exempt us, so we do not need to. Jesus took the cross to enable us to take our cross. Jesus died on the cross to enable us to die to self as He did. The penalty of sin that Jesus bore on the cross we do not bear. Jesus bore the penalty for sin so we do not receive the penalty of sin on condition that believe in Jesus and follow Jesus to the cross of Calvary.

Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. This is an important point for us to understand. Turn with me in your Bibles to:

I John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

The purpose of the plan of salvation is for us to overcome sin by the grace of God. While we are learning by God’s grace to overcome sin, when we slip and sin, we have a safety net to catch us from the penalty of sin. Jesus is not only our Savior wash away our sins with His blood when we first came to Jesus and were baptized. He is also our Advocate with the Father to re-apply His blood to wash us each and every time we sin and confess.

I John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

Propitiation means to pay the payment or arrangements for something to make it favorable. The wages of sin is death. The result of the propitiation Jesus made on Calvary is the gift of eternal life. This gift of eternal life is offered to everyone. The propitiation, the favorable arrangements have been made on Calvary for everyone in the world.

I John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

This is the great litmus test of knowing and loving God. Do we recognize God in His commandments? Do we obey His commandments because of love and gratitude? It is attempting the impossible to keep the commandments as a means of salvation. However it is equally impossible to be saved without keeping the commandments. Keeping the commandments and doing the will of God is the expression of our love and loyalty that is fully acceptable and appointed by God. Keeping the commandments is a demonstration of the power of God in your life. Commandment keeping shows the universe that you have been saved.

I John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

I John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

I John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

The reason Jesus died for the sins of the whole world is to make a way for the whole world to walk as He walked in victory over every besetting sin. The pathway to victory over sin is the pathway to Calvary. That is what we need to look at this morning.

There is another aspect of Jesus death paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world. Even as the death of Jesus affects the whole world, so our following Jesus all the way affects the whole world! When Jesus cried out on the cross: "It is finished!" He had finished all that He could do on earth as our Example and Sacrifice. But the atonement for sin and the plan of salvation was not completed on the cross. Jesus is waiting on us to be able to complete the plan of salvation. The blood of Jesus covers us day by day as we sin and confess our sins to Jesus. Our great High Priest ministers for us before the Father in the Most Holy place in the temple in heaven. But there is coming a time when no more sins are going to be sent by faith to heaven. We are going to finally learn by the grace of God, and to the glory of God to live without falling! This is the mature harvest of righteousness. The sinners are going to become so hardened in sin that they reach the place where they don’t want to stop sinning for anything! This is the mature harvest of iniquity. When this point is reached, no more sins are being sent to the most holy place in the temple in heaven. Then Jesus can stand up and make the announcement found in Revelation 22:11:

"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still."

This announcement will affect every body. This is the general and final close of probation. Jesus is waiting on us to make that announcement. What Jesus is waiting for is for us to fully yield ourselves to Him; to fully trust Him; to fully believe His power to save and to live His life by His power to His glory. Jesus is waiting for us by His power to stop sinning! What we need to get us to that place of no more desire to sin, is to look at Calvary and to see Jesus on the cross of Calvary. It is only on Calvary we see the results and the cost of sin while there is opportunity for us to give up our sins and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

Reading from page 471 in Desire of Ages:

"From insult to renewed insult, from mockery to mockery, twice tortured by the scourge,--all that night there had been scene after scene of a character to try the soul of man to the uttermost. Christ had not failed. He had spoken no word but that tended to glorify God. All through the disgraceful farce of a trial He had borne Himself with firmness and dignity. But when after the second scourging the cross was laid upon Him, human nature could bear no more. He fell fainting beneath the burden." {DA 741.4}

Continuing on page 472:

"The crowd that followed the Saviour saw His weak and staggering steps, but they manifested no compassion. They taunted and reviled Him because He could not carry the heavy cross. Again the burden was laid upon Him, and again He fell fainting to the ground. His persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They were puzzled to find anyone who would bear the humiliating load. The Jews themselves could not do this, because the defilement would prevent them from keeping the Passover. None even of the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross." {DA 742.1}

"At this time a stranger, Simon a Cyrenian, coming in from the country, meets the throng. He hears the taunts and ribaldry of the crowd; he hears the words contemptuously repeated, Make way for the King of the Jews! He stops in astonishment at the scene; and as he expresses his compassion, they seize him and place the cross upon his shoulders." {DA 742.2}

Jesus did not carry His cross to Calvary because He could not. His humanity could not take any more. His humanity fell beneath the load of the cross. Jesus could not and did not carry the cross to Calvary.

This is full of significance. Jesus died for my sins and for the sins of the whole world, but He did not carry His cross to Calvary.

Jesus said: Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Self denial for Jesus’ sake is defined by Jesus as taking up the cross and following Jesus. "If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." To say no to inclination and yes to the will of Jesus is self denial. This is cross bearing. This is what it means to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

When Simon the Cyrenian took the cross and followed Jesus, where was Jesus going? Jesus was on His way to Calvary.

Now Jesus said: "Then he shall reward every man according to his works." What works is Jesus talking about? There are two classes of works that we have to choose between. The one class of works are the works of God in self denial and taking up the cross of Jesus and following Jesus to Calvary. This is what Simon of Cyren did. This is what God gives us grace to do. This is the work that glorifies God. Simon Peter and all of the disciples failed to do this work for Jesus on the way to Calvary because of their unbelief. Simon Peter and the other disciples – all of them except Judas – had another chance to carry the cross of Jesus. Today is our chance to take up our cross of self denial and follow Jesus.

