by Jimmy Swaggart
As it regards the Cross — none! But, as it regards the believing sinner coming to Christ and the Saint of God who already belongs to Christ, there is a great deal of difference.
The believing sinner coming to Christ knows absolutely nothing about the Lord or the Cross. He just knows he’s under conviction and, as someone has said, he feels like he’s hanging over Hell on a rotten stick. All he has to do is believe in Christ and call on the Lord, and he will be Saved. Paul said:
“That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (confess that Jesus is the Lord of Glory, and the Saviour of men, and that He died on the Cross that we might be Saved), and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead (pertains to the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, as is obvious), you shall be Saved (it is that simple!).
BELIEVING UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS
“For with the heart man believes unto Righteousness (presents the word ‘believing’ in a mode of ‘thinking,’ not of feeling; the ‘believing’ has to do with believing Christ, and that His Sacrifice of Himself Atoned for all sin); and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation (when Faith comes forth from its silence to announce itself and proclaim the Glory and the Grace of the Lord, its voice ‘is confession’).
“For the Scripture says (combining parts of Isa. 28:16 with 49:23), Whosoever believes on Him (proclaims the fact that Salvation is reachable by all) shall not be ashamed (in essence, says, ‘shall not be put to shame,’ but rather will receive what is promised).
NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GENTILE
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (should read, ‘between the Jew and the Gentile’; all must come the same way, which is by and through Christ and what He did at the Cross on our behalf): for the same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon Him (the riches of Grace will be given to all who truly call upon the Lord).
“For whosoever (anyone, anywhere) shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be Saved (speaks of the sinner coming to Christ, but can refer to any Believer and with whatever need; the Cross is the means by which all of this is done)” (Rom. 10:9-13).
THE SAINT OF GOD
As it regards the person who is already Saved who, in fact, has trusted the Lord for Salvation, which came by the Means of the Cross, he must come to understand that Sanctification comes from the same Source. Regrettably, it’s much more difficult for the Saint of God to place his faith exclusively in the Cross than the believing sinner who is initially coming for Salvation.
Why? That’s a good question!
While most every Believer, including preachers, who is truly Saved and has at least a modicum of understanding as it regards the Cross of Christ respecting Salvation, the truth is, modern Christians, and again we are speaking of those who are truly Saved, have virtually no knowledge whatsoever as it regards the Cross of Christ respecting Sanctification. For anyone to know the great Truths of the Word of God, those Truths must be taught by capable and anointed Preachers of the Gospel. Regrettably, while the Cross of Christ is somewhat preached as it regards Salvation, it is preached not at all as it regards Sanctification; consequently, this modern generation of Believers simply do not know how to live for God. The Scripture says, and concerning this very thing:
“So then Faith comes by hearing (it is the publication of the Gospel which produces Faith in it), and hearing by the Word of God (Faith does not come simply by hearing just anything, but rather by hearing God’s Word, and believing that Word)” (Rom. 10:17).
THE CHRISTIAN IS TO EXCLUSIVELY MAKE THE CROSS THE OBJECT OF HIS FAITH
That may seem simple and, in fact, is; however, to do so means that the Believer must lay aside every other object of faith, whatever it might be. Please note the following:
The world in its rejection of God has from the dawn of time tried to manufacture another god, a god of its own making.
Believers, regrettably, have ever tried to manufacture another sacrifice, other than the Cross of Christ. But, let all hear and understand, the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross dealt and deals with every single problem that faces the human race. Please note the following very carefully:
• Jesus Christ is the Source of all things that we receive from God (Jn. 14:6).
• The Cross of Christ is the Means by which those things are given to us (Rom. 6:3-5).
• Placing our Faith exclusively in the Cross of Christ provides the means by which we receive what is given (I Cor. 1:17-18, 23; 2:2).
• The Holy Spirit superintends all of this (Eph. 2:13-18).
WHAT THE SAINT OF GOD NEEDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE CAN DEVELOP
Knowing they have been changed by the new birth and, with many, even baptized with the Holy Spirit, one of the most favorite Scriptures voiced by such Believers is, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). The Truth is, most Believers do not even really know what Paul was talking about as it regards that particular Verse.
He is saying that he can be abased or he can abound, whichever he is called upon to do, but only “through Christ Who strengthens me.” In other words, if he has to go hungry, that he can do with the help of the Lord, etc. As well, he can relish the bountiful Blessings that come his way, should the Lord desire such.
SIN IS THE PROBLEM
The church doesn’t want to admit that the real problem in our lives as Believers is sin. One group claims that the best way to overcome sin is to never mention it because, if it is mentioned, they say, this will create a sin consciousness in the hearts and lives of Believers and cause them to sin. So, in their thinking, the way not to sin is just simply never mention the subject.
