What Is the Cross?

What is the cross?

According to our good friend, Dictionary.com, the cross is “a structure consisting essentially of an upright and a transverse piece, used to execute persons in ancient times … upon which Jesus died,” but we know there’s more to the cross, don’t we?

We know that following Jesus requires taking up something more than an “upright and transverse piece,” but can we go on to describe what this “something more” is?

“Often, Christians will over-spiritualize the cross,” VOM speaker and In the Shadow of the Cross instructor, Greg Musselman explains. “The cross was actually a very gritty and deeply disturbing reality.”

When Jesus died on the cross, he was subjected to death as a traitor—yet Jesus knew no sin. Though Jesus had betrayed no man or state, he experienced suffering more agonizing than the worst traitor.

It is into this suffering that Jesus calls us to follow him.

As Christians, we should not be shocked when we experience suffering for the sake of Christ. Suffering and persecuted are promised to us by scripture. Voluntary suffering is essential to being a Christian. Through it, God accomplishes something that can’t be learned any other way.

Many Christians grimace at this thought.

We would much rather be presented scriptures like James 4:2; scriptures like Matthew 16:24-26 make us feel uncomfortable. (which is why we over-spiritualize them). This is why, as Greg Musselman says, “many Christians want Jesus, but they don’t want the cross.”

But Christ himself chose to climb onto the cross; we, as his servants, cannot insist he remove himself—or us—from it.

To watch other Voice of the Martyrs videos, visit the Voice of the Martyrs Video Page!

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If God Exists, Why Am I Sick?

One blustery winter’s morning in Colorado, an atheist revealed to me a long forgotten Biblical truth.

This atheist was a kind man and exceptionally clever; he was also a close friend. He had just expressed sympathy for a chronic illness I was experiencing, when a thought struck him.

“If there is a God, then why are you sick?”

As if embarrassed he had asked the question, he added half-jokingly. “It’s the work of that pesky devil, isn’t it?”

Immediately, I was reminded of a question asked thousands of years before: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus’ disciples had asked him this question upon seeing a man who had been born blind. Just like my friend, they had been trying to reconcile the existence of a loving, caring God with the suffering they saw in the world.

This man had not been blinded by an enemy. He had not been blinded by neglecting his health. This man had been blinded by God. How could a loving God arbitrarily blind a man?

The disciples (and my friend) had concluded that someone must have sinned to incur this fate.

But Jesus said, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Suffering is an integral aspect of the Christian life. The Bible does not promise us earthly prosperity; it promises us earthly persecution. We suffer so that the works of God might be displayed through us. Of course, God does not desire our suffering, but he does allow us to suffer.

My illness, I realized, was not given to me by Satan, or by the world, but by God himself.

This week, Greg Mussleman of VOM Canada reminds us of this forgotten Biblical truth:

To watch other Voice of the Martyrs videos, visit the Voice of the Martyrs Video Page!

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The Gospel Pours Forth From North Korea To The World

A man wrote me recently, “Oh, how I long for the day when the gospel will pour into North Korea!”

I replied, “Oh, how I long for the day when the world will receive the gospel that is today pouring forth from North Korea!”

He never wrote back.


Posted in John Calvin, North Korea, Proclaiming The Gospel, Uncategorized | 3 Comments