There is other class of works that denies Jesus by not taking up the cross. There was a great crowd of people that followed Jesus to Calvary but only one man carried the cross of Jesus. Today there are many people who are professedly following Jesus. While they profess to follow Jesus they do not carry the cross of Jesus. And they may indeed be following Jesus. They may be following Jesus to Calvary. The question is: "Are they carrying the cross of Jesus?" The other question is: "When they get to Calvary, what will they do? What will they experience? What will they do with Jesus at Calvary?"

At the dedication of Jesus in the temple Simeon had prophesied of Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this [child] is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

The plan of salvation involves a fall and rising again. This fall and rising again is a sign which is spoken against. The popular but false gospel is that Jesus died and rose again for us, in our place, so that we do not need to die and rise again ourselves. The truth as it is in Jesus is that we must take up the cross of Jesus and follow Jesus to Calvary and there with Jesus die to self, and with Jesus rise again to live the Divine life of Jesus. Day by day we are to deny our fallen flesh and live the Divine life of Jesus. The denying our fallen nature, our fallen flesh, is what it means to take up the cross daily and follow Jesus to Calvary. The denial of self day by day is the experience of cross bearing. This is how we go to Calvary and how we die the death of the cross with Jesus day by day. That is the fall that Jesus is set for. The rising again is the experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that gives us power to live the Divine life of Jesus. Jesus rose again from the tomb. Satan and all of his angels could not keep Jesus in the tomb. One hundred Roman soldiers and the great stone bound and sealed with the Roman seal could not keep Jesus in the tomb. Once we have denied ourselves and died the death with Jesus, all of Satan’s angels cannot keep us from living the Divine life. Once we have denied ourselves and died the death with Jesus, all power of world governments with all of their soldiers and all of their laws and cords and seals cannot prevent us from living the Divine life of victory over sin and obedience to God and His laws.

How much of this rising again to walk the Divine life do we see? It is not the power of the gospel that fails in the rising again in our lives. We interpose our perverse wills to stop the plan of salvation from having power in our lives in our refusal to take up the cross of Jesus. It is in our refusal to die the death of self-denial that we rob Jesus of His power to bring us up out of the tomb of self-denial.

Satan whispered to Jesus that if He went into the portals of the tomb, that He would be separated forever from His Father. That thought is what brought great drops of blood out of the brow of the Saviour. That thought is what wrung from the lips of Jesus the cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Jesus could not see through the portals of the tomb. It was by faith that Jesus drank the cup to its dregs and died on Calvary. Jesus died a victor. And beloved we also will and do die victors day by day as we die to self. And it is by faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to die to self day by day.

Satan has made the charge before the universe that the plan of salvation does not work. Satan says that it is impossible for fallen man to deny self and take up the cross of self denial and follow Jesus to Calvary. Satan says that it is impossible for the plan of salvation to bring fallen man to the point of consistent victory over sin. This is the last charge of Satan that only you and I can answer to the glory of God. God cannot answer this charge of Satan by Himself. God has all that He can do in providing Jesus and in commissioning the Holy Spirit to be our constant Companion and Comforter. This is our one chance in eternity to make God look good. We make God look good by demonstrating the power of the gospel to keep us from sinning. Never again in all eternity will we have the opportunity to make God look good and help God win His court case before the universe the way we do right now, today. O Beloved, may we see and believe our opportunity and by God’s grace deny ourselves and do the will of God consistently in our lives. This means more to God than we can realize.

A story that comes to us out of eastern Europe is that a father was being pressured to give up his faith in Jesus by the Communists. He had a seven year old son. When all else failed, they brought the father and the son together. They told the father that the commandments said: "Thou shalt not kill". If he did not renounce Christ, they were going to beat his son to death and he would be responsible for the death of his son, and die in hell for killing his son. Then they started to beat the son starting at his feet. As the child cried out in pain the father wilted and weakened. The son caught a glimpse of his father and saw that he was wilting and he cried out: "Father, be faithful. Don’t let me die the son of a traitor!" The son died but not the son of a traitor!

Beloved, death is the lot of us all. We are all going to die. The question is will we die to self and live to God, to the glory and pleasure and praise of God, and show the universe that the plan of salvation works. Or will we try to hang on to life and refuse to take up the cross and refuse to die with Jesus on Calvary and die thrice, a living death now attempting the impossible to please self, and the first and the second deaths?

Turn in your Bibles to Galatians 2:20. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Determine by God’s power and grace to make this your experience. This is the experience that hastens the coming of Jesus.

"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God." {DA 173.1}

"In His great love, Christ surrendered Himself for us. He gave Himself for us to meet the necessities of the striving, struggling soul. We are to surrender ourselves to Him. When this surrender is entire, Christ can finish the work He began for us by the surrender of Himself. Then He can bring to us complete restoration." {TDG 159.3}

This complete restoration of the character of God in man is what the universe is waiting to see. This complete restoration is what is delaying the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Let us co-operate with God and allow this complete restoration and hasten the second coming of Jesus. This is the only answer to all the problems our old world faces.

"The experience that follows complete surrender to God, is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."--Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1890. {RC 303.7}

 Who will kneel with me to ask God for strength and grace to take up the cross of Jesus and follow Jesus to Calvary and die daily the death to self and the power of God may be seen in our lives to the glory of God?

Let us pray.