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THE PASSION OF CHRIST AND
THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, March 28, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).


The Apostle Paul had been trained in the rabbinical school of the great Gamaliel. But when he preached on the Cross of Christ, he did not depend upon what he had learned at school. He preached the gospel "not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (I Corinthians 1:17).

Paul was also well acquainted with the philosophy and oratory of the Greeks. But when he preached he did not depend on rhetorical elegance or philosophical profundity. He simply said, "We preach Christ crucified" (I Corinthians 1:23).

In our day there is little preaching on the atonement. If mentioned at all, the subject is given only a sentence or two. Whole sermons on the Cross are rare. This generation has been so starved for preaching on the crucifixion of Christ, that people wonder with amazement at it. I think that is one of the reasons that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has drawn such huge crowds. They stand in line by the millions to see this film depict what most of them have never heard with any clarity of conviction. They gape in astonishment at the suffering Saviour, scourged and bleeding, thorn crowned, crushed and crucified in this film. Curiosity draws them, and they stand agog, awed, wonderstruck by the Blood-drenched Saviour, hanging on the Cross.

But no passion play, regardless of its vividness, can ever take the place of gospel preaching, for it is "the preaching of the cross" that brings a lost soul to embrace the Son of God - as its sin-payment, its substitute, and its Saviour.

Let us meditate for a while tonight on the great work which Christ did upon the Cross. Human souls are dying without hope for lack of clear preaching on this subject. There are people here tonight who have no clear understanding of it. Listen carefully, then, and learn the message of salvation. Then come to Christ for cleansing in His precious Blood!

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" 
      (I Corinthians 1:18).

I. First, the perversions of the Cross.

In many pulpits, the Cross of Christ is hardly mentioned. In others it is misrepresented. The Catholics often mention the Cross, but they misrepresent it. They falsify what Christ did on the Cross by saying that His sacrifice must be repeated in the Mass. They say that Christ is offered up again each time a Mass is performed. This falsifies the sacrifice of Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He cried out,

"It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost"
     (John 19:30).

Was Christ correct when He said "It is finished"? The Catholics say, "No. It must be repeated again and again in the Mass." Thus they go against the clear teaching of the Bible,

"By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12).

Christ entered Heaven once. Christ "obtained" (past tense) eternal redemption for us! No repetitions are necessary!

The Apostle Peter made this perfectly clear when he said,

"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).

Christ suffered "once." It is finished! No repetitions are needed!

"This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).

The Socinians (or Unitarians) say that Christ died as a mere martyr. They say that Christ's death only serves as an example. They tell us that the crucifixion is given to teach us to be better people, by following the example of Christ. This, for them, is the only meaning of the Cross. But they reject the Bible when it says,

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

Numbers of Protestants, and even many Baptists, have adopted the "Moral Influence Theory," which is really little different from the outright Socinian view. They feel that Christ died only to stir our emotions and lead us to repent (cf. Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1949, p. 317). But Dr. Thiessen was correct when he said, "We must not reduce the atonement to a passion play, in which the actor…is merely working upon the emotions of his audience" (ibid.). Under this "Moral Influence Theory" there is no thought of Christ's death propitiating the wrath of God. But this view is also corrected by Galatians 3:13,

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…" (Galatians 3:13).

And Who was it that "made" Him a "curse" for us on the Cross?

"It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…" (Isaiah 53:10).

"Horrible doctrine!" some say. Yes, and so is the doctrine of Hell - but it is in the Bible. If we extract every teaching from the Bible which seems "horrible" to our emotions, we will have little left but a few ethical lessons!

"Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3).

That is a horrible doctrine - but it is a true one.

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" 
      (I Corinthians 1:18).

Then there is "the governmental theory," produced by Hugo Grotius and proclaimed by Charles Finney. It holds that "There is no thought in propitiation of placating a vengeful God, but of doing right by His holy law and so making it possible for Him righteously to show mercy."

Dr. Thiessen replies that this theory "does not explain the intensity of Christ's sufferings…and like the preceding theories, it denies the fundamental aspect of atonement, viz., that of making a satisfaction to the holiness of God" (ibid., p. 318).

"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

"Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10).

Then, there are those who hold the "Faith theology." They reject atonement on the Cross completely. They say that Christ paid for our sins by burning in Hell for three days. One of their number, Frederick K. C. Price, said,

Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell…Satan and all the demons of hell… dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence (Frederick K. C. Price, quoted in Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House, 1993, p. 163).