That’s somewhat strange when we realize that the Apostle Paul mentions sin some seventeen times in the Sixth Chapter of Romans alone. But, perhaps Paul didn’t have the great knowledge that some of these modern Believers have.
Others claim that once we are now Believers, sin is no longer a problem or even claim that it should not be mentioned because it may offend people.
Irrespective of the foolishness of some preachers, sin is the problem. To cope with this problem, the church comes up with one fad after the other.
One day it’s the Purpose Driven Life; the next day it’s the Government of Twelve; and, then the next day it’s the confession message, with the family curse following that.
THE CROSS IS THE ONLY ANSWER FOR SIN
There is only one answer for sin and that is the Cross of Christ. Paul said:
“But this Man (this Priest, Christ Jesus), after He had offered One Sacrifice for sins forever (speaks of the Cross), sat down on the Right Hand of God (refers to the great contrast with the Priests under the Levitical system, who never sat down because their work was never completed; the Work of Christ was a ‘Finished Work,’ and needed no repetition);
“From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. (These enemies are Satan and all the fallen Angels and demon spirits, plus all who follow Satan.)
“For by one Offering He has perfected forever them who are Sanctified. (Everything one needs is found in the Cross [Gal. 6:14]).
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT
“Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us (a witness to the Cross): for after that He had said before (refers to the fact that the Holy Spirit has always witnessed to the veracity of the Finished Work of Christ),
“This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days (proclaims its distinctive feature as being the Sanctifying Work of the Holy Spirit Who would be caused to take up His permanent abode in the Believer, all made possible by the Cross), says the Lord, I will put My Laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them (the work of the New Covenant, which accompanies the Born-Again experience);
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (He has taken them all away, and did so by the Cross.)
“Now where remission of these is (with all sins atoned, the argument is settled), there is no more offering for sin. (No more offering is necessary, for Christ paid it all)” (Heb. 10:12-18).
As it regards this terrible problem of sin, the Believer, as stated, cannot bring about by his or her actions the victory that we need. It is impossible! Simply put, self cannot improve self!
To prove the point, let’s look at the Apostle Paul.
THE APOSTLE PAUL
The Ninth Chapter of Acts records the conversion of Paul. It is probably one of the most remarkable conversions ever recorded.
Jesus Christ appeared to him in such Glory that Paul was blinded. Nevertheless, he was gloriously Saved in that phenomenal experience.
Some three days later, Ananias, having been spoken to by the Lord, and according to directions from the Lord, went to where Paul was staying and prayed for him, “that he might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Immediately he began to “preach Christ in the Synagogues” (Acts 9:20). The point is this:
Despite the phenomenal experience that Paul had regarding his conversion, and despite now being baptized with the Holy Spirit and preaching the Gospel, even then an Apostle, still, the record shows that he could not successfully live for the Lord. The Seventh Chapter of Romans bears this out, and graphically so!
This was before the Lord had revealed the meaning of the New Covenant which, in fact, was revealed to the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:12). But, the facts are, if the Apostle Paul couldn’t successfully live for the Lord as one should live before this great Revelation was given to him, how in the world do we think that we can do what he could not do? Let us say it again:
It was to Paul that the Lord gave the meaning of the New Covenant, which, in effect, is the meaning of the Cross. As the Lord gave the Revelation of the New Covenant to Paul, the great Apostle then gave it to us in his Epistles.
Before we touch on the meaning of the New Covenant, let’s see exactly why the Believer within himself cannot be what he ought to be, no matter how hard he tries.
Any number of times, Paul alludes to this, but the Passage that I will now give will give us the reason for our inability, meaning that we must have the help of the Holy Spirit. The great Apostle said:
“And if Christ be in you (He is in you through the Power and Person of the Spirit [Gal. 2:20]), the body is dead because of sin (means that the physical body has been rendered helpless because of the Fall; consequently, the Believer trying to overcome by willpower presents a fruitless task); but the Spirit is life because of Righteousness (only the Holy Spirit can make us what we ought to be, which means we cannot do it ourselves; once again, He performs all that He does within the confines of the Finished Work of Christ).
“But if the Spirit (Holy Spirit) of Him (from God) Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you (and He definitely does), He Who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies (give us power in our mortal bodies that we might live a Victorious life) by His Spirit Who dwells in you (we have the same Power in us, through the Spirit, that raised Christ from the dead, and is available to us only on the premise of the Cross and our Faith in that Sacrifice)” (Rom. 8:10-11).
