by Keith Smith
On May 21, 1946 in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific.
In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction, he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction.
Even though the young scientist had successfully performed this experiment many times before, on that day something went terribly wrong. As the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped. The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze.
Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and consequently interrupted the chain reaction. From his instant, heroic act, he saved the lives of seven other people in the room.
As he waited for the car that was to take them to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, "You'll come through all right. But I haven't the faintest chance myself." It was true. Nine days later he died in agony.
2. Before Jesus Christ came to the earth, mankind was contaminated by a deadly uranium called sin. But Jesus heroically stepped in right in the nick of time and saved mankind from spiritual destruction. He died on the cross, to free us from our sins.
For the Bible reveals "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).
3. My friends, the cross, or the death of Jesus Christ, is the most significant event that this world has ever witnessed. It is the magna charta of Christianity. It is the Oscar of the religious world. It is the central theme of the Bible.
4. Yet to some people, the cross means very little.
A young boy once accompanied his mother to worship. During the sermon, the boy was listening very attentively to the lesson that day. The preacher's sermon on the crucifixion of Christ was so moving that the boy began to weep. Soon he began to cry aloud. His mother became so embarrassed that she whispered to him, "Don't take it so seriously."
5. How many people today do not take the cross of Christ seriously? Some people think that cross was some boring historical account that has no meaning in life.
6. Well, my friends, the cross has meaning; it has significance and we need to start taking the cross of Christ more seriously. We need to embrace the value of the cross.
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).
7. The cross has a compelling power. It compels us to live not for ourselves but for the Lord. We are not on this earth to do as we please. We are here to live for Jesus and to do whatever He wants us to do. His love should compel us to return that love back to Him.
The Cross-of Christ should compel and motivate us to live our lives for Jesus.
This morning, I am going to present three points on the compelling power of the cross.
I. FIRST, THE CROSS-SHOULD COMPEL GRATITUDE.
1. When Jesus died on the cross outside the city of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, something extraordinary happened.
a. When Jesus died, He "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). In other words, His death, and the blood that He shed, makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins.
b. Also, through His death, Jesus opened up the door which at one time separated man from God (Col. 1:20-22).
c. Jesus, through His death, made it possible for us to spend eternity in heaven (Heb. 9:12).
2. These thoughts should stir our souls. They should cause us to appreciate what our Savior did for us and to respond with a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness.
3. How often do you thank the Lord for the blessings He bestows upon you?
One stormy night in Lake Michigan, a side-wheeler steamboat was rammed by another boat. The steamboat sank just a mile offshore from the village of Winnetka, Illinois. Out of 393 passengers on board, 279 drowned.
A man named Edward Spencer after seeing the situation unfold plunged into the lake and swam to the drowning people. He towed one person to shore and went for another. In all, he brought seventeen people to safety. However, the strain on this young man caused him to collapse. The nerves in his legs were so completely destroyed that he could never walk again. He was an invalid wheel chair victim for his entire life.
On his eightieth birthday, someone asked him to relate his most vivid memory of that dreadful day. He replied, "Not one of the seventeen returned to thank me."
Can you imagine what the Lord feels like when we show Him little gratitude for what He did for us?
4. In (Luke 17:11-19), Jesus healed ten people of leprosy. Out of the ten people who were healed only one person returned to thank Jesus. What did Jesus think about that?
Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner" (Lk. 17:17, 18).
a. With this comment, Jesus was expecting the other nine to also return and give Him thanks.
5. God expects us to be grateful and to express thanks to Him. The cross should compel us to give thanks to the Lord every single day of our lives for the great blessings that we received from the cross.
II. SECOND, THE CROSS-SHOULD COMPEL SELF-DENIAL.
1. Please turn your Bibles to (Mt. 16:21-27). This passage reveals a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples about the cross.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord." he said. "This shall never happen to you." Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.
2. If we are going to be true followers and disciples of Jesus, we must deny ourselves. What does this mean? Jesus gives us a definition of what it means to deny self. To deny self is to mind the things of God and put God's will first in our lives. We must put our own personal desires and wants secondary to what the Lord would want. What God wants must come first.