The two thieves pay my price? Doesn't he know the difference between the Son of God and a guilty criminal?  The punishment was to go to Hell?  There is not a verse in the Bible that teaches such a thing!

 Joyce Meyer's booklet, From the Cross to the Throne, gives the same theory.

Jesus said, "It is finished." And He meant the Old Covenant. The job He had to do was just getting started. He really did the job the three days and nights that He was in hell. That's where the job was done. He was pronounced guilty on the cross but he paid the price in hell (quoted in Christian News, November 24, 2003, page 13).

But the Bible never says that Jesus "paid the price in hell." The Bible says,

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree"
     (I Peter 2:24).

The Bible says,

"Having made peace through the blood of his cross"

The Apostle Paul said he was sent

"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" (I Corinthians 1:17-18).

"We preach Christ crucified" (I Corinthians 1:23),

not paying for sins in Hell - but on the Cross!

All of these misrepresentations of the crucifixion are based, more or less, on the idea that sinners must be shocked into changing their own lives by thinking of the horrible suffering of Christ. But these theories do not speak of the vicarious atonement of Christ as our sin-bearer, or of the propitiation of God's wrath, which was accomplished by Him on the Cross. We are not to be "shocked" into a "change of living," but to see how awful our sins are that He died to pay for them, and that only He can redeem us from them.

I have spent far too long on the first point, but there are so many errors concerning the crucifixion today that I feel justified in doing so. These are the perversions of the Cross.

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" 
      (I Corinthians 1:18).

II. Second, the preaching of the Cross.

When the Bible speaks of the Cross, it is talking about the Cross on which Jesus died. "The preaching of the cross" is preaching centered on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That is made clear in verse twenty-three of I Corinthians, chapter one, where the Apostle said,

"We preach Christ crucified" (I Corinthians 1:23).

In the next chapter, in verse two, the Apostle said,

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

The preaching of Christ's crucifixion on the Cross is central to Biblical Christianity for two main reasons. First, because our sins were paid for by the death of Christ on the Cross.

"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures"
     (I Corinthians 15:3).

Please turn to Romans 5:8-9, and let us stand and read these two verses out loud.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:8-9).

You may be seated. The first main reason Jesus died on the Cross was to pay the penalty for our sins.

The second main reason Jesus died on the Cross was to propitiate the wrath of God against sin. Christ's death on the Cross satisfies the justice of God. God cannot pardon a sinner until the demands of justice are satisfied. If you commit a traffic violation, you have to pay the fine. You sin, and you must pay for it in Hell. But Jesus pays the fine for you on the Cross! Justice is satisfied!

"He [God] shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11).

The death of Christ on the Cross also satisfies the Law of God, for it is written,

"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).

Thus, every sinner is under the curse of the law. But Christ died on the Cross to satisfy the demands of the law.

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

Great Spurgeon said,

We must be most of all clear upon the great soul-saving doctrine of the atonement; we must preach a real bona fide substitutionary sacrifice, and proclaim pardon as a result. Cloudy views as to atoning blood are mischievous to the last degree…We must preach substitution straightforwardly and unmistakeably, for if any doctrine be plainly taught in Scripture it is this - "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." "His own self, bare our sin in His own body on the tree." This truth must rest to the conscience by showing how God can be just, and the justifier of him that believeth (C. H. Spurgeon, "On Conversion As Our Aim," Lectures to My Students, Pilgrim, 1990 reprint, volume II, p. 183).

For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim -
I'll wash my garments white In the blood of Calvary's Lamb.
Jesus paid it all; All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.
    ("Jesus Paid It All" by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).

Do you want to be saved by the substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross? Then there is nothing left for you to do but believe on Him in simple faith. Come to Him. Believe on Him. He will save you. He will save you now!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 1:17-23.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"In the Cross of Christ" (by Sir John Bowring, 1792-1872)/
"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (by Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE PASSION OF CHRIST AND
THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).

(I Corinthians 1:17, 23)

I.   The perversions of the Cross, John 19:30; Hebrews 9:12;
I Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:12; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:10;
I Corinthians 15:3; Isaiah 53:6; I Peter 2:24;
Colossians 1:20; I Corinthians 1:17-18, 23.

II.  The preaching of the Cross, I Corinthians 1:23; 2:2; 15:3;
Romans 5:8-9; Isaiah 53:11; Galatians 3:10, 13.