Let us say it again:
THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE CAN MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE
Self cannot improve self, and no matter how hard we try. This means that all of the efforts, and I mean all, which ignore the Cross of Christ and Faith in that Finished Work, which then gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our hearts and lives, present a wasted effort. It is the Cross of Christ, which gives the Holy Spirit the legal right to do all that He does. Before the Cross, the Holy Spirit was greatly limited due to the fact that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. 10:4).
What the Believer is facing, and I speak of that which is in the spirit world of darkness, is far beyond our capacity to cope. So, for the Believer to face these things with no more than willpower simply won’t work. The Holy Spirit is God and, as such, and as should be obvious, He can do anything. But, most Christians don’t know how He works. As a result, most Christians are trying to live this life without the aid and help of the Holy Spirit. Don’t misunderstand; the Holy Spirit does not leave the Believer, irrespective as to what erroneous course he might take. But, at the same time, erroneous courses stop Him from doing what He Alone can do.
In the first four Verses of the Seventh Chapter of Romans, Paul addresses himself to spiritual adultery. What do we mean by the term “spiritual adultery”?
Paul tells us that we as Believers are married to Christ. At least that’s the way that God looks at the situation. Paul wrote:
“Wherefore, my Brethren, you also are become dead to the Law (the Law is not dead per se, but we are dead to the Law because we are dead to its effects; this means that we are not to try to live for God by means of ‘Law,’ whether the Law of Moses, or religious laws made up by other men or of ourselves; we are to be dead to all religious law) by the Body of Christ (this refers to the Crucifixion of Christ, which satisfied the demands of the broken Law we could not satisfy; but Christ did it for us; having fulfilled the Mosaic Law in every respect, the Christian is not obligated to religious law in any fashion, only to Christ and what He did at the Cross); that you should be married to another (speaking of Christ), even to Him Who is raised from the dead (we are raised with Him in Newness of Life, and we should ever understand that Christ has met, does meet, and shall meet our every need; we look to Him exclusively, referring to what He did for us at the Cross), that we should bring forth fruit unto God (proper fruit can only be brought forth by the Believer constantly looking to the Cross; in fact, Christ must never be separated from the Work of the Cross; to do so is to produce ‘another Jesus’)” (Rom. 7:4).
ONE HUSBAND, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The Apostle said:
“Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. (In effect, the Apostle is saying, ‘indulge me.’)
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy (refers to the ‘jealousy of God’ [Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Nah. 1:2]): for I have espoused you to one husband (not jealous of the Corinthians’ affection for himself, but of their affection for Christ), that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (They must not commit spiritual adultery, which refers to trusting in things other than Christ and the Cross)” (II Cor. 11:1-2).
Let us say it again, if the Believer places his faith and trust in anything except Christ and the Cross, no matter how religious or spiritual the other things may be, such a Believer is being unfaithful to Christ. That’s what we mean by “spiritual adultery.” I should think it would be obvious that the Holy Spirit cannot rightly work in such circumstances. Yet, “spiritual adultery” is the position and condition of most modern Believers.
AN ABBREVIATED FORMULA
The following will possibly help us to understand the great Plan of God to a greater degree. It is as follows:
• THE CROSS OF CHRIST: When we speak of the “Cross of Christ,” I would certainly hope the reader would understand that we are not speaking of a wooden beam. We are speaking of what Jesus did there, i.e., “the benefits of the Cross.” In the Atonement, our Lord addressed every single thing that man lost in the Fall and even addressed Satan and all powers of darkness (Col. 2:15; Eph. 1:10). Christ is the Source of all things, even as we have stated, and the Cross is the Means.
• OUR FAITH: To have the benefits of all that Christ accomplished at the Cross, it requires only Faith on our part; however, without fail, it must be Faith exclusively in the Cross of Christ. To say it another way, the Cross of Christ must be the Object of our Faith. That’s all that God requires of us (Rom. 5:1-2; Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 4:3, 14; 6:11). As well, our Faith must not be divided between the Cross of Christ and other things. It must be the Cross of Christ exclusively. In fact, the only kind of faith that God will recognize is Faith, which is rested in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who must always be linked to the Atonement — Who He was and is, and what He did, which refers to the Cross. Everyone has faith, but it’s not faith that God will recognize. The Cross is the Means by which we receive all things from the Lord.
• THE HOLY SPIRIT: Once our Faith is properly placed in the Cross, and maintained in the Cross, the Holy Spirit, Who works exclusively within the parameters of the Finished Work of Christ, will then go to work on our behalf. And, to be sure, considering that the Holy Spirit is God, there is nothing that He cannot do; however, for Him to do what He Alone can do, we must, and without fail, have our Faith anchored squarely in the Cross of Christ (Rom. 8:1-2, 10-11).
(This message was derived from the book, “Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Cross”.)