3. When we look at the cross, we see the supreme example of self-denial. According to (Lk. 22:42), it appears that Jesus did not want to die on the cross.
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
a. Jesus was hoping that His Father had another plan for redemption, instead of the cross. But even though Jesus asked God to remove the cup of suffering from Him, the bottom line however, was that Jesus had the mind-set to be obedient to the Father's will and not to seek his own will. Jesus put God and His will first before his own will.
4. Brethren, it is time for us to start putting God's will ahead of our own will. We need to get our priorities back in order.
It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth.
It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free.
Was he heralded a hero? Arriola reported, "The lady was mad at me because I broke the window." "I just thought, What's more important--the baby or the window?"
a. In our lives, what's more important?
(1) Doing God's will or doing our own will.
(2) According to Jesus, it is God's will. Serving the Lord is far more important than serving ourselves.
b. It is possible that some of us may need to make some changes in our lifestyles to get our priorities back in order. Lets deny ourselves, take up his cross, and once again follow Jesus wholeheartedly. The cross compels self-denial.
III. THIRD, THE CROSS-SHOULD COMPEL POVERTY OF SPIRIT.
1. The cross of Christ teaches that man cannot make it to heaven by himself. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and get into heaven by our own efforts. If so, it would be as though one went to the foot of the cross and told Jesus, "You don't need to die for my sins; I can make it without your death." Of course, this is non-sense. Every person is in need of Jesus to be saved.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me" (Jn. 14:6).
2. If you would like to go to heaven, the first step to becoming a Christian is found in (Mt. 5:3).
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:3).
a. To be "poor in spirit" is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty--our spiritual bankruptcy, before God.
b. We must admit to ourselves and to God that we are unworthy sinners who need God's forgiveness.
c. We are to have the same type of attitude that was demonstrated by the tax collector in (Lk. 18:9-14).
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Just like the tax collector realized how sinful he was we also need to realize this in our own lives.
(Rom. 3:12) The Bible says, "There is no one who does good, not even one."
(Rom. 3:23) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
(Lk. 5:8) Peter said to Jesus, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man."
d. What God desires in everyone above all else is a broken, contrite heart" that reaches out to God for mercy.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18).
In his book Great Themes of the Bible, Louis Albert Banks told of a time D.L. Moody visited a prison called "The Tombs" to preach to the inmates. After he had finished speaking, Moody talked with a number of men in their cells. He asked each prisoner this question, "What brought you here?" Again and again he received replies like this: "I don't deserve to be here." "I was framed." "I was falsely accused." "I was given an unfair trial." Not one inmate would admit he was guilty.
Finally, Moody found a man with his face buried in his hands, weeping. "And what's wrong my friend?" He inquired. The prisoner responded, "My sins are more than I can bear."
3. More than anything else God wants a heart that says "God, I'm helpless. I'm tired of running my own life. I need your help. I need your mercy. Please help me."
1. Brethren, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross has a compelling power. This demonstration of love on our behalf should compel us to do many things.
a. It should compel us to show gratitude, to deny ourselves and put God first, and to have a heart that recognizes the need to have the Lord in our lives.
2. Perhaps you have been guilty of neglecting the love and power of the cross.
3. Perhaps you have failed to recognize that you need the cleansing power of the cross in your life.
4. But there is good news. You can start over today. If you are not a Christian, you can become one this morning.
a. The first step to becoming a Christian is to recognize that you are a sinner and that you need the Lord to cleans your sins and heal your broken heart.
b. Then, you must be willing to repent and turn away from your sins, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. For the Bible says in (Acts 2:38)
"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."
c. You must then be willing to live faithfully to God until the end (Rev. 2:10).
5. Maybe you are already a Christian, but have not shown the proper respect and gratitude towards the cross by living faithfully for God. We would love to pray with you and for you and help you in any way we can, for God loves you and who is a God that forgives